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Although it needs to be studied further, some research suggests that cannabidiol (CBD) could ease nausea, vomiting, and pain, all of which are symptoms of gastroparesis.

Similarly, cannabis and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) might also help with the symptoms of gastroparesis.

Before self-medicating with CBD or cannabis, it’s best to talk with a doctor or other healthcare professional. A cannabis-friendly clinician can help you figure out if CBD or cannabis will suit your needs.

Gastroparesis is a condition where the stomach takes too long to empty food. This can lead to a number of symptoms, which can range from mild to severe.

The symptoms of gastroparesis include:

Although there’s no known cure for gastroparesis, certain treatments might help you manage your symptoms. CBD could potentially help symptoms of gastroparesis. Specifically, CBD could help reduce pain, nausea, and vomiting.

The research on CBD and pain is promising. A large 2018 review looked at the effects of CBD on chronic pain. Based on studies conducted between 1975 and March 2018, the review concluded that CBD was an effective and safe way to manage pain.

CBD might also be able to ease nausea and vomiting. A 2021 review looked at in vitro and in vivo studies on CBD and nausea, and concluded that “CBD has demonstrated efficacy in reducing nausea and vomiting.”

A 2019 study survey — which included 197 people with gastroparesis — found that around half of participants have used, or currently use, cannabinoids to manage their symptoms. About 16 used CBD specifically. The study noted that those who use cannabinoids feel that it improves their symptoms.

But a survey isn’t definitive proof, and although CBD has shown potential for soothing pain, nausea, and vomiting, there is a lack of evidence that specifically looks at how CBD can affect people with gastroparesis.

However, this might change soon. An ongoing clinical trial is looking at the efficacy and safety of cannabidiol on people with gastroparesis.

According to a 2017 review, CBD is safe to use and is well-tolerated by humans. But that doesn’t mean it has no side effects or risks.

Some people do experience side effects when using CBD, such as:

  • fatigue
  • diarrhea
  • nausea and vomiting
  • changes in appetite
  • changes in weight

In other words, many of the potential side effects of CBD are similar to the symptoms of gastroparesis — including nausea and vomiting, which CBD might also help with in some people. It isn’t clear why CBD causes nausea in some people and eases nausea in others.

Lastly, it’s a good idea to talk with a clinician before you use CBD, especially because CBD can interact with certain medications. CBD might change the way your liver processes certain drugs, which can result in adverse effects.

Can cannabis cause gastroparesis?

If you’re experiencing gastroparesis-like symptoms after using cannabis, you might have cannabis hyperemesis syndrome (CHS). According to a 2021 article, CHS and gastroparesis have overlapping symptoms and may be confused with one another.

The symptoms of cannabis hyperemesis syndrome include:

  • recurrent vomiting
  • nausea
  • abdominal pain

You might also experience an urge to bathe or shower in hot water to soothe your nausea.

CHS is a newly discovered condition. As such, there’s a lack of research on it.

However, the available research suggests that people only seem to experience it if they regularly use cannabis for a long period of time. There is no cure for it — the only way to stop the symptoms, it seems, is to stop using cannabis.

There are many forms of CBD products, including edibles (like gummies or candy), topicals, tinctures, oils, and more.

Topicals, such as CBD-infused creams and salves, are typically used for pain or for skin care concerns. There’s not enough evidence to verify whether topical CBD treatments can penetrate into the bloodstream. As such, topically applied CBD might not help with nausea and vomiting.

CBD vapes work quickly, as it’s almost immediately absorbed into the bloodstream. However, we don’t yet know the long-term effects of vaping CBD and cannabis.

Smoking CBD hemp — which is like cannabis, except it’s low in THC and high in CBD — also works quickly. However, it might not be suitable for people with lung conditions. Smoking anything, including hemp, can irritate your respiratory system.

Edibles are a convenient and tasty way to get CBD. They can take a while to kick in, depending on the type of edible, as they may need to move through the digestive system before entering your bloodstream. Another drawback is that, if you’re experiencing nausea and appetite loss, edibles might be unappealing to you.

CBD tinctures and oils are a relatively simple way to use CBD. Again, the taste might be unappealing to some, but you can get flavored CBD oils.

CBD capsules are quite convenient and easy to use. They might not be ideal if you’re vomiting frequently, though, and like edibles, they take a while to absorb into your bloodstream.

While high quality CBD is available to ordinary consumers, some companies do sell less-than-legitimate CBD products. These products can contain harmful contaminants, or they might be mislabeled (in other words, they contain less CBD than stated on the label).

The Food & Drug Administration(FDA) doesn’t regulate CBD products. However, the FDA has sent warning letters to companies that mislabeled their CBD products. The FDA has even noted that some companies label their products as containing CBD when they contain no CBD at all.

This means that it’s important to take extra care when purchasing CBD products. It’s best to choose products that are third-party tested. In other words, an independent lab has verified its contents. These lab reports, also known as certificates of analysis, are usually available on the vendor’s website. Learn how to read a CBD label here.

Secondly, try to purchase products from reputable companies. Search them online. Find out whether they’ve received warning letters from the FDA. Read reviews and check out press coverage.

Lastly, if you’d like to use CBD for gastroparesis or any medical reason, it’s a good idea to talk with a doctor or another healthcare professional beforehand. A CBD-friendly clinician might actually be able to recommend a specific brand or product that suits your needs.

THC is the chemical in cannabis plants that can cause intoxication — in other words, it can make you feel high.

But that’s not its only effect. It also has properties that might help with the symptoms of gastroparesis.

THC is used to:

  • reduce nausea and vomiting
  • reduce pain
  • stimulate appetite

A synthetic THC-based drug called dronabinol (Marinol) is used for nausea, vomiting, and appetite stimulation in people with HIV or AIDS and people undergoing chemotherapy.

A 2018 study looked at 24 people with gastroparesis. Six people were given dronabinol, ten were given medical cannabis, and eight were given dronabinol followed by cannabis. The study concluded that both cannabis and dronabinol significantly improved abdominal pain.

Another study also looked at the effects of dronabinol and cannabis on 24 people with gastroparesis. It also concluded that dronabinol and cannabis both “significantly improved” abdominal pain in the study participants.

What this suggests is that THC — and cannabis, in general — might help with gastroparesis-related pain.

CBD has the potential to help with symptoms that are associated with gastroparesis, specifically nausea, vomiting, and pain. It does need to be studied further before we know for sure.

As it’s typically a safe substance to use, it might be worth trying CBD for yourself. However, it’s a good idea to talk with a clinician before using CBD or any other health product.

If you decide to use CBD for gastroparesis, ensure that you’re using high quality products from a legitimate company.

Sian Ferguson is a freelance health and cannabis writer based in Cape Town, South Africa. She’s passionate about empowering readers to take care of their mental and physical health through science-based, empathetically delivered information.