As far as side effects go, cannabis is relatively benign when compared to intoxicants like alcohol or pharmaceutical medications such as barbiturates. But at the same time, the herb is not entirely innocent.
One of the most common side-effects of cannabis use is xerostomia, afflicting nearly all cannabis users at one point or another.
Never heard of it?
It is better known as dry mouth or cottonmouth and refers to how marijuana can suck the moisture right out of our mouths.
The most curious part is that it actually has nothing to do with smoking – it is equally caused by edibles, transdermals, concentrates, or just smoking the flower. Dry mouth after weed has everything to do with the endocannabinoid system.
Relax, the Scientists Are On It!
In fact, there is a whole team of scientific researchers at the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina who specialize in this curious subject of dry mouth after weed consumption.
Saliva is actually an important component of our digestive system and contains critical enzymes for breaking down fats and starches. By understanding the mechanisms of saliva, we can understand more about our digestive system and how it interacts with neurochemistry as well as our psychological states of mind.
Have you ever noticed how stressful situations or anxiety can also make your mouth go dry?
Saliva and Endocannabinoids
Saliva is primarily produced by two glands at the bottom of our mouth called the submandibular glands. These glands are stimulated by the parasympathetic nervous system, the part of the nervous system that says “rest and digest.” This is balanced against the sympathetic nervous system, signaling the “fight or flight” response, which is active when a frightening situation makes your mouth go dry.
Interestingly, these submandibular glands also have endocannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2. When activated by THC, these receptors block the signals from the parasympathetic nervous system and shut down the secretion of saliva: dry mouth!
It creates the same effect as the sympathetic nervous system, even though you might still be quite relaxed and pleasantly high.
An important point to keep in mind is that cannabis strain has its own profile of cannabinoids that affect different receptors in different ways. CBD, for example, competes for many of the same receptor sites as THC but can have very different effects. Furthermore, every individual’s specific neurochemistry is a little bit different, so the effects of one strain may vary from person to person.
The best solution is to experiment with different strains to see what’s right for you!
Dry Mouth After Weed Consumption: What To Do About It
While the cannabis-stimulated compulsion to engorge yourself with french fries a handful at a time is itself no big deal, simultaneously inhibiting the enzymes that allow us to digest french fries creates a poor combination for our bodies.
The moral of this story is that when it comes to munchies, just try to avoid starches and fats. It might be hard and require a feat of willpower at first, but your body will thank you. You have plenty of options!
PRO TIP: Next time you are struck by the tag team of munchies and dry mouth, reach for some grapes! Fresh fruit does wonders and has loads of electrolytes to rehydrate your mouth!