Cannabis is more effective than prescription drugs for pregnancy-related nausea, new study finds

This article originally appeared on and appears here with permission.

Pregnancy-related nausea is one of the most common experiences for pregnant women.

About half of pregnant women experience it. Nausea can occur at any time: day or night, and for some, it can last all day. It varies in severity; some people only have mild nausea while for other women it can be debilitating – so much so that they may even lose their appetite.

In the medical world, this is called Hyperemesis Gravidarum and is usually treated with one of many conventional pharmaceutical drugs. However, many of these drugs do not work for women. When pregnant women are unable to eat due to severe nausea, it can have serious and life-threatening consequences: low birth weight in infants, miscarriage, dehydration, encelopathy and depression are among the many risks.

New research has revealed that cannabis actually works better than prescription drugs when it comes to treating Hyperemesis Gravidarum. Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, in collaboration with researchers from the Hyperemesis Education and Research Foundation in Oregon, surveyed 550 people who had experienced nausea during pregnancy. The results showed that 96% of respondents said they had used anti-emetic drugs while 14% said they had used marijuana. The majority of those who used marijuana said they did so because antiemetics were not effective in treating the condition.

Additionally, 82% of those who used marijuana said they could find relief and it was effective in helping them gain weight. “This study adds to the growing literature supporting the antiemetic properties of cannabis and cannabinoid compounds while suggesting their potential to treat HG… A minority of respondents to this survey reported using cannabis for HG; however, those who have used cannabis or CBP [cannabis-based products] reported more frequent relief of HG symptoms compared to those using prescription antiemetics,” the authors concluded.

The authors added, “Cannabis products may be seen as a more effective alternative, but further research is needed to understand its mechanism and safety…In the meantime, providers should weigh the unknown risks of recommending cannabis… with the well-established risk of adverse effects. and fetal outcomes for refractory HG.

Other studies

Similar studies and reports have shown positive results in pregnant women who use cannabis for HG.

In 2021, an Israeli study analyzing four reports found that cannabis inhalation had beneficial outcomes and improved quality of life for subjects with HG. Researchers from Shamir Hospital and Ariel University analyzed four women in particular, who were instructed to undergo a before and after assessment of cannabis use.

All four women reported “very significant improvements” in vomiting, nausea and weight gain. Marijuana use also increased scores measuring quality of life. It was also good to note that pregnant women who used marijuana had no impact on the prenatal or postnatal development of babies. “Although more research is needed before cannabis can be considered for use in HG, this report suggests that cannabis should be tested in appropriately powered controlled trials for this serious and prolonged maternal condition, addressing at the both the maternal effect and the potential adverse effects on the fetus,” the authors conclude.

In another 2021 study, researchers at the University of New Mexico (UNM) analyzed the symptoms of 2,200 participants 5 minutes to an hour after consuming cannabis. They found that a whopping 96% of patients felt relief within an hour.

“Despite growing clinical concerns about cyclic vomiting or hyperemesis syndrome in cannabis users, nearly all users experienced relief,” says Sarah Stith, assistant professor at UNM and author of the study.

“The mechanisms behind cannabis’ ability to rapidly reduce feelings of nausea are not entirely clear, but involve the plant’s ability to activate CB1 receptor responses to other central nervous system stimuli, such as the insular cortex. , which is involved in interoception, conscious awareness of internal bodily states, and an example of a region of the brain that is naturally modulated in part by endocannabinoids that naturally occur in the human body. It’s no surprise that the phytocannabinoids that grow in the cannabis plant are also effective at stimulating similar brain regions,” says co-author Jacob Vigil, an associate professor at UNM.

Why Cannabis Works

It’s no surprise that more and more women are turning to marijuana to treat Hyperemesis Gravidarum. A 2018 study in California found that more women were using cannabis, and those in their first trimester who suffered from extreme nausea and vomiting were more likely to do so. Researchers analyzed 220,000 pregnancies in the state from 2009 to 2016 and found the average usage was 5.3%, although that figure jumped to 11.3% for pregnant women with severe nausea.

“Our results add important evidence to a small but growing body of research suggesting that some pregnant women may use marijuana to self-medicate morning sickness,” says Kelly Young-Wolff, PhD, lead author of the study. as Webmd reported.

The endocannabinoid system helps regulate many bodily functions, including maintaining homeostasis and proper functioning of the central nervous system. They also act on the gastrointestinal system, helping to regulate food intake, lipid synthesis and many more.

Cannabinoids act on CB1 receptors to reduce vomiting and intestinal motility; studies have also shown that the antiemetic abilities of marijuana are due to CB1 receptors present in the dorsal vagal complex – also known as the DVC. The DVC houses 3 nuclei that help process information from the nerve to the gut as well as other body structures.

Other research suggests that the way cannabinoids interact with serotonin receptors helps it effectively fight nausea.


For pregnant women with Hyperemesis Gravidarum, talk to your doctor about the options available to safely incorporate cannabis or CBD products into your lifestyle. With more and more pregnant women taking medication with cannabis for uncontrollable nausea, there are now safer options than ever to do so. You are no longer confined to pharmaceutical drugs to treat this condition during pregnancy.

Comments are closed.