Cotton Mouth: What It Is and How Weed Smokers Can Avoid It

White bowl of potato chips beside porter beer in pint glass on gray table If you’ve spent any time smoking or vaping weed you know only too well the scourge of cotton mouth. It even happens to some people after consuming cannabis edibles. While cotton mouth is a harmless phenomenon it is nonetheless unpleasant and if there were a way to avoid it we’re willing to bet most of our Denver headshop customers would sign up. Read on to learn what cotton mouth is, how best to deal with it, and what steps (if any) you can take to prevent it from happening.

What Exactly is Cotton Mouth?

When someone is beset by cotton mouth it feels as though the salivary glands in their mouth have dried up. And you know what? That’s exactly what’s happening. The technical name for cotton mouth is xerostomia, and it has many potential causes, including smoking, vaping, or eating cannabis. When someone has smoked weed it affects their endocannabinoid system, in particular the endocannabinoid anandamide. Anandamide, along with THC from cannabis, has the effect of inhibiting the function of the salivary glands. The two compounds interfere with normal signals to the glands, production of saliva is thus interrupted and the person begins to feel like they’ve stuffed their mouth with cotton balls.

Is Cotton Mouth Harmful or a Sign of a Larger Problem?

As long as we’re confining the discussion to cotton mouth resulting from cannabis consumption then the answers are “no”, and “no”. If someone experiences cotton mouth without ever consuming cannabis then some other condition may be afoot and you should see a doctor. But as far as cannabis-related cotton mouth is concerned it may be annoying and it may be unpleasant but it’s not harmful or a sign of a larger problem.

How to Deal With Cotton Mouth

A lot of people who come into our pipe shop in Northglenn want to know how to effectively deal with cotton mouth. Whether they’re fans of heady glass pipes, bongs, spliffs, or edibles we tell them the same thing:
  • Drink lots of water: Your desert mouth is crying out for moisture. Give it some. If you’ve got cotton mouth, the simplest way to deal with it is to drink water. But don’t just quaff a half gallon of water and consider yourself immune. Instead, sip at a bottle of water at regular intervals whenever your mouth starts to feel a bit parched.
  • Don’t walk around with your mouth hanging open: If you close your mouth and breathe through your nose you’ll do a better job of preserving the moisture in your mouth than if you walk around with your mouth open. If the herb is good you might feel yourself getting slack-jawed but it’s in your interest to fight that impulse.
  • Eat some sweets: If you feel desert mouth descending on you reach for some hard candy or even chewing gum. Either one will stimulate the salivary glands in your mouth and help compensate for the effect of the THC and anandamide. Of the two choices, studies indicate you’ll get a more lasting effect from hard candy.
  • Use a humidifier: If you increase the amount of moisture in the air the moisture in your mouth won’t evaporate as quickly. So before you fire up your bong, turn on the humidifier and close the door. This combined with sipping water regularly should help alleviate your xerostomia.

Is it Possible to Avoid Cotton Mouth?

Humidifiers, candy, and water for treating cotton mouth once it manifests are all well and good – but is it possible to prevent it from happening in the first place? Sure. Just don’t smoke weed. But all kidding aside, there are some steps you can take that should minimize the severity of cotton mouth, and maybe even prevent it altogether. They are:

Drink plenty of water before you start to smoke

A well-hydrated body is less susceptible to cotton mouth than one that is dehydrated. If you’re one of the countless millions who don’t drink enough water every day, stop that! Get in the habit of drinking copious amounts of water before you reach for the bong and your cotton mouth should be less severe.

Pass on the salty snacks

Nothing’s going to aggravate your cotton mouth like a bunch of bone-dry saltines, or salty, salty potato chips. If you’ve smoked your weed and the time has come to indulge the munchies leave the pretzels in the bowl and have an apple or some similarly juicy snack.

Avoid alcohol

Alcohol is something of a diuretic, so slamming down brewskis in between hits of the heady glass is not a great idea if you want to avoid cotton mouth. Of course, if your mouth is drier than the Gobi desert and there are no other beverages at hand a cold one will likely help provide temporary relief, but it shouldn’t be your first option.

Closing Thoughts on Cotton Mouth From Our Smoke Shop Team

Cotton mouth is one of the few unpleasant side effects of cannabis consumption but in most cases, it doesn’t have to be as bad as it is. Put the above tips into practice and you should be able to take the sting out of cannabis-related cotton mouth. If you’re looking for a new bong or another device with which to enjoy your herb, check out our online head shop. And if you have any questions don’t hesitate to get in touch with us using the contact form on our site or by calling us at 303-365-0710.
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