Have you ever experienced cottonmouth?
Thanks to the advent of legal cannabis, thousands of people across North America are able to enjoy their weed for medical and recreational purposes, but along with the therapeutic effects of cannabis also comes a peculiar side effect, cottonmouth.
People have used cannabis for its relaxing and stress-relieving effects for ages, although some have shied away from the herb due to the uncomfortable dryness it causes in the mouth.
If you’ve ever enjoyed a joint or enjoyed a vape pen before, chances are, you’ve been a victim of cottonmouth yourself. So why does cannabis cause this weird side effect, and how do you go about fixing it?
Cannabinoids and the Endocannabinoid System
Our bodies are equipped with their own Endocannabinoid System when it comes to dealing with the compounds found in marijuana. If you don’t already know, our bodies produce their own variant of cannabinoids called endocannabinoids.
It is within the Endocannabinoid System where several bodily functions are regulated, such as appetite, sleep, mood, and even memory.
When we consume cannabis, the phytocannabinoids in the plant enter our bloodstream via inhalation, oral consumption, or topical application. Once the cannabinoids enter our system, they bind and interact with the several CB1 and CB2 receptors located throughout our brain, bodies and especially the nervous system.
Our mouths are home to several salivary glands called Submandibular Glands. These glands are subconsciously controlled by the Parasympathetic Nervous System, also known as the Rest and Digest System, and within these Submandibular Glands, we can also find a number of Endocannabinoid receptors.
These receptors receive signals from the brain to increase saliva production when exposed to certain stimuli such as the sight of a delicious meal or some freshly made food. In these scenarios, we subconsciously react to the stimuli due to our brains releasing signals to the Submandibular glands, making our mouths watery with saliva.
The Science Behind Cannabis Cottonmouth
When it comes to the cottonmouth acquired through cannabis consumption, a bulk of the effects are actually produced by the cannabinoids rather than the smoke and heat from inhaling the weed.
Seeing how our Submandibular Glands are also home to several Endocannabinoid receptors, researchers discovered that a compound that is heavily related to decreased saliva production called Anandamide was structurally similar to the cannabinoid THC.
Researchers were led to believe that the THC from cannabis produced similar effects as Anandamide, decreasing the saliva production in cannabis consumers, resulting in what we commonly refer to as cannabis cottonmouth.
Not only has this greater understanding of the side effects of cannabis helped researchers understand the plant better, but it has also shed new light on treatment options for those who suffer from Xerostomia, a medical issue similar to cottonmouth.
How to Cope With Cottonmouth
Even if you haven’t been exposed to cottonmouth yet, chances are you will be sometime later down the road. As always, it’s better to be prepared for when the time comes. Here are some of the most effective ways to deal with cottonmouth on the fly.
Water might not be able to fix cottonmouth on its own, but it can serve as a quick and effective remedy to the discomfort and irritation left in the mouth and throat after smoking large amounts of cannabis.
Even if you’re just taking a few hits from the joint, regularly sipping on water and staying hydrated is always a good habit to keep, whether you’re smoking or not.
Studies have shown that chewing on gum, most notably sugar-free gum, can stimulate both gustatory (taste) and mechanical (chewing) stimuli in the mouth, increasing saliva production and flow by an exponentially large amount.
On top of keeping some water readily available, sugar-free chewing gum can further stimulate that much needed salivary flow after experiencing cottonmouth.
Sugar-Free Hard Candy
An alternative to chewing gum would be sugar-free hard candy. Anything from a lollipop to cough drops will help provide the same salivatory stimulating effects as chewing gum would.
Although they may be harder to find, sugar-free hard candies will provide the best results. And they are also great for those who are health-conscious and want to limit or eliminate sugars from their diet.
An alternative to drinking water. If you want to soothe the throat from the harshness of smoking or even drinking your weed tea, herbal tea mixed with honey would be an easy all-around remedy to provide pain relief along with a good amount of hydration and water to combat cottonmouth.
Herbal tea is also known to be packed with vitamins and antioxidants that are great for boosting the immune system and reducing inflammation. They can also calm a busy mind and relieve stress and anxiety.
Try it for yourself, steep a herbal tea such as ginger tea in some water and mix with some honey for a quick and effective remedy.
Limit Caffeine Intake
Caffeine is notoriously known as a diuretic and can flush large amounts of water from your body.
If you experience cottonmouth from cannabis, it’s in your best interest to stay away from caffeinated beverages such as coffee, black tea, and green tea. They’ll force your kidneys to flush water out and exacerbate the dryness in your mouth.
Simply avoid these drinks if you have a cottonmouth and try some herbal tea or sugar-free candies instead to stimulate your saliva production.
Cottonmouth – Final Words
The dry mouth from weed is a nuisance that we all have to deal with sooner or later. When it comes to combating cottonmouth, keeping some water and chewing gum by your side can make all the difference.
Staying hydrated will help you reduce the cottonmouth effect from THC consumption and limit your mouth’s irritation from smoking weed.
We hope you learned a thing or two about cottonmouth and the mechanisms behind the compounds in cannabis and how they affect our bodies. Check back with us regularly to be informed of the most up-to-date news and research regarding all things cannabis!