Whether we know it or not, our bodies can build up tolerances to certain substances. For example, some people get hyped up with caffeine use, where others can guzzle an energy drink without feeling any kind of jolt or buzz. A kid with a sugar rush looks much different than a college student snacking on sweets.
Can You Build a Tolerance to CBD?
The same thing can happen with cannabis; often times, consumers are able to build up a tolerance after regular use to specific types of weed. In terms of medical marijuana patients, this can be difficult terrain to navigate, especially if they rely on the long-term healing benefits of the herb.
There is good news: there's a key difference between strains that lead to tolerance and those that do not. Some types of cannabis are full of THC cannabinoids, whereas others are heavier on CBD.
Here's the prognosis: You can not build a tolerance to CBD.
CBD vs. THC
The reason the topic of CBD tolerance comes up is that many consumers do build a tolerance to cannabis after regular use. It would make sense, then, to question the long-term use of CBD, especially as a medical aid to pain- and seizure-reducing effects.
These consumers, however, are not building immunity to the plant as a whole. Rather, their reaction comes from THC, a cannabinoid within the plant.
Cannabis is known for containing both THC and CBD, as well as many other cannabinoids that create the genetic makeup. There are significant differences between CBD and THC, which makes them suitable for specific audiences. Most notably, CBD directly interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system, rather than binding to endocannabinoid receptors in the brain like THC.
THC is known for providing a psychoactive high, whereas CBD does not possess this trait. Additionally, CBD is known for its medicinal qualities: though THC possesses its own benefits, that is CBD's bread and butter – CBD can help with a large range of medical conditions, from inflammation to anxiety to muscle spasms, to nearly everything in between. THC has legal animosity, whereas CBD can be manufactured legally from hemp, taking away issues of accessibility.
One key difference between the two is that consumers and patients can slowly build a tolerance to THC products after regular, everyday use. CBD, on the other hand, does not have this effect.
Tolerance – different from dependence – happens on several different levels. It essentially means that the body has a reduced reaction to a substance after repeated use.
Substances that deal with tolerance can vary; humans are known to need increased amounts of alcohol, prescription medication, and other drugs in order for their body to perform the desired effect. Certain kinds of cannabis (THC-dominant, as we now know), also play by these rules.
Over time, the molecules from the substance continue to bind to the same receptors repeatedly, on a cellular level. This continued use leads to doses becoming less effective and can lead to fewer cannabinoid receptors available.
A key reason that tolerance develops is that the receptors in our body involved with substances decrease and their ability to bind efficiently weathers with repeated use. Similarly, other organs like the liver, which helps to metabolize substances, work harder each time certain substances are consumed. This kind of tolerance takes place at the metabolic level, and results in less of the substance reaching the site it is meant to effect. THC, like many types of other drugs and substances, deals with receptors, whereas CBD does not.
One method of dealing with THC tolerance is to reset the body. Giving the body a break from THC is a way to discontinue the cycle of tolerance. By stopping the use, mixing up strain types, and changing up the routine, THC tolerance can be reset. As little as two to three days of THC abstinence can work to flush the system, though a longer period of separation will produce the best results.
CBD is Good to Go
For further evidence, CBD has been researched. A study found that CBD did not have the same desensitizing effects as THC with long-term consumption since CBD doesn't bind with cannabinoid receptors.
According to the University of Sao Paulo's "Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol", "In human studies, CBD administration did not induce side effects across a wide range of dosages, including acute and chronic dose regimens, and tolerance to CBD did not develop."
This is seen as miraculous throughout the medical community since many prescriptions deal with the issue of tolerance, not to mention abuse and dependency issues. Painkillers can be dangerous when used for long periods of time – detrimental to the body and addictive to boot – especially with increased dosages due to tolerance build up. Cannabis does not have addictive qualities, and CBD has the ability to stay effective after repeated use, without detrimental consequences.
So, can you build a tolerance to CBD? Nope, you can’t.