Cotton Mouth: What Is It and How to Fix It

Cotton mouth is a common problem that most cannabis enthusiasts will be familiar with. There’s ways to both prevent it, and to remedy it if it occurs. It all comes down to: Increasing saliva production. Read along to get some practical tips.

Ah, cotton mouth. You know that dry, uncomfortable feeling you get in your mouth sometimes while using cannabis? You know, where it feels like you’ve been trekking through the Sahara desert for hours with no water whatsoever? Parched doesn’t entirely cover it. 

In fact, it’s like someone stuffed cotton balls in your mouth to purposefully suck all the moisture out and leave you gasping for water or anything that’ll satiate that thirst and make the icky feeling go away. 

If this sounds familiar, you’ve experienced a rather unfortunate rite of passage all cannabis users go through eventually: cotton mouth. 

What are the signs and symptoms of cotton mouth? 

So what are the symptoms of cotton mouth? Here are some signs you’re experiencing the dreaded dry mouth: 

  • Feeling a general dryness or stickiness in your mouth 
  • A sore throat or hoarseness 
  • Chapped lips 
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing, or even talking 
  • Sores inside your mouth 
  • A burning sensation in your mouth (although this is quite rare) 

If you notice any of these symptoms, chances are you’re experiencing cotton mouth. But, don’t panic! There are things you can do to fix that and prevent it from happening in the future. 

How does using cannabis lead to cotton mouth? 

For many, it’s the price to pay for the pleasure of a good high. But what causes it? People used to think that smoking weed was the main culprit.  But, that’s not entirely true. 

The first thing to understand is that our bodies naturally produce their own “cannabinoids”, which are the active compounds found in cannabis. When they’re naturally produced in our body, they’re called endocannabinoids.

But, THC acts very similarly to our own endocannabinoids and binds with the cannabinoid receptors in our body when we use cannabis products. 

So, at its core, cotton mouth is caused by THC-based cannabinoids affecting the body’s nervous system. These cannabinoids then interact with certain receptors within our body that produce over 60% of our saliva. 

The main culprit behind this phenomenon is called anandamide, a naturally occurring neurotransmitter that binds to our cannabinoid receptors and dampens the activity of the salivary glands.  These glands then don’t produce enough saliva to keep our mouths wet, and as a result, we experience dryness or cotton mouth. 

So, in essence, any cannabis-based product can lead to cotton mouth – and yes, that includes edibles

How to prevent cotton mouth 

There’s no sure-fire way to prevent cotton mouth as such. But you can lower your likelihood of experiencing it by trying a combination of these methods. 

1. Pick sweets to prevent cotton mouth 

Licking lollipops or sucking on some hard candy could help tackle cotton mouth before it has a chance to ruin your experience. The sugar content might not be great for your teeth though, so it would be best to opt for a sugar-free alternative where possible. 

Even healthier alternatives are fruits that are high in fibre and sugar, like mango and pears. Cherries seem to work well too, and anything citrussy is known to encourage saliva production as well. 

2. Stay hydrated 

Staying hydrated before, during, and after your weed sesh is key. You should sip on water frequently throughout the day. Not only will this help keep your body hydrated but it will also help keep your mouth moist as well.  

3. Reduce your THC potency 

Reducing your THC potency is one way to avoid getting cotton mouth from using weed. In theory, by using lower-potency strains of cannabis, you’ll be less likely to experience dry mouth after consuming it. 

Of course, this isn’t necessarily an ideal solution, since many of us want stronger effects from their cannabis use, but if you’re prone to getting dry mouth after smoking or vaping, then this could be an option for you. 

How to fix cotton mouth 

Okay, let’s say you’ve done what you can to prevent cotton mouth. But, unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. So here you are, suffering the consequences. Now, how do you fix it? 

1. Suck on some ice cubes 

If you can handle the cold stimulation, sucking on ice cubes is a great way to tackle cotton mouth. They act as a natural lubricant for your throat and can provide instant (if somewhat temporary) relief from cotton mouth in a pinch. 

2. Eat sweets & fruits

The above-mentioned prevention method of eating sweets & fruits also helps as a remedy, so whip them out and give them a try! 

3. Drink some herbal tea 

The emphasis here is definitely on the herbal part. Green and black tea are only likely to make the situation worse. But herbal teas can help reduce the dry feeling in your throat. Plus, they’re super relaxing. 

4. Try cough syrup 

Cough syrup can help reduce the dryness in your mouth by enveloping your mucous membrane in a protective film that could offer relief from cotton mouth.

5. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and overly salty food 

Tobacco and alcohol are both known to cause dehydration in general, so they should be avoided while dealing with cottonmouth. Additionally, black tea, green tea and coffee all contain caffeine which is also dehydrating – so try to avoid these as well if possible. Also, salty foods can lead to increased thirst which may make your cottonmouth worse – so limit salt intake if you’re experiencing this issue. 

6. Speak to your doctor about saliva substitutes 

If the problem persists and if all other remedies fail, you may wish to speak to your doctor about saliva substitutes. They can prescribe special gels, sprays, or lozenges that act as artificial saliva substitutes that keep your mouth from being overly dry. 

Common problem, easily fixed

Cotton mouth is a common problem experienced by cannabis users. Chances are, you’ll experience it at some point if you haven’t already, and you might have read this article exactly for that reason. If so, hopefully you’ve applied our tips, and your mouth will be moist again soon! (yes, we said it. Moist.)


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  • Author_profiles-WSS-Julien


    Meet Julien, an esteemed horticulturist turned cannabis connoisseur. Born in Toulouse, Julien pens insightful pieces to demystify cannabis cultivation, focusing on eco-friendly practices and strain genetics. He’s a proud advocate of responsible and enjoyable cannabis use, and highly committed to educating the community.
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