Marijuana, also known as Cannabis Sativa, weed, and cannabis, has been legalized in many states and countries for both medical and recreational use. Marijuana comes and is used in many different forms, one of them being edibles. Edibles are cannabis-based food products that range from gummies to brownies. Edibles contain either one or both of marijuana’s active ingredients: THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). While many boast of the benefits of weed, many users also wonder, “do edibles cause dry mouth and why?”
What Are Edibles?
As we mentioned, edibles are cannabis-containing foods or things that are edible. Common edibles include baked goods like brownies, gummies, mints, hard candies, chocolate, drinks, drink mixes, cooking and baking oils, and savory snacks like biscuits and pretzels. Edibles come in a variety of strengths concerning the amount of THC they contain.
THC is the psychoactive ingredient of cannabis. It’s the compound in weed that produces the “high” that users experience. It binds to receptors in the brain and body that control pain, mood, and other feelings and functions.
Edibles can range in the amount of THC they contain, starting from 2.5 milligrams to as much as 50 milligrams. However, this depends on the type of edible. For example, some cannabis chocolate bars contain as much as 100 milligrams of THC.
As with any other drug, it is possible to consume too much THC, which can be dangerous to begin with. Although many people assume they’ll experience a fun high, what often happens is that individuals who are consuming THC (especially large doses) experience anxiety, paranoia, and other undesirable side effects.
Other side effects of edibles include:
- Heart problems
- Impaired motor ability
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Panic attacks
- Psychotic episodes
- Respiratory depression
Research also shows that heart problems are more likely and common in eating edibles than in smoking marijuana. One study found that 8% of emergency room visits who had consumed edibles had cardiovascular symptoms like irregular heartbeats. In addition to these dangers, there’s also another common side effect that many users brush off: dry mouth.
Do Edibles Make Your Mouth Dry?
Yes, edibles do cause dry mouth. To understand this, let’s better understand what THC does to the body. The endocannabinoid system regulates sleep, appetite, and other biological functions. It produces endocannabinoids, which bind to endocannabinoid receptors located in numerous regions of your body.
THC mimics the activity of endocannabinoids, binding to the same receptors. When THC binds to endocannabinoid receptors on the salivary glands, it reduces the production of saliva and increases the viscosity or “thickness” of saliva, causing dry mouth.
Additionally, the binding of THC to these receptors inhibits the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which is responsible for “rest and digest” functions like slowing your heart rate, moving food through the digestive tract, and increasing saliva production. A dry mouth can occur as a result.
Side Effects of Dry Mouth
Although dry mouth may seem like a minor side effect, it can have a severe impact on one’s dental health, especially in heavy cannabis users. Saliva helps prevent tooth decay by neutralizing certain acids produced by bacteria in the mouth, limiting bacterial growth, and washing away food particles. Enzymes in saliva also aid in digestion.
Consequently, reduced salivary production and dry mouth can range from being a mere nuisance to an ongoing problem that has a major impact on the health of your teeth and gums, as well as your appetite and enjoyment of food. Common symptoms and side effects of dry mouth include:
- A changed sense of taste
- Bad breath
- Cracked lips
- Difficulty chewing, speaking, and swallowing
- Dry or grooved tongue
- Dry or sore throat and hoarseness
- Dryness or a feeling of stickiness in your mouth
- Increased plaque, tooth decay, and gum disease
- Mouth sores
- Saliva that seems thick and stringy
- Sores or split skin at the corners of your mouth
- Yeast infection in your mouth (thrush)
Help for Marijuana Abuse
In addition to the side effects of dry mouth from edibles, there are other repercussions of long-term cannabis use that tend to be brushed off, including dependence and addiction. While marijuana isn’t addictive in the same way opioids are, a person can become accustomed to using the substance frequently to feel relaxed or “good.”
Psychological dependence is just as likely as a physical one, and long-term marijuana use can lead to a nasty habit and increase your likelihood of experiencing symptoms like dry mouth. If you or someone you know is battling a drug or alcohol addiction, our Heartland detox center can help. We offer medical detox as well as drug and alcohol treatment programs to aid in our clients’ long-term recovery.
- Annals of Internal Medicine - Acute Illness Associated With Cannabis Use, by Route of Exposure