CBD has become the miracle compound that can address pain, swelling, appetite problems, weight control issues, and several other metabolic disorders. Today, many medical professionals recommend the use of CBD to thwart the contraindications of other mainstream medical treatments and pharmaceutical compounds. For example, CBD can reduce nausea that is almost ubiquitous after chemotherapy.
However, it brings us to the serious topic of CBD tolerance. If it is possible for the consumers to develop tolerance towards conventional pharmaceutical drugs like pain meds and sleeping pills, is it possible for individuals to acquire tolerance towards CBD as well? Medically, the definition of tolerance is when a person requires to take a higher dose of a drug he or she has been taking for a while since it stops eliciting the desired effects at a lower dose.
Since CBD is not hallucinogenic or psychoactive, the chances of addiction to CBD is incredibly low. However, there is a good chance that people using CBD for a long time will develop a certain level of tolerance and seek higher doses to find remission from their pain, swelling or any other physiological symptom they might be facing.
Tolerance vs. dependence vs. addiction among CBD users
Although CBD users are unlikely to develop a habit to the compound, there is a good chance that they will develop dependence. That happens when a person’s body goes through symptoms of withdrawal after he or she suddenly stops taking the medication. The symptoms can include irritability and lack of focus like those familiar with caffeine withdrawal. Or, the symptoms can be severe like those who experience after stopping the use of opioid painkillers and some anti-depressants.
People who use broad-spectrum cannabis oils can develop a tolerance to the compounds’ medicinal effects after prolonged use. Tolerance is usually a big problem for those seeking respite from their ailments through cannabis treatment. People who use cannabis for recreational purposes go for T-breaks – it is a short-term break from using marijuana or derived products. It brings the threshold level of cannabis activity to a lower level, and their endocannabinoid system functions again in the presence of lower CBD and THC levels. However, that is NOT an option for those using cannabis for medicinal purposes.
What causes tolerance towards drugs?
The tolerance towards CBD varies between people significantly. Many report no changes in perceptible actions of the same dose of CBD for years, while others report that they have to increase their doses to experience the medicinal effects of the molecule. Since tolerance is the gross result of multiple interacting cell signaling pathways and metabolic reactions, generalizing the tolerance of CBD in users can be erroneous.
Cellular reactions – Tolerance at a cellular level can rise from the scarcity of available freely binding receptors to the compound. Or, the receptors can undergo desensitization in the presence of too many CBD molecules in the system. Researchers refer to this as pharmacodynamics tolerance.
Metabolic level –Tolerance at the metabolic level or pharmacokinetic tolerance can result from alterations in the metabolic pathway that metabolizes the drug. It is the most common form of tolerance in the oral consumption of medication.
Behavioral tolerance – That happens when a person gathers some sort of “immunity” to repeated drug-induced impairment or intoxication. It is common in the cases of alcohol and psychoactive drug abuse.
Not all form of tolerance is the stepping stone towards addiction or substance abuse. It does not always influence the dependence of a person to a particular drug either. Tolerance is typical in the case of medicines involved in psychoactivity. Therefore, the development of tolerance in those who use pure CBD or isolated CBD crystals is almost non-existent. Researchers have not uncovered any instances or case studies that can point towards the development of CBD tolerance in individuals.
Is it possible to develop tolerance towards CBD?
Till date, researchers have only observed CBD tolerance in select groups of individuals who have epilepsy. This group consumed CBD-enriched oils for the control and reduction of seizures. Participants of this study were also resistant to the conventional treatment of epilepsy now available. The results showed that out of the 92 participants, 32% showed signs of tolerance during the 19.8 months.
Reverse tolerance: CBD and its effects on the endocannabinoid receptors
Current studies point towards an unusual phenomenon that researchers call “reverse tolerance.” Studies show that when patients use CBD isolates and pure extracts for medicinal purposes, the concentration of their body’s CBD receptors increases. It gives an initial boost to its endocannabinoid system. Another way of seeing this is that even in low levels of CBD, a liberal distribution of CBD receptors throughout their body can easily bind to the sparse CBD molecules. Therefore, it is not surprising that many CBD users across Australia report reducing their CBD oil, isolate or tincture doses over time to gain the same therapeutic effects.
On the other hand, THC decreases the receptor concentration available in the system. That demands the user to increase his or her intake of the compound over time to enjoy the same effects. If your CBD rich oil or tincture has THC, there is a good chance that you will suffer from similar cases of tolerance as time passes. Taking T-breaks is a good option for those who like to use broad-spectrum cannabis products for medicinal or recreational purposes. Replacing the broad spectrum product with pure CBD isolates is also an option if the particular CBD product claims to address the same issues you are treating with your current product.
What can you do to break tolerance towards CBD products?
Although CBD tolerance is uncommon or almost non-existence, it is possible for someone to feel that their pure CBD product is not working as well as it used to. In such cases, he or she can take a small 48-hour break from using the same CBD product. The half-life of CBD is only 18 to 32 hours, depending on your metabolism. Therefore, two days is sufficient to flush out all the unbroken or unmetabolized CBD from your system and hit “reset.” While tolerance breaks are popular among THC users, CBD users can resort to them too in the cases of unprecedented tolerance buildup towards CBD.