Vertigo, dizziness and other balance-related conditions have an estimated lifetime prevalence between 20-56%, accounting for 2-3% of total consultations in emergency departments. Affected individuals often feel as if the room is spinning, which can cause intense nausea.
As a powerful antiemetic, cannabis presents itself as a potential therapeutic option for those trying to deal with vertigo-related nausea and vomiting. This article discusses what vertigo is and which strains patients may want to consider to find the most effective nausea-reducing effects.
What Is Vertigo? – The Symptoms
Vertigo is best defined as a sensation of dizziness that makes it feel as if the world is spinning. In a more general sense, vertigo can simply relate to any ongoing or temporary dizzy spell. The dizziness can result from various causes, such as a sudden drop in blood pressure or getting up too quickly from a seated or lying down position. Problems within the inner ear may also result in vertigo.
Symptoms of vertigo include:
- Vomiting and nausea
- Motion sickness
- Difficulties with balance
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ear)
- Nystagmus (eye movement disorder characterized by rapid, involuntary movement of the eye)
The symptoms may last for minutes or persist for several hours.
There are several possible reasons why a patient may experience vertigo. These include:
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV): There are otolith organs in our inner ear that contain calcium carbonate crystals in fluid. In individuals with BPPV, the crystals become dislodged and end up in the ear’s semicircular canals. When a crystal touches sensory hair cells within the canals’ cupula, the brain sends false information about position and orientation, causing victims to feel dizzy.
Meniere’s Disease: It is a condition that causes a fluid build-up in the inner ear. Meniere’s can cause an attack of vertigo that results in hearing loss after ringing in the ears. It commonly impacts people aged 40-60.
Labyrinthitis: This disorder occurs when an infection causes an inflamed inner ear labyrinth. The vestibulocochlear nerve is within this region and sends information to the brain regarding sound, position, and head motion.
Cholesteatoma: This is a noncancerous skin growth located in the middle ear. It grows behind the eardrum and may damage the bony structures of the middle ear.
Vestibular Neuritis: is inflammation of the vestibular nerve caused by an infection. It causes vertigo with symptoms such as severe nausea and blurred vision.
Other potential factors that could cause vertigo include:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Ear surgery
- Migraine headaches
- A transient ischemic attack or a stroke
- Acoustic neuroma
- A head injury
- Shingles near the ear
Non-Cannabis Vertigo Treatments
There are several treatments for the condition, but they depend on what is causing it. Examples include:
- Vestibular rehabilitation for vestibular neuritis.
- Canalith repositioning maneuvers for BPPV.
- Antibiotics (if the vertigo is caused by inflammation or an infection).
- Diuretics for Meniere’s disease.
- Surgery in extreme cases.
Can Medical Marijuana Help with Vertigo?
Cannabis should not be mistaken as a cure for vertigo. Remember, the condition is merely a symptom of something else. Therefore, patients need to manage their expectations and understand that MMJ may only help alleviate the issue – not get rid of it altogether. Of course, for those who regularly feel the room spinning, a reduction in symptoms is more than enough.
Over the years, research has brought to light how cannabis may potentially help with vertigo symptoms such as dizziness, headache, and nausea. Marijuana appears to activate specific endocannabinoid receptors in the body. CB1 and CB2 are the main receptors, with CB1 receptors primarily found in the central nervous system. The CB2 receptor is generally in immune cells. Both may also have downstream effects within the brain.
Several studies look at cannabis’s effects on patients with nausea, vomiting, and dizziness.
Unfortunately, there is limited research on marijuana and its therapeutic use in the pathophysiology of vertigo. However, several studies look at cannabis’s effects on patients with nausea, vomiting, and dizziness, which are the hallmark symptoms associated with vertigo. A study by Parker et al., published in the British Journal of Pharmacology in August 2011, looked at CBD’s impact on nausea and vomiting. The researchers found that CBD helped reduce those symptoms in patients undergoing chemotherapy.
A study by Pamplona et al. in Frontiers in Neurology in September 2018 also had interesting findings. The researchers discovered that consistent and continuous doses of CBD oil helped reduce dizziness over an extended period.
What to Look for in a Marijuana Strain for Vertigo
The lack of clinical trials poses a problem. The vast majority of positive evidence is anecdotal. However, research seems to indicate that CBD has the most significant potential for helping with the dizziness and nausea associated with vertigo. Indeed, high doses of THC are likely to increase the sensation of dizziness.
However, the entourage effect suggests that cannabinoids work better together than in isolation. As a result, many choose to search for a strain with a low to moderate THC level and a high CBD level.
It is also prudent not to ignore the terpenes in any strain. For example, linalool has calming and sedating effects that may prove beneficial among those suffering from vertigo. Likewise, the stress relief and elevated mood caused by limonene should prove helpful. It only takes a little of a terpene to have a reasonable effect by all accounts.
If you are considering using cannabis for vertigo, here are five strains that we recommend:
1 – Charlotte’s Web
Charlotte’s Web is a hemp-derived strain with a CBD content of up to 17%. It does not cause an intoxicating high, which makes it a suitable option for patients with vertigo.
Users can seek out the actual CW strain in flower form (many dispensaries across the U.S. keep it in stock), or they can try hemp extract oils from the Charlotte’s Web CBD brand.
2 – Harle-Tsu
Harle-Tsu is another strain that offers a high level of CBD. It is a slightly indica-dominant strain that’s a cross between Sour Tsunami and Harlequin. Harle-Tsu has a CBD content of up to 24% and a THC level of just 1%. This is a fantastic ratio for vertigo patients aiming to benefit from the entourage effect.
Harle-Tsu is also a favorite amongst those wanting to re-energize after a long, stressful day. Users often say they feel relaxed all over the body while still having a desire to get things done. For those that experience vertigo, the strain could also help relieve the feelings of anxiety and nausea that come with it.
3 – Dancehall
Dancehall is another cannabis strain that offers an excellent CBD to THC ratio. It is a slightly sativa-dominant strain that’s a cross of Kalijah and Juanita La Lagrimosa genetics. The THC content here rarely exceeds 9%, while CBD levels often approach 16%. The strain’s most abundant terpenes are myrcene, beta-caryophyllene, and limonene.
On occasion, however, it’s possible to find Dancehall with a CBD to THC ratio of almost 1:1. For patients with vertigo, it’s essential not to nudge into THC dominance territory.
In terms of effects, Dancehall provides a clear-headed high that is a long way from being overwhelming. However, it’s likely not the best option for those that haven’t used cannabis before.
4 – Cannatonic
Cannatonic is a strain that’s gained near-legendary status. It boasts a THC content of 7-15%, with CBD levels up to 17%. Like Dancehall, the primary terpenes in Cannatonic are myrcene, beta-caryophyllene, and limonene. This combination can result in a smooth, relaxing, nausea-relieving experience.
That being said, there is enough THC in Cannatonic to warrant respect. While the intoxicating effects are typically gentle and pleasant, it will produce a high nonetheless.
5 – Valentine X
Valentine X is a somewhat rare strain that has its genetic origins in the famous ACDC strain. It is a balanced hybrid with a CBD content of up to 25% and a THC content of 1% or less. Valentine X’s main terpenes are beta-myrcene, caryophyllene oxide, pinene, and limonene.
Users say that Valentine X is outstanding when it comes to helping them attain a level of focus. As a result of its high CBD to THC ratio, it is also ideal for daytime use as users remain productive, with no intoxicating high. Users also may find that the strain provides a much-needed boost first thing in the morning, along with a rush of euphoria.
Final Thoughts on the Best Marijuana Strains for Vertigo
Again, we reiterate that there are no direct studies on the use of specific cannabis strains for vertigo. However, there is evidence that medical marijuana could reduce the impact of vertigo-related symptoms such as nausea, headaches, and dizziness.
There is evidence that medical marijuana could reduce the impact of vertigo-related symptoms.
Since high-THC strains may exacerbate unwanted effects, we recommend focusing on strains that offer more CBD than THC. It is also worth seeking strains with high levels of limonene and linalool terpenes.
In addition to flower, many vertigo sufferers find relief from cannabis or CBD products in tincture or edibles form. Many prefer taking a few drops of cannabis oil (or eating an edible) over smoking a joint.
If you are a vertigo sufferer and are interested in learning more about medical cannabis in your state, be sure to read our informative state-by-state MMJ guide.