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Can You Build Up a Tolerance to CBD?

When you build up a tolerance to something, you find that you have to take more of it to get the same effects. It’s common for users of THC to develop a tolerance after repeated use. But is building tolerance also an issue with CBD? It’s clear to us that more research is needed to definitively answer this question.

Limited research studies on this topic indicate that CBD does not build tolerance. But we regularly hear from users who experience diminished benefits from using their CBD products over time. In many cases, a “reset” can get them back on track.

What Causes Tolerance to THC?

Tolerance to THC is attributed to the CB1 cannabinoid receptors in the brain becoming desensitized with repeated activation. Over time if this activation happens repeatedly the body works to counteract this increase in activity by reducing their availability or desensitizing them. This leads to a continual need to increase your dose of THC to get the same effects.

The amount of time that it takes to develop a tolerance to THC varies from person to person. Some of the factors at play include frequency of use, dosage, history of use and individual body chemistry.

What May Cause Tolerance to CBD?

CBD works differently than THC. Instead of binding directly to the CB1 receptors, CBD is an antagonist and reduces their binding affinity. Other cannabinoids, like THC, can no longer fully interact with the CB1 receptors and their effects are reduced. Therefore, CBD is often taken with THC to calm its effects and even reverse “highs” when they become too much. In fact, CBD is often used in the middle of a THC tolerance break to speed up the process.

But CBD products also interact with the endocannabinoid system. So it’s reasonable to think the cannabinoid receptors may also become desensitized due to repeated CBD use. Based on anectodal evidence from members of our Facebook group, tolerance to CBD can occur.

How To Reset Your Tolerance

If you’ve been using CBD for awhile and find that it’s not working as well as it used to, you may benefit from a “reset” or “tolerance break.”

Tolerance breaks are especially common among THC users and give your cannabinoid receptors a chance to “reset.” Time needed for these tolerance breaks typically ranges anywhere from two days to one week. Temporarily stopping your usage of CBD products for two days may be all you need.

When resuming your CBD, it’s recommended that you start with a lower dose than you were previously taking. This is because the reset can impact your optimal dosage.

If the reset didn’t work, you can first try increasing your dose. You may also want to consider switching to a different delivery method or changing brands, especially if you are using a full spectrum product.

There is much more than just CBD in full spectrum products that could be having an impact on your tolerance. By changing brands, you may be able to establish a selection of products that you can rotate through to keep up the efficacy of the CBD.

What is Reverse Tolerance?

If you begin experiencing negative side effects from a CBD product that previously worked well for you, it’s possible you are developing something called “reverse tolerance.” The concept here is that over time you begin to need less of a substance to achieve the same effects. This plays on the idea that your cannabinoid receptors become even more effective at doing their job.

To combat this, try slowly lowering your daily dosage of CBD until you start to experience benefits again. A comparable term would be that your initial use is a “loading dose” and a lower ongoing amount is your therapeutic maintenance dose. If you never experience a return of benefits, you may need to take a tolerance break, change products, or go the opposite direction and increase your dose.

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