Anti-nausea mechanisms of action of cannabinoids occur at the site of action identified in the emetic area of the brainstem, the dorsal vagal complex (DVC). The DVC is responsible for communication between signals in the blood (like chemotherapy) and the nerve cells that initiate emesis (vomiting). The DVC and gastrointestinal tract have endocannabinoid receptors, and all have shown to exhibit anti-emetic responses when the receptors are activated
Cannabinoid receptor modulation controls the symptoms of nausea and vomiting. When cannabinoid receptor CB1 is stimulate, vomiting is suppressed.
Some of the body’s endocannabinoid receptors exist within emetic reflex pathways, making them a promising target for managing this condition.
Many studies have been done to incorporate cannabis treatments in the case of cancer diagnosis. The application to help with nausea and vomiting have been directly used in the treatment process of chemotherapies.
The endocannabinoid system is a widely distributed transmitter system that controls gut functions peripherally and centrally. It is an important physiologic regulator of gastrointestinal motility by controlling nausea and vomiting and visceral sensation. The homeostatic role of this system also extends to the control of intestinal inflammation.
Gastrointestinal systems have also been found to arise due to stress. Unlike current stress relieving medicines, cannabinoids are also involved centrally in the manifestation of stress. The endocannabinoid signaling reduces the activity of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal pathways via actions in specific brain regions. Increasing our understanding of the endocannabinoid system will greatly advance our knowledge of interactions between the brain and gut and could lead to new treatments for gastrointestinal disorders.