Read to learn about why cannabis users experience this cotton mouth undesired effect and how it may be prevented. With CBD usage growing in popularity, you might have wondered, can CBD cause dry mouth? Is it one of the side effects? Read on to find out!
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 !
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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:
Can CBD cause dry mouth?
Dry mouth is a symptom often associated with the use of cannabis (marijuana). Also known by the terms ‘pasty mouth’ and ‘cotton mouth’, dry mouth can prove to be quite an unpleasant feeling. However, many people nowadays are wondering whether hemp-derived CBD can cause dry mouth as well? This post will answer that question, and explain what you can do.
Before we delve into these questions, let’s take a brief look into the science behind the dry mouth.
The science behind dry mouth
The scientific name for dry mouth or cotton mouth is Xerostomia. It is a reduced salivary flow that causes an unpleasant dry sensation in the mouth.
Before cannabis legalisation brought about a wide selection of products seen in pharmacies and shops today, recreational smoking was the primary method of cannabis use. In those times, it was believed that dry mouth was caused by the thick smoke that arose from burning cannabis.
However, as users began vaping cannabis, dry mouth persisted as a side effect. Gummies, oils, and capsules yielded the same results. Scientists thus began to study this problem. In 2006, Juan Pablo Prestifilippo and his colleagues in Buenos Aires, Argentina, began their search for potential causes of dry mouth.
Their study on cannabis-induced xerostomia is the most in-depth study on the subject to date. The researchers carried out experiments on male rats and found that cannabinoid receptors (type 1 and type 2) were located in specific locations in the submandibular glands. These glands are responsible for producing 60-67% of the saliva.
The researchers further discovered that the cannabinoid anandamide (AEA) attaches to these receptors and alters salivary production, resulting in hyposalivation (decreased saliva production). This was the primary reason for the dryness of the mouth.
Does CBD cause dry mouth?
To put it simply, it probably does. Although, it has been noted that THC in Cannabis is far more likely to cause dry mouth as compared to cannabidiol (CBD). However, CBD is not entirely exempt from this side effect. Many hemp-derived CBD oil users also report oral dryness as a side effect.
Moreover, there are a few studies that show that CBD might cause oral dryness. In 1986, one study noted that the side effects of oral CBD administration included dry mouth. Since then, many other studies have also noted cannabinoid-induced dryness of the mouth.
The 2006 study discussed above suggests that the use of cannabinoids such as CBD and THC may play a vital role in inhibiting saliva production. However, one thing still unclear from this study is whether CBD would yield the same results on its own. Therefore, more research is needed to confidently conclude whether CBD alone can cause dry mouth.
Is it dangerous for health?
It is important to understand that a certain level of saliva production is essential at all times. Saliva helps lubricate the mouth and enables us to taste the food, swallow and speak. It also protects the mouth, teeth, and throat from viruses, bacteria, and other unhealthy microorganisms. Saliva levels that are consistently low as a result of cannabis and CBD use can cause oral dryness. If left untreated, it can lead to other potential side effects, like:
- Sore throat
- Bad breath
- Tingling in the mouth
- Raw or red tongue
- Cracked lips
- Mouth sores
- Tooth decay
- Periodontal disease
CBD and dry mouth: What can I do about it?
If you are experiencing a dry mouth, there are several things you can do to help alleviate it. These include:
- Staying hydrated: Sipping water frequently will help mitigate this issue. Also, avoid alcohol-based beverages like beer or wine. These contain tannins that further dry out the mouth.
- Chewing sugar- free gum
- Maintaining a regimen of brushing teeth at least two times per day using fluoride enriched toothpaste.
- Reducing the intake of citrus-based food and alcohol-based breath sprays and mouthwash. These can further dry out the mouth.
- Sucking on ice cubes. These can help keep the saliva flowing and break the monotony of drinking water constantly.
- Eating foods that require prolonged chewing, such as beef jerky or dried fruit. These can help stimulate the production of saliva.
- Licking lollipops or sucking on sour flavoured hard candy. These actions greatly stimulate saliva production.
- Using cough medicines, which are also known as demulcents. These help to reduce mouth dryness by covering the mucous membranes with a dewy film.
- Drinking herbal tea also helps reduce the dry feeling in the throat.
In conclusion, the answer to the question, ‘Can CBD cause dry mouth?’, is yes, it might. There is strong anecdotal evidence from CBD users as well as some evidence from limited studies conducted on this topic. While dry mouth is majorly associated with cannabis use, hemp-derived CBD products are also seen to inhibit saliva production that causes this unpleasant condition. However, there is a need for further research on this topic to come to any definitive conclusion.
If you liked reading this, be sure to check our other blog: : The Ultimate Guide To CBD
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