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Intractable Nausea

Intractable nausea is a persistent and debilitating form of nausea that does not respond to conventional treatments such as antiemetic medications. This severe and unrelenting symptom can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life, leading to weight loss, dehydration, and psychological distress. Intractable nausea can be caused by a variety of underlying factors, including medical conditions, treatments, or medications. In this article, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and potential treatment options for intractable nausea, focusing on alternative therapies and emerging approaches that may provide relief for those suffering from this challenging condition.

What is Intractable Nausea?

Intractable nausea refers to a severe and persistent form of nausea that does not respond to conventional antiemetic treatments. This debilitating symptom can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life and may require alternative approaches for management.


The primary symptom of intractable nausea is an ongoing sensation of queasiness, which can be accompanied by:

  1. Vomiting: Frequent vomiting episodes may occur, leading to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.
  2. Weight loss: Persistent nausea can result in reduced appetite and subsequent weight loss.
  3. Fatigue: The physical and emotional toll of intractable nausea can lead to fatigue and diminished energy levels.


Various factors can contribute to the development of intractable nausea, including:

  1. Medical conditions: Gastrointestinal disorders, central nervous system disorders, or metabolic imbalances can cause persistent nausea.
  2. Medications: Certain medications, such as chemotherapy drugs, can induce intractable nausea as a side effect.
  3. Post-surgical complications: Nausea may persist in some individuals following surgery, particularly after abdominal or gastrointestinal procedures.


Although it may not always be possible to prevent intractable nausea, some strategies can help minimize its occurrence or severity:

  1. Identifying triggers: Keeping a journal to track potential triggers, such as specific foods or smells, can help identify and avoid exacerbating factors.
  2. Medication review: Regularly reviewing medications with a healthcare provider can help identify any drugs that may contribute to persistent nausea and explore alternative options.
  3. Stress reduction: Practicing relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises or meditation, can help manage stress-related nausea.

If you or someone you know is experiencing intractable nausea, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional for a comprehensive evaluation and tailored treatment plan. They may recommend alternative therapies, lifestyle modifications, or referral to specialists to help manage this challenging condition effectively.

Medical Marijuana as a Treatment for Intractable Nausea

Medical marijuana has emerged as a potential treatment option for intractable nausea, particularly when conventional antiemetic medications have failed to provide relief. The cannabinoids in medical marijuana interact with the endocannabinoid system, which plays a role in regulating various physiological processes, including nausea and vomiting.

How does medical marijuana help?

Medical marijuana can help alleviate intractable nausea through several mechanisms:

  1. Antiemetic effects: Certain cannabinoids, such as THC, have demonstrated antiemetic properties that can help reduce nausea and vomiting.
  2. Appetite stimulation: Medical marijuana can help stimulate appetite, counteracting the weight loss often associated with persistent nausea.
  3. Anxiety reduction: Some strains of medical marijuana may help reduce anxiety, which can be a contributing factor to nausea.

Cannabinoids and Terpenes for Intractable Nausea

Several cannabinoids and terpenes may be particularly effective in addressing intractable nausea:

  1. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol): THC is known for its psychoactive effects, but it also possesses strong antiemetic properties. It has been used to alleviate chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, making it potentially effective for intractable nausea.
  2. CBD (cannabidiol): CBD has demonstrated anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory effects, which may indirectly contribute to the management of intractable nausea. However, its direct antiemetic properties are less established compared to THC.
  3. CBG (cannabigerol): CBG is a lesser-known cannabinoid that has shown potential antiemetic effects in preclinical studies, suggesting it may be useful in managing intractable nausea.
  4. Limonene: Limonene is a terpene that exhibits mood-enhancing and stress-relieving properties, which can help alleviate anxiety-related nausea.
  5. Beta-caryophyllene: This terpene has demonstrated anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, potentially providing additional support for individuals with nausea related to inflammatory conditions.

It is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional experienced in cannabinoid medicine when considering medical marijuana as a treatment for intractable nausea. They can help determine the appropriate strains, ratios of cannabinoids, and dosages tailored to an individual’s specific needs and circumstances. Further research is needed to fully understand the long-term effects and efficacy of medical marijuana in managing intractable nausea and its underlying causes.

Dosage and Consumption Methods

Recommended dosage:

Figuring out the right dose of medical marijuana can be hard because people’s reactions to cannabinoids and terpenes can be very different. Factors such as the specific condition being treated, the patient’s weight, metabolism, and prior experience with cannabis all play a role in determining the right dosage.
Most of the time, it is best to start with a low dose and slowly increase it until you get the effects you want while minimising any possible side effects. For patients who are new to medical marijuana, starting with 2.5–5 mg of THC or CBD and slowly titrating upwards is often advised.

However, consulting a healthcare professional experienced in medical marijuana is essential to developing a personalised dosing plan tailored to the patient’s needs.

Consumption methods:

There are several methods of consuming medical marijuana, each with its advantages and disadvantages. Some common consumption methods include:

  1. Inhalation (smoking or vaping): Inhalation provides rapid onset of effects, usually within minutes, making it suitable for patients requiring immediate relief. However, smoking may pose respiratory risks, while vaping has been associated with lung injuries in some cases.
  2. Oral ingestion (edibles, capsules, tinctures): Ingesting medical marijuana provides longer-lasting effects compared to inhalation but has a slower onset, typically taking 30 minutes to 2 hours for effects to be felt. This method is suitable for patients requiring sustained relief but may require careful dosing to avoid overconsumption.
  3. Topical application (creams, balms, patches): Topicals can provide localised relief for conditions such as arthritis or skin disorders without producing psychoactive effects. The onset of action and duration of effects can vary depending on the product formulation and individual absorption rates.
  4. Sublingual administration (tinctures, dissolvable strips): Sublingual products are absorbed through the mucous membranes under the tongue, providing rapid onset of effects without the need for inhalation or ingestion. This method offers discreet consumption and precise dosing.

Obtaining a Medical Marijuana Card

Why get a medical marijuana card?

Getting a medical marijuana card is helpful for patients who are looking for other ways to treat their conditions.

  1. Legal protection: A medical marijuana card allows patients to possess, use, and in some cases, cultivate cannabis for medical purposes, within their state’s legal limits.
  2. Access to quality products: Medical marijuana dispensaries offer a wide range of tested and regulated cannabis products, ensuring patients receive safe and effective medication.
  3. Tax savings: In some states, medical marijuana patients are exempt from certain taxes applied to recreational cannabis sales.
  4. Professional guidance: Medical marijuana cardholders have access to healthcare professionals who can provide personalised recommendations, dosing advice, and ongoing support.

How to apply:

The process of obtaining a medical marijuana card varies by state but generally involves the following steps:

  1. Consult with a medical practitioner to determine if medical marijuana is appropriate for your condition and obtain a written recommendation.
  2. Complete an application with the required documentation, including proof of residency, identification, and the healthcare professional’s recommendation.
  3. Submit the application to the appropriate state agency, along with any required fees.
  4. Await approval and issuance of the medical marijuana card.

Risks and Side Effects

Potential risks:

While medical marijuana can offer relief and improve the quality of life for many patients, it also carries certain risks and side effects. Some potential risks associated with medical marijuana use include:

  1. Dependency and addiction: Although the risk of addiction is considered lower than that of opioids or alcohol, some individuals may develop a dependency on cannabis.
  2. Impaired cognitive function: THC, the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis, can impair memory, attention, and reaction times, particularly with prolonged or heavy use.
  3. Respiratory issues: Smoking cannabis can cause respiratory problems, including bronchitis and lung irritation. Vaping has also been linked to lung injuries in some cases.
  4. Mental health concerns: High doses of THC or predisposition to mental health disorders can lead to increased anxiety, paranoia, or exacerbate existing mental health conditions.
  5. Drug interactions: Medical marijuana may interact with other medications, either enhancing or diminishing their effects. It is essential to discuss potential drug interactions with a healthcare professional before starting medical marijuana therapy.


Medical marijuana might not be right for every patient, especially those who already have certain health problems or risk factors. Contraindications to medical marijuana use may include:

  1. Personal or family history of substance abuse or addiction
  2. Severe liver or kidney disease
  3. Severe cardiovascular disease
  4. Pregnancy or breastfeeding
  5. History of psychosis or other severe mental health disorders
  6. Allergies or hypersensitivity to cannabis or its components

Legal Status

Where is it legal?

In the United States, the laws about medical marijuana are always changing. Currently, over 30 states and the District of Columbia allow its use under certain conditions. Each state has its own rules and a list of medical conditions that are allowed to use medical marijuana.

Even though some states have made medical marijuana legal, it is still illegal at the federal level because it is a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act.

This difference between state and federal laws can make it harder for medical marijuana patients to get jobs, find housing, or travel across state lines, among other things. Patients should research their state’s guidelines and remain aware of potential legal risks.


Medical marijuana could help relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life for many people with long-term or debilitating illnesses.

When thinking about this treatment option, it’s important to know the right dose, how to use it, how to get a medical marijuana card, possible risks, side effects, and legal status.

Work closely with a doctor or nurse who knows a lot about medical marijuana to find out if it is a good and safe choice for your needs.

As the legal landscape surrounding medical marijuana continues to evolve, staying informed about changing regulations and guidelines is essential to ensuring responsible and compliant use.

As the field of medical marijuana continues to evolve, it’s crucial for patients, caregivers, and healthcare providers to stay informed about the latest research and developments. This guide aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the current landscape, but it’s always important to consult with healthcare providers for personalized advice.

Note: This article’s content is provided for educational purposes only. This information is not intended to serve as a substitute for professional legal or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or queries regarding laws, regulations, or your health, you should always consult a lawyer, physician, or other licensed practitioner.