We’ve all been there. High as a kite, majorly munch-mouthed, eyes raw and itchy, and so danged dry in the pie hole that we’re whistling dust.
Maybe a little dizzy, perhaps a titch light-headed, we reach for the nearest beverage, looking to quench what we perceive as thirst.
But is it thirst?
It sure seems like it on the surface. The symptoms of dehydration can be, initially, surprisingly similar to the expected effects of cannabis use in many ways.
Let’s look at the whys and hows of that marijuana-related parched sensation and answer our burning question: does smoking weed make you dehydrated?
Your mouth is dry not because of dehydration.
The THC in cannabis contains specific cannabinoids that bind themselves to two types of cannabinoid receptors in the salivary glands under the tongue. These receptors tell your salivary glands to slow saliva production.
Voila! That’s why you can’t make spit!
How can I be sure it’s not dehydration?
Dehydration shares many symptoms with the effects of smoking marijuana, including:
- Dry mouth
- Dry eyes
However, dehydration is an otherwise markedly different (and far more dangerous) beast. Its symptoms include:
- Extreme thirst
- Marked (and dangerous) changes in blood pressure
- Decreased frequency of urination
- Dark urine
- Sunken eyes
- Severe muscle cramps
Is dry mouth harmful?
Extended periods of dry mouth over the long term can encourage bacterial growth, which can cause plaque buildup, gum inflammation, and tooth decay.
But for the average person consuming cannabis? No, dry mouth won’t hurt you. But it might make your breath a little stinky.
How Do I Deal With Dry Mouth From Smoking Cannabis?
There are many easy ways to combat the dry effects of marijuana, including:
- Swishing about water or another sugar-free drink: Sugar encourages bacterial growth
- Sucking on an ice cube: Don’t chew! Ice chewing causes long-term damage to teeth
- Sucking on a sugar-free lozenge or mint
- Chewing gum
- Some recommend skipping caffeine, as the tannins in some caffeinated drinks can contribute to cottonmouth. However, caffeine’s mild diuretic action does not cause dry mouth.
Does Cannabis Cause Dehydration?
In short? Yes, marijuana can sometimes cause dehydration. How likely is that going to happen
Honestly, not very.
In rare cases among long-term daily cannabis users, smoking weed can sometimes cause what is known as “cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome” (CHS).
What is Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome?
Cannabis hyperemesis syndrome (CHS) is a rare condition that causes severe bouts of vomiting and nausea. It takes a while for CHS to develop, and it occurs in stages.
The Stages of CHS
- Stage 1: The first stage includes symptoms like early morning nausea, fatigue, and abdominal pain.
- Stage 2: The second stage involves nausea, vomiting, exhaustion, reduction in appetite and food consumption, weight loss, and dangerous dehydration.
Again, this is a rare thing, but it is dire. Thus far, cessation of consuming cannabis is the only proven solution to resolving CHS. However, resuming marijuana use often triggers a recurrence of CHS.
Does Smoking Cannabis Cause Dry Eyes?
There is precious little research into this subject, but what there is suggests that what we’ve believed for years is true—THC can sometimes reduce tearing.
For average marijuana users, this is not a problem. For some, it can cause corneal abrasions and chronic dry eye over the long term. Oddly, males are more likely to see this effect.
How to Treat Dry Eyes Caused by Marijuana
The best solution to treat marijuana-induced dry eye is to keep preservative-free, non-medicated eye drops in stock. These will pick up the slack until your eye lubrication resumes again.
Refrain from knuckling those eyes! While rubbing does provide a brief moment of relief, it can cause corneal injury and worsen symptoms.
Can These Effects Be Prevented Rather Than Treated?
Since these effects are caused by THC cannabinoids interacting with our endocannabinoid system, they are part and parcel of the total effect.
Maybe someday, some enterprising marijuana scientist will find a way to engineer things so it’s no longer the case. But for now, handling symptoms is the only solution.
Luckily, doing so is pretty easy!
The Dry Truth
Does marijuana cause dehydration? Most often, no.
However, because dehydration and the effects of marijuana share symptoms like dry mouth, dry eyes, and dizziness, it has long been suspected that they are linked.
Thankfully, we now know that’s not the case. Marijuana users’ dry mouths and scratchy eyes are a function of hijacked receptors, not a lack of hydration. And luckily, these symptoms are quickly addressed.
What does that mean for you? You can indulge in smoking weed without worrying that you’ll tip over, dry up, and blow away!