Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is a natural remedy that has been used for centuries to treat a variety of medical conditions. Recently, CBD oil has gained popularity as a treatment for nausea, a common symptom experienced daily by millions of people. But does it really work? And is it safe? In this article, we will explore the science behind CBD oil and nausea and find out if it is an effective treatment option.
What is CBD?
While scientists are still studying and learning about cannabidiol, the research so far is promising. It is understood that the cannabis compound is a beneficial substance that people take for various reasons, such as helping with anxiety, sleep problems and chronic pain. Some also use it to cope with nausea.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of many active compounds (cannabinoids) of the cannabis plant (another well-known compound is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC). Unlike THC, CBD is non-intoxicating and ingestion will not get you high. There are three types of CBD that you will typically find in products:
- CBD Isolate – this is pure CBD, containing no other cannabinoids or plant compounds from the cannabis plant.
- Broad-spectrum CBD – contains CBD and some additional cannabinoids and plant compounds, except for THC.
- Full-spectrum CBD – contains CBD and a broad range of cannabinoids and plant compounds such as terpenes, flavonoids and THC.
What is Nausea and What Causes It?
Nausea is something we’ve all experienced at some point – that uneasy, uncomfortable, queasy feeling in the stomach that makes you feel as if you could vomit at any moment. Nauseous feelings originate in a region of the brain known as the medulla oblongata, which is responsible for controlling many vital processes such as breathing, heartbeat, sneezing and vomiting. These involuntary processes are modulated by signals sent from other regions of the brain to the medulla oblongata. Nausea is the result of the brain triggering the urge to vomit; this could be in response to toxic substances such as alcohol or drugs, or viral and bacterial infections, for instance.
There are hundreds of different factors that are potential causes for nausea, with some of the most common causes including infection, food poisoning, pregnancy and side effects of medication. Other causes can include anxiety, chemotherapy, motion sickness, PMS, migraines and meningitis.
Can CBD Help with Nausea and Vomiting?
To answer the question "does CBD oil help with nausea?" we must first look at how the nausea is linked with the body's endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a system of the mammalian body that controls homeostasis (balance) via receptors and endocannabinoids. One specific function of the endocannabinoid system is to manage a region in the medulla oblongata that's responsible for triggering nausea and vomiting reflexes, and research shows that blocking the ECS can induce nausea. Conversely, enhancing the ECS can quell nausea.
When we ingest cannabinoids such as CBD, they interact with – and boost – our ECS. This can provide anti-nausea effects, with some studies suggesting that this may be linked to the interaction of cannabinoids with serotonin receptors. Further studies have also shown that CBD and THC together can provide relief from nausea in patients going through chemotherapy. Research into cannabinoids and nausea remains in the preliminary stages, and it’s important to note that much of the human-based research focuses on the benefits for people diagnosed with cancer. Some research indicates that THC may provide more relief from nausea than CBD, however, THC remains an illegal substance in the UK and ultimately, more people are supplementing with CBD oil for nausea relief. Subsequently, there are many promising anecdotal reports but further research is required.
CBD Oil for Nausea: How Quickly Does it Work?
If CBD oil is taken sublingually, the anti-nausea effects may be felt within as little as 15 minutes. For other CBD oil-infused products such as CBD gummies, the effects will take longer – possibly around 60-90 minutes – as the edible must pass through the digestive system before CBD is absorbed into the bloodstream.
Best Types of CBD Oil for Nausea
There is some evidence that full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD products may be more effective in quelling nausea due to the presence of additional natural plant compounds, which, when working together may enhance the product’s efficacy. This is known as the ‘entourage effect’.
In terms of types of CBD products, choose the most suitable product for you. If you are vomiting, avoid CBD edibles and opt for a sublingual CBD drops for nausea, for instance (you’ll feel the effects sooner, too).
When it comes to CBD for nausea, the best dosage to use is still unclear and largely depends on the individual. Generally speaking, CBD oil should not be taken in large doses (especially when starting) as it may cause side effects such as dizziness and fatigue. However, depending on the individual's condition, smaller doses (5-10mg) may help reduce nausea or vomiting in some cases. We recommend beginning with a smaller dose and building up gradually until you find the ideal dose for you, observing your body’s tolerance to the extract carefully.
Safety and Side Effects
Cannabidiol has an excellent safety profile and is tolerated well by most people. However, it’s important to understand that the cannabinoid can still produce side effects, although if these occur, they are typically mild. Some of the most frequently reported side effects associated with CBD include:
- Appetite changes
- Dry mouth
- Weight changes
CBD can also interact with some prescription medicines, so it’s a good idea to talk to your GP before taking CBD oil for nausea.
How to Choose CBD Products for Nausea
The rapidly rising popularity of CBD products has resulted in a booming market, which can make it difficult to choose the right product for you. When shopping for CBD, be sure to research brands and choose one with a good reputation. Opt for a manufacturer who can provide third-party lab reports to guarantee the purity of their products. Some CBD products contain additional ingredients; check that these are natural and suitable for you. In addition, you might opt for a higher-strength CBD concentration, especially if dealing with severe nausea. Even if you’re new to CBD, you can try very small amounts and build up gradually.
Alternative Natural Remedies for Nausea
If CBD isn’t the right treatment for your nausea – or you wish to add another natural remedy to your daily routine – the following natural substances and treatments may also offer anti-nausea effects.
- Ginger root
- Relaxation techniques
- Keeping hydrated
- Limiting sugary and high-fat foods
- Frequent snacks to keep the stomach settled
The Bottom Line
There is some promising evidence that cannabinoids such as CBD can have anti-nausea effects, but this research remains in the preliminary stages and further study is required. However, many people report that they have successfully quelled nausea using CBD. Furthermore, the cannabinoid tends to have fewer side effects than pharmaceutical anti-nausea medications while potentially offering the same benefits. If you want to try CBD oil for nausea, opt for a potent product from a reputable brand, that has undergone independent third-party lab testing to guarantee purity.