Learn if your body can build a tolerance—or reverse tolerance—to CBD oil and how to maximize its benefits in the long term. CBD is very different from other cannabinoids, but does prolonged use of CBD oil cause the user to build up a tolerance? Why are some users talking about the reversed tolerance phenomenon? Much like other substances we ingest in our everyday lives, CBD users can build up a tolerance to the cannabinoid compound over time.
Can You Build a Tolerance to CBD?
Researchers are finding that CBD oil may be able to treat the symptoms of a whole host of diseases and conditions. Sufferers of depression, anxiety, arthritis, chronic pain, and even Alzheimer’s may all find relief by using CBD oil.
A common question that comes up when people first consider trying CBD oil is whether or not you can develop a CBD tolerance over time.
CBD isn’t cheap and health insurance isn’t likely to cover it any time soon, so the thought of having to take more and more over time to get the same relief can be daunting.
Here’s the currently available information on long-term CBD oil use and the potential for developing a tolerance.
Is It Possible to Build a Tolerance to CBD?
While research has concluded that long-term use of cannabis containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) results in a THC tolerance, cannabidiol (CBD) appears to work in the opposite direction. Studies and scientific reviews of CBD oil use suggest you likely won’t build a tolerance to CBD, and long-term use may actually result in reverse tolerance.
“Reverse tolerance” refers to the phenomenon in which a person needs less of a substance to feel its effects the more they are exposed to it. So over time, CBD oil users may find relief from their symptoms with lower and lower doses.
CBD is one of over 100 phytocannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Phytocannabinoids are chemically similar to the endocannabinoids produced by the human body; both types of cannabinoids interact with your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). While more research needs to be done, it is believed that because CBD indirectly activates cannabinoid receptors in the ECS without binding to them, it increases the number of endocannabinoids naturally produced by your body over time. The more endocannabinoids available, the less CBD oil you need to feel the benefits of a well-functioning endocannabinoid system.
Since research on CBD oil and reverse tolerance is still in its infancy, anecdotal evidence and your own personal experimentation are going to be your best resources on the topic. Even though CBD oil will not get you “high”, start off with a lower dose if you’re testing out your tolerance. It will be easiest to track and measure your ideal dosage by gradually increasing the amount you take over the course of a few weeks or months. If the benefits you’re feeling start to plateau even as your dosage goes up, you’ll know you’ve accumulated some tolerance to CBD, and it could be time to try lowering your dosage.
Effects of Long-Term CBD Use
Until fairly recently, laws against the use of cannabis and marijuana have limited the number of longitudinal studies examining long-term use of CBD. A majority of the clinical research on the effects of CBD oil does not include a testing period longer than a few months. Hopefully though, as the laws around cannabis, hemp, and CBD continue to shift, more information will become available.
Even though there’s a lack of research on long-term CBD oil use, other scientific and medical studies have yielded promising results in terms of CBD’s safety and efficacy. CBD oil is generally considered to present little to no risk for addiction or side effects. The World Health Organization (WHO) has even gone as far as to state “CBD is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile.”
There is a great deal of evidence that suggests that CBD oil may be a safer, more effective way to treat conditions that require long-term treatment, like depression and chronic pain.
CBD for Depression
Depression has become incredibly common over the years, and the medications prescribed to treat its symptoms often result in unpleasant side effects. Compounding the issue, stopping antidepressant medications can often result in withdrawal symptoms. CBD is showing promise as an effective alternative option for those dealing with depression.
In one animal study, CBD was found to have antidepressant-like effects in mice by helping to activate the 5-HT1A receptor, which is normally activated by the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin. In another study, CBD was found to increase the amount of the “bliss molecule,” anandamide, in the brain. Anandamide is the neurotransmitter most commonly associated with feelings of joy and happiness.
While long-term use of antidepressants can lead to weight gain, loss of sexual function, emotional numbness, withdrawal, and even addiction, CBD oil has not been shown to produce any of these negative side effects.
CBD for Chronic Pain
Another potential long-term use case for CBD oil is in the treatment of chronic pain. Suffers of chronic pain are frequently prescribed medications with significant side effects, many of which are habit-forming. Those that wish to come off pain medications are often faced with debilitating withdrawal symptoms on top of the pain they’re already dealing with.
CBD oil, in comparison, is beginning to look like a great alternative treatment for pain. In a comprehensive review of clinical trials examining CBD’s effect on difficult-to-treat pain, it was concluded that CBD offers a promising alternative or complement to current treatments for pain management. And given the possibility for reverse tolerance, CBD oil dosages may be tapered down over time, mitigating any potential risks of long-term use.
How to Get Continual Benefits from CBD Oil
Since you’re unlikely to build a strong tolerance to CBD oil, and may in fact be dealing with reverse tolerance the more you use, how can you continue to get the most from your CBD product?
In order to properly understand the effects CBD is having on you, it is recommended that you keep a daily log. Each time you take CBD oil, write down the amount you have taken and when you have taken it. Write down any effects you experience, including any changes you notice in your physical body or mental processes. Writing these developments down will be crucial to finding your ideal dosage and deciding if CBD oil right for you in the long-run.
When it comes to choosing a CBD product, don’t be afraid to experiment with different strains, brands, and delivery formats (e.g. CBD vapes, CBD oil drops, CBD edibles). You may have to try a few different products before you find the one that works best for you. Remember to note how different products affect you—maybe a CBD vape is great for when you’re feeling anxious, but CBD drops are best for relieving pain. Finding the right CBD product(s) for your needs is a personal and exciting journey!
One of the best ways to see continual CBD benefits is to mix up your CBD oil delivery formats. In fact, you may find it most effective to use a combination of products. A CBD oil tincture or capsule might be ideal for daily use, while a CBD flower or CBD vape pen are best for on-the-spot relief.
Always talk to your doctor before you use CBD oil. While CBD oil is generally safe, there are some possible drug interactions that should be carefully monitored. If your doctor approves your CBD use, and you’re logging your experiences, you both can quickly narrow down the reasons for any negative effects.
CBD Oil Dosage
You should always follow the dosage recommendation included with your CBD oil product. If you’re looking for a more personal assessment, you might also consider speaking with a naturopathic doctor who can give you a specific dosing recommendation for your condition, age, weight, and experience with CBD.
To take some of the guesswork out of figuring out the right CBD oil dosage, we at CBD Oil Review have come up with a general recommendation, having tested and reviewed hundreds of CBD oil products:
The CBD Oil Review Serving Standard is 25mg of CBD, taken twice daily.
If the desired effect is not reached at this dosage, we recommend slowly increasing your dose by 25mg every 3 to 4 weeks.
Once you’ve found an effective dose that works for you, you probably won’t need to increase it. Because of reverse tolerance, you may even find that with repeated use you can actually decrease the amount of CBD you take over time.
If you enjoyed this read, you may also like:
- Jacques D Nguyen et al. (2018) Tolerance to hypothermic and antinoceptive effects of ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) vapor inhalation in rats – National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30031028/
- (2020) Going off antidepressants – The President and Fellows of Harvard College https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/going-off-antidepressants
- TV Zanelati et al. (2009)Antidepressant-like effects of cannabidiol in mice: possible involvement of 5-HT1A receptors – National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2823358/
- Dale G Deutsch A Personal Retrospective: Elevating Anandamide (AEA) by Targeting Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase (FAAH) and the Fatty Acid Binding Proteins (FABPs) – National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27790143/
- Claire Cartwright et al. (2016) Long-term antidepressant use: patient perspectives of benefits and adverse effects – National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4970636/
- (2018) Opioid dependence can happen after just 5 days – Truth Initiative https://truthinitiative.org/research-resources/substance-use/opioid-dependence-can-happen-after-just-5-days
- Opiate and opioid withdrawal – MedlinePlus https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000949.htm
- Ethan B Russo Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain – National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2503660/
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CBD Tolerance: Can You Build Up A Resistance Over Time?
Most people taking CBD report consistent effects of the same doses with prolonged use. Does it mean that CBD tolerance is a myth?
Substance tolerance is a familiar concept to all people who take supplements and medications. The human body is very flexible at adapting to different substances — lowering their effectiveness over time.
Considering that CBD is a supplement that people take daily, it’s no wonder they ask questions about the risk of building a tolerance.
So, will you build a tolerance to CBD if you take it often?
Studies conducted on the safety and efficacy of CBD oil hold the answer.
Continue reading to learn more.
Can You Build a Tolerance to CBD?
Like we said, building a tolerance to any substance is a common concept. Many of us experience it in our daily routine. When you drink coffee or tea, you need stronger dose overtime to get the same focus and energy as you did, say, a few months ago — especially if you’re a daily user.
CBD is consumed frequently; for most people, it means taking CBD twice a day; some users, however, use it four times a day because they need more CBD oil in their situation. If CBD actually holds the risk of building a tolerance, it should abide by specific mechanisms that most supplements and medications use.
Let’s elaborate on why people build a tolerance to certain substances.
How Tolerance Works
Tolerance is categorized into three major groups: behavioral, cellular, and metabolic.
Behavioral tolerance is where we become psychologically adapted to the effects of a substance; cellular tolerance involves cells becoming less responsive to a compound, which is why you need more coffee to stimulate the body when you drink it regularly. Metabolic tolerance, in turn, means that lower concentrations of a substance reach the target area.
Tolerance doesn’t have to belong to one of the three aforementioned categories and can show the symptoms of all three mechanisms depending on the interaction between a particular substance and the body.
Tolerance affects every person differently; there are different rates at which we become tolerant to a substance. Our genetic structure, physiology, history of substance abuse, as well as environmental factors, may determine how fast you build up a tolerance to substances. For some people, it may take a bit more time to develop tolerance, while others build it very quickly.
When it comes to cannabinoids, tolerance is noticeable mostly on the cellular level. Over time, the endocannabinoid receptors may become desensitized, meaning they’re less enthusiastic about interacting with the administered compound, and in some cases, will hide inside a cell so they cannot be reached by the cannabinoid.
It appears this isn’t the case with CBD.
What Happens Inside Your Body When You Take CBD?
CBD has a unique fashion of interacting with the endocannabinoid system. Rather than binding to CB1 and CB2 receptors, it affects them more indirectly. A study conducted by the Department of Neuropharmacology at Fukuoka University reveals that “the neuroprotective effects of cannabidiol are independent of CB1 blockade,” suggesting that it doesn’t work by binding directly to the receptor and shouldn’t theoretically build a tolerance. (1)
CBD uses a different mechanism, one that allows it to encourage the production of endocannabinoids and improve the binding affinity of specific receptors in the body. Through this mechanism, CBD helps the endocannabinoid system to maintain balance (homeostasis) between all vital processes within the body (2).
So, rather than forcing the endocannabinoid system to become overactive and less responsive to the compound over time, CBD enhances its functioning by modulating the activity of its receptors and ensuring more efficient use of the body’s own cannabinoids.
CBD Tolerance vs THC Tolerance
People who use THC-rich cannabis may build a tolerance to the cannabinoid because it has a direct affinity to the CB1 receptor in the brain. This is why THC gets us high and CBD doesn’t. Daily use of THC causes the user to experience less pronounced effects with the same amount of cannabis.
As mentioned, THC tolerance happens on the cellular level. THC interacts with the brain by binding with CB1 receptors. When this process is repeated regularly, the cells try to maintain normal CB1 activity by reversing the THC’s effects. They trigger this effect either through desensitization, where CB1 receptors make it difficult for THC to bind with them, or through internalization, which is the process by which CB1 receptors hide into the cell’s interior. When internalized, the cells become entirely unresponsive (3).
How Fast Does CBD Tolerance Build?
Although it’s not possible to build a tolerance to CBD, we all have a different tolerance threshold that may change over time. In other words, you may need more CBD after two years of regular use, but it doesn’t necessarily derive from building a tolerance, but rather from the changes in your endocannabinoid system and overall body chemistry.
Tolerance and its fluctuation vary depending on the following factors:
- How much CBD you’re taking
- Experience with CBD
CBD Tolerance vs. CBD Dependence
The term tolerance often has a negative connotation; most people associate it with drug addiction. However, this word is often wrongly used instead of dependence, which is the accurate term to describe what happens to drug users over time.
- Tolerance is what you experience when your body becomes less sensitive to a compound over time. This is how your system builds a tolerance to THC and caffeine, among many other substances.
- Dependence is what happens when you go through withdrawal symptoms, which can be both physical and emotional. The symptoms may range from mild such as headaches, mood swings, to life-threatening, such as depression, vomiting, heart failure, and lethal overdose.
The good news for CBD users is that it doesn’t cause any of the above. CBD has a good safety profile; it comes with a few mild side effects when you take it regularly, including dry mouth, appetite fluctuation, or slight dizziness if you take high doses of CBD oil.
What Is CBD Reverse Tolerance?
Some studies suggest that CBD can cause reverse tolerance, where less of a compound is needed to achieve the desired effects due to long-term use (4). The studies so far have found that CBD can reduce the activation of CB1 without the need to desensitize the endocannabinoid system. This interaction is particularly important for CBD users because it can reduce the side effects and tolerance-forming potential of other cannabinoids, such as THC.
As we pointed out earlier, providing a definite answer to the tolerance-forming effects of CBD is difficult because there are so many factors at play, and there’s not enough research on humans to provide conclusive results.
CBD Tolerance In A Nutshell
It is common knowledge that people build a tolerance to different substances over time. However, research suggests this isn’t the case with CBD. Some studies have even found CBD oil to induce a reverse tolerance phenomenon, causing the user to need less CBD to experience the same results after regular use.
However, CBD’s unique mechanism of interaction with cannabinoid receptors makes it challenging to study the way it affects tolerance. CBD has over 60 molecular targets, so there’s still much we don’t know about this compound.
If your CBD oil isn’t working, it’s unlikely due to an increased intolerance. Although your threshold may change over time due to factors like age, weight, and metabolism, the problem usually lies in the quality of CBD.
To ensure you’re getting a legitimate product with a proven amount of CBD, make sure you’re buying CBD oil from reputable suppliers. There’s a lot of misinformation surrounding CBD.
We hope this article has helped you clear up any confusion regarding CBD tolerance.
CBD Tolerance: Can you build a tolerance to CBD?
Much like other substances we ingest in our everyday lives, CBD users can build up a tolerance to the cannabinoid compound over time.
So, just as you might need more coffee to get the same energy boost after drinking it every day for a week, you might need to take more CBD to experience the effects to which you are accustomed.
This doesn’t mean that CBD isn’t working anymore or that you’re doing something wrong – it’s just a natural process that happens when our bodies get used to something.
If you are experiencing lessened effects of CBD, or are interested in adjusting your body’s tolerance level, check out this guide covering everything there is to know about CBD tolerance.
The science behind CBD
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the most prevalent cannabinoids found in cannabis or hemp plants. Also known as a phytocannabinoid, CBD interacts with our bodies through endocannabinoid system receptors. These receptors are found throughout our entire body, including our brain, organs, and central nervous system.
According to a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), CBD activates several receptor types throughout our body: CB1 receptors found in the central nervous system and brain, CB2 receptors found in the peripheral nervous system, enzymes involved with metabolism, muscle and joint function, fertility, and more.
It’s worth noting that while the use of the more well-known cannabinoid THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) also interacts with our endocannabinoid receptors, it does so in a way that causes psychoactive effects or the “high” associated with marijuana use. On the other hand, CBD is non-psychoactive and won’t get you high.
Different types of tolerance
Tolerance can be classified into two different types: metabolic tolerance and functional tolerance.
Metabolic tolerance occurs when the human body loses efficiency in breaking down and metabolizing a substance. For example, if you’re drinking alcohol every day, your liver will eventually become less effective at metabolizing it, resulting in lower blood alcohol concentration.
Functional tolerance is when our body becomes less responsive to the effects of a substance. So, if you’re taking CBD every day, your body may eventually become less responsive to its effects, and you’ll need more of it to experience the same health benefits.
While both types of tolerances could be the culprit for reduced CBD efficacy, it’s more likely that functional tolerance is the culprit for reduced CBD effects because CBD hasn’t been shown to decrease the efficiency of our metabolic and receptor systems. In other words, our bodies just get used to having it in our system – we need more of it because we simply become less sensitive to its presence.
How can CBD tolerance increase?
CBD tolerance is unavoidable if you engage in regular use of the cannabinoid regularly whether to relieve sore muscles and joints after regular workouts or to help with more serious issues like chronic pain or epilepsy. Just like with any other substance, our bodies will get used to it and eventually require more of the cannabinoid to experience the same effects.
This is because when CBD enters our system, it interacts with enzymes in our liver that are responsible for metabolizing drugs. CBD is a “fat-soluble” compound, which means it’s metabolized differently than other substances like alcohol or caffeine. When we consume CBD, it’s stored in our fatty tissues and liver before being slowly released into our system.
This extended-release is why CBD tends to have long-lasting effects, but it also means that our body has more time to build up a tolerance to the cannabinoid.
Factors that indicate a tolerance to CBD
If you are unsure whether the lessened effects of the CBD you consume for health and wellness are a result of higher tolerance or inferior quality hemp CBD oil extracts, here are some factors to take into account:
- You find that you need to use more CBD products than before to achieve the desired effects
- CBD effects aren’t as strong as they used to be
- It takes longer for CBD effects to kick in
While it’s not uncommon to develop a higher tolerance to CBD over time, it’s important to ensure that the products you’re using are high quality and potent. Inferior quality CBD products might not be giving you the effects you want because they contain a lower concentration of cannabinoids or have not been extracted using the best method.
How to fix a tolerance to CBD
If you’re interested in reducing your tolerance to CBD, there are some things you can do. Changing how you use CBD products is a great place to start, especially if you’ve been using it in the same form for a while.
For example, if you usually take edibles or other CBD gummies , try using a topical CBD product or vape oil instead. You can also switch between full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and pure CBD isolate products.
If you’re using CBD for medical purposes and have developed a tolerance to it, talk to your doctor about other treatment options. They might be able to recommend a different dosage or form of CBD that would be more effective for you.
It’s also important to take a break from CBD every now and then, especially if you’re using it daily. This will give your body a chance to reset and could help reduce your tolerance to the cannabinoid.
Will I have high CBD tolerance if I have a high THC tolerance?
If you consume marijuana regularly, you might be wondering if your tolerance to THC will affect your tolerance to CBD.
The answer is – not necessarily. While they are both cannabinoids found in cannabis, they interact with our bodies differently. This means that you could have a high tolerance to THC but not CBD, or vice versa.
Furthermore, even though both marijuana and hemp are members of the Cannabis sativa plant family, the CBD content in THC-rich marijuana cannabis plants is much lower than the CBD concentration found in the hemp cannabis plants used to make CBD products in the UK. Therefore, it’s unlikely that your THC tolerance would significantly affect your CBD tolerance.
Why do I feel weird when stopping CBD to reset my tolerance?
Withdrawal symptoms after stopping CBD are infrequent, but they can happen. These side effects are usually mild and include headaches, fatigue, and irritability. Often, this can indicate a CBD dependence, which is different from tolerance to CBD.
A dependence on CBD can occur after long-term use when your body has relied on the cannabinoid for so long that it has grown accustomed to using it, just as it would to caffeine. This means that you will experience mild withdrawal symptoms if you stop using CBD completely, even if you have a high tolerance to it.
Fortunately, it’s easy to reset your sensitivity to CBD and avoid dependence on it if you use the cannabinoid regularly. Simply stop using the cannabinoid for a few days or weeks, then start again with a lower dose than before. You could also swap between full-spectrum CBD oil tinctures and isolate products, as these contain a varying amount of CBD and other hemp compounds.
Does high Endocannabinoid System (ECS) tolerance affect CBD use?
Technically, you can develop a tolerance to any substance that interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This is because your body naturally produces endocannabinoids – endogenous cannabinoids – which bind to cannabinoid receptors and help regulate various bodily functions.
If you use CBD or THC on a regular basis, your body might start producing less endocannabinoids. This is because it assumes that you’re already getting enough cannabinoids from external sources, so it doesn’t need to produce as many of its own.
Over time, this can decrease sensitivity to cannabinoids, which means you will need to consume more of them to experience the same effects. However, it’s worth noting that this is different from developing a tolerance to CBD or THC specifically.
Natural tolerance factors
Some people may feel like they need more CBD than others to experience the same effects, even if they haven’t been using cannabidiol for a long enough period of time to build a tolerance.
This natural tolerance has less to do with CBD consumption and more with your body’s ability to absorb it. Factors like age, metabolism, weight, height, hydration levels, and genetics are just some of the things that can affect how quickly you feel the effects of cannabidiol.
Time-specific tolerances can also be a factor. For example, you may feel cannabidiol’s effects more in the morning than at night because your body is naturally more receptive to cannabinoids when you first wake up. Or you may feel like you feel the effects more when you don’t eat before taking CBD, as food can also affect how quickly cannabidiol is absorbed into the bloodstream.
Don’t worry, CBD tolerance is normal
While you may feel frustrated that you need more and more CBD to experience the same effects, it’s important to remember that this is perfectly normal. In fact, it’s not just CBD – tolerance can occur with any type of medication or supplement, whether it’s over-the-counter or prescription medications.
The good news is that there are a few things you can do to avoid tolerance build-up, such as taking regular breaks from CBD or using a higher potency product. By understanding how CBD tolerance works, you can make sure you’re using the cannabinoid in the most effective way possible.
You can now buy CBD oil products by clicking here , or read our buyer’s guides to the best CBD oils and best CBD gummies in the UK.
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