Is Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome Forever: The Alice Moon Update

Randy Robinson March 23, 2019 7 comments

The intense vomiting of cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS) is life threatening and real whether you believe it or not.

Last year, cannabis advocate and influencer, Alice Moon, shared her story of cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS) with RxLeaf. Doctors treated her for the mysterious illness that is characterized by uncontrollable vomiting. Although medicine doesn’t yet know what causes CHS, something in cannabis appears to be the culprit. What that something – or somethings – is/are both unknown and contentious.

Back in September 2018, Moon spent months visiting hospitals and clinics while doctors tried to figure out what was going on. After settling on CHS – which is not yet an officially recognized diagnosis – she slowly resumed cannabis consumption, though at much lower doses and frequencies than she had prior to getting sick. Life apparently returned to normal for her.

However, last month, after consuming a full-spectrum CBD capsule, Moon said her symptoms of relentless vomiting returned. Once the vomiting started, she knew the CHS had returned, though this time she said the episode was much more severe than in the past.

“The hospital didn’t even want to admit me,” she said. “They said they couldn’t admit me just for throwing up. They’d never even heard of [CHS]. The ER doctor didn’t know the difference between THC and CBD, either, which blew me away.”

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Blood tests revealed Moon’s blood sugar levels had dipped to dangerously low levels, which finally got her admitted. She spent sixteen days vomiting, with four of those in hospital. Doctors diagnosed her with stomach inflammation likely caused by the vomiting rather than CHS.

Alice Moon (CHS sufferer) sitting at desk with joint

Image via Instagram @thealicemoon

A New Community Comes from Cannabis

Moon joined a Facebook group devoted to supporting those with CHS. She also said friends and peers refer other CHS patients to her on a weekly basis. She was surprised to learn that members of the group knew who she was because of her interviews and social media posts about CHS, but they chastised her for resuming cannabis consumption.

One group member told her, “You can’t go back to [cannabis]. [CHS] is a forever thing.”

According to Moon, patients who’ve struggled with CHS often try to return to cannabis. But, she said, CHS’s return isn’t a “matter of if, it’s a matter of when. It’s going to come back.”

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How to Deal with CHS

If you or someone you know may be experiencing CHS, what should you do? Moon advises ceasing all cannabis consumption immediately and permanently – at least until a better, effective treatment comes along.

“You have to quit,” she said. “And that’s really hard.”

Depending on your circumstances, it may be a good idea to let friends, family, and coworkers know if you have CHS. Not only does this make them aware of the issue, it prevents undue peer pressure from creeping up at toke seshes, parties, or other events.

Alice Moon (CHS sufferer) in front of High Times Magazine office

Image via Instagram@thealicemoon

Cutting out the cannabis may not be enough, either. Moon recommends avoiding other foods that could contain cannabinoids, such as coffee, chocolate, certain peppers, and truffles.

Finally, be incredibly mindful of what’s offered to you, especially at conventions and other public gatherings. Moon recounted a recent encounter at a natural foods expo where a vendor offered her a CBD-infused drink that she was unaware contained CBD.

“Is there CBD in this?” she said she asked him. “He said, ‘Yeah, but it’s not going to kill you.’”

When she explained CHS to him, she said he just scoffed: “And that’s a problem.”

Although the medical literature hasn’t documented anyone dying from CHS, one doctor told Moon last year that she could’ve experienced renal failure had she continued to suffer from dehydration, as the vomiting got so bad she couldn’t hold down water at one point.

Fighting the Good Fight

Ever since Moon came out about CHS, she received a lot of negative comments from other cannabis advocates and entrepreneurs. She’s been accused of being a “shill” for the pharmaceutical industry and prohibitionist organizations.

Alice Moon (CHS sufferer) at Uncle Snoop Launch

Image via Instagram@thealicemoon

“There are some people who give me a lot of support,” she said, noting the split between supporters and critics is about fifty-fifty. “Then there are others who are just angry. They don’t want to believe it’s true. People need to push for more research instead of trying to push me out the door.”

These accusations strike her as odd, considering she’s still fighting for both cannabis legalization and normalization. Moon is the PR and media manager for Paragon, a workspace for cannabis industry professionals. Her CHS hasn’t put her off cannabis.

“I’m not leaving the cannabis industry,” she said. “I love this industry, and I fucking love this plant.”

Author avatar

Randy Robinson

As someone who wanted to know everything but couldn't decide on anything, Randy completed degrees in English, World History, and Molecular Biology. During their studies, they received an externship at the biotech firm Cannabis Science Inc., focusing on phytocannabinoids as anti-tumor and anti-cancer agents. Based in the Mile High City of Denver, Colorado, you can find Randy on Twitter, Instagram, and Medium @RanDieselJay

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  1. Rex D Stock

    This is all nothing more than more dosing bull from the newest conspiracy group of so-called medical professionals trying to carve out their space in the cannabis industry. There’s absolutely no proof that the condition is actually real and certainly no proof that the onset is caused by cannabis, CDB, smoked and or eaten.

  2. Karan grewal

    Even I don’t want to believe this but it’s true as I have been through this. I have smoked weed for 11 years and suddenly got CHS kind of severe pain in the stomach.Got admitted to emergency, they ran all test but couldn’t figure out why I had all this pain. There was no reason to it. Then researching online about weed side effects I could relate 100% to it and other people who have are smokers n going through this condition. And no stonner would believe it until he / she gets it .

  3. Kimberly Haltom

    Mr. Stock, I truly hope you never experience a reaction to something that has ever been undocumented.

    For instance, I don’t normally watch television, but it happened to be on the other day. I saw an an ad looking for patients who take a well known Type 2 diabetes medication that causes necrotizing fasciitis of the genitals (it’s legit, I looked it up). I wonder how many people told them it was BS and made up in their heads? “Sorry, Mr. Patient, that your genitals are falling off. I think you are just experiencing anxiety.” What you are proposing would also apply to someone in this situation. Unfortunately, statements such as this convey ignorance, but you can evolve and learn, if you choose.

    I hope that you find your way to empathizing with others instead of assuming because it doesn’t happen to you means it didn’t happen at all. How would we ever know to investigate any disease if someone didn’t experience it? I would be interested to know what basis your anger stems from. I’m going to make a judgement based on your statement above and alter as needed. What are you so afraid of that you fear someone saying they got sick over cannabis makes you react to them with ridicule?

    Regardless, I’m choosing not to argue with anyone over it, but throw my support to science, medicince, and patient advocacy. Ms. Moon, I’m sorry that you and anyone else has to deal with anyone who feels that ridiculing others is the answer. I hope, for your sake and others, that an answer can be found.

  4. Norman Uili

    This condition is 1000% REAL.Ive been hospitalized 3 times,taken all 3 times in an ambulance.This last episode was on Feb.28,2020.Each time got worse,this last time really took a toll on me.Hospitalized for 5 days,couldn’t eat,absolutely no appetite, continuous vomiting,to the point that I was vomiting stomach acid that burned the hell out of my throat and lips.Today is March 12,2020 and I’m slowly getting my strength back,as well as my appetite.Ive been smoking for as bout 30 yrs.,I’ve said I’m done with weed,but than again,I’ve said that the last 2 times and still didn’t learn.I hope this time I can stick to it,I dont ever wanna experience this ever ever again.Once again folks,SHIT IS REALLY REAL!

  5. Pat

    This is FOR REAL!!! I have smoked for 10 years and over the last two year battled CHS to the point I finally found out what it was after my GI doc knew after several ER docs and others thought it was Gastritis or other things after numerous tests. Nope. I was admitted into the ER over 7 timesprobably over the last year until we figured it out. Once, by ambulance because I threw up so much I could barely stand and couldn’t hardly breathe at one point. My throat was so screwed up from puking 30-40 times in 12 hours it was raw/pain. I couldn’t even sip water. I would start feeling sick, couldn’t eat, and begin throwing up constantly every 10-15 mins if I didn’t jump in a really hot shower for relief. I told my doc the only thing that stopped the sickness feeling was a hot shower for hours and he knew exactly what it was, CHS. After a minute or so in a really hot shower it would stop… I would then sit down and let it rain on me until I got so hot I had to get out… just to throw up 10 mins later and hop right back in… repeat. He asked me to stop smoking and I did for 3 months and it went away finally earlier this year. My appetite came back, I felt normal, I could function normally again. Then I got brave and said I would only smoke a little here and there and then bam, a week or so later, it came back again recently. This bout was worse than any. I would jump in hot showers and puke for almost 12-15 hours straight if not in the hot shower. I would rub chili pepper cream on my stomach because my doc said to try it and I saw a lot of posts about it online, and that helped too, but the heat was so intense it felt like I was on fire. I didn’t care though, at least I wasn’t puking or wanting to if I was on hot shower or burning myself with pepper cream so bad I would have to take a walk outside at night with my shirt off for a breeze at least. It’s not a coincidence that these people all experience the same symptoms… it’s FOR REAL and the doctors know it. It’s in these cannaboid receptors in our brains that are getting screwed (must be the weed we have these days). I don’t know how, been smoking forever, but it’s def true. Whatever I do, the only way to make it go away is to quit and wait out the “recovery phase” of CHS. My last recovery phase after stopping took 3 months to finally make the episodes completely dissapear. They did. They would randomly happen even after quitting at first for weeks and months from drinking too much alcohol or something that seemed like it triggered it more… doc said it takes these receptors need more time sometimes. He’s right. I am glad one actually knew what this was because these other doctors have NO clue and should by now. My doc said he sees people in the ER every week now with CHS that they never had before. All the same symptoms. They all smoke weed and say the same things now when he asks them. I am never smoking again until they find a pill to block this from happening or figure this shit out. I love smoking and the feelings of all of the great plants I got to try over the years, but that ER scares me and the torture of waiting out an episode to stop is awful. Nothing works in thr ER even… nothing… not even morphine and every nausea med they can throw at me. Still persists. Only hot showers and pepper cream temporarily work. Heavy doses of dilaudid or anxiety meds to knock me out were about the only way in the ER a few times. Then I would tell the others that and they wouldn’t give me pain meds. I would tell them morphine doesn’t work at all, and they thought I was some sort of pain junky looking for meds. I’m not. But, none of them want to prescribe heavy pain meds so you suffer for hours until it goes away on its own eventually. I mean torture. Stomach pain at the highest level and violent vomiting. They run every test, MRI, scopes in my stomach and all… NOTHING to say. It’s FN CHS!!!! Believe it. Only way is to quit for now and let your brain heal. You will start feeling better within days and even the first few weeks for sure. You may battle a few episodes even after quitting while in the recovery phase while your body gets back in check, so avoid the triggers like alcohol and all for a while. It sucks, but need to get out of the recovery phase and everyone is different here. Def don’t smoke anymore and you will see eventually it’s this CHS doing it. All of the people on here that are bashing us just don’t understand because it’s not them. Trust me, I have narrowed down everything I do and try everything differently in hopes I could smoke, even if just once a week… nope. It WILL come back. CBD will do it too… anything that messes with the same brain receptors. #CHSisrealpeople