Super Canal Dehiscence Syndrome – Medical Marijuana Research Overview

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Super canal dehiscence syndrome is when the bone that makes up the roof of the superior semicircular canal in the area deteriorates. Studies have shown cannabis can help patients manage the nausea that often accommodates the condition.

Overview of Super Canal Dehiscence Syndrome

Super Canal Dehiscence SyndromeSuper canal dehiscence syndrome (SSCD) is when the roof of the superior semicircular canal in the ear is missing. According to the Vestibular Disorders Association, SSCD is likely due to a developmental abnormality. From birth, the bone begins to thin because or what is thought to be poor bone deposition in the area. Over time, the bone wears down until it’s gone. With the bone gone, the fluid in the membranous superior semicircular canal can be displaced by sound and pressure.

Once the bone that should be serving as the roof of the canal is gone, sounds and changes in pressure can trigger extremely bothersome symptoms, such as dizziness or vertigo, hearing loss, pressure sensitivity, oversensitivity to sound, autophony, ringing and fullness in the ear, and oscillopsia, which is the sensation that stationary objects are moving. When dizziness or vertigo occurs, nausea often follows. Changes in middle ear or intracranial pressure that trigger symptoms can come from coughing, sneezing or straining.

Super canal dehiscence can only be treated with surgery, as the anatomical shape of the ear will not improve on its own. There are no additional risk factors associated with the condition, however, so patients must decide whether the severity of their symptoms warrant surgery.

Findings: Effects of Cannabis on Super Canal Dehiscence Syndrome

Cannabis can help super canal dehiscence syndrome patients manage the nausea that commonly accommodates the sensation of dizziness or vertigo. Cannabis has been shown to effectively reduce or prevent nausea and vomiting stemming from a variety of causes (Sharkey, Darmani & Parker, 2014) (Parker, et al., 2015). Two major cannabinoids found in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) have been shown effective at regulating nausea and vomiting. The cannabinoids activate cannabinoid receptors (CB1) of the endocannabinoid system, which have been shown to suppress vomiting (Parker, et al., 2003). Studies also suggest that CBD effectively produces anti-nausea effects because of its activation of the sommatodendritic 5-HT(1A) autoreceptors in the brain stem (Rock, et al., 2012).

States That Have Approved Medical Marijuana for Super Canal Dehiscence Syndrome

Currently, no states have approved medical marijuana for the treatment of super canal dehiscence syndrome. However, in Washington D.C., any condition can be approved for medical marijuana as long as a DC-licensed physician recommends the treatment. In addition, various other states will consider allowing medical marijuana to be used for the treatment of super canal dehiscence syndrome with the recommendation from a physician. These states include: California (any debilitating illness where the medical use of marijuana has been recommended by a physician), Connecticut (other medical conditions may be approved by the Department of Consumer Protection), Massachusetts (other conditions as determined in writing by a qualifying patient’s physician), Nevada (other conditions subject to approval), Oregon (other conditions subject to approval), Rhode Island (other conditions subject to approval), and Washington (any “terminal or debilitating condition”).

In addition, 19 states have approved medical marijuana specifically for the treatment of nausea. These states include: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

Recent Studies on Cannabis’ Effect on Super Canal Dehiscence Syndrome


Parker, L.A., Mechoulam, R., Schlievert, C., Abbott, L., Fudge, M.L., and Burton, P. (2003, March). Effects of cannabinoids on lithium-induced conditioned rejection reactions in a rat model of nausea. Psychopharmacology, 166(2), 156-62.

Parker, L.A., Rock, E.M., Sticht, M.A., Wills, K.L., and Limebeer, C.L. (2015). Cannabinoids suppress acute and anticipatory nausea in preclinical rat models of conditioned gaping. Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 97(6), 559-61.

Rock, E.M., Bolognini, D., Limebeer, C.L., Cascio, M.G., Anavi-Goffer, S., Fletcher, P.J., Mechoulam, R., Pertwee, R.G., and Parker, L.A. (2012, April). Cannabidiol, a non-psychotropic component of cannabis, attenuates vomiting and nausea-like behavior via indirect agonism of 5-HT(1A) somatodendritic autoreceptors in the dorsal raphe nucleus. British Journal of Pharmacology, 165(8), 2620-34.

Sharkey, K.A., Darmani, N.A., and Parker, L.A. (2014). Regulation of nausea and vomiting by cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system. European Journal of Pharmacology, 722, 134-46.

Super Semicircular Canal Dehiscence. (n.d.). Dallas Ear Institute. Retrieved from

What is Super Semicircular Canal Dehiscence? (n.d.). Vestibular Disorders Association. Retrieved from

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