what it is and how to avoid it- Alchimia Grow Shop

If you are a regular user of cannabis, and leaving aside the popular munchies, you must have noticed another curious – and somewhat annoying – symptom derived from marijuana use: having a dry mouth like desert sand. Although it is a symptom that does not usually bother or worry excessively, the truth is that this phenomenon has an explanation and, as you will see in today’s article, it can have truly undesirable consequences in cases of continued consumption, which are not few.

Today we will explain why after consuming cannabis it may seem that your tongue has become a piece of leather, what you can do to avoid it and, above all and most importantly, what long-term consequences may arise from the fact that your salivary glands take a break too often, something that, as you will see, happens every time you smoke, vape, or even ingest cannabis.

Consuming cannabis can have side effects such as dry mouth, eyes, and lips

Dry mouth when consuming marijuana?

Yes, we have all been there at some point; You are enjoying a joint or vape of your favorite herb, and you slowly notice how it is increasingly difficult for you to swallow saliva, your tongue seems made of wood, and there is a moment when it seems that even drinking water as if they were going to prohibit it doesn’t relieve you…in short, your mouth and throat are drier than a mummy’s suit.

But why does this phenomenon happen? Is it the hot smoke that “dries out” your mouth and throat? Well, in fact, no, what you suffer from is called xerostomia and it is not caused by smoke or vapor, but by the action of certain cannabinoids on your body, in this case on the salivary glands. Even if you eat some cannabis edible, without any hot smoke in your mouth, you will notice this sensation, although as always with ingestion, it may take longer to notice this side effect.

Xerostomia, dry mouth and cannabis use

Xerostomia is the medical term used to describe dry mouth, that is, the sensation of having a persistent feeling of not having saliva. The word “xerostomia” comes from the Greek “xero” meaning “dry” and “stoma” meaning “mouth.” It is estimated that xerostomia, also called dry mouth syndrome, affects 20-30% of the population and is characterized by a decrease in saliva production, which translates into an unpleasant feeling of having a dry mouth. Indeed, and for various reasons, the production of saliva in the oral cavity may not be enough, giving rise to this sensation. And one of these reasons, as you already know, is the consumption of cannabis.

Having your mouth dry as the Mojave Desert is not uncommon if you've been using cannabis (Image: Dan Gold)
Having your mouth dry as the Mojave Desert is not uncommon if you’ve been using cannabis (Image: Dan Gold)

Saliva plays an important role in oral health, as it helps to lubricate and clean the mouth, facilitates the digestion of food, neutralizes the acids produced by bacteria, and prevents oral infections. When there is a decrease in saliva production, the undesirable symptoms of xerostomia can appear, including:

  • Sensation of dryness and stickiness in the mouth
  • Difficulty speaking, swallowing, and tasting food
  • Stinging or burning sensation in the mouth and tongue
  • Dry and cracked lips
  • Bad breath
  • Increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease
  • Changes in the sense of taste
  • Frequent oral infections

As we have commented, and in addition to the action of cannabinoids that we will discuss below, this phenomenon can be caused by many other factors, such as side effects of certain medications (antidepressants, antihistamines, and diuretics), autoimmune diseases (such as Sjögren’s syndrome), radiation therapy to the head and neck, stress, dehydration, smoking, and excessive alcohol or caffeine consumption.

Having seen the symptoms, surely now you would prefer that it did not happen to you, because as you can see that the lack of saliva can have a really negative impact on oral health in particular and on quality of life in general. Who likes to wake up in the morning after a night of excesses with his or her tongue stuck to their palate and the feeling of not having a single milliliter of saliva to swallow? Not to mention a breath that would drive back an army of orcs…

Like your mouth and eyes, your lips will also be less hydrated and more prone to chapping after consuming cannabis, keep that in mind! (Image: Malik Skysgaard)
Like your mouth and eyes, your lips will also be less hydrated and more prone to chapping after consuming cannabis, keep that in mind! (Image: Malik Skysgaard)

Why does my mouth dry when using marijuana?

As we have told you, the sensation you feel is not caused so much by the smoke or vapor of cannabis but by the action of cannabinoids on the receptors in your body, more specifically on the CB1 receptors of your endocannabinoid system. After a while (about half an hour) after smoking, vaping or even ingesting cannabis, it is not uncommon to start noticing these symptoms, which can last a few hours depending on the amount consumed. And, we already anticipate it, the main character responsible for this is THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, the main psychoactive component of this plant.

Yes, your great friend THC not only activates the CB1 receptors in your brain to make you feel great, but it also does it with the receptors of your salivary glands, which do not hesitate to take things easy and start producing much less saliva, reducing the production of the precious oral lubricant and giving you that unique sensation of having a mouth full of cotton balls (this phenomenon is often known as cottonmouth). In fact, it has been shown that the same thing happens with the eyes, which tend to dry out and leave your tear ducts in the same state as your mouth.

What is the endocannabinoid system? (ECS)

Do you know what regulates hunger, sleep, menstrual pain and also libido in our bodies? The endocannabinoid system is responsible for the balance of all these functions on which our health and emotional well-being depend so much. In this article, we explain what it is, how it works and what to do to keep it healthy.

Thus, consuming varieties with a high THC content, or simply large amounts of THC, will facilitate the appearance of this phenomenon, which seems to be closely related to the amount of THC ingested or inhaled, both in terms of intensity and duration.

Tolerance to dry mouth?

It seems so; According to Dr. Benjamin Caplan, CEO of CED Clinic, veteran smokers seem to have developed a certain type of tolerance to this effect of THC, in the same way that they have developed it for the rest of the effects produced by this compound. On the contrary, cases of xerostomia caused by the use of cannabis usually occur in people with little experience with this substance; In the same way that seasoned users will not notice a psychoactive effect as accentuated as a novice, neither will they notice the symptoms of xerostomia as intensely.

Tricks to avoid cotton mouth

Of course, if you want to avoid this symptom the safest way is not to consume THC and stick to CBD-rich strains. Indeed, we already know that the effects of CBD tend to modulate or counteract those of THC, and it seems that the same would happen with xerostomia. In the case of medical treatments where THC needs to be administered, what is usually done is to adjust the dose downwards to minimize the chances of unwanted side effects such as this.

Proper hydration will help you reduce xerostomia, although try not to pour the water on yourself!
Proper hydration will help you reduce xerostomia, although try not to pour the water on yourself!

Of course, proper hydration will also help alleviate these symptoms, for which water is recommended (alcoholic beverages, with a lot of sugar or that contain caffeine are not recommended, as they will only increase that feeling of dryness). Many users also testify that using products that facilitate salivation helps a great deal: they can be candies, chewing gum or drinks of the type that we have already mentioned (tea with honey is usually a favorite among people who suffer from xerostomia).

In the same way, correct oral hygiene is essential, not to avoid dryness itself, but to make its effects, which you already know are not pleasant at all, become too accentuated. If it happens to you very often, a visit to the dentist will help you combat these symptoms and alleviate those that xerostomia can cause.


  • Cannabinoid CB1 receptors regulate salivation, Kelsey Andreis, Jenna Billingsley, Kian Naimi Shirazi, Jim Wager-Miller, Clare Johnson, Heather Bradshaw, Alex Straiker
  • Xerostomia: an update for clinicians, MS Hopcraft, C Tan
  • THC Regulates Tearing via Cannabinoid CB1 Receptors, Amanda Thayer, Natalia Murataeva, Vanessa Delcroix, Jim Wager-Miller, Helen P. Makarenkova, Alex Straiker
  • Cannabis use and oral diseases, Analia Veitz Keenan, Silvia Spivakovsky

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