There is no consensus as to why some people experience motion sickness and some don’t, although the working explanation is that the eye is perceiving things that are out of sync with the inner ear. Motion sickness often lead to vomiting and most states with legalized medical cannabis program do provide access for individuals with conditions that cause extreme nausea, but none include access for motion sickness.
There are three types of motion sickness:
- Motion sickness due to feeling motion you don’t see.
- Motion sickness due to seeing something you can’t feel.
- Motion sickness due to both visual and auditory systems detecting motion, but they’re not corresponding.
Motion sickness doesn’t just effect people moving in cars or boats; some people experience it when watching videos or when using virtual reality. At least one study suggests that motion sickness is somewhat related to stress – which some treat with cannabis – and partly due to “impaired endocannabinoid activity.”
Some individuals who experience motion sickness use low-dose dexamethasone to treat their condition, and a study focused on that drug found that it works to alleviate motion sickness symptoms by “enhancing the endocannabinoid system.”
Current, traditional, motion sickness drugs have side effects
Dimenhydrinate, a common motion sickness drug, can cause seizures and loss of consciousness; cannabis does not carry those risks. Additionally, traditional drugs work primarily to treat the nausea and vomiting associated with motion sickness but do not combat the anxiety many who suffer from the condition report. Cannabis has long been lauded as an anxiety treatment and as more low-dose products enter the market more and more people are using cannabis to treat their anxiety.
THC or CBD for motion sickness?
While the jury is still out on whether it’s CBD or THC responsible for the anti-emetic effects of cannabis, at least two studies suggest that CBDA – the acidic, raw form, of CBD – might be better than both THC and CBD at curbing nausea.
CBDA for nausea
In 2013, researchers at the University of Aberdeen in the United Kingdom concluded that “CBDA displays significantly greater potency at inhibiting vomiting in shrews and nausea in rats” compared to CBD in a preclinical study.
“Consequently, CBDA shows promise as a treatment for nausea and vomiting, including anticipatory nausea for which no specific therapy is currently available,” the researchers note.
CBDA, though, can only be found in the raw, plant form, of cannabis. Once the plant is burned or otherwise heated the CBDA turns into CBD. The best way to obtain CBDA is by juicing the plant.
Best marijuana strain for nausea
< Some Reddit users on the virtual reality channel r/oculus claim that using cannabis has alleviated their motion sickness to varying degrees, with most suggesting sativa strains. Chris Reed, a tech blogger, also suggests that cannabis could be useful for those who experience motion sickness while playing virtual reality games.
Start with CBD-rich – low-THC products
Because CBD products don’t have the psychoactive effects of THC-rich products starting with the former, especially for inexperienced consumers, is the rule of thumb. Since motion sickness is complicated, CBD might work wonders for some but not for all – and there is a dearth of research on confirmed links between cannabis as a motion sickness therapy.
If CBD doesn’t do the trick, graduate to THC products. It appears – at least anecdotally for virtual reality-induced motion sickness – that sativa strains might be more efficacious, especially those with higher CBD content.
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