Does Weed Help With Food Poisoning?

does weed help food poisoning
By Andrew Ward Updated March 8th

Medically reviewed by Dr. Brian Kessler, MD

Food poisoning is relatively common. Most people will experience its uncomfortable effects at least once in their life. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in six Americans becomes sick with food poisoning yearly. That totals to about 48 million Americans each year experiencing symptoms ranging from stomach pain and cramps to nausea and vomiting, fevers, and diarrhea.

Roughly 3,000 cases of food poisoning a year are fatal in the U.S. But more often than not, people survive the ordeal with no lasting injuries or conditions. Since cannabis is regularly used to help alleviate various nausea-related symptoms, it has led many to wonder if the plant can do the same for food poisoning symptoms.

In order to find the answer, it’s essential to dive into the signs and symptoms of food poisoning as well as the science behind how the condition and cannabis affect the body. Cannabis does show potential in treating gastrointestinal symptoms, and deeper investigation may turn up unexpected applications.

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Signs and Symptoms of Food Poisoning

weed and food poisoning

Food poisoning occurs when someone swallows germs, like E. coli, salmonella, and various other bacteria and viruses that impact the digestive system. Depending on the type of food poisoning, symptoms could range from mild to severe, lasting several hours to several days in most cases.

Classic symptoms of food poisoning include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain or cramps
  • Vomiting

Many of these symptoms can lead to dehydration. The best way to avoid dehydration is by drinking plenty of water. Even if you can't keep anything down, drink water. 

In some cases, severe symptoms could arise despite your efforts to stay hydrated. Be on the lookout for any of the following concerning signs: 

  • Bloody stool or diarrhea
  • Diarrhea lasting more than three days
  • Temperatures over 102°F
  • Vomiting excessively to a point where you can't keep down liquids
  • Signs of dehydration, like dry mouth, sore throat, infrequent or no urination, or dizziness when standing

Unlike many GI conditions, food poisoning occurs when exposed to an outside germ. Some bouts of food poisoning may have symptoms that mimic gastrointestinal conditions, like acid reflux or abdominal pain. However, these conditions typically occur when a person engages in or is exposed to various unhealthy lifestyle circumstances, from an imbalanced diet to a lack of physical activity to stress. 

Does Weed Help With Food Poisoning?

does weed help food poisoning

Additional research is needed to determine if cannabis can help with food poisoning. However, a growing amount of evidence supports claims that cannabis helps with specific symptoms of food poisoning. 

Many herbal remedies have been linked to reducing nausea symptoms. Cannabis has long been considered a part of that group. Now, thanks to legalization, research has increased in recent years. 

Various types of nausea have been studied. Arguably, the most explored has been nausea related to chemotherapy and HIV/AIDS. These two conditions began the U.S. medical cannabis movement in many communities.

There’s also evidence that cannabis can help with other GI-related conditions. Cannabis has shown promise in treating symptoms related to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). There’s also evidence that cannabis may help treat the symptoms of upper GI conditions, like ulcers and gastritis. Cannabis is also used to increase appetite in people suffering from eating disorders like anorexia.

Consumption methods and product type may influence how effective cannabis is at alleviating nausea and other symptoms. A 2022 study of over 800 people across more than 2200 self-administered sessions found that flower and concentrates outperformed tinctures and edibles in treating nausea. Joints were cited as providing more significant symptom relief than pipes and vaporizers. One of the more telling results of the study found that THC produced more beneficial results than CBD.1 

Remember that this is only one study, and more research is required. However, it certainly presents exciting new developments to ponder as we continue to examine if weed can help with symptoms of food poisoning or not.

How Does Weed Help With Food Poisoning Symptoms?

weed for food poisoning

Cannabis has shown promise in treating several common symptoms of food poisoning. But how does cannabis alleviate pain and nausea in patients?

The medical movement began decades ago when people discovered cannabis could ease cancer, chemotherapy and AIDS/HIV pains. In addition to alleviating pain, cannabis has been linked to stimulating appetites (sometimes called "the munchies" in recreational circles) in most consumers. Most telling could be the relatively immediate relief cannabis delivers. The previously cited 2022 nausea study noted that 96% of the people analyzed experienced symptom relief within one hour. 

Vomiting, specifically, poses an exciting area of analysis. In large doses, THC is believed to activate CB1 receptors in the body, particularly affecting the dorsal vagus complex, a nerve critical in controlling vomiting.2 When stimulated by cannabinoids like CBD and THC, the vagus nerve loses some ability to affect our heart rates. However, some believe this effect may increase the risk of heart attacks. 

Can CBD Help with Food Poisoning Symptoms?

cbd and food poisoning

As with THC, additional research is needed to better understand the role CBD can play in treating symptoms of food poisoning. That said, many medical cannabis patients have turned to CBD in an effort to alleviate nausea, pain, gastrointestinal issues, and related conditions that mirror food poisoning symptoms. 

In many studies, you will find that researchers have reported similar benefits in CBD and THC.

There are consumers and researchers who worry that CBD could contribute to, rather than ease, food poisoning related symptoms. In this case, the focus has been on a possible connection between CBD and diarrhea. However, many of these studies are small in scale, and further research is required to expand the sample size and draw clearer conclusions. 

It’s important to note that different patients may have different reactions to the same dose and ratio of CBD and THC. And while some may experience undesirable side effects, many have reported relief from nausea and gastrointestinal distress. In fact, GI issues are one of the most common reasons doctors prescribe medical cannabis.

With researchers noting various medical and pharmaceutical factors possibly at play, the impact of CBD on nausea and other symptoms related to food poisoning can vary from person to person. As such, it’s best to consult with your doctor before using CBD or other cannabis products to alleviate symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and other GI issues.

Are There Any Risks or Complications If You Use Weed for Food Poisoning?

Cannabis is largely considered safe, but adverse reactions can occur. 

For example, dehydration is a major concern from food poisoning. In someone experiencing dehydration, dry mouth brought on by THC may make that individual feel worse. Likewise, if someone is already experiencing throat pain from vomiting, smoking or vaping could further inflame your throat and lungs, making breathing difficult or painful. 

In rare cases, frequent cannabis consumers can experience cannabis hyperemesis syndrome, an uncommon condition that can lead to severe, often prolonged bouts of nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

Even less commonly reported, some consumers may experience an allergic reaction to cannabis. Symptoms often resemble a severe sinus episode during peak allergy season, which could make food poisoning symptoms more difficult to manage. 

Symptoms of a cannabis allergy may include: 

  • Nasal congestion and irritation
  • Eye inflammation 
  • Coughing 
  • Wheezing 
  • Sneezing 
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Weed and Food Poisoning FAQ

How can I get food poisoning?

You can contract food poisoning by consuming a germ, such as E. coli, salmonella, listeria,  or shigella, various parasites, or another source of infection. 

How long does food poisoning last?

Typically, it takes several hours to up to three days for food poisoning to pass. Any cases lasting longer should be discussed with a medical professional. 

Can I also get poisoned by bad or expired weed?

If cannabis is simply old, it won’t cause food poisoning. Cannabinoids deteriorate over time, making the cannabis less potent and the experience less enjoyable. 

However, cannabis can become contaminated with mold, bacteria, or other infectious material. In 2022, New York officials released a study warning consumers of various contaminants found on cannabis sold at unlicensed stores, including E. coli and salmonella.  

To reduce the risk of contaminated cannabis, shop only at state-licensed dispensaries.

How long before weed helps subside the effects of food poisoning? 

Additional research is needed, but some reports suggest that the therapeutic effects of cannabis could be felt relatively quickly – especially if consuming the correct product type. A 2022 University of New Mexico study found that flower and concentrates drastically reduced nausea severity in 96% of patients studied, reporting effects in an hour or less after consuming. 

When should I see a doctor?

Consult a physician if you notice any severe symptoms, like those mentioned above, or if your symptoms persist for over three days. You may also want to contact a medical professional if you experience frequent GI-related issues. 

References

1.  Stith SS, Li X, Orozco J, et al. The Effectiveness of Common Cannabis Products for Treatment of Nausea. Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology. 2021;Publish Ahead of Print. doi:https://doi.org/10.1097/mcg.0000000000001534

2.  Partosoedarso ER, Abrahams TP, Scullion RT, Moerschbaecher JM, Hornby PJ. Cannabinoid1 Receptor in the Dorsal Vagal Complex Modulates Lower Oesophageal Sphincter Relaxation in Ferrets. The Journal of Physiology. 2003;550(1):149-158. doi:https://doi.org/10.1113/jphysiol.2003.042242

The information in this article and any included images or charts are for educational purposes only. This information is neither a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional legal advice or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about laws, regulations, or your health, you should always consult with an attorney, physician or other licensed professional.

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