JOURNAL ARTICLE
MULTICENTER STUDY

Resolution of cannabis hyperemesis syndrome with topical capsaicin in the emergency department: a case series

Laurel Dezieck, Zachary Hafez, Albert Conicella, Eike Blohm, Mark J O'Connor, Evan S Schwarz, Michael E Mullins
Clinical Toxicology 2017, 55 (8): 908-913
28494183

BACKGROUND: Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS) is characterized by symptoms of cyclic abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting in the setting of prolonged cannabis use. The transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) receptor may be involved in this syndrome. Topical capsaicin is a proposed treatment for CHS; it binds TRPV1 with high specificity, impairing substance P signaling in the area postrema and nucleus tractus solitarius via overstimulation of TRPV1. This may explain its apparent antiemetic effect in this syndrome.

PURPOSE: We describe a series of thirteen cases of suspected cannabis hyperemesis syndrome treated with capsaicin in the emergency departments of two academic medical centers.

METHODS: A query of the electronic health record at both centers identified thirteen patients with documented daily cannabis use and symptoms consistent with CHS who were administered topical capsaicin cream for symptom management.

RESULTS: All 13 patients experienced symptom relief after administration of capsaicin cream.

CONCLUSION: Topical capsaicin was associated with improvement in symptoms of CHS after other treatments failed.

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