Cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid present in the cannabis species of plants. Due to its potential health benefits, it is becoming a common ingredient in a variety of products. When using CBD, people may experience some side effects, which can include oral dryness.

CBD is one of the many substances found in the cannabis plant. Unlike delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is another well-known cannabinoid, CBD lacks the euphoric effects that people may associate with cannabis.

These substances can have a variety of effects on the human body due to how they interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), or the complex biological system that helps regulate and balance key bodily functions.

Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, typically refers to when a person experiences dryness of the mouth due to changes in the composition of saliva, or a reduction in salivary flow. While it can occur for no obvious reason, it often occurs as a side effect of medications, including CBD.

In this article, we will discuss why CBD and other cannabinoids may cause a person to experience dry mouth.

Is CBD legal?The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the legal definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. This made some hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3 percent THC federally legal. However, CBD products containing more than 0.3 percent THC still fall under the legal definition of marijuana, making them federally illegal but legal under some state laws. Be sure to check state laws, especially when traveling. Also, keep in mind that the FDA has not approved nonprescription CBD products, and some products may be inaccurately labeled.

A person's mouth and CBD products.Share on Pinterest
Design by MNT: Leland Bobbe/Getty Images & Anna Efetova/Getty Images

Saliva serves many important functions within the body, such as helping prepare food for swallowing and digestion, defending against pathogens, protecting teeth, and keeping the mouth moist. Experiencing oral dryness can be uncomfortable and may be a potential side effect of CBD and other cannabinoids.

The endocannabinoid system

CBD and other cannabinoids may influence oral dryness and saliva production due to how they interact with the ECS. This term refers to a complex biological system in the body that helps maintain homeostasis, or the ideal internal environment for the body to function correctly.

The body produces endocannabinoids to interact with this system. These molecules have a similar structure to cannabinoids present in the cannabis plant, meaning they can also influence this system.

Dry mouth typically occurs when the salivary glands in the mouth are unable to produce sufficient saliva to keep the mouth moist. The submandibular gland is present in the jaw and is one of the glands responsible for producing saliva in the mouth. Research from 2022 notes that this gland has cannabinoid receptors, and activation of these receptors can modulate the flow, consistency, and composition of saliva.

Other research from 2022 suggests that CBD itself does not alter salivation and instead blocks the effects of THC. This research also suggests that THC is the cannabinoid responsible for the changes in salivation that may lead to mouth dryness.

However, anandamide is a naturally occurring endocannabinboid that has a similar structure to THC. A 2020 research review notes that CBD may increase the concentration and availability of anandamide by inhibiting the enzyme that breaks anandamide down. As such, this may explain an indirect way in which CBD may affect saliva production.

The type of CBD product

The type of CBD product a person uses can also affect mouth dryness. For example, xerostomia also often occurs with THC and full-spectrum CBD products can contain up to 0.3% THC. As such, using full-spectrum CBD products could increase the risk of dry mouth. Additionally, while more research is necessary, different delivery methods of CBD, such as smoking, may also increase the chance of experiencing oral dryness.

Underlying conditions

Furthermore, in some cases it may not necessarily be CBD that is causing dry mouth, but an underlying condition. For example, a person may take CBD to help ease pain and discomfort from arthritis, but rheumatoid arthritis can result in oral dryness.

Nevertheless, research notes that more research is still necessary to better understand the relationship between cannabinoids and dry mouth.

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), the following tips may help to reduce mouth dryness:

  • regularly sipping water, or other sugar-free fluids
  • avoiding beverages that contain caffeine, such as tea, coffee, or soda
  • chewing sugar-free gum or sucking on sugarless hard candies
  • sour sweets or fruits may also help
  • avoiding spicy or salty foods
  • avoiding tobacco or alcohol
  • using a humidifier at night

Additionally, people can also use artificial saliva to relieve oral dryness. These products are typically available in forms such as sprays, lozenges, and gels. Alternatively, if a person uses a form of CBD that is more likely to cause dry mouth, such as smoking, they may instead consider using a different form that may reduce the severity of mouth dryness.

Evidence from the World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that CBD is generally safe. However, some people may experience adverse effects. In addition to oral dryness, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) note that possible side effects of CBD may include:

  • changes in mood, such as irritability or agitation
  • changes in alertness, such as drowsiness and sleepiness
  • gastrointestinal problems and changes in appetite
  • liver injury
  • interfering with other drugs, which could lead to injury or serious side effects
  • damage to male fertility

Click here to learn more about the possible side effects of CBD oil.

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) add that many businesses selling CBD products may also sell formulations that contain THC. As such, it is advisable to closely read labels and not mix products up.
Furthermore, many CBD products do not undergo regulation by the FDA. This means that some CBD products could contain other ingredients, such as THC, pesticides, heavy metals, bacteria, or fungi.

CBD products are available in a variety of different forms, which can include:

  • foods
  • oils
  • lotions
  • capsules
  • cosmetics

As such, the way a person uses each product can vary. When trying a CBD product, it is advisable to follow guidelines and instructions on the packaging, particularly as the concentration of CBD can vary between different types of product. A person may wish to start with a weaker strength to ensure they do not exceed the suggested dosage.

Click here to learn more about CBD dosage.

If a person is considering CBD products, health experts advise that individuals purchase them from a reputable source. Additionally, a person should consult their healthcare provider before using CBD. This is to ensure that CBD will not negatively interact with any current medications.

Dry mouth is a potential and common side effect of using CBD products. It typically occurs due to CBD interacting with the endocannabinoid system, which can alter the flow, consistency, and composition of saliva. To help relieve dry mouth people can try drinking water or chewing sugar-free gum. Additionally, it may be advisable to avoid activities that can further dry the mouth, such as eating spicy or salty foods, drinking alcohol, or smoking.