This article was vetted for scientific accuracy by:
Adam Ravalia

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What is Cotton Mouth?

Saliva helps us digest our food and keeps the mouth from getting infected by maintaining a balance in the bacteria and fungi in the mouth.  It also plays a vital role in ensuring that your mouth is adequately lubricated, and by doing so, it ensures your oral and systemic health.

Dryness of mouth and tongue has been a long known common outcome for cannabis consumers over the years. When cannabis was primarily a recreational drug, often via inhalation, many people thought the resulting dry mouth was due to the thick smoke that resulted from the combusting plant product.

However, even after vaping, or consuming oilsgummies, and capsules dry mouth persisted and one looming question remained unanswered: “why does weed make our mouths so dry?”

Why Does Weed Give You Cotton Mouth?

To date, there is a lack of research surrounding  cannabis consumption and dry mouth. Why cottonmouth happens, how to prevent cottonmouth, and how to remedy it are some of the ongoing aspects of cannabis and dry mouth research.

The key to understanding cottonmouth lies not only in understanding the properties of cannabis, but also in understanding how our physiological system reacts to it.

The endocannabinoid system (ECS), which determines the body’s response to cannabinoids, was discovered in the 1990s, and there is still much to uncover surrounding its function. However, it is noteworthy that some research has been conducted, and has provided useful insight into the issue of dry or cottonmouth associated with cannabis use.

The endocannabinoid system is a part of the nervous system that comprises an entire signalling system and encompasses cannabinoid receptors, endogenous ligands (naturally occurring cannabinoids), and enzymes for ligand biosynthesis.

Cannabinoid receptors were named because they have a high affinity for THC and are the location where endocannabinoids and exogenous cannabinoids (plant-based, which are ingested by consuming cannabis products) connect to fulfill their physiological function. The ECS is also comprisedof metabolic enzymes that destroy endocannabinoids once they are through with their work.

The ECS also plays an essential role in the management of pain and inflammation. It does so by mitigating signals to presynaptic neurons and thus inhibiting the affected neuron’s capacity to send pain and inflammatory signals to the brain.

The salivary glands located under your jaw bone are known as submandibular salivary glands. These glands are responsible for the production of 70% of all saliva. A study conducted in 2006 found that salivary glands contain specifically localized cannabinoid receptors. The dryness of mouth associated with cannabis consumption is thus caused by cannabinoids binding to receptors in the salivary glands and inhibiting the transmission of salivation to the nervous system.  As a result of this interruption, the brain doesn’t receive the message to instruct submandibular glands to secrete saliva.

Cottonmouth Symptoms

vaping is usually not a huge issue when you are consuming small amounts of cannabis. The symptoms increase in intensity as you increase your intake of marijuana. The following are some of the symptoms, including some rare and severe symptoms:

  • Bad breath
  • Getting thirsty frequently
  • Hoarseness of voice
  • Sore throat
  • Red, raw tongue
  • Tingling sensation in the mouth
  • Cracked lips
  • Sores in the mouth and split skin in the far edges of the mouth

Cottonmouth Remedies

Most cannabis users would likely be interested in finding a solution to cotton mouth when consuming cannabis. Unfortunately, there is no surefire method to eliminate cottonmouth, unless you abstain completely from marijuana consumption. The next best option is to know what helps reduce cottonmouth.

  • Sipping water frequently especially with a straw will keep you hydrated
  • Chewing gum, beef jerky or dried fruit stimulates the release of saliva
  • Lick a lollipop or suck on some hard candy. These stimulate saliva production – sour flavors are usually better for increased saliva production.
  • Cough medicines, which are also known as demulcents, help reduce dryness of the mouth by covering the mucus membrane with a dewy film.
  • Herbal teas help reduce the dry feeling on the throat.

Things to Avoid When Dealing with Cotton Mouth

The following only work to exacerbate the problem, you should avoid them: –

  • Black and green teas
  • Coffee and anything with caffeine
  • Salty food
  • Tobacco and alcohol

Final Verdict

Apart from the remedies mentioned above, you should visit a dentist for the management of oral health regularly. Presently, cottonmouth remains a side effect of cannabis consumption that can only be mitigated by the remedies listed above. Please note CBD dry mouth is nearly as common as THC dry mouth is. You don’t only get dry mouth when high on THC, but every time you use a cannabinoid.

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