screaming and vomiting are symptoms of scromiting or cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS). Photo credit: Monkeybusiness.
Vomiting. Nausea and abdominal pain. Uncontrollable screaming. These are the symptoms of a bizarre new illness known as scromiting. The new medical phenomenon that affects one in three daily cannabis consumers has dumbfounded scientists and doctors alike all over the country.
What is Scromitting
Scromiting earned its name because of its two distinguishing symptoms — uncontrollable vomiting and screaming. In the medical field, scromiting is known as cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, (CHS).
CHS is such a new condition and medical specialists so rarely diagnose it that researching it becomes almost impossible. For instance, a 2021 study conducted in Colorado had to pull up old medical files of suspected CHS cases and compare it to the use of cannabis in the area.
Symptoms of CHS
Other symptoms of CHS include sweating, flushing of the skin, dehydration, and fluctuations in body temperature. Symptoms of CHS usually begin to manifest after three to five years of consistent day-to-day cannabis use.
Oddly enough, according to The Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), the THC in cannabis relieves nausea and abdominal pain in cancer patients, turning CHS into a paradoxical medical mystery.
The use of cannabis as a pain killer has been growing in popularity throughout the U.S. A survey conducted at The New England Journal of Medicine, found that 76% of doctors approve the use of cannabis as a pain reliever. However, research has now pointed to the results of its effectiveness varying from study to study.
What we Know About CHS
CHS burst onto the medical scene when a group of Australian scientists conducted a 2004 study on a group of 19 chronic cannabis users experiencing violent abdominal pain and uncontrollable vomiting. This short time span makes CHS a relatively new illness and nearly unknown in the medical field. However, a report in the Journal of Current Drug Abuse Reviews, and another one in 2015, suggests that many cases of CHS go undiagnosed as medical professionals still do not know much about the link between the illness and cannabis.
The cause of CHS is still up in the air, but research is progressing towards an answer. According to Medical News Today, there are two theories that distinguish themselves from others, and have split the scientific community. For example, some researchers believe that genetics may play a major role in the development of CHS, while others believe that the constant use of cannabis can weaken a user’s resistance to the substance.
Medical News Today however, states that there is a consensus on how cannabis affects one’s body. Research has shown that cannabis molecules attach themselves to two different receptors, CB1 and CB2. CB1 is mostly found in the brain, but can also be found in other organs, such as the stomach. There is not much research on the function of CB2 thus far.
When cannabis molecules attach themselves to the CB1 receptors they effectively alter their activity, according to the publication. More specifically, research suggests that, in a regular person’s body, the use of cannabis would cause the CB1 receptor to become more active, effectively giving them the munchies. In cases of CHS, CB1 receptors shut down, theoretically causing uncontrollable vomiting.
Whether one’s CB1 activity level is genetically inherited or deteriorates with the consumption of cannabis is still up for debate.
Treatment for CHS
Many patients have reported the use of hot showers to relieve their abdominal pain and nausea. THC attaches itself to a user’s pain receptors when consumed. Doctors theorize that the sensation of burning water functions as a distraction for the body, relieving the symptoms and halting the pain cycle.
Doctors use IV fluids and anti-nausea drugs to combat CHS. They also strongly suggest that patients abstain from the use of cannabis. Most patients who experience CHS and do refrain from cannabis report that their symptoms subside.
If experiencing CHS do not consume any more cannabis as it is likely that symptoms will only worsen.
What CHS Means to us
CHS should not be a concern when it comes to the legitimacy of cannabis. According to a Pew Research Center survey, 60% of adults still support the legalization of cannabis. As of April, 36 states and four territories have passed medical cannabis laws. Seventeen of those states have legalized the use of recreational cannabis. With immense support for cannabis legalization, CHS will not impact the ballots anytime soon.
Although professionals rarely diagnose CHS, research suggests that it may slowly become a national health crisis. According to a study in the Neurogastroenterology and Mobility journal, one in five patients hospitalized with uncontrollable vomiting between 2005 and 2014 reported the daily use of cannabis. However, some experts believe it is as high as one in three users. This is a concerning statistic since, at the time, most states only legalized cannabis as a medical substance.
Spending one’s entire night in the hospital vomiting and screaming might not be the most painful part about CHS. Paying hospital bills might. According to The Office of Legislation Research, some health service providers include an “illegal act exclusion” clause where they can choose to reject payment when injuries are caused by illegal actions. Since cannabis is still illegal under federal law, any injuries sustained from its use may not be covered by a health provider.
Fortunately, most health insurances do not include the illegal act exclusion in their policies, and most states prohibit its use. Regular users of cannabis should still check their insurance policies to avoid any unexpected surprises that may impact their health coverage.
The over consumption of any substance can harm a person’s health, and cannabis is no exception. For all of the health benefits that cannabis offers its users, abusing it can cause severe medical issues, both physically and psychologically.
According to the American Addiction Center, memory loss, anxiety, lung damage and heart disease are just a few of the long term side effects of the continuous abuse of cannabis.
When consuming cannabis, it is always important to use it in moderation, and to always remember to respect one’s body.