Cotton Mouth From Weed And What To Do About It
Dry mouth, cotton mouth, the pasties – who is not familiar with this side effect from smoking marijuana? Until recently it wasn’t well understood how exactly marijuana causes a dry mouth and a sore throat. Scientists have now shed new light on cotton mouth and the causes for it. Learn about dry mouth and what you can do about it!
Cotton mouth, the not-so-pleasant feeling of a dry mouth and a sore throat when smoking cannabis has been around for as long as people are enjoying the herb and this is unarguably quite a long time. Most of us who smoke weed have likely accepted their dry mouth as just a minor inconvenience and have probably not spent too much time thinking about it. Recently, a group of scientists took a closer look at cotton mouth from smoking weed.
THE SCIENCE BEHIND COTTON MOUTH FROM WEED SMOKING
Humans have enjoyed marijuana since ancient times, so “cotton mouth” isn’t exactly something new. But it was only recently, in 2006, that this peculiar effect of weed has been the subject of scientific research, which is now helping us to understand it more.
THE ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM, SALIVA & CANNABINOIDS
Cotton mouth may seem like it is dryness from smoke (and some do indeed think it is), but this is not the whole story; there is a lot more to it. The real cause for cotton mouth has to do with how cannabinoids, the active compounds in cannabis, interact with the human endocannabinoid system.
The endocannabinoid system consists of cannabinoid receptors that are located throughout the entire human body, including the brain. Cannabinoids in marijuana can activate these receptors, where they cause all sorts of reactions and processes. This is how the high from marijuana comes about, but the interaction with these cannabinoid receptors can affect many more bodily processes, with saliva production one of them.
The saliva production in our mouths is controlled by a part of our autonomic nervous system known as the rest and digest system. The brain sends nerve impulses towards the salivary glands to stimulate saliva production, and this happens without us needing to do anything for it. Our subconscious brain can also influence this process. For example, when the mere thought of some tasty food causes the brain to send more impulses to the saliva glands, making our mouths water.
With cannabinoids receptors being present in all parts of our body, it wasn’t too surprising when researchers found them, also in the submandibular glands, the saliva glands under the mouth which are responsible for producing most saliva. The researchers also found that anandamide, which is similar in structure to THC, causes decreased saliva secretion.
Because of the similarity of anandamide and THC, it is now believed that when THC binds to the receptors in the submandibular glands, it makes them stop receiving messages from the nervous system. In other words: The THC in cannabis is likely the reason for the decrease of saliva production in the mouth.
This new understanding how smoking cannabis results in a dry mouth opens up new ways to treat the problems associated with saliva production. Not only may weed lovers one day be able to find a way to get rid of the annoying cotton mouth, but this research may also well come in handy for treating a variety of conditions where patients suffer from dry mouth for other reasons.
WHAT CAN YOU DO WHEN YOU EXPERIENCE COTTON MOUTH?
Most cannabis enthusiast experiences some level of dry mouth when they smoke. For most folks, it’s not a big deal when they only had a few hits, but the dry mouth sure can get pretty unpleasant during heavier sessions. Unfortunately, just drinking water as a way to get rid of it doesn’t really do anything significant to relieve it – although you definitely should drink to remain well hydrated.
Chewing stimulates saliva production, and this means that it can help with a dry mouth. A strip of chewing gum can be all that you need to help to stimulate the glands once again.
If you don’t like chewing gum, you can also look into things like beef jerky or dried fruits. Basically, any food that will need some chewing can act as an alternative.
Candy / Lollipops
In the same way as chewing can be a good way to get some saliva flowing, you can lick a lollipop, take a cough drop, or some hard candy. Sucking on the candy or a lollipop has the same effect as chewing; it will increase saliva production to help you get rid of dry mouth.
Bonus tip: Sour flavours will really get your mouth watering, so some sour-tasting candy can be better than sweet ones. If you’re brave enough, you can even start munching on a slice of lemon!
Cough Medicines (Demulcents)
In those cases where you think that chewing along or licking a lollipop doesn’t really help to get rid of a really nasty spell of dry mouth, you can look into demulcent cough drops. These oral demulcents are widely available over the counter. What they do is coat the mucous membranes with a moist film, which can prevent or help get rid of the dry cotton mouth feeling.
Along with the feeling of an unpleasantly dry mouth often also comes a feeling of a sore and irritated throat from smoking. If you look around most modern grocery stores, you should be able to find herbal teas. These are great at offering relief. Tip: Add a squeeze or two of sour lemon juice to your herbal tea for an even better effect to help with your sore and dry mouth.
THINGS YOU SHOULD AVOID WHEN YOU HAVE COTTON MOUTH
Not all beverages are suitable if you want to get rid of cotton mouth. Black teas and green teas can actually dry out your mouth even more (basically anything with caffeine), so you should avoid them. Stick with herbal teas or plain water. If you get the munchies after smoking, you should also avoid salty foods and salty snacks because they will also make it worse. So keep your hands off those pretzels! The same goes for alcohol and tobacco.What causes dry mouth from smoking cannabis? Learn about the latest research on cotton mouth and what helps if you want to get rid of it!
Cannabis & Cotton Mouth: What Causes It & How to Avoid It
Cannabis & Cotton Mouth: What Causes It & How to Avoid It
Most who use cannabis have heard of or have experienced cotton mouth (dryness of the mouth) as a side effect, but many do not understand why it happens. Scientists have recently begun to shed light on the causes and cures for cotton mouth. Read on to learn about why cannabis users experience this undesired effect and how it may be prevented !
For general information about whether a Florida medical marijuana recommendation is right for you, schedule an exam with one of our Florida Medical Marijuana Doctors . You may complete our eligibility survey in just 5 minutes to find out if you pre-qualify for a recommendation.
The Science Behind Cotton Mouth
Before the onset of cannabis legalization that led to the wide selection of products seen in dispensaries today, recreational smoking was the primary method of use. In those times, many believed cotton mouth was caused by the thick smoke that resulted from burning cannabis. However, as users began vaping as an alternative to smoking, cotton mouth remained to be a side effect. As capsules, oils, and gummies began to make an appearance, those products also carried with them the same results. The question behind why cotton mouth occurs could only be answered when scientists began to study the problem .
Dry mouth as a side effect of consuming cannabis is fairly common, and most refer to it as “cottonmouth,” though the scientific name for dry mouth is “xerostomia.” In 2006, Juan Pablo Prestifilippo and his colleagues at the Centro de Estudios Farmacologicos y Botanicos in Buenos Aires searched for potential causes of cotton mouth, specifically, a decrease in saliva secretion. The team theorized that there are cannabinoid receptors located in the salivary glands which are responsible for this effect. Experiments on male rats determined receptors CB 1 and CB 2 were present in specific locations of the submandibular gland – a salivary gland in rats. It was discovered that the cannabinoid anandamide attaches to these receptors, resulting in hyposalivation (decreased saliva output) .
Olga Kopach and Juliana Vats at The State Key Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Kiev found that normally, the cells of saliva glands use the endocannabinoid system to signal feedback that inhibits the over accumulation of saliva in the mouth. When a person consumes cannabinoids, receptors CB 1 and CB 2 bring about a significant drop in saliva production, causing the mouth to feel dry. Kopach also reported findings that these receptors behave differently at the cellular level. “CB 1 receptors predominantly modulate the flow of saliva, while CB 2 receptors seem to influence consistency and content of saliva (such as sodium levels) . . . Cells in the salivary glands can synthesize anandamide” . Dry mouth from consuming cannabis does not cause dehydration throughout the rest of the body, which is why it does not cause the type of hangover some experience from alcohol consumption. Interestingly, what scientists have learned about how the salivary glands and cannabinoids interact could lead to new therapies for those who experience complications with salivation .
Is Cotton Mouth Dangerous to Health?
A collection of research out of the Department of Periodontology at the Academic Centre of Dentistry in Amsterdam suggests that with increased cannabis use 4 , oral health is a concern. The researchers stated that providers of oral health care need to be more aware of the potentially chronic side effects associated with dry mouth from cannabis consumption. Mainly, these are:
- Leukoedema – “A white or whitish-gray edematous lesion of the buccal and labial oral mucosa” .
- Candida Albicans – A type of yeast present in microbes on the skin (including inside the mouth) and gastrointestinal tract that is healthy at normal levels but harmful when multiplied. In that case, it becomes known as thrush, or Candida overgrowth .
- Periodontal Disease – An infection of the gums that can cause bad breath, swollen or red gums, bleeding or tender gums, pain when chewing, loss of teeth, sensitive teeth, and receding gums .
- Tooth Decay and Cavities8
Saliva lubricates the mouth so that we can taste food, swallow, and speak. It also protects the mouth, throat, and teeth from bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms. As such, saliva levels that are consistently low become a risk factor for tooth decay, cavities, periodontal disease, and even tooth loss . Less serious side effects include: feeling thirsty, hoarseness, sore throat, tingling in the mouth, a raw or red tongue, cracked lips, mouth sores, and skin that is split in the mouth . While marijuana is not the only medicine that may result in xerostomia, hyposalivation is typically solved when the user stops taking the problem medication, such as with radiation treatments for cancer patients. On the other hand, those who consume cannabis tend to do so frequently and consistently over longer periods of time. Understanding ways to prevent or cure cotton mouth is key to avoiding these harmful side effects .
How to Prevent Cotton Mouth
The American Dental Association encourages consumers of cannabis to maintain regular visits with a dentist, chew sugar-free gum, and maintain a regimen of teeth brushing at least two times per day using fluoride-enriched toothpaste. Some other health professionals have suggested a reduction in citrus-based foods and alcohol-based breath sprays, beverages, and mouth wash because they can dry the mouth. Some drug stores carry gums and sprays that help keep the mouth moist and are a good idea for those who consume cannabis on a regular basis or who tend to experience cotton mouth . Gum chewing helps by preventing signals from the endocannabinoid system that limit saliva production.
Another obvious cure for dry mouth is to drink water, especially while consuming cannabis. While it may be tempting to have a refreshing beer or wine, those beverages contain tannins that can further dry the mouth. Some fruit juices and teas may also contribute to the problem. The important part is to sip on water throughout the day or before, during, and after cannabis consumption. Even drinking water will not be as effective once dry mouth has set in. Some prefer to eat crushed ice as a means to break up the monotony of drinking water .
In an article published by American Marijuana titled, “Cannabis & Cotton Mouth – Get Rid of Marijuana Dry Mouth,” Dwight Blake provides the following additional remedies for cotton mouth:
- “Sipping water frequently especially with a straw keeps you hydrated.
- Chewing gum, beef jerky or dried fruit stimulates the release of saliva.
- Lick 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” .