Cannabis & Cotton Mouth
Cannabis consumption is currently legal for medicinal purposes in more than half of US states, with a growing number of states providing recreational protections as well. And while marijuana usage is a popular topic of discussion in both social and legislative arenas, there is a common side effect of cannabis that needs to be better understood: cotton mouth.
What is Cotton Mouth?
A common complaint of cannabis users is a persistent thirst and sticky mouth, often referred to as cotton mouth or “the pasties”, that just won’t go away. Once thought to be caused by harsh smoke irritating tender oral membranes, cotton mouth is now better understood as a normal (though annoying) response of the saliva glands in our mouths to cannabis components in the bloodstream. It’s a myth that vaping and ingesting marijuana don’t cause dry mouth. Cotton mouth strikes whether you prefer combustion, concentrates or edibles.
So, if imbibing pot in any form can lead to cotton mouth, what is it about cannabis that has such a drying effect? The answer lies in our Endocannabinoid System (ECS), a biological system consisting of naturally occurring cannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors, and enzymes. The ECS aids in regulating many different cognitive and physiological processes, but we’re only concerned with the relationship between the ECS and the parasympathetic nervous system.
Let’s break it down. Our submandibular saliva glands (located right under the jaw bone) are responsible for 70% of saliva production. These glands also contain cannabinoid receptors. When you imbibe marijuana, the cannabinoids bind to those cannabinoid receptors, preventing your ECS from sending messages to your parasympathetic nervous system. In short, your nervous system isn’t getting the message to keep the saliva flowing.
Cures for Cotton Mouth
So, putting the science aside, what can you do to treat cotton mouth from smoking pot or ingesting cannabis?
- Sip water, ideally through a straw
- Chew xylitol gum, like XyliGum, to stimulate your salivary glands
- Avoid alcohol, coffee, tea, and other caffeinated drinks
- Avoid using tobacco in any form
- Apply XyliMelts or XyliGel for fast and long-lasting relief
XyliMelts are oral-adhering discs that stick to your teeth or gums while slowly releasing ½ gram of xylitol and oral lubricant, to stimulate saliva production and to coat, moisturize, and lubricate your mouth for those suffering from dry mouth. XyliMelts can be used discreetly during the day or in comfort while you sleep. Find relief from cotton mouth, frequent thirst, stickiness in the throat, and other unpleasant dry mouth symptoms associated with smoking weed or consuming cannabis. XyliMelts last for hours, moisturizing and coating the mouth for optimal comfort. Two discs placed in your mouth before bed will minimize cotton mouth when you’re awake. Offered in mint and mild-mint options, XyliMelts have the added benefit of fighting bad breath while reducing the risk of tooth decay.
OraCoat also brings you a second option, XyliGel, a soothing gel with 17% xylitol which comes in convenient tubes and can be easily applied to the mouth and lips when you’re suffering cotton mouth from marijuana usage. Learn more about XyliMelts, XyliGel, and other products from OraCoat.Learn about cotton mouth from marijuana or cannabis use and how to best treat dry mouth. Rated #1 in effectiveness by dentists, XyliMelts and XyliGel soothe cotton mouth whether you’re vaping, consuming edibles, or using concentrated cannabis. OraCoat brings fast, effective & affordable relief!
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” .