Can Cannabis Cause Dehydration?
Many people feel thirsty after consuming cannabis, and some attribute “dry mouth” to the feeling of being dehydrated. While having a dry mouth is a common side effect to cannabis, it isn’t necessarily a sign of dehydration. But the question remains, can marijuana cause dehydration?
Medical Marijuana (MMJ) is used to treat a number of qualifying conditions. You can find out if you pre-qualify for a recommendation in just two steps! First, Take our eligibility survey. Once qualified for an in-person exam, you’ll receive scheduling instructions to see one of our Florida Medical Marijuana Doctors. Completing the survey takes only 5 minutes. Find out if you pre-qualify for a medical marijuana recommendation today!
What Causes Thirst?
According to the Mayo Clinic1, “Dehydration occurs when you use or lose more fluid than you take in, and your body doesn’t have enough water and other fluids to carry out its normal functions. If you don’t replace lost fluids, you will get dehydrated. Anyone may become dehydrated, but the condition is especially dangerous for young children and older adults.”1 The typical side effects of consuming cannabis, feeling dazed or dizzy, can be misunderstood as a feeling of thirst. Some symptoms of dehydration are confusion, dizziness, dark urine, and fatigue, memory loss, lack of focus, constipation, digestive problems, malnutrition, and tooth decay.2-3 Thirst is typically a late-indicator of dehydration, rather than an early symptom. For this reason, when a person experiences dry mouth just after consuming cannabis but felt fine before, it is unlikely that the feeling of thirst was caused by the cannabis.2
Some users report a feeling of being “hungover” after a night of consuming cannabis, similar to what they might feel after a night of drinking alcohol. Along with dry mouth, users from a 1985 study “to examine the effects of marijuana the day after” reported symptoms like eye redness, lethargy, decreased alertness, impaired memory, and learning problems.4 Also known as “cotton mouth,” dry mouth is not an indication of dehydration, but rather, one common symptom of consuming cannabis. As salivary glands react to the THC in marijuana, they temporarily stop producing saliva, leaving the mouth dry and the user feeling thirsty. On the other hand, due to the minor diuretic properties of cannabis, diarrhea is another known side effect to using it. If in the rare occurrence one experiences uncontrolled diarrhea, it could lead to slight dehydration.5
Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome
Another rare condition that can happen in heavy users of cannabis is called “Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS).” Along with dehydration symptoms, the syndrome triggers “cyclic episodes of nausea and vomiting and frequent hot bathing [to alleviate the nausea and vomiting].”6 The cause of CHS is unknown, but research leads scientists to believe it is linked to interactions between the cannabinoids in marijuana and the gastrointestinal tract. “It turns out that the digestive tract has a number of molecules that bind to THC . . . that means marijuana can affect the digestive tract in a number of ways, such as changing the time it takes the stomach to empty.2 Young adults are among the most frequent users of cannabis, and as such, account for the most cases of CHS. Of those cases, patients are those who have used cannabis for, on average, 3.4 to 16.3 years and typically use marijuana more than three to five times daily.6
Cedars Sinai Medical Hospital proposes another theory for the cause of CHS. They say, “With the first use of marijuana, the signals from the brain may be more important. That may lead to anti-nausea effects at first. But with repeated use of marijuana, certain receptors in the brain may stop responding to the drug in the same way. That may cause the repeated bouts of vomiting found in people with CHS.” To diagnose CHS, doctors may run blood tests to rule out anemia, inflection, improper electrolyte levels, liver and pancreas enzymes, pregnancy, urinary issues, and drug-related causes. Other tests may include X-rays, an upper endoscopy, and a head and/or abdominal CT scan.9 Recovery from CHS can last from days to months with some patients requiring hospitalization, especially to ensure they remain properly hydrated.6
Drink More Water
Regardless of one’s cannabis use regimen, drinking water is critical for proper health. According to the American Medical Association, “Most of us do not drink enough water, and as a result, our blood becomes more viscous, increasing the likelihood that a clot will suddenly form at the site of a plaque formation.”7 Dehydration is so common, that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated, some with no indication or symptoms to make them aware of it. While using marijuana can seem to cause dehydration because it often leads to a dry mouth, the more reasonable explanation for dehydration is not taking in enough fluids. Whether cannabis causes dehydration or not, drinking enough water is imperative to health and relieves the symptoms of dehydration.7 How much water? The Mayo Clinic reports, “Studies have produced varying recommendations over the years. But your individual water needs depend on many factors, including your health, how active you are, and where you live . . . Every day you lose water through your breath, perspiration, urine and bowel movements. For your body to function properly, you must replenish its water supply by consuming beverages and foods that contain water.” The average person, they say, should consume about 15.5 cups for men, and 11.5 cups for women.8
Is Medical Marijuana Right for Me?
Whether medical marijuana will help your condition depends on many factors best evaluated by a medical doctor. If you feel you may benefit from medical marijuana, the first step is to take our eligibility survey. In just 5 minutes, you could pre-qualify for a Florida medical marijuana recommendation. A Florida Marijuana Marijuana Doctor can then determine if you qualify during an in-person exam. For more information, visit https://docmj.com.