As cannabis continues to grow by leaps and bounds throughout the country, more people are becoming more open about using this plant not only for medicinal purposes, but for recreational as well. The skunky aroma and intense high are probably the two most well-known things about cannabis, but there is one major side effect that can impact how you enjoy your high: cottonmouth. Whether you use psychoactive cannabinoids or the actual marijuana plant, there’s a very real possibility you’ll experience this somewhat unpleasant effect. In order to prepare for and possibly prevent this side effect, it’s important to understand what it is and why it occurs. Let’s take a closer look at cottonmouth is as we continue our journey through the wonderful world of cannabis and all it has to offer.
Cottonmouth was coined as a slang term to define that dry sticky mouth sensation that makes you uncomfortably thirsty. You may find yourself grabbing the nearest beverage on hand and chugging it in a single gulp. The medical term for this raging dry mouth is xerostemia. Xerostemia presents as a reduced flow of saliva that makes your mouth feel hot and sticky, and can worsen overtime to manifest other side effects like a sore throat and bad breath.
It was commonly assumed that the smoke from cannabis use was the cause for dry mouth, but science has concluded that this was untrue. As the cannabis works its way into your bloodstream, one of the effects is to lower the production of saliva. Whether you smoke a blunt, light a pipe, or chew a gummy, the mere presence of cannabis is enough to tell your salivary glands to pump the brakes on keeping your mouth lubricated.
Common Causes of Xerostemia
Whether you call it by its medical name or its slang name, dry mouth can be extremely unpleasant to the point of ruining your high. It’s strongly encouraged to keep an ample supply of non-alcoholic beverages on hand to help keep your dry mouth at bay. However, there are several reasons why you may feel cottonmouth even before the effects of your high fully kick in.
- You’re Already Dehydrated
Did you know if you’re thirsty, you’re already slightly dehydrated? Unfortunately, many people don’t drink enough water despite being told to drink at least eight glasses (8 oz.) of water each day. If you know you’re going to be consuming some form of cannabis in the near future, try to drink a plentiful amount before lighting up or chowing down on your preferred product type.
- Tobacco & Alcohol Usage
If you smoke cigarettes or use vape products that contain nicotine, you may already experience a light dry mouth that you’re not even aware of. Frequent alcohol consumption can act as a diuretic, leaving you dehydrated as you constantly feel the need to go to the bathroom. Add cannabis into the mix, and you’re well on your way to feeling cottonmouth in no time.
- Strains Used
There are quite a few strains that are known to carry a higher possibility of making you experience cottonmouth. Most edibles like gummies and softgels won’t mention the strain that’s used, but inhalables almost certainly will. Sour Diesel, Gelato, Green Crack, and many others are infamous for making you feel like you need to drink a river before you feel sated.
- The Amount You Consume
The quantity of cannabis consumed in either a session or throughout the day can have a dramatic impact on how strongly you may feel cottonmouth. For example, eating a gummy with a strong concentration of Delta-8 THC (30mg+) may cause you to feel wickedly thirsty to the point where you drink and are immediately thirsty. Another example would be if you smoke several times throughout the day, your saliva doesn’t ever get a chance to fully replenish and you’ll constantly feel thirsty. The important thing to remember is to
A Quick Science Lesson on Saliva and Cannabis
If you’re still curious on how cannabis impacts the production of saliva, there’s actually a scientific explanation behind it. Your body already contains a remarkable system of cannabinoids that naturally occur: CB1 and CB2 receptors, enzymes, and anandamide. This complex network is collectively referred to as your endocannabinoid system, or ECS for short. Your ECS is responsible for regulating both the cognitive and physiological parts of your brain. When cannabis is consumed, it interferes with the natural process of your ECS with the brain. In a previous article, we spoke about how your ECS is directly related to why you feel hungry when you’re high, a highly enjoyable side effect called the munchies. Cottonmouth is also a direct response of your brain being told how to act when cannabis comes into play.
To get even more specific, there are saliva glands located under your jaw bone (called submandibular saliva glands) that house cannabinoid receptors. Regardless if you smoke or orally consume cannabis, the cannabinoids (specifically THC) latch onto these submandibular cannabinoid receptors. One 2006 study and another study in 2012 showed that this blockage effectively inhibits the normal transmission to your parasympathetic nervous system in your brain to keep producing saliva. Since most forms of psychoactive and non-psychoactive cannabinoid contain traces of THC, it’s very possible you’ll feel some dry mouth even if you only consume CBD.
Ways To Prevent Cottonmouth
Aside from the obvious solution of “drink more water!”, there are other ways to help increase your saliva output while consuming cannabis. Many cannabis users can testify that water alone won’t satisfy your intense thirst, and may even make it worse! As mentioned before, staying hydrated prior to and during your high can lessen the intensity of the dry mouth. We’ve come up with a few more ways to prevent dry mouth, some of which are quite simple.
Chew On This!
The body’s natural response to chewing is to increase saliva production. This is especially true of certain food types, such as chewing gum, dried fruit and beef jerky, and of course, eating snacks. Munchies in particular are pleasurable while high, and are a surprisingly effective way of making you forget you were thirsty in the first place.
There is no shortage of hard-candies available in the sweets department. Silky caramel drops and fruit-flavored logs wrapped in clear wrappers are ideal for this, and your taste buds will swoon at the unexpectedly long-lasting flavor. Your mouth will water to properly consume the hard candy, and you may give you so much-needed relief.
Many mouthwashes have been specifically formulated to help combat dryness. While probably not what the manufacturer intended to treat, swishing around some mouthwash can help offer some relief, at least temporarily. However, it’s not advised to use this in tandem with toothpaste, as many toothpastes contain baking powder and can exacerbate your dry mouth.
Similar to hard candies, the sensation of sucking on ice chips can help increase your saliva flow while simultaneously providing some liquid on your tongue and throat. If you have an ice machine built into your fridge, you may find that you use it much more frequently when you’re high. Otherwise, fill a small plastic bag with ice cubes and use a hammer or rolling pin to crush the cubes into smaller particles that are ideal for sucking on.
Milk And/Or Tea
Herbal teas are wonderfully soothing on the throat, especially if it’s already irritated by your cannabis inhalation. Opting for ginger teas are even better, but not ideal if you’re not fond of the strong flavor. Consider adding a splash of milk, as the high fat content can help coat your throat and mouth and thus reduce the sensation of dryness.
When it comes to experiencing xerostemia, it’s frequently accepted as a side effect from cannabis use that you just have to deal with. Since the cannabinoid receptors in your brain can’t override the THC cannabinoid completely, you’ll most likely experience cottonmouth regardless of the product type you’ve consumed. Yet thanks to the information in this article, you should have a better understanding of what cottonmouth is and some ways to prevent it. If you still experience dry mouth, there are several ways to help you deal with it more effectively. Hard candies, teas, mouthwash, and other products have worked well in dealing with drymouth, and of course, make sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your high. It probably won’t eliminate your dry mouth completely, but it can certainly help make the sticky sensation in your mouth more bearable.
If you’re ready to kick back and relax with a psychoactive cannabinoid product, be sure to check out all that TwoHawk Extracts has to offer! Our vast catalog of products includes Delta-8 THC, Farm Bill Compliant Delta-9 THC, HHC, and THC-O, all available in edible and inhalable forms. You can purchase our products with confidence, as our entire collection has been subjected to rigorous testing by independent third-party labs. Feel free to read the results of these tests in each product description, but you’ll instantly feel the quality from the moment you try them! As always, if you have any questions about the psychoactive-cannabinoid products we carry or anything in this article, feel free to reach out to us via email or our Contact us page. Be sure to check back soon for our next article, where we explore some of the strains known to cause the munchies. We hope to see you there!