Cottonmouth and dry eyes, two common annoying side effects associated with cannabis use. Most people think that cannabis causes dehydration and that the dry mouth sensation is a direct result of cannabis’ dehydrating effects. Others argue that cannabis doesn’t cause dehydration; that there are other factors at play.
It is intuitive to believe that cottonmouth (dry mouth), a common symptom of THC consumption is a sign of dehydration. However, cottonmouth is actually one of the few negative consequences of cannabis’ interaction with our endocannabinoid systems (ECS). Our ECS is comprised of receptors CB1 and CB2, and THC has a high binding affinity for both.
While most of the time, cannabinoid interaction with these receptors promotes homeostasis and a general sense of well-being, it can create the very annoying sensation of dry mouth. According to a 2006 study, Both CB1 and CB2 receptors are located throughout different places in our bodies including the submandibular glands responsible for producing 70% of our saliva. When THC binds to a receptor within that gland, the gland temporarily loses its ability to receive messages from the nervous system telling it to produce saliva. Even though your mouth may make you feel dehydrated, your body is just confused about how much saliva it needs to produce.
So drink plenty of water before and after using cannabis. This can help keep you stay hydrated.
Sucking on some candy also helps. This stimulates salivary production and helps ease cotton mouth.
Can cannabis dehydrate you? Not really, but its effect on the cannabinoid receptors makes you feel you’re dehydrated.
While too much of any good thing can be bad (even water, y’all), you can take comfort in knowing that there is plenty of evidence supporting cannabis’ medical utility. If cannabis is a “toxin,” then that birthday cake I just ate is basically arsenic.
Second, our bodies are made for a lot more than just pot. The type of food we eat, the amount of rest we get, the people we surround ourselves with, the choices we make… these are all things that contribute to our well-being, too. Cannabis is wonderful, but it’s not the only thing that matters.