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Step Back With CBD: Essentials of CBD and Tolerance Breaks

Keegan Williams

By Keegan Williams

March 1, 2023

When discussing cannabis tolerance breaks, or t-breaks,

. Tolerance breaks are great for a number of reasons. Sometimes, it’s just good to take a breather, though tolerance breaks can also help to reset your so to speak, meaning smaller amounts of cannabis could have more intense or effective side effects in the future.

But what about

? We already know that CBD use has its own array of , sure. However, for those who exclusively use CBD, can users build a tolerance and are breaks needed? For folks taking a THC break, will using CBD help or hinder the mission? 

While it’s the most popular cannabinoid next to THC, CBD is notably different in the way it interacts with our bodies, and that goes beyond its non-inebriating effects compared to the psychoactive qualities of THC that produce a “high” in users.

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Simply, knowing more about CBD’s role in tolerance breaks can go a long way if and when you decide to take a step back.

Can I Build a Tolerance to CBD, and Should I Take a CBD Tolerance Break?

Let’s start by focusing on CBD specifically. 

As one might with THC, those who have a regular CBD regimen may find themselves wondering whether it would be beneficial to take a break to later enhance the cannabinoid’s effects on the body. The truth is, as a CBD-exclusive consumer, building a tolerance isn’t something you need to be concerned about.

CBD is distinct from THC in this way, and our bodies’ endocannabinoid system (ECS) is the culprit, specifically how these two

interact with the cannabinoid receptors in our brain.

The ECS is a transmitter system that cannabis compounds explicitly interact with, though its primary purpose is to regulate and control our bodily functions. We have two types of cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2 receptors, though only CB1 receptors cause the high associated with cannabis stimulation. CB1 receptors control the levels and activity of most other neurotransmitters, and cannabinoids in cannabis work with this system by hacking our ECS and influencing the receptors in external ways. The results are based on the cannabinoid in question.

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At the end of the day,

don’t bind to CB1 receptors in the same way; namely, when CBD binds to these receptors, they don’t become desensitized. Therefore, most research suggests that consumers who continually use CBD are unlikely to build a tolerance. So, no tolerance breaks needed!

Other Considerations for CBD and Tolerance

While our bodies don’t build a tolerance to CBD, we all have different tolerance thresholds to cannabinoids that can shift over time. You may find that several years into a regular CBD regimen, you need a bit more than when you started. This isn’t because you’ve built a tolerance but rather due to changes in your ECS and body chemistry.

This fluctuation depends on a variety of factors, including age, genetics, sex, metabolism, weight and CBD dosage.

Interestingly enough, some research has suggested that when it comes to continued CBD use versus continued THC use, users may actually enjoy an opposing effect…

CBD and “Reverse Tolerance”

This concept is confounding in the context of most conversations surrounding cannabis tolerance breaks, but

have suggested that CBD actually creates a reverse tolerance effect. This means that, as you continue to use CBD, you may actually find yourself needing less overall to produce the same effects. 

You heard right: Habitually using CBD can actually reduce your tolerance over time instead of increasing it. What a win!

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As mentioned,

shows that THC binds to CB1 receptors in a different way, leading chronic THC users to have fewer cannabinoid receptors over time. This is the reason why, over time, they’ll need more THC to produce the same effects.

CBD actually boosts the binding ability of cannabinoid receptors, encouraging the production of endocannabinoids, leading to more receptor activity. The more endocannabinoids available in your body, the less CBD you’ll need to reap the benefits of a high-functioning ECS. This is the reason that prolonged CBD use can lead to a reverse tolerance effect.

Note that studies on reverse tolerance for CBD are still limited, so you may or may not find this rings true to you. If you’ve had a regular CBD regimen for some time, it might be worth trying a slightly lower dose to see how it goes.

At first glance, this may seem a little daunting, especially when thinking of the effects of

. Even at high doses, CBD has been shown to be safe with no abuse potential, so the reverse tolerance effects of CBD are generally a non-issue — unless is something you struggle with, of course!

What About Using CBD During a THC Tolerance Break?

This begs another question: If you’re finding it’s time to take a step back from THC, should you still use CBD? Especially for folks who use cannabis to regulate

or , it can be daunting to take a pause.

suggests that using CBD during a THC tolerance break can actually be helpful. CBD can indirectly boost levels of anandamide, a lipid mediator that acts as an endogenous ligand (a group of molecules derived from host tissues or cells) of CB1 receptors. 

Hearkening back to our previous discussion, this simply means that CBD can help to restore balance to the ECS, the body and the brain. These actions can help to combat withdrawal symptoms and improve the management of the ECS as it deals with the dip in stimulation due to lack of THC. 

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What CBD Products Should I Use During a THC Tolerance Break?

If you’re thinking about using CBD during a THC tolerance break, you’ll definitely want to keep a number of specific products in mind. The best way to maximize the effects of CBD during your t-break is through inhalable and ingestible products. 

are great for local relief, but CBD has to enter the bloodstream to offer maximum benefits during a tolerance break; do not allow cannabinoids to enter the bloodstream, with the exception of patches.

Inhalable products may be best for those who want to mimic the act of smoking cannabis

, and the effects will also hit your system fairly quickly. Conversely, those effects also don’t last quite as long with inhalable products, so edibles will be your best bet for long-lasting results. 

Keep in mind that

and take a bit longer to hit your system than inhalable products, but the overall longer duration might be worth the wait. Edibles may also have stronger overall potency than inhalable products, like flower or vaporizers.

Final Thoughts

CBD is full of surprises, isn’t it? 

While our CBD dosage might fluctuate over time, those using CBD on the regular need not fret about building a tolerance or taking a CBD break to enhance its

. Amazingly, the opposite can be true — prolonged CBD use can actually prompt the body to take in less over time for the same outcomes.

Fortunately, folks taking a THC break don’t have to refrain from using CBD. The

is actually a great tool as you navigate your break to keep your ECS strong and limit THC withdrawal symptoms. If you decide to embrace CBD during a tolerance break, inhalable and ingestible products are going to be your best friend.

We’re huge fans of CBD, and when it comes to tolerance breaks, this cannabinoid is solely there to help. That means more CBD to go around, and who can argue with that?

Keegan Williams

About The Author

Keegan Williams