Cannabis (CBD) consumption is currently legal for medicinal purposes widely in the UK, provided it has been EU-approved. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a chemical found in marijuana that does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient found in the cannabis plant that produces a certain high. Anecdotally Are you a cannabis user trying to get rid of a dry mouth? Here is the scientific reasoning behind cotton mouth syndrome and some remedies to fix it.
Can CBD cause dry mouth and what are the possible remedies?
Just discovered us? Try one of our products today and get free delivery when you spend over £20.
Can CBD cause dry mouth and what are the possible remedies?
- 4 min read
Cannabis (CBD) consumption is currently legal for medicinal purposes widely in the UK, provided it has been EU-approved. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a chemical found in marijuana that does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient found in the cannabis plant that produces a certain high. Anecdotally, prescription cannabidiol oil has been identified by numerous researches to be an effective treatment for a wide range of conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, diabetes, and dental anxiety. This claim has been backed by the Harvard Medical School that reiterates its health benefits.
Currently, the only CBD (derived from an industrial hemp strain) that has been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is a prescription cannabidiol oral solution called Epidyolex. Although CBD usage has been seeing a persistently rise of users, it cannot be disregarded that cannabis or CBD may be responsible for one of the most common and potentially deteriorative oral problems, dry mouth.
Is CBD safe to use?
The use of CBD oil is typically advocated by the pharmaceuticals as a health supplement. The NCBI published a review paper on the safety and side effects of cannabidiol that demonstrates that controlled CBD administration is safe and non-toxic in humans and animals. It also does not induce changes in food intake nor does it affect physiological parameters like heart rate, body temperature, or blood pressure. High doses up to 1,600 mg/day of CBD has been reportedly well-tolerated in humans.
Furthermore, CBD is generally not habit-forming. According to a report by the World Health Organization, “CBD appears to have little effect on conditioned place preference or intracranial self-stimulation… [It] exhibits no effect indicative of any abuse or dependence potential.”
Does CBD cause dry mouth?
CBD has been condemned by many to be a prime culprit of dry mouth. A common complaint among cannabis users is the unpleasant feeling of dry or sticky mouth, often referred to as cottonmouth or “the pasties” that does not go away. Cottonmouth (also known as dry mouth or clinically called xerostomia) is usually not a major issue when you limit the use of cannabis. However, the intensity of oral health problems may significantly rise with the increased intake of cannabis.
Some of the commonly occurring symptoms of cottonmouth are:
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Persistent thirst
- Hoarseness of voice and sore throat
- Inflamed, red tongue
- Cracked lips
- Tingling or burning sensation in the mouth
- Red, swollen, tender, bleeding gums (gingivitis)
- Sores at the corners of the mouth
- Mouth ulcers and canker sores
The science behind CBD-induced dry mouth
Originally dry mouth associated with CBD consumption was attributed to the harsh smoke irrigating the permeable oral membranes to cause irritation and decreased salivary flow, but upon rigorous studies, it has been understood that the natural response of the salivary glands to CBD components factors in much of the cause for dry mouth. Cannabinoids, the active components in cannabis, interacts with the human Endocannabinoid System (ECS), a complex biological network of receptors and neurotransmitters distributed all over the body. The ECS regulates different cognitive and physiological processes in the body.
Our submandibular salivary glands (located under the jaw bone) are responsible for 70% of healthy saliva production in the mouth. These glands contain cannabinoid receptors to which cannabinoids begin to bind when you imbibe cannabis or CBD. This prevents your ECS from communicating to your parasympathetic nervous system to institute active saliva production. This causes poor saliva production in the mouth with the use of CBD.
Remedies of dry mouth
Cannabis frequenters may be used to feeling a little parched when smoking or doing edibles. However, proper caution must be taken to de-escalate this seemingly minute dental issue before it proliferates into something critical.
American Marijuana published an article directing CBD users to follow these remedies for cottonmouth:
- Sip water, ideally through a straw to keep yourself hydrated.
- Chew St Andrew’s Trust xylitol infused dry mouth chewing gum to stimulate saliva production.
- Chew on dry fruits, citrus fruits, or beef jerky to increase saliva production.
- Use lozenges and toothpaste that promote saliva production. Try St Andrew’s Trust Dry Mouth Lozenges or toothpaste to get rid of your dry mouth.
- Suck on a lollipop, take a cough drop, or some hard candy.
- Try demulcent cough drops that coat the mucous membranes with a moist film to prevent the feeling of dry mouth.
- Drink herbal teas to rid yourself of a sore or irritated throat.
Avoid these foods if you have dry mouth
- Black and green teas (anything containing caffeine) can dry your mouth further
- Salty crackers and snacks may worsen cottonmouth
- Alcohol causes dehydration, further drying out the mouth
- Tobacco products can lead to lowered saliva production
In the wake of the booming cannabis market, many experts advise CBD users to take stringent actions against dry mouth caused by CBD to mitigate the condition. Be wary that today’s minor inconveniences may become tomorrow’s major headaches if you choose to do nothing. The American Dental Association also encourages all CBD consumers to visit the dentist regularly and maintain proper oral hygiene by brushing twice a day with St Andrew’s Trust dry mouth ingredients and fluoride enriched toothpaste.
Cannabis & Dry Mouth: Why It Happens and How to Solve It
Using cannabis and having a dry mouth seem to go hand in hand. Whether you call it dry mouth, cotton mouth or pasty mouth, it can be quite annoying! But do cannabis users just have to put up with it? Or is there a way to get rid of it? Here’s a look into studies that show probable causes, and what cannabis users can do to avoid a constant dry mouth.
Cannabis users all over the world are sure to be familiar with that sticky, dry, pasty sensation that affects the mouth after smoking cannabis. In fact, it is so inevitable that people rarely question the mechanism at work behind this strange little phenomenon—except for a handful of researchers who believe they know why it happens.
How is saliva formed?
First, we should take a brief look at the process of saliva production. It appears that saliva formation involves a two-stage process. Initially, specialised cells known as acinar cells secrete a fluid that is similar in composition to plasma. This fluid then passes through the salivary ducts on its way to the oral cavity, and as it does so, sodium and chloride are removed from it and potassium and bicarbonate are added to it. This process is what produces the final ‘hypotonic solution’ that is secreted into the mouth.
Secretion of saliva is controlled by the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS). The PSNS is responsible for various metabolic processes related to food intake, appetite, and anticipation of eating.
Receptors in the salivary glands are activated via impulses from the chorda tympani nerve. This important nerve originates in the taste buds before travelling through the submandibular ganglion (the cluster of nerve cells in the submandibular gland) and on to the brain. The chorda tympani nerve releases a compound known as acetylcholine, which is one of the body’s main saliva-stimulating substances and works directly on the receptors of the submandibular gland.
Another important compound involved in salivary secretions is known as norepinephrine. This compound is released by the preganglionic nerves that lie upstream from the submandibular ganglion. It works directly on the myoepithelial cells that surround the acinar cells by causing them to contract, which then leads to the secretion of saliva.
Photosynthesis: What Happens During the Dark Phase & Photorespiration?
CB-receptors in the salivary glands
Several studies show that cannabis use can cause oral dryness. In 1986, a study into the effects of cannabidiol (CBD) noted that the side-effects of administration of oral CBD included dry mouth. Since then, several other studies have also observed cannabinoid-induced oral dryness. The scientific name for oral dryness is xerostomia.
Perhaps the most in-depth study on cannabis-induced xerostomia to date was performed by researchers at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2006. The researchers found that cannabinoid receptors type 1 and 2 are present in the submandibular glands, which lie beneath the floor of the mouth and are responsible for producing 60-67% of the saliva.
The researchers found that the endocannabinoid agonist anandamide (AEA) binds with high affinity to the glandular cannabinoid receptors and blocks the action of the saliva-inducing compounds norepinephrine and methacholine, leading to a decrease in the secretion of saliva.
As mentioned above, these saliva-inducing compounds are part of the normal working of the parasympathetic nervous system. THC is also an agonist of the CB receptors, and is likely to affect the receptors of the submandibular glands in a similar manner.
Photosynthesis: What Happens During the Light Phase?
The fundamental role of the endocannabinoid system
Interestingly, the Buenos Aires study also concluded that the role of the endocannabinoid system is not limited to blocking signals at the submandibular glands themselves. The nervous impulses that are expressed via the chorda tympani also originate in the brain.
The researchers hypothesized that intravenous administration of cannabinoids via the femoral vein not only exerted their primary effect via the submandibular glands, but may also have acted on the cannabinoid receptors in the brain itself. They argued that a central nervous system mechanism helps to control production of saliva at glandular level.
The fact that the endocannabinoid system is so fundamentally involved with the inhibition of salivary secretions implies that it also has a role to play in causing the production of saliva. If an agonist or antagonist of the cannabinoid receptors inhibits salivation, it is likely that an inverse agonist such as the synthetic cannabinoid AM-251 may cause a reversal of this effect and an increase in salivation.
Indeed, the Buenos Aires study also demonstrated that the presence of AM-251 partly reversed the effect of AEA (although there appears to be a lack of consensus as to whether AM-251 is an antagonist or an inverse agonist).
How to get rid of dry mouth after cannabis use
Experiencing a dry mouth and throat after cannabis use is extremely common, and often it does not take much cannabis to induce this effect. However, during a heavy session, the dry-mouth effect can often increase until it becomes extremely unpleasant.
If experiencing unpleasant cotton mouth, there are a number of things you can do to help alleviate it. A few of these include:
- Stay hydrated! This will mitigate the issue to some extent
- Chew gum – This can also help, as the action of chewing stimulates the salivary glands to produce more saliva
- Use ice cubes or lollies to suck on, which can also help keep saliva flowing
- Similarly, foods that require decisive chewing such as dried fruit or beef jerky can also help stimulate the production of saliva
For more complete relief, using a demulcent (a substance that coats a mucous membrane with a moist ‘film’) designed for oral use should suffice. Many different prescription medications can cause users to experience dry mouth, so there are numerous oral demulcents commercially available to combat the problem.
In the future, research into the specific nature of the endocannabinoid system and how it controls the process of salivation may yield targeted products that can reverse the effect of xerostomia. This would benefit not just those who have smoked a little too much cannabis, but also individuals suffering from a range of conditions (or taking certain medications) that cause a permanent state of cotton mouth.
This article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult with your doctor or other licensed medical professional. Do not delay seeking medical advice or disregard medical advice due to something you have read on this website.