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. Ever wondered why CBD causes the dry mouth effect? This article explains why it happens and how to deal with dry mouth after taking CBD oil. Do CBD supplements leave an unpleasant dryness in your mouth? Here’s why it happens and what you can do about this constant dry and pasty mouth sensation.
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.
Can CBD Oil Cause Dry Mouth?
Do you regularly experience dry mouth after taking CBD? You’re not alone.
In fact, this effect is common for all cannabinoids, not only for CBD. But does it mean that cannabis users just have to accept it and go on with their supplementation?
Or is there a way to minimize the dry mouth effect after using CBD oils and vapes?
There are at least a few ways to help you cope with the cottonmouth.
It’s just so common that hardly anyone is questioning the mechanism at work.
Today, we explain why CBD gives you the dry mouth feeling and how to cope with it using some simple tricks.
Why Does CBD Cause Dry Mouth (Cottonmouth)
Several factors can cause dry mouth after taking CBD oil or any cannabis-based product. This section holds the answer to the “why” behind the cottonmouth effect.
Cannabinoids Affect Salivary Glands
Several studies point to cannabis use as the reason for having a dry mouth. A 1986 study on the effects of CBD noted that the side effects of oral CBD included dry mouth.
Since then, a few other studies have investigated this effect. Oral dryness even has a scientific name — xerostomia.
Perhaps the most relevant study on CBD-induced oral dryness comes from the researchers at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 2006. The authors found that cannabinoid receptors type 1 and 2 (CB1 and CB2) occur in the submandibular glands, which lie beneath the bottom of the mouth and are responsible for the secretion of 60-67% of the saliva (1).
The research team found that anandamide, which is one of the two major endocannabinoids produced by the body, binds with high affinity to these cannabinoid receptors and blocks the secretion of saliva.
Both THC and CBD interact with the cannabinoid receptors of the parasympathetic nervous system, so they’re likely to affect the receptors of the submandibular glands in a similar fashion.
CBD May Signal Your Brain to Slow Down Saliva Production
The said study also concluded that the role of the endocannabinoid system reaches beyond simply blocking signals at the submandibular glands themselves. The nervous signals are first created in the brain.
The researchers drew out a hypothesis that intravenous application of cannabinoids through the femoral vein not only blocked the saliva secretion in the submandibular gland but it may also have interacted with the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the brain itself. They proposed that the central nervous system helps to control saliva production at the glandular level.
Impurities in CBD Oil
Contaminated CBD oils can contain dangerous byproducts, causing serious health risks. These contaminants can cause irritation in the mouth and lungs, resulting in dry mouth or irritation of the oral tract.
If you’re experiencing severe discomfort caused by the dryness, itchiness, or swelling of your mouth and throat — seek medical attention immediately. This isn’t a normal side effect of CBD oil.
Too High a Dose
Agencies responsible for regulating food safety have advised users not to exceed a dose of 100 mg of CBD daily for healthy adults. Breaching this threshold can lead to side effects like dry mouth.
Different forms of CBD can produce various side effects. For example, smoking CBD flowers or dabbing CBD concentrates can irritate your mouth, throat, and lungs, causing coughing and dryness in the mouth for some individuals.
Using Sprays and Tinctures
Using sublingual forms of CBD, such as sprays or tinctures, causes the CBD to absorb through the mucous membrane in the mouth. From there, CBD can reach the cannabinoid receptors in your salivary gland, inhibiting saliva secretion and causing dry mouth.
Taking these forms of CBD more frequently can cause regular discomfort in the mouth and even an unpleasant stinging sensation in some cases.
Vaping CBD is considered safer than smoking because it produces fewer toxic byproducts such as carcinogens. However, the flavorings and thinning agents used in vape oils can cause serious health risks. Moreover, when you vape CBD, it also reaches your salivary glands, thus reducing saliva secretion in the mouth.
How to Cope with Dry Mouth from CBD?
As you can see, CBD and dry mouth come hand in hand, so it’s no wonder why people are seeking ways to cope with this side effect.
Worse yet, you don’t need to take much CBD in order to experience dryness in the mouth. For heavy CBD users, this side effect is their daily companion — and an annoying one, to be honest.
Preventing cottonmouth is better than having to fight it when it appears. Here are a few ways to help yourself cope and de-escalate this unpleasant sensation before it becomes a pain in the mouth.
1. Hydrate Yourself
The best method for preventing or reducing the offset of cottonmouth while using CBD oil is to drink a lot of water and take care of proper hydration throughout the day. Also, drinking other hydrating liquids such as electrolytes right before, during, and after taking CBD oil can help diminish this annoying problem to some extent. Drinking herbal teas and warm water is the best for hydration and easing sore throat.
2. Increase Saliva Production
Try using toothpaste, lozenges, or lollipops to combat mouth dryness by increasing saliva production. Sucking on lollipops or hard candies stimulates your salivary glands to produce more saliva and creates a moist film lining the mucous membranes and preventing dryness in the mouth and throat.
3. Chew Gum
Choosing CBD-infused chewing gum is one of the best ways to avoid dry mouth. The CBD gets absorbed right into the bloodstream through the capillaries located under the tongue. Most natural CBD gum supplements are sugar-free and don’t contain artificial ingredients such as sweeteners or aromas. They rather use peppermint essential oil and xylitol as flavorings.
Another method to effectively cope with dry mouth is by chewing gums that contain xylitol. This natural sweetener helps activate salivary glands and pumps up the production of saliva in the mouth.
You can find CBD chewing gum in different potencies, so make sure to follow the recommended dosage to avoid cottonmouth.
4. Eat Fruit
Fresh citrus fruits, such as lemon, orange, or pineapple, can help you get rid of the dry mouth feeling. Chewing on dry fruits, ice cubes, or beef jerky will also help activate salivary glands and reduce this side effect to a great extent — especially if you keep yourself hydrated throughout the day.
5. Try Another Form of CBD
When taking CBD oil, it’s best to go with oral or topical forms if you want to avoid experiencing a dry mouth. There are a lot of CBD products that don’t require you to smoke or vape them. This not only protects your lungs but also prevents cottonmouth from occurring.
How Is Saliva Formed?
To elaborate on the subject of CBD and dry mouth, let’s take a look at how saliva is formed.
Saliva formation occurs at two stages.
First, certain cells known as acinar cells form a fluid that has a similar composition to plasma. This fluid then moves through the salivary ducts to enter the oral cavity, and once it succeeds, sodium chloride is removed from it, and potassium and bicarbonate are added.
This stage is known as the final hypotonic solution that is secreted in the salivary glands.
Saliva secretion is managed by the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS). The PSNS often controls different metabolic processes linked to appetite, food intake, and anticipation of eating.
Salivary receptors are activated by impulses from the chorda tympani nerve. This essential nerve stems from the taste buds before traveling through the cluster of nerve cells located in the submandibular gland.
The chorda tympani nerve produces a compound called acetylcholine, which is one of the body’s main saliva-inducing substances and works directly on the receptors of the submandibular gland.
Another important factor involved in the formation of saliva is norepinephrine. This compound is produced by the preganglionic nerves and works directly on the myoepithelial cells that surround the acinar cells; this contact results in saliva secretion.
Other Side Effects of CBD
Although CBD is generally safe and well-tolerated, it also has some mild side effects. Patients on medications such as blood thinners should consult a doctor before buying CBD products because CBD can interact with different medicines and cause adverse effects.
Here are some of the most common negative reactions to CBD.
Since CBD is a decent sleep aid, it’s no wonder that people experience sedation or drowsiness, especially when taking CBD products in high doses. It’s recommended to adjust your schedule and try taking it in the evening or right before bed so that you can normally function throughout the day (2).
Changes in Appetite
CBD has a biphasic nature, meaning that it can produce different effects in the same individual depending on the conditions under which it is used. Some studies point to CBD as a mild appetite suppressant, while others have found that CBD can actually increase appetite. It’s best to monitor your body’s response to CBD, and if you notice any changes in your appetite, try to adjust the dosage so that it doesn’t cause such fluctuations (3).
Low Blood Pressure
A 2017 study found that a single dose of CBD can lower blood pressure in healthy individuals — both when at rest and when put under stressful situations. This side effect can be risky for people diagnosed with low blood pressure or those who take blood thinners as part of their medication (4).
When this side effect occurs, you may feel lightheaded or drowsy. Lie down and drink plenty of liquids to help stabilize blood pressure if CBD lowers it too much.
Avoid physical activity during that time. In case of fainting, you could injure yourself or other people around you.
Some users report indigestion or diarrhea after consuming CBD. This unfortunate side effect occurs when you take too much CBD oil, which can further irritate the gastrointestinal tract and trigger diarrhea. Studies have found that diarrhea occurs in people who take more than 300 mg of CBD oil at a time (5).
Key Takeaways on CBD and Dry Mouth
CBD can lead to dry mouth due to its interaction with cannabinoid receptors located in the salivary glands in your mouth.
When you don’t use CBD as recommended, these supplements can cause adverse reactions, such as dry mouth feeling. Usually, the more you take it, the more apparent this side effect will be.
Make sure that you use a clean CBD product, use chewing gum, eat fruit, and stay hydrated if you want to prevent or reduce the intensity of the dry mouth feeling.
Certain types of CBD, such as tinctures and vapes, can make this sensation even more annoying, so if that’s your case, we suggest that you switch to an oral or topical form.
Regardless of your choice, always check for the certificates of analysis for any CBD product out there. Doing so will help you confirm the product’s potency and purity — ensuring that you’re not ingesting any unwanted chemicals alongside your hemp extract.
How do you deal with CBD and dry mouth? Share your life hacks in the comment section below!
- Prestifilippo, J. P., Fernández-Solari, J., de la Cal, C., Iribarne, M., Suburo, A. M., Rettori, V., McCann, S. M., & Elverdin, J. C. (2006). Inhibition of salivary secretion by activation of cannabinoid receptors. Experimental biology and medicine (Maywood, N.J.), 231(8), 1421–1429. https://doi.org/10.1177/153537020623100816
- Shannon, S., Lewis, N., Lee, H., & Hughes, S. (2019). Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series. The Permanente journal, 23, 18–041. https://doi.org/10.7812/TPP/18-041
- Kirkham T. C. (2009). Cannabinoids and appetite: food craving and food pleasure. International review of psychiatry (Abingdon, England), 21(2), 163–171. https://doi.org/10.1080/09540260902782810
- Jadoon, K. A., Tan, G. D., & O’Sullivan, S. E. (2017). A single dose of cannabidiol reduces blood pressure in healthy volunteers in a randomized crossover study. JCI insight, 2(12), e93760. https://doi.org/10.1172/jci.insight.93760
- Iffland, K., & Grotenhermen, F. (2017). An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies. Cannabis and cannabinoid research, 2(1), 139–154. https://doi.org/10.1089/can.2016.0034
Nina created CFAH.org following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.
Can CBD Cause Dry Mouth?
Do CBD supplements leave an unpleasant dryness in your mouth? Here’s why it happens and what you can do about this constant dry and pasty mouth sensation.
From pills to gummies, CBD is gaining popularity due to its seemingly endless health benefits. Though CBD products are considered safe for human consumption, it comes with a few side effects.
Whether you consume CBD for medicinal or recreational purposes, these products often result in a dry mouth or what’s known as cottonmouth. Here’s why it happens and what you can do about it.
Table of Contents
Why Does CBD Cause Dry Mouth (CottonMouth)?
Though CBD causes minimal side effects, it’s impossible to disregard the fact that this cannabis product is responsible for the most common adverse effect – dry mouth.
For some, dry mouth can last for a couple of hours or until the effects of the CBD wear off.
Cannabis Affects the Salivary Glands
The dry sensation occurs when the CBD products inhibit the secretion of saliva in the mouth.
The CBD oil alters how the salivary glands respond and prevent them from secreting the regularly required amount of saliva in the mouth. This results in irritability and pain on the tongue and mouth, making you feel more thirsty.
Presence of Impurities
Impure CBD can contain toxic byproducts, causing severe health hazards. These impurities can irritate the mouth and lungs, leading to cottonmouth or irritation of the mouth and throat.
If you’re experiencing severe dry mouth, itchiness, or swelling of your mouth and throat — visit a doctor immediately; this is not a normal side effect of CBD.
Numerous food safety agencies have advised users not to exceed 80 – 90 mg of CBD daily for healthy adults. Exceeding this can cause side effects like cottonmouth.
Different CBD forms result in various side effects. For instance, smoking or dabbing CBD can damage your lungs and cause sore throat, severe coughing, and dryness in the mouth for some users.
Using Sprays & Tinctures
CBD-infused sprays and tinctures are applied directly into the mouth and quickly reach the salivary glands, causing dry mouth.
Using these CBD forms more frequently can cause an unpleasant stinging sensation and burns, in some cases.
Vaping CBD is much safer than smoking as it produces less toxic byproducts. However, the thinning agents and flavoring additives used in vaping oil pose serious health hazards.
When vaped, these harmful additives may result in cottonmouth, severe cough, and lung injuries for some users.
What Can I Do About Dry Mouth From CBD?
Experiencing dryness in the mouth and throat after ingesting CBD is quite common. It often doesn’t take much CBD consumption to induce this adverse effect. Heavy CBD users may experience a constant dry mouth effect, which can be highly annoying.
Preventing cottonmouth is better than having to combat it when it happens. Here are a few remedies that can help de-escalate this unpleasant experience before it escalates.
1. Stay Hydrated
The best way to reduce or prevent the offset of cottonmouth while using CBD oil is to consume plenty of water and keep yourself hydrated throughout the day. Also, drinking other hydrating liquids immediately before, during, and after consuming CBD can help mitigate this annoying issue to a certain extent. Drinking warm herbal teas can keep you hydrated and prevent an irritated or sore throat.
2. Increase Saliva Production
Using toothpaste and lozenges that promote saliva production can help mouth dryness. Sucking on hard candies or lollipops is also helpful. Taking demulcent cough drops will create a moist film coating on the mucous membranes and prevent dryness in the throat and mouth.
3. Chew Gum
Opting for CBD-infused chewing gum is one of the best and innovative ways to include this supplement in your diet. The CBD gets absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the capillaries present in your tongue. Most natural CBD gum supplements do not contain artificial ingredients and are flavored with peppermint essential oil and xylitol.
Another method to effectively cure cottonmouth is by chewing gums that contain xylitol. This natural sugar helps stimulate the salivary glands and increases the production of saliva in the mouth.
These CBD chewing gums are available in different potencies, so stick to the recommended dosage to avoid this effect.
4. Try Another Form of CBD
When using CBD, opt for topical or oral consumption instead of vape or smoke inhalation. Numerous CBD products are available that do not require vaping or smoking. This protects your lungs and prevents harmful components like carbon monoxide from infiltrating your bloodstream.
Ingesting CBD capsules, oils, and edibles is less harmful and prevent dryness in the mouth and sore throat. Also, CBD gels, lotions, balms, and creams can prevent CBD from causing the dry effect in the mouth, as it only acts on the site of application.
5. Eat Fruit
Fresh citrus fruits like orange, pineapple, or lemon can help eliminate dry mouth. Some individuals claim that drinking pineapple juice has helped. However, you can try different fruit juices to find out which one is effective for you.
Chewing on dry fruits, beef jerky, or sucking ice cubes will also help stimulate saliva production and keep your mouth well hydrated, reducing this side effect to a great extent.
Other Side Effects of CBD
Though CBD has a good tolerance and side effect profile, it’s not free from adverse effects. Generally, CBD products are considered safe for oral consumption or topical application. In some cases, it can cause mild side effects.
Patients on medications such as blood thinners need to be careful as CBD can interact with different medicines and cause adverse reactions.
Here are some of the most common side effects of CBD.
Some users experience indigestion or diarrhea while consuming CBD.
This unfortunate symptom happens when the oil affects the gastrointestinal tract, leading to diarrhea. Such individuals need to monitor their medical history while using CBD.
Since CBD is an excellent treatment for insomnia, it’s no surprise that users experience sedation or drowsiness while taking CBD products. It’s advisable to adjust your schedule and try taking it before bed.
Low Blood Pressure
Consuming higher doses of CBD can lower blood pressure. This can be risky for individuals diagnosed with low blood pressure or those on medication for high blood pressure.
When this happens, you may feel dizzy or lightheaded. Drink plenty of fluids and lie down to help stabilize blood pressure if this happens to you.
Avoid moving around too much. If you faint, you could seriously injure yourself or others.
Some users may feel nauseous while ingesting CBD products. This varies based on the amount of CBD you consume and how sensitive your body is to CBD oil.
Summary: Does CBD Cause Dry Mouth?
CBD can cause dry mouth but be it over-the-counter or prescribed, CBD supplements can cause adverse reactions if not used as recommended. Usually, the benefits and side effects of CBD are unique for each individual.
Adjusting your dose, chewing gum, eating fruit, and staying hydrated are just a few ways you can help or prevent cottonmouth.
As the body type of each individual is different, the cure won’t look the same for everyone. What works perfectly for one CBD user may not function the same for another. You need to consult your physician before you start consuming CBD supplements daily to minimize unwanted risks.
To avoid severe side effects from impure CBD, purchase your CBD supplements from a certified source. This is the only way you know your product is pure, potent, and will give you the benefits you’re after.