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Does Marijuana Dehydrate You? Smoking vs. Edibles

Marijuana users often report experiencing symptoms commonly linked to dehydration. From the infamous cotton mouth to concerns about the heart rate and blood pressure fluctuations, the correlation between cannabis consumption and dehydration is a topic that's gaining traction. This article addresses whether the consumption of marijuana, be it through smoking or edibles, leads to dehydration and what the human body experiences as a result.

Table of Contents:

Salivary Glands and Cannabis

a girl very thirsty from cannabis intake drinking out of a bottle

The salivary glands play an integral role in maintaining oral health. They produce saliva, which aids in digestion, protects against tooth decay, and keeps the mouth moist. One of the common side effects associated with cannabis consumption, whether it's from smoking or using cannabis products, is a phenomenon colloquially known as "cotton mouth" or the medical term, xerostomia. But why does this happen?

Cannabis contains active compounds that influence the endocannabinoid system in the human body. This system, deeply interconnected with various bodily functions, also has its ties to the salivary glands, specifically the submandibular glands. When marijuana users consume the plant, these compounds interact with the receptors in the endocannabinoid system, which, in turn, can inhibit the production of saliva. This reduction in saliva production is what gives users that parched feeling, urging them to drink plenty of water.

Dehydration is often mistaken as the only symptom leading to this dry mouth sensation. However, it's not purely about the amount of water consumed. The chemical compounds in marijuana directly affect the signaling process in the parasympathetic nervous system responsible for saliva production. This means that even if you've had enough water, the cannabis experience can still lead to cotton mouth due to its direct interaction with the salivary gland's functioning.

Now, while an occasional dry mouth might seem harmless, chronic dehydration can lead to other oral health issues. A continuous lack of saliva can increase the risk of gum inflammation, tooth decay, and other oral health problems. It's essential to recognize the signs of dehydration, which can range from dark yellow urine to feelings of extreme thirst, and respond by increasing fluid intake.

Given the effects of cannabis on the salivary glands, it becomes paramount for users, especially older adults and long-term cannabis users, to monitor their fluid intake and ensure they hydrate adequately. Consulting with medical professionals is always a wise decision to understand the potential side effects better and how to best counteract them.

For those looking for further insights into medical marijuana's effects and potential benefits, a deep dive into qualifying conditions for its usage can be enlightening.

Key Takeaway: The interaction between the active compounds in cannabis and the endocannabinoid system impacts saliva production in the salivary glands, leading to the sensation of dry mouth. Ensuring adequate hydration and understanding this connection can help cannabis users enjoy their experience without undue discomfort.

Cotton Mouth: More than Just an Annoyance?

a woman with many cotton swabs in her mouth looking nurvous

Cotton mouth, medically termed xerostomia, is a feeling most marijuana users might be familiar with. But is it just a fleeting inconvenience, or does it indicate something more profound about our body's reaction to cannabis consumption?

To get to the root, one must first understand the role of the endocannabinoid system in the human body. This system interacts closely with the active compounds found in cannabis. When these compounds make their presence felt in the system, the salivary glands, especially the submandibular glands, experience a reduction in their usual production of saliva. This diminished output results in the dry mouth sensation that many marijuana users, especially those consuming cannabis products or smoking, often complain about.

But why should one be concerned about a temporary dry mouth feeling? For starters, saliva isn't just a mechanism to keep our mouths moist. It aids in the digestive tract, protects against tooth decay, and acts as a first line of defense against many bacteria. A consistent lack of saliva can pave the way for gum inflammation and other oral health challenges. Regular cannabis users should be particularly vigilant about these signs of dehydration, ensuring that they consume enough water, even if they believe they've had enough fluids.

Beyond the physical discomfort, a prolonged dry mouth can lead to long-term issues. One such consequence is the effect on the digestive system. Saliva plays a pivotal role in initiating the digestion process. A consistent lack of it can hamper the digestive tract's smooth functioning. Older adults and long-term cannabis users, with a potentially weakened digestive system, should be even more watchful.

The best way to manage cotton mouth isn't just about reaching for a glass of water post a smoke session. It's about understanding the cannabis experience and the effects of cannabis on the human body. Recognizing the symptoms of dehydration and acting swiftly, whether that means consuming sports drinks, liters of water, or simply opting for hard candies to stimulate saliva production, can go a long way.

While managing cotton mouth, it's beneficial to consult medical professionals or delve deeper into how certain strains might affect the body differently, perhaps by exploring the effects of different strains. Knowledge, as they say, is power.

For those intrigued by the science of it all, this comprehensive research from the Mayo Clinic delves deeper into the causes and potential remedies of dry mouth.

Key Takeaway: Cotton mouth, while often brushed off as a minor inconvenience, offers valuable insights into our body's interactions with cannabis. Recognizing its underlying causes and potential ramifications helps in ensuring a healthier and more informed cannabis consumption journey.

Symptoms of Dehydration and Cannabis Consumption

a man holding a towel and wiping as feeling lightheaded

Dehydration isn't just the realm of athletes and those exerting themselves under the sun. Regular cannabis consumers might be surprised to know that they too are at risk. While cannabis offers numerous benefits, from alleviating chronic pain to managing anxiety, it can sometimes lead to the body losing more fluids than usual, culminating in dehydration. Recognizing the symptoms and understanding their correlation with cannabis use can make for a more informed and healthier consumption journey.

Dehydration: What is it? At its simplest, dehydration occurs when you use or lose more fluid than you consume. This fluid imbalance prevents the body from performing its regular functions optimally. The human body relies heavily on water, and even minor disturbances in its balance can lead to visible symptoms.

Symptoms to Look Out For:

  1. Dry Mouth: Often a side effect of cannabis use, a persistent dry mouth can be an early sign of dehydration. While many may associate it with the immediate effects of cannabis, it's crucial to distinguish between a temporary sensation and a chronic symptom.

  2. Darker Urine: The color of one's urine is often a clear indicator. If you find your urine veering towards a darker hue, it's a sign that your body is not getting the hydration it needs.

  3. Fatigue: If you're feeling unusually tired or drained after cannabis use, dehydration might be the culprit. Dehydration affects blood volume, making the heart work harder and leading to fatigue.

  4. Dizziness: Cannabis can occasionally cause lightheadedness on its own, but if it's coupled with other symptoms, dehydration might be playing a role.

  5. Rapid Heartbeat and Breathing: An elevated heart rate or rapid breathing post cannabis consumption, especially if it feels out of the ordinary, should not be ignored.

The Cannabis Connection: Cannabis, especially THC-rich strains, can impact the body's ability to retain water. The dry mouth sensation experienced after cannabis use isn't just a side effect; it's a direct result of the compound THC interacting with the body's cannabinoid receptors, which are abundant in the salivary glands. This interaction reduces saliva production and can pave the way for dehydration if not addressed.

While it's essential to be aware of these symptoms, one should also know how to manage and prevent dehydration. Consuming water regularly, avoiding excessive caffeine, and moderating cannabis use can be beneficial. Additionally, consulting with medical professionals on how cannabis affects individual body types can provide personalized guidance.

For more comprehensive information on dehydration, its causes, and prevention, consider browsing this in-depth article by the Cleveland Clinic.

Key Takeaway: Recognizing the signs of dehydration, especially in tandem with cannabis use, can make a significant difference in one's overall well-being. Always prioritize hydration and stay attuned to your body's signals to enjoy the therapeutic effects of cannabis responsibly.

Edibles vs. Smoking: Different Effects on the Body

edible marijuana cup cake being held at the same time a marijuana joint

The cannabis plant has been at the center of global attention due to its potential therapeutic effects and the increasing legalization movement. But the way one chooses to consume cannabis can drastically alter their experience. Two of the most popular methods are edibles and smoking, both offering distinct effects on the body.

Understanding the Basics:


These are food items infused with cannabis extracts. They range from baked goods like brownies and cookies to gummies, chocolates, and even beverages. The active compounds in edibles are processed by the liver before entering the bloodstream.


Smoking cannabis involves inhaling the active compounds directly into the lungs, where they are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream.

Onset and Duration: When you smoke cannabis, the effects are almost immediate, usually within minutes. This rapid onset is due to the direct absorption of THC and other cannabinoids into the bloodstream via the lungs. However, the effects may taper off within a couple of hours.

Conversely, edibles take their time. The effects might not be felt until anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours after consumption because the digestive system and liver must first process the cannabinoids. But when the effects do kick in, they tend to be more intense and long-lasting, sometimes up to 6-8 hours.

Intensity of Effects: Smoking provides a quick, intense effect, which can be easier to control in terms of dosage. A user can take one puff, evaluate how they feel, then decide whether to continue.

Edibles, on the other hand, can be a bit unpredictable. Since the onset is slow, individuals might consume more thinking they haven't taken enough. This can lead to overconsumption, which might result in discomfort or heightened effects.

Health Implications: Smoking cannabis exposes the user to tar and other potential lung irritants. While research is ongoing, smoking anything, including cannabis, has its risks, especially with long-term use.

Edibles bypass the lungs entirely, offering a smoke-free experience. This method might be preferable for those with respiratory issues or individuals who want to avoid the potential risks associated with smoking. However, it's crucial to be mindful of the dosage and the ingredients in the edible product itself.

Choosing the Right Method for You: The choice between edibles and smoking hinges on personal preference, health considerations, and desired effects. For instance, someone looking for immediate relief might opt for smoking, while those wanting a prolonged experience without respiratory concerns might lean towards edibles. It's always advisable to consult with medical professionals to understand which method aligns best with your needs.

For a broader perspective on the pros and cons of various cannabis consumption methods, consider exploring this comprehensive resource by Leafly.

Key Takeaway: While both edibles and smoking offer unique cannabis experiences, it's paramount to recognize their individual effects on the body. By understanding the onset, duration, intensity, and health implications, consumers can make informed decisions that best suit their wellness goals.

The Science Behind Cannabis and Dehydration

a scientist holding a bottle of cannabis oil researching

Cannabis, with its myriad of potential benefits and effects, has become an integral part of the medical and recreational realms. However, its consumption often raises a few eyebrows due to certain side effects, dehydration being one of the frequently discussed topics. To gain a comprehensive understanding of the relation between cannabis and dehydration, it's essential to dive into the science behind this phenomenon.

Endocannabinoid System and Saliva Production: Our body's endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays a significant role in numerous physiological processes, including appetite, pain-sensation, mood, and memory. Cannabis affects the ECS by interacting with its receptors, primarily CB1 and CB2.

It's the interaction with the CB1 receptors in the salivary glands that's of interest here. When THC, the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis, binds to these receptors, there's a decrease in the production of saliva, leading to the sensation known as "cottonmouth" or dry mouth.

Vasopressin and Hydration: Vasopressin, a hormone responsible for regulating water retention in the body, gets affected when THC interacts with the ECS. Studies have shown that THC can inhibit the release of vasopressin, which can lead to increased urination and potential dehydration if fluid intake isn't sufficient.

Smoking and Dehydration: The act of smoking cannabis, regardless of its THC content, can lead to minor dehydration. The hot and dry smoke can cause fluid loss in the lungs, exacerbating the sensation of thirst and dehydration.

Combatting Dehydration: Staying hydrated is paramount, especially when consuming cannabis. Regular water intake can mitigate the sensation of dry mouth and counteract the increased urination triggered by THC's interaction with the ECS. Furthermore, knowing your limits and understanding how cannabis affects your body can also assist in managing potential side effects.

For those keen on understanding more about the biological mechanisms cannabis affects, Healthline offers an in-depth perspective on how marijuana impacts the body.

Key Takeaway: Dehydration, though a known side effect of cannabis consumption, can be managed with knowledge and preparation. By understanding the science behind cannabis and its interaction with our body's systems, consumers can better anticipate and mitigate potential side effects, ensuring a more enjoyable and safe experience.


Q: What exactly causes cotton mouth after marijuana consumption? A: Cotton mouth, often experienced by marijuana users, is caused by the active compounds in cannabis affecting the endocannabinoid system, leading to slow saliva production in the salivary glands, especially the submandibular glands.

Q: Are the symptoms of dehydration more prevalent in long-term cannabis users? A: Yes, long-term cannabis users, particularly heavy users, may notice signs of dehydration, such as dry skin and increased feelings of thirst, more frequently.

Q: Is there a difference in dehydration effects between smoking marijuana and consuming edibles? A: Yes, while both can induce symptoms of dehydration, they affect the body differently. Smoking directly impacts salivary glands and blood vessels, while edibles, being processed in the digestive tract, might lead to conditions like cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome.

Q: Can consuming enough water prevent the dehydration effects of cannabis? A: Consuming enough water, or even sports drinks, can help counteract dehydration symptoms experienced after cannabis consumption. It's always a good idea to drink plenty of water during and after any cannabis experience.

Q: Is cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome common among marijuana users? A: Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome is a rare condition. However, when it does occur, it causes severe nausea and abdominal pain, mainly linked to edible cannabis consumption.

Q: How does marijuana affect heart rate and blood pressure? A: Cannabis can cause chemical changes in the body that might lead to elevated heart rate and blood pressure, especially if the body is showing symptoms of dehydration.

Q: Is cotton mouth a sign of dehydration? A: Yes, cotton mouth, characterized by a feeling of a dry mouth due to reduced production of saliva, is a dehydration symptom of dry mouth and can be an early sign of dehydration.

Q: Are cannabis hangovers real? A: Yes, especially for those who don't consume enough fluids during their cannabis session, which can lead to a weed hangover the next day, characterized by feelings akin to traditional alcohol hangovers.

Q: How can one combat the dry mouth effect from smoking cannabis? A: Drinking plenty of water is the best way. Additionally, using hard candies, gum, or a cough drop can stimulate the production of saliva and alleviate the mouth's dry feeling.

Q: Do all strains of marijuana lead to dehydration? A: While dehydration is a common side effect of cannabis, different strains, like sativa strain or indica, might have varying effects. However, it's always wise to stay hydrated regardless of the strain.

Q: Is there a direct link between the endocannabinoid system and dehydration? A: The active compounds in cannabis influence the endocannabinoid system, leading to chemical changes that might cause symptoms like a weed hangover or cotton mouth, indicating dehydration.

Q: Can chronic use of marijuana lead to chronic dehydration? A: In rare cases, continuous marijuana consumption without adequate water intake can lead to chronic dehydration. Drinking enough fluids is crucial.

Q: What are the most common symptoms to look out for indicating dehydration after marijuana use? A: Symptoms to monitor include dry eyes, feelings of thirst, dry skin, and in severe situations, elevated heart rate and blood pressure.

Q: How does cannabis affect older adults in terms of dehydration? A: Older adults might be more susceptible to the effects of dehydration after cannabis consumption. It's vital for them to consume enough water and monitor for signs of dehydration.

Q: Can the digestive system be impacted by marijuana leading to dehydration? A: Yes, especially when consuming edibles. The digestive tract processes the edible cannabis, which can sometimes lead to conditions that promote dehydration.

Q: Does Mayo Clinic have any clinical studies on marijuana and dehydration? A: The Mayo Clinic, among other medical professionals, has conducted clinical studies on the effects of cannabis on the body, including its potential dehydration effects. However, ongoing research is needed.

Q: Is it possible to experience severe dehydration after a single cannabis session? A: Severe dehydration after one session is rare but possible, especially if not enough fluids are consumed during the session. Monitoring one's water intake is crucial.

Q: How does marijuana consumption impact blood vessels? A: The active compounds in marijuana can cause changes in blood vessels, potentially affecting blood pressure. This, combined with dehydration, can lead to noticeable symptoms.

Q: Do cannabis edibles have a higher risk of causing dehydration than smoking? A: While both can cause dehydration symptoms, edibles have a different impact on the digestive system and might lead to conditions like cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, increasing the dehydration risk in rare cases.

Q: Can one rely on feelings of thirst alone to judge dehydration after marijuana use? A: While feelings of thirst are a clear sign of dehydration, it's always a good idea to proactively drink water during and after marijuana consumption, even if one doesn't feel particularly thirsty.


While the common side effects of marijuana, like cotton mouth, are well-known, understanding the deeper implications on the human body is essential. Ensuring that one consumes enough water is a good idea, especially for older adults who may be more susceptible to the effects of dehydration.

Turning to a reputable source for information on cannabis consumption and its effects is paramount. ARCannabisClinic, a national network of marijuana doctors, assists patients in obtaining legal access to medical marijuana in their state. With services like the industry-leading MMJ Therapy Visit, which offers a personalized consultation with a cannabis expert, patients are equipped with tailored treatment plans. ARCannabisClinic also pioneers full diagnosis evaluations, covering a range of conditions from PTSD to anxiety, ensuring that patients are well-informed and supported in their cannabis journey. Always prioritize safety and well-being by consulting medical professionals and using reliable platforms like ARCannabisClinic for all medical marijuana matters.

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