Cannabis and Cottonmouth: Why It Happens and Tips to Avoid It
Thursday July 5, 2018
C ottonmouth is that dry, grainy feeling we all have likely come across at some point or another when consuming cannabis. It’s that low-level, annoying side effect that is bound to happen and send us running for a solution. But why do we get it?
In recent years, findings have given us some information as to why we get cottonmouth after consuming cannabis. While we still do not understand every aspect of it, we do, now, have an idea of what happens in our bodies when it occurs. Meanwhile, a small but useful list of remedies exists to overcome that annoying feeling after consuming.
Why Do We Get Cottonmouth?
Due to laws restricting cannabis research, virtually every aspect of the industry has gone understudied or unresearched altogether. While not at the top of the pressing needs list, cottonmouth fell into the same category for some time. However, a 2006 study provided us our first look into what actually may cause this outcome for numerous consumers.
The study began with the understanding that cannabis decreased saliva secretion. By using the submandibular gland (SMG) of male rats, Researchers were able to conclude that the endocannabinoid anandamide (AEA) reduced saliva secretion in the rats’ SMG acting through CB1 and CB2 receptors.
In short, we get cottonmouth due to the way the cannabinoids in our cannabis interact with our body’s endocannabinoid system.
The study further opened eyes to what may cause cottonmouth. Today, a belief exists that AEA and THC share similarities where SMGs bound to THC do not receive the usual interactions from the nervous system. Thus, lowering the saliva created in our mouths, which results in the all too common feeling associated with consuming cannabis.
While the findings could lead to novel ways to overcoming dry mouth, more research is needed to confirm any initial findings. However, the development 12 years ago could serve as the foundation for the next breakthrough method in avoiding and overcoming cottonmouth. Then again, with such pressing needs in the cannabis space, we may not discover additional findings for some time.
Overcoming a Gnarly Case of Cottonmouth
Cottonmouth is a bit like hot sauce in a way. When the effects become too much for your mouth, you may feel compelled to grab the first drink or other options around you to get you feeling back to normal. Just like when drinking water after biting into a ghost pepper, you’ll soon realize that not all options can relieve your short-term oral discomforts the same.
Whenever you feel your mouth go dry after smoking, you’d be wise to avoid liquor. Sure, it may be a liquid, but it’ll do nothing for your cottonmouth. Though, you could get nice and crossfaded depending on how much you consume. While a sip or two could dampen your mouth by a fraction, too much will have you frequenting the bathroom at a high rate (see: breaking the seal), only drying your insides out more. The same can be said for coffees and choice teas.
Select teas are one of the best solutions to cottonmouth. Look for herbal teas, with a particular focus on throat healing blends. Meanwhile, pass on any teas or other drinks containing tannins that only further dry you out.
If tea isn’t your jam, candies and gum may do the trick. Whether chewing on a stick of gum or sucking on a sweet, both methods are bona fide ways of increasing your saliva production. For the best results, have something sour on hand to trigger your salivary glands to the next level. If sour isn’t your favorite flavor, spicy and sweet foods can work as replacements as top-tier salivary gland triggers. So, if you have the munchies and got a little dry mouth, reach for a bag of Sour Patch Kids or head to your favorite Thai restaurant. Either should fix you up right quick!
You can also change your scenery. While it may not affect your high, switching to a more humid environment can remove the dry surroundings we may otherwise smoke in. That should provide some options for any outdoor smokers in Florida, Texas and the other most humid areas of the country. With a few options around, you certainly can offset your cottonmouth conundrum with one method or another. Though, it is best to remember that sometimes dry mouth is going to win out regardless.
Dealing with Cottonmouth
Today, we have a slew of ideas and methods to counter cottonmouth. From changing locations to feeling a bit like a granny with some Lemon Drops in your pocket, you can find a way to overcome your dry mouth when it arises.
While we may not like it, we sometimes have to deal with the side effects of cannabis. But, really, how bad is it? Booze can make you a dumb-dumb and leave you with a world-ending hangover. Over the counter medicine can leave us feeling constipated, dizzy, unable to sleep and much worse. With cannabis, cottonmouth is one of the worst side effects. In the grand scheme, it’s really not that bad. Now, if only sour candies could fix a hangover.
What’s your go-to for curing cottonmouth? Share your answers in the comments below!
Andrew Ward is a Brooklyn-based cannabis writer and creative. His work has appeared on Benzinga, High Times, PROHBTD and several other publications and brand blogs. He has covered the cannabis space for over three years, and has written professionally since 2011. His first book, “Cannabis Jobs,” was released in October 2019. Connect with Andrew on LinkedIn to stay up to date.
Most cannabis consumers have experienced cottonmouth at some point in their smoking careers. But why does it happen? And what are some of the best methods for curing cottonmouth? Find out as we dive into this rather "dry" topic!
What To Do When You Have Cotton Mouth
All cannabis consumers are at risk of cotton mouth anytime they smoke, vape or even eat anything with THC. Cotton mouth is one of the most common side effects of consuming cannabis and one of the most annoying as well. Fortunately, avoiding it is as simple as remaining hydrated at all times. If you’re not hydrated, there are still several ways to treat cotton mouth once it starts.
How Does Cotton Mouth Work?
Cotton mouth, or dry mouth, is also referred to as dry mouth syndrome or Xerostomia in the medical community. It is a reduced salivary flow and it is commonly associated with cannabis use.
So we wouldn’t recommend smoking if you don’t have anything at hand to drink. Once your mouth dries out, the cotton mouth will travel to your throat.
If you take too long to treat cotton mouth, other potential side effects, like a sore throat and rank breath can manifest.
Even if you use a vape pen or eat the weed instead, there’s always the potential for the same side effects including a desert-dry mouth.
According to one scientific study, this is because of salivary secretion in the submandibular glands being inhibited by the activation of cannabinoid receptors.
So ingesting cannabinoids like THC and CBD can activate the same glands and interrupt the salivary flow.
If you plan on consuming cannabis regularly, you’re going to need to start hydrating more. Our mouths salivate for a reason, to protect it and our teeth from bacteria.
With this in mind, utilize some of the following treatments for cotton mouth to restore any moisture you lose.
Now that you have a better understanding of how cotton mouth works, let’s go over how to treat it.
If you're ingesting cannabis, cotton mouth is an inevitable side effect you'll have to learn to deal with.