Cannabis Makes You Violently Ill?!

To make up for that click-bait title, I’ll give you the answer to that question now.

No. No, it doesn’t.

But my research did intrigue me. If you haven’t seen the Business Insider article about Mrs. X, I’d suggest you take a read. But because I’m so nice, I’ll give you the first paragraph of it.

When she became so uncontrollably sick that she resorted to scalding her skin in a hot bath for the third time in a row, Mrs. X began to wonder whether it had something to do with smoking marijuana.
Erin Brodwin

If you’re anything like me, you read that and needed to take a…Shit, this article was posted a month ago! You read that and needed to take a month break from the silliness. I’m totally kidding. I read the entire thing immediately, but I did pause there.

A link with mental illness

In May 2011, the University of Iowa genotyped 235 patients diagnosed with schizophrenia. Of those 235 individuals, 14% were users and 8% matched the criteria for dependency. That, in itself, isn’t too significant. What is of note, however, is that heavy marijuana use in schizophrenic patients causes the white matter in their brains to decrease in volume, causing neurological impairment. But the major find of the study was that heavy cannabis use during a certain phase of life can increase the susceptibility of schizophrenia.

If cannabis can trigger early schizophrenia, what else can it do?

DON’T Panic! at the Disco

In 2012, I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety, major depression and OCD. I suffered from panic attacks and excessive intrusive thoughts. In 2014, I got my first medical marijuana card. And while Indicas (the “downer” strain) take care of my insomnia and migraines, certain Sativas (the “upper” strain) trigger panic attacks.

If you aren’t familiar with panic attacks, they can certainly scare the hell out of you. Your heart starts to race. Sweat pours off you. Your chest tightens. You can’t breathe. Your vision may tunnel. I tend to get nauseated and hyperventilate. Some people get violently ill.

Source: Pixabay

The first time I tried weed (at an embarrassingly late age, I might add), I smoked way too much and triggered a panic attack. I had to be talked down for an hour because I thought I was having a heart attack. I actually thought about going to the hospital for an overdose. On THC…

OCD or BFD?

One more thing I forgot to mention. Remember the quote at the top from the article? Mrs. X happened to be one of ten patients with the same symptoms. In 2004, four doctors got together and studied these effects.

Source: Burst

Nine of the ten patients experienced excessive bathing issues. They’d scald themselves in the shower, trying to soothe their nausea. The research suggested this was in no way related to mental illness, but a learned compulsion instead.

Which is exactly what OCD is.

A Conspiracy Theory

So, what if nine of these patients smoked a heavy Sativa strain and triggered some bad, previously undiagnosed, panic attacks? It’s an established fact that water soothes the energy from the attack. Possibly because it lowers the blood pressure. The hotter, the better, apparently. Wish I’d have known that in 2014. So, the excessive bathing makes sense in this case as well.

This, coupled with my embarrassing story of thinking of calling an ambulance, is enough of a reason not to strictly blame THC/Cannabis/Marijuana for a “mysterious illness.”

Okay, bye!


Sources

Allen, J.H., de Moore, G.M., Heddle, R., Twartz, J.C. (April 13, 2004). Cannabinoid hyperemesis: cyclical hyperemesis in association with chronic cannabis abuse. Retrieved from https://gut.bmj.com/content/gutjnl/53/11/1566.full.pdf

Aman, J.L. (May 2, 2012). Ten Tools That Help Relieve Panic Attacks. Retrieved from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2012/05/ten-things-to-do-for-a-panic-attack

Brodwin, E. (March 25, 2019). A mysterious syndrome that makes marijuana users violently ill is starting to worry doctors. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/marijuana-syndrome-vomiting-nausea-chs-colorado-er-visits-2019-3

Ho, B.C., Wassink, T.H., Ziebell, S., Andreasen, N.C. (February 18, 2011). Cannabinoid receptor 1 gene polymorphisms and marijuana misuse interactions on white matter and cognitive deficits in schizophrenia. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0920996411001423

Medline Plus. (n.d.). Obsessive-Compulsive disorder. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000929.htm

Taylor, S. (February 18, 2018). The Uncommon Panic Attack Symptom We Don’t Talk About. Retrieved from https://themighty.com/2018/02/panic-attack-throwing-up-vomit/

11 comments

  1. I’m excited to see someone write about this! I have actually diagnosed this once in a patient. It’s called Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome. Hyperemesis means severe vomiting.
    I work in healthcare and when this came out, I was like you, What?!?
    It’s very difficult to diagnose mostly because patients are afraid to be honest with us about drug use. (P.S. I don’t judge you or call the police- just be honest)
    But yes, it is a real thing. It’s mostly seen in long time daily users. So if you are an occasional user there’s not much to fear.
    Here’s a resource to read more about it. https://www.cedars-sinai.org/health-library/diseases-and-conditions/c/cannabinoid-hyperemesis-syndrome.html. Great post- thanks for bringing awareness!

    Like

    1. Thanks for your input!

      I’m a long-time, daily user who’s never had the issue. My partner is also. No issues. We both suffer from panic attacks which cause nausea, but no vomiting. I do think these are cases of panic attacks where the sufferer doesn’t understand what’s going on. The excessive bathing points to the same.

      I do believe that giving it a name or diagnosis is going to put another negative stigma on cannabis.

      I suppose what I should say is, “If you have panic attacks, stay away from Sativa!”

      Like

      1. Agreed. I hate the stigma it brings. It’s so incredibly rare though. The only upside to actually being able to diagnose it in a patient is that it saves a load of unnecessary, expensive medical tests. We hydrate them with IV fluids, give them IV anti-nausea drugs, slowly feed them and discharge. Otherwise – Xray abdomen and then Cat scan when the Xray is negative. When the CT is negative I’ll be consulting a Gastroenterologist. He will want to anesthetize and send a camera down your throat for an EGD. Then hopefully you don’t have diarrhea because you’ll get a colonoscopy as well. That gets pricey.

        Liked by 1 person

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