If you consume cannabis via any method, chances are you have experienced cottonmouth. It doesn’t matter how you ingest it, cottonmouth is the most common side effect of consuming marijuana.
Your mouth salivates on purpose: to protect it and your teeth from bacteria. If you don’t treat cottonmouth promptly, other side effects could occur: like a sore throat or bad breath.
How does it happen?
Xerostomia (zero-stow-me-uh) is the fancy medical word for cottonmouth. It is also known as hyposalivation. Cottonmouth is caused by how the active compounds found in THC interact with the human endocannabinoid system.
The endocannabinoid system is made up of cannabinoid receptors located throughout the whole body, including your brain. The cannabinoids found in marijuana can trigger these receptors, activating different reactions and processes. This is where the high you feel comes about, but this is also how your production of saliva is affected.
The autonomic nervous system (AKA the rest and digest system) controls saliva production in your mouth. Nerve impulses are sent from your brain to your salivary glands, stimulating saliva.
Your brain can subconsciously control this process: the simple thought of something delicious causes the brain to send those impulses to your salivary glands, and your mouth waters.
Anandamide, a fatty acid neurotransmitter, has been found to decrease saliva secretion. Researchers also found this neurotransmitter to be similar in structure to THC, so it is believed that the THC in cannabis is the true reason behind cottonmouth. The THC binds to receptors in the submandibular glands and causes them to stop receiving messages from the nervous system.
The following are tips on how to combat cottonmouth:
Drink A LOT of Water Slowly & Through A Straw
If you consume cannabis daily, you are constantly interrupting the flow of saliva. This is what causes dehydration in the mouth and throat.
When dealing with a dry mouth, try taking small sips at a time rather than chugging. Smaller sips will refresh your mouth a little bit at a time and give the salivary glands the opportunity to kick in. If you drink too quickly, you won’t allow the water to moisten your mouth.
Consuming water via straw stimulates the production of moisture in two ways: by directly taking in water and by stimulating saliva production. Drinking water through a straw may also allow you to drink more than usual.
If cannabis is a constant in your life, water should be as well. Make sure you stay hydrated before, during, and after a session.
Unfortunately, the caffeine found in coffee and tea can add to the intensity of your dry mouth. Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it forces the production of urine.
Your kidneys hold onto water when you have a diuretic in your system. They then pass that water through urine, instead of reabsorbing it back into your blood. Even if you try to offset the caffeine intake with more water, you may find yourself having to use the restroom more frequently and still feeling dehydrated.
Teas also contain tannins, which are astringent plant compounds. These can dehydrate skin and body tissues, causing the sensation of dryness.
Like caffeine, alcohol is also a diuretic that can make cottonmouth worse.
Sugar-free gum is considered to be one of the best ways to eradicate dry mouth. Gums that contain xylitol can help maintain a neutral pH of the mouth, meaning you could potentially be fighting tooth decay while relieving your dry mouth.
The act of chewing stimulates saliva production. The brain believes it is digesting food, when it is not.
Suck on Something Sour
A natural way to stimulate the production of saliva is to suck on a lemon or orange.
Sour candy can activate the flow of saliva, providing relief from cotton mouth that lasts as long as the candy does. The glands in your mouth react differently to different tastes, and flavors that are sour are often accompanied with a influx of moisture.
Sour flavors can make your mouth water more than sweet, so stick to your Toxic Waste, Warheads and Sour Patch Kids.
Basically, anything sour will assist in eradicating cottonmouth.
Hydrate Your Nose with Saline Spray
Your nasal passages can become dry too, which can aggravate the sinuses, mouth, throat, and sense of taste. Using a saline spray can hydrate the ears, nose, and throat.
Utilize Steam or a Humidifier
Inhaling steam is a great way to add moisture to your mouth and nasal passages. Just boil some water or use a humidifier and breathe it in.
If you find yourself waking up with a sore throat regularly, invest in a humidifier to keep the air around you moist. Using a humidifier throughout your sessions will also aid in avoiding cottonmouth.
Breathe Through Your Nose
Aside from no one enjoying a mouth-breather, if you are used to breathing this way you’re only making it easier for cottonmouth to travel through your tongue and throat. Ensure that you are always breathing through your nose.