ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Emergency room doctors at a local hospital are using a rather unique method to treat a common marijuana related illness.
This illness, known as Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, causes severe stomach pain and cyclical vomiting in people who smoke a lot of pot, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, leading many of them to go to the ER.
“One of the newer treatments that we’ve been trying is capsaicin cream, which is made from peppers, and you kind of just rub it on the patient’s chest or stomach, and it seems to improve their symptoms dramatically or pretty quickly,’ says Dr. Evan Schwartz, an ER doctor at Barnes Jewish and Chief of Medical Toxicology at Wash U School of Medicine.
“It’s a very cheap medication, it seems to be effective for most of these patients, and our standard medications that we give to these patients don’t seem to work,” he says.
Capsaicin cream is already sold over the counter to treat arthritis pain.
“We’re not entirely sure why it works. One of the features of this syndrome, Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, is the patients get better with hot showers, so we’re not sure if the heat from the capsaicin simulates the same effect,” he says.
Schwartz says one of the reasons they’re seeing more cases of this illness is because the potency of pot is much higher than it was 20 years ago. He says his ER now sees a few of these cases every week.