Can you build a tolerance to CBD? Much like caffeine, CBD can produce tolerance build-up over time with long-term use. This is because the body begins to create enzymes that break down CBD, making it less effective as time passes.
And while CBD tolerance isn’t uncommon, its occurrence can often confuse, frustrate, and even worry newcomers and long-time users alike. After all, why would you continue using a product that seems to be becoming less and less effective?
We’ll dispel common myths about CBD tolerance, provide insight into why it’s happening, and offer solutions to get your tolerance level back on track.
Why Does CBD Use Make Tolerance Increase?
Needing more CBD than you did a month ago usually happens because the body builds up a tolerance to cannabinoids with regular use. Several factors can cause this, but primarily it has to do with how CBD works in the body.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid that isn’t psychoactive (doesn’t get you high). Cannabinoids are hemp cannabis plant-based compounds that work with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is thought to regulate several important homeostasis functions in the human body that many seek supplemental wellness support for.
The ECS is thought to be naturally supported by endocannabinoids we make ourselves, such as anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). But when we introduce external cannabinoids like CBD (cannabidiol), THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) or CBG (cannabigerol), our body creates enzymes that signal the ECS to stop producing endocannabinoids and also help break down the external cannabinoids.
In short, the body is trying to maintain homeostasis by reducing the effects of external cannabinoids. This is what’s known as cannabinoid tolerance and is a normal physiological response.
Typically, introducing cannabidiol into your body daily via CBD gummies or oil tinctures will lead to the quickest build-up of tolerance. This is because a consistent dose of CBD leads to the production of those same enzymes that signal the ECS, telling it to reduce or stop its production of endocannabinoids.
But, changes in CBD tolerance also happen to those who don’t use CBD daily. Why?
While daily use of CBD supplements is the primary cause of increased tolerance, it isn’t the only factor. Sudden changes to your body’s metabolism, weight, diet, and even stress levels can all play a role in the build-up of cannabinoid tolerance.
For example, those who have put on a lot of weight in a short period of time may find that their CBD tolerance has increased. This is because as our weight increases, so does our body fat percentage. And since CBD is fat-soluble, meaning it dissolves in fat, having a higher body fat percentage can lead to CBD being stored in our fat cells rather than circulated throughout the body where it’s needed – thus increasing CBD tolerance.
Those undergoing significant stress may also find that their CBD tolerance has increased. This is because stress can lead to higher production of cortisol, a hormone that can interfere with many internal functions – including those regulated by endocannabinoid receptors. So, when we’re stressed, our ECS may not be functioning as optimally as it could be, leading to an acute build-up of CBD tolerance.
I Feel Like My CBD Tolerance Has Decreased. Why?
While an increase in the amount of CBD you need signals a growing tolerance, needing less CBD is a sign that your tolerance is decreasing rather than you just experiencing the self-care benefits you were hoping for.
There are several reasons why your CBD tolerance may have decreased. And, much like an increase in tolerance, changes in metabolism, weight, diet, and stress levels can all play a role in something called ‘reverse tolerance.’
Reverse tolerance happens when the body starts to respond more sensitively to cannabinoids. So, while you may have needed a higher dose of CBD a few weeks ago, your body may now only require a fraction of that amount to achieve the same CBD effects.
This can be attributed to several different factors. For instance, those who have experienced recent, rapid weight loss may find that their reverse tolerance to CBD has increased. While your BMI may have decreased, internal chemical processes may still function like you’re carrying around excess weight. So, your body may still be producing more enzymes than are needed to break down cannabinoids – leading to a decrease in tolerance.
Other factors that are known to cause reverse tolerance include:
- Getting older
- Changes in diet
- Increased exercise
- Sleep deprivation
- Prescription medications (affect liver enzyme production)
These factors can all lead to changes in our body’s metabolism. And, as we know, changes in metabolism can have a direct impact on the build-up of cannabinoid tolerance. Metabolism plays a key role in the way our bodies process and break down cannabinoids. So, when metabolism is increased, the body may start to break down cannabinoids more quickly – leading to a decrease in tolerance.
How Do I Reset My Tolerance for CBD Products?
The good news is that whether it’s CBD tolerance or the opposite effect – reverse CBD tolerance – there are many ways to reset your biochemistry and get rid of any unwanted interference.
To Decrease Tolerance
Decreasing tolerance levels for cannabinoids like CBD is pretty straightforward. If you find that you need more and more CBD to achieve the desired effects, all you need to do is take a break from using it for a few days – or even up to a week. This will give your body time to reset its 5HT1A, CB2, and even CB1 receptors, thus reducing enzyme production and giving you a clean slate to start from.
You may also find that changing the type of product you’re using helps decrease your tolerance. For instance, if you’re a heavy vaper, try switching to CBD edibles for a week or two. Or, if you normally take CBD oil sublingually, try using a topical product instead. By changing up your method of consumption, you can help ‘trick’ your body into resetting its cannabinoid receptors, leading to a decrease in tolerance.
You can also try changing the form of CBD you are using. For example, if you use a full-spectrum CBD oil, try using a broad-spectrum or isolate product for a while. This will help give your body a break from all the other cannabinoids and terpenes present in full-spectrum products – allowing you to reset your tolerance more quickly.
To Increase Tolerance
Increasing tolerance is a bit more complicated than decreasing it. After all, if you’re trying to increase your tolerance, you don’t want to take a break from using CBD products – that would just defeat the purpose!
Fighting back against reverse tolerance or increasing your current tolerance may or may not be successful, depending on the underlying cause. As we mentioned before, age, diet, sleep deprivation, and stress can all play a role in how our bodies metabolize cannabinoids. So, if any of these are the root cause of your reverse tolerance, you may find it difficult – or even impossible – to increase your tolerance levels.
That being said, there are a few things you can try if you’re looking to increase your tolerance to CBD products.
First, you can try increasing the amount of CBD you’re taking. For example, if you normally take 10mg of CBD daily, try taking 20 or 30mg for a week or two. This will help ‘saturate’ your cannabinoid receptors and may help increase your tolerance.
Finally, you can try using a pure form of CBD such as an isolate instead of a full-spectrum or broad-spectrum product. This will help to ‘flood’ your system with CBD and may increase tolerance.
Does It Matter if My Tolerance Increases?
It is important to be aware of changes in tolerance so that you don’t overdo it and end up taking more CBD than you need. CBD is widely considered safe, but taking too much of it can lead to side effects such as fatigue, diarrhoea, and changes in appetite.
Additionally, if you find that your tolerance is increasing, it may indicate that something else is going on. As we mentioned before, changes in metabolism can be a sign of underlying health issues. So, if you find that the positive or negative side effects of CBD are decreasing or increasing respectively, it’s always best to consult with a doctor or other healthcare professional.
Take CBD the Right Way for You
Ultimately, it is up to CBD users to figure out what works best for them in terms of managing tolerance. Some people may find that they need to take breaks from using CBD products every so often, while others may find that lower doses help to keep their tolerance in check. There is no ‘right’ way to use CBD – what matters most is finding the method of consumption and dosage that works best for you and your needs.
1. Compound Summary: 2-Arachidonoylglycerol, https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/2-Arachidonoylglycerol
2. Fat-Soluble Substances in Measurement of Body Composition, https://academic.oup.com/nutritionreviews/article-abstract/11/6/165/1840655?redirectedFrom=fulltext#no-access-message