Ah, cotton mouth—that unmistakable sensation. Your tongue sticking to the roof of your mouth. Your chapped lips glued shut. All you had was a few puffs on a joint, but it's like you just completed a stamp-licking marathon.
In some ways, "cotton mouth" (aka "dry mouth" aka "the pasties") is the terrible companion of the munchies. One elicits biting hunger, the other makes eating impossible by leaving your mouth and throat stickier than the floor of a cab.
So what causes this phenomenon, and how can you deal?
Despite being an age-old phenomenon, scientists have only recently begun studying why cannabis causes cotton mouth.
The most in-depth study to date was performed at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2006. Researchers noted that THC effects the submandibular glands. Located beneath the floor of the mouth, these glands are responsible for producing 60-67% of saliva. When exposed to cannabis smoke or vapour, they stop receiving messages from the brain telling them to produce saliva. As a result, the mouth can lose up to two-thirds of its lubrication.
The parts of the brain that control salivation are also tied to the processes that mediate a person's appetite, the process or eating, and the anticipation of needing to eat.
Dealing with the Drought
Cotton mouth isn't a serious problem, but it can pose a threat to your enjoyment of cannabis. To help wet your palate, consider these tips:
1. Hydrate: minor cases of cotton mouth can be doused with H20. However, intense or prolonged exposure to THC will make your submandibular glands increasingly inactive, leaving you unable to moisten your mouth no matter how much water you guzzle.
2. Eat chewy foods: the act of chewing stimulates those dysfunctional glands, so consider munching on some dried fruits (e.g. mangoes, raisins, apple slices) or beef jerky to reboot your salivary system.
3. Chew gum: if you aren't up for eating, chewing gum will stimulate the salivary glands without filling your stomach. Gum can also help reduce bad breath, a common side effect of dry mouth.
4. Use a demulcent: if you're prone to severe cases of cotton-mouth, consider adding a demulcent to your cannabis kit. It's a fancy word for lozenge. Demulcents combat dry mouth by releasing a lubricating film that coats the mouth and throat. They're commonly used to counteract dry mouth as a side effect of medication.
Are we missing anything? What remedies for cotton mouth do you use?