Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome in North America: evaluation of health burden and treatment prevalence

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2022 Dec;56(11-12):1532-1542. doi: 10.1111/apt.17265. Epub 2022 Oct 28.

Abstract

Background: Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS) is a poorly understood vomiting disorder associated with chronic cannabis use.

Aims: To characterise patients experiencing CHS in North America and to obtain a population-based estimate of CHS treatment prevalence in Canada before and during the Covid-19 pandemic METHODS: Internet survey of 157 CHS sufferers in Canada and the United States. Administrative health databases for the province of Alberta (population 5 million) were accessed to measure emergency department (ED) visits for vomiting, with a concurrent diagnostic code for cannabis use. Three time periods of 1 year were assessed: prior to recreational cannabis legalisation (2017-2018), after recreational legalisation (2018-2019) and during the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic (2020-2021).

Results: Problematic cannabis use (defined as a CUDIT-R score ≥8) was universal among the survey cohort, and 59% and 68% screening for moderate or worse anxiety or depression, respectively. The overall treatment prevalence of CHS across all ages increased from 15 ED visits per 100,000 population (95% CI, 14-17) prior to legalisation, to 21 (95% CI, 20-23) after legalisation, to 32 (95% CI, 31-35) during the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic (p < 0.001). Treatment prevalence among chronic cannabis users was as high as 6 per 1000 in the 16-24 age group.

Conclusion: Survey data suggest patients with CHS almost universally suffer from a cannabis use disorder, which has significant treatment implications. Treatment prevalence in the ED has increased substantially over a very short time period, with the highest rates seen during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Cannabinoids* / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • North America
  • Pandemics
  • Prevalence
  • Syndrome
  • Vomiting / chemically induced
  • Vomiting / epidemiology

Substances

  • Cannabinoids

Grants and funding