One of the common side effects when smoking marijuana is dry mouth or what is commonly known as cottonmouth. Many people almost immediately feel thirsty after smoking a substantial amount of weed. Often times, this not-so-pleasant feeling or effect can become quite inconvenient that it raises the question – does weed dehydrate you? Well, the good news is that cannabis does not generally cause dehydration. In this article, we will discuss the different reasons and scenarios that will cause the condition of feeling dehydrated and ways to avoid or prevent them.
Marijuana and Our Endocannabinoid System
People have enjoyed the benefits of marijuana since ancient times, and so the concept of dry mouth is not exactly something new. In fact, the survey shows that about 70% of individuals who use cannabis are likely to experience cottonmouth. It was only recently that a group of scientists decided to take a closer look at the science behind this particular cannabis side effect.
While many speculate that this adverse effect is triggered by smoking the weed, dry mouth can actually still be experienced even when ingesting cannabis using different methods. This includes oral delivery methods, like eating cannabis-infused food or drinks and tinctures, and vaporization, which is thought to essentially minimize the risks associated with smoking.
The marijuana plant contains more than a hundred different chemicals, commonly referred to as cannabinoids. Each of these compounds interacts with our endocannabinoid system, which consists of several receptors that are located throughout the entire body, including the brain. As the cannabinoids flood these receptors, they affect different bodily functions, including our immune response, metabolism, memory, appetite, and saliva production.
Anandamide is one of the cannabinoids found in cannabis plants. While not many studies have been done to conclude the extent of the use of this particular compound, it has been observed to cause a decrease in saliva secretion. Another thing that the scientists observed was that anandamide has a very similar structure to THC, the main psychoactive cannabinoid known for giving what we know as a euphoric reaction. Because of this similarity, it is believed that THC also binds to the receptors in our salivary glands, particularly the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the submandibular gland, and stops them from receiving impulses or messages from the nervous system. This, in turn, also reduces the saliva production in the mouth, and people will start feeling the effects of dry mouth.
Marijuana and Dry “Mouth
Risks Associated with Chronic Cottonmouth
That being said, while the symptoms of dry mouth are not dangerous, it is still important to know of any possible risks associated with it. Several collections of research suggest that oral health can be a concern with increased cannabis use and the effects of dry mouth. As is common knowledge, saliva serves an important function of lubricating our mouth in order to protect our gums and teeth from bacteria, viruses, and infection. When saliva production is interrupted often and for a long period of time, this can lead to several problems, including periodontal disease, potential tooth loss, gum inflammation, sore throat, bad breath, and in some cases, difficulty in swallowing of food.
Understanding the potentially chronic side effects of having dry mouth due to cannabis consumption and the different ways to prevent this is key to avoiding the adverse effects.
Dealing with Cotton Mouth
Most cannabis side effects cannot be cured, and users will have to wait until the symptoms subside. The good news is that you can prevent or alleviate the symptoms of dry mouth using the following methods.
One obvious way to prevent dry mouth, even those triggered by cannabis consumption, is to drink water. It is important to frequently sip water using a straw – not beer, fruit juices, green teas, or wine – or suck on crushed ice before, during, and after weed consumption to prevent the dry mouth. Once the uncomfortable side effect has set in, drinking water will not be as effective.
The American Dental Association also encourages cannabis consumers to maintain regular visits to the dentists as well as a healthy regimen of teeth brushing and flossing at least two times a day. A reduction in citrus-based food and drinks is also recommended as these can dry the mouth. Of course, alcohol-based beverages, mouth wash, and sprays fall in the same category of things to be avoided in order to avoid the consequences of cottonmouth. Chewing gum, dried fruit, or beef jerky is another way to stimulate saliva production and prevent signals to limit it from reaching our nervous system. In the same way as chewing, licking lollipops, especially sour-flavored ones, will help combat the symptoms of dry mouth.
Marijuana and Dehydration
Now that we have cleared up the answer to the question, “does weed dehydrate you ?” if you turn out to be dehydrated when smoking or consuming cannabis, chances are you are already dehydrated due to reasons unrelated to marijuana usage and may confuse marijuana as the culprit. If you are still suffering from thirst and dry mouth long after you finish your cannabis session, you are most likely to be suffering from dehydration.
And while cannabis does not actually cause dehydration, it can accelerate the rate of dehydration. Other symptoms of dehydration vary depending on the severity of the condition, and these include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and organ damage.
Dehydration is a health problem that occurs when the body flushes out or uses more fluid than it is taking in, depriving your body of the needed water and fluids to carry out its normal functions. If you are unable to replenish the lost fluids, then you will most likely get dehydrated. Drinking plenty of fluids oftentimes is the go-to cure for thirst associated with dehydration. If this does not help your condition, however, it is important to seek medical advice as soon as possible since dehydration could be caused by an underlying problem, including kidney disease, diabetes, among others.
Any cannabis user might have asked this question at some point in their lives – does weed dehydrate you? According to a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary “Medicine, dry mouth, along with improved sleep, increased creativity, and getting the munchies, are the most common effects of cannabis use. So, while weed does not typically dehydrate you, it can cause dry mouth or cottonmouth, which, when triggered for a long period of time, can not only trigger mouth problems, it can also accelerate the rate of an individual getting dehydrated.