Gut 53:1566-1570 doi:10.1136/gut.2003.036350
  • Stomach

Cannabinoid hyperemesis: cyclical hyperemesis in association with chronic cannabis abuse

  1. J H Allen1,
  2. G M de Moore2,
  3. R Heddle3,
  4. J C Twartz4
  1. 1Department of Medicine, Mt Barker Hospital, Mt Barker, South Australia, Australia
  2. 2Department of Psychiatry, Westmead Hospital, Westmead, New South Wales, Australia
  3. 3Department of Gastroenterology, Repatriation General Hospital, Daw Park, South Australia, Australia
  4. 4Department of Medicine, Ashford Hospital, Anzac Hwy, Ashford, South Australia, Australia
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr J H Allen
    95 Main St, Woodside, South Australia, 5244, PO BOX 338 Woodside, South Australia 5244, Australia;
  • Received 18 March 2004
  • Accepted 13 April 2004


Background and aims: To explore the association between chronic cannabis abuse and a cyclical vomiting illness that presented in a series of cases in South Australia.

Methods: Nineteen patients were identified with chronic cannabis abuse and a cyclical vomiting illness. For legal and ethical reasons, all patients were counselled to cease all cannabis abuse. Follow up was provided with serial urine drug screen analysis and regular clinical consultation to chart the clinical course. Of the 19 patients, five refused consent and were lost to follow up and five were excluded on the basis of confounders. The remaining nine cases are presented here and compared with a published case of psychogenic vomiting.

Results: In all cases, including the published case, chronic cannabis abuse predated the onset of the cyclical vomiting illness. Cessation of cannabis abuse led to cessation of the cyclical vomiting illness in seven cases. Three cases, including the published case, did not abstain and continued to have recurrent episodes of vomiting. Three cases rechallenged themselves after a period of abstinence and suffered a return to illness. Two of these cases abstained again, and became and remain well. The third case did not and remains ill. A novel finding was that nine of the 10 patients, including the previously published case, displayed an abnormal washing behaviour during episodes of active illness.

Conclusions: We conclude that chronic cannabis abuse was the cause of the cyclical vomiting illness in all cases, including the previously described case of psychogenic vomiting.


    Responses to this article