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Episode Info: A two-way interview between journalist Patricia Miller and Joe Dolce about the gut-wrenching illness called hyperemesis.A few weeks ago Patricia Miller, associate editor of Cannabis & Tech Today magazine, called to talk about hyperemesis, the strange and increasingly more reported illness that hits some cannabis users hard. Hyperemesis is defined as bouts of cyclical vomiting caused from combusting flower (i.e., smoking a joint), but trust me, what happens is way more painful than simple puking. It’s as if your stomach is being turned inside out – gut wrenching -- and it can last for hours, in extreme cases, days. The few scientific papers on it contend that it is followed by a compulsive desire to take hot showers. In my case I was so wasted after each bout I could barely crawl into bed, let alone stand in a shower.As one who always wants to be first on a trend, I was hit with hyperemesis while reporting Brave New Weed and about a half dozen times in the subsequent two years. I couldn’t understand how a plant that chemotherapy patients use to quell nausea would send me into paroxysms of puking. After months of investigating I never identified the cause but I did learn a lot about the chemistry and biology of the cannabis plant, and turned that into a book.There’s no consensus about what hyperemesis is or what detonates it. Dr. Raphael Mechoulam surmised it is dose or strain related. Others blame pesticides or other chemicals used in cultivation that have not been properly cleared from harvested bud. Others say it’s caused by today’s super strong weed that can clock in at 30% THC. My own experience elides all of these theories. I was smacked down after a fat dab as well as on the very first puff of a joint. As for the quality/variety of the herb, well, I’ve been privileged to inhale some of the finest, organic, sun-grown, pesticide-free weed grown in North America, so quality and variety aren’t the only culprits.Patricia proposed interviewing me about my experiences but I suggested we interview each other in hopes of informing more people who’ve been felled. I don’t think hyperemesis is necessarily a new illness; rather, I suspect more people are reporting it now that legalization has opened up the conversation. Some sufferers I’ve met have quit using completely to avoid any future misery. Personally, I’ve navigated a cautious path and have concluded that the only surefire way of inhaling flower without retching is through vaporization. My untested theory is that there is something in the plant matter itself that triggers the convulsions.Before this interview I asked a few chemists if they had come across any home grown remedies. The only response came from James Curran, who has appeared on Episode 67 of this podcast. He forwarded this study that identifies capsaicin, the fiery ingredient in cayenne pepper, as a possible antidote because it interferes with the biochemical triggering. And here’s a link to Miller’s...
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