Inexperienced cannabis users tend to their favorite strains because they seem to hit all the right spots—at first. Over time, however, something will feel off. So, instead of switching things up, they increase the dosage instead, hoping that they can experience the same relief and euphoria again.
Unfortunately, that isn’t the right solution. It’s not that you are not taking enough cannabis. The long-term consumption of the same strain leads to THC tolerance. Since it is pretty common among beginners and those taking cannabis for medical reasons, various ways to address or prevent this issue have been proposed.
Research suggests that CBD (cannabidiol) may be considered an option to slow down the development of THC tolerance. But what about reversing the situation so that you can enjoy once again your preferred cannabis strains? Does CBD have this ability, too?
Find the answers to these questions and more in this article about the relationships between THC, CBD, and your cannabis tolerance. We will also discuss the proper consumption practices that will help you maintain the balance in your endocannabinoid system.
Why THC Tolerance Occurs
As with any substance that we consume more than necessary, our body builds up a tolerance toward THC because of consistent usage. After all, too much of anything is not good.
Though cannabis offers a natural alternative to medications that we take to manage pain, anxiety, or other illnesses, we can’t just take a higher dose because doing so is counterintuitive.
To understand cannabis tolerance, let’s quickly go over how THC acts once it has entered our system.
First, THC binds to the CB1 (cannabinoid 1) receptors of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). If you’re not familiar with ECS, it refers to a network of cellular receptors and neurotransmitters located primarily in the central nervous system but can also be found in various body parts, including our skin, muscle tissues, and the immune system.
The therapeutic benefits of cannabis result from the interaction between THC and the CB1 receptors. However, research shows that the regular exposure of these receptors to THC can cause the desensitization of these ECS structures. As a result, the response triggered by the intake of THC will become lower than expected.
That means if you’re smoking medical marijuana for pain management, intensifying your dosage or lighting up joints more frequently will not bring back the experience you used to have. These attempts will waste your time and money because you have developed a tolerance for THC.
Constant cannabis usage may also lead to the internalization of CB1 receptors. When this happens, the affected receptors move from the outer surface of the cell to the interior to block the THC from interacting with them. Once these receptors die, replacements will be produced once we have regained homeostasis, which pertains to the state of equilibrium in our body.
Is THC Tolerance Permanent?
The great thing about this issue is that it can be reversed and prevented. Experts recommend taking a so-called tolerance break, wherein you have to stop using any cannabis products for a certain period. While this practice can work quickly if your receptors have reduced sensitivity, you may need more than a few days to recover from the internalization of the CB1 receptors.
This solution is not an option for those who cannot live without the positive impacts of cannabinoids on the body and mind. For example, cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy struggle with pain and anxiety. Many of them rely on medical cannabis for their day-to-day living, so taking a tolerance break is not on the table.
Moreover, going through a tolerance break may trigger withdrawal symptoms, especially if you are a regular cannabis user. Typical examples include:
- Inability to fall or stay asleep
- Mood swings
- Reduced appetite
These withdrawal symptoms kick in during the first week of a tolerance break. If you don’t do anything to prevent them—for example, staying hydrated or engaging in physical workouts—they can last for around 14 days before abating.
So, Will CBD Help with THC Tolerance?
For those who can’t afford to undergo tolerance breaks, cannabinoid cycling may be the ideal solution. This involves switching from high-THC strains to CBD-rich strains on a regular basis. In this way, you will slow down or prevent THC tolerance.
Does this mean we cannot develop the same issue through the constant usage of CBD products?
Evidence suggests that tolerance wouldn’t be a problem, given how CBD affects the ECS. According to a 2004 neuropharmacological study, we will not build a tolerance to cannabidiol because it does not bind directly to the ECS receptors like how THC does. Instead of activating the receptors, CBD works as a modulating factor. It promotes the production of endocannabinoids, which are critical to the proper functioning of the entire ECS. As a result, we can regain and maintain homeostasis through the regular intake of CBD products.
Still, we may experience inconsistencies when using CBD for an extended time. It won’t be the same as THC tolerance, though. Instead, you will likely need to increase your typical dosage or try a different CBD blend to experience the same effects that you are enjoying now. The ECS receptors have not become desensitized or internalized, but the changes in our body chemistry will affect how well we respond to the same CBD dose or product. Other factors that may influence this include:
- Body Weight
- Metabolic Rate
These fundamental differences between THC and CBD make the practice of cannabinoid cycling effective in ensuring that we will get the most out of our cannabis intake.
Understanding How Cannabinoid Cycling Works
Changing from THC to CBD and vice-versa resets the system to a level where the ECS would continually welcome the cannabinoids’ influences on our body and mind. The mechanisms at work bear are similar to when we take a different type of medication when the current one has stopped working as expected.
How often should we cycle between THC and CBD products, though?
There is no definitive clinical study to serve as a reference for cannabinoid cycling. What we have right now are the anecdotal accounts of cannabis users who have successfully evaded the development of THC tolerance. We also believe that a single guide wouldn’t work as well as we’re hoping because everyone responds to cannabinoids differently.
Nonetheless, we can look at other people’s first-hand experiences and use that as our starting point. For example, many individuals with cancer practicing cannabinoid cycling do so every 90 days. This allows them to benefit from the therapeutic and mind-altering effects of cannabinoids without taking a prolonged tolerance break.
Others choose to change from THC-dominant products to their CBD-dominant counterparts week after week. A more detailed cannabinoid switching plan involves consuming products with various ratios of THC, CBD, and terpenes. For example:
|Week/Month||Cannabis Strain Suggestions|
|1||High in CBD – Low THC – Various Terpenes|
|2||High THC – Low CBD – Various Terpenes|
|3||High CBD – No THC – Various Terpenes|
|4||Average THC – Average CBD – Various Terpenes|
Reaping the Full Benefits
In most cases, the best way to reap the full health benefits of cannabinoids is by consuming products that contain both THC and CBD. Such a combination produces the desired “entourage effect.” Through this phenomenon, you will experience the natural effects of cannabis but to a heightened degree.
As attractive as that may sound, not everyone is a fan of THC, and it remains under the strict control of the federal government. That’s why several consumers still prefer broad-spectrum CBD extracts or CBD isolates.
Terpenes play a role in dealing with THC tolerance, too. They refer to naturally occurring compounds found in the cannabis plant. The different types of terpenes may be found in various strains, thus giving each a distinctive scent or taste.
The presence of terpenes in a CBD product will increase the likelihood that the entourage effect will kick in even without THC. On the other hand, eating foods rich in terpenes found in cannabis help enhance the effects of THC. For example, a lot of cannabis users recommend eating mangoes because they are also rich in myrcene, a type of terpene with an earthy aroma with a subtle sweetness.
Other Ways to Prevent THC Tolerance
As the popular saying goes, “Prevention is better than cure.” The same applies to THC tolerance. Preemptive measures will ensure that you maximize the cannabis products you are taking while also minimizing the need for tolerance breaks.
Cannabinoid cycling is just one of the techniques you can do to prevent THC tolerance. Here are a few more options that can work effectively for you:
Control the Amount and Frequency of Your Dose
We always recommend our readers start low and slow when figuring out the optimal dosage. Doing so will prevent unwanted side effects and delay the buildup of THC tolerance.
Take your time discovering the least amount of cannabinoids that you need to feel their desired results on your body and mind. Then, as much as possible, avoid overindulging yourself with any cannabis product to minimize the chances of being forced to take a tolerance break.
Consume More CBD Instead
As explained earlier, CBD can produce similar therapeutic benefits as THC—without overloading your CB1 receptors. Moreover, it will not get you “high” as long as it does not have more than 0.3% THC. However, we understand that many THC fans want that experience, so as a potentially safer alternative, consider its milder cousin, Delta-8 THC, the next time you go cannabis shopping.
Try Your Best to Stay Relaxed
According to researchers, the increased production of ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) can release THC stored in our fatty tissues. While that release can also be done by exercising or fasting for an entire day, you might prefer enhancing ACTH production instead since it involves staying away from stress and pressure.
If you want to know how you can control the impacts of THC use on your health and lifestyle, seek the opinion of your primary healthcare provider. They have a more comprehensive understanding of your health history, so pay attention to their medical advice.
THC tolerance may be avoided if you practice moderation and embrace an active lifestyle. Nonetheless, if you ever develop tolerance, you can reverse it through various means. Taking tolerance breaks is considered the most effective way, but since that is not an option for everyone, cannabinoid switching has demonstrated its efficacy in delaying and resetting THC tolerance.
If you have any more questions about the proper ways to consume THC and CBD products, feel free to reach out to our team of experts here at The CBD Guru.