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Can You Develop CBD Tolerance?

An increasing number of people are choosing CBD instead of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and drugs that cause multiple side effects. According to the survey that was performed in 2019 by Consumer Reports and questioned 4,000 CBD users, almost a quarter of them were using CBD to replace OTC and prescription medication.  

The survey shows that 26% of Americans have tried CBD at least once in their lives. The majority of them are using CBD to reduce stress or anxiety or help to relax, as well as relieve joint pain

Since the number of people who are taking CBD is steadily progressing, some people are wondering, can you develop CBD tolerance? What is more, what’s happening with our bodies when we take CBD every day? To answer these and many more questions, I would like to begin by explaining what tolerance is. 

Awais Spall

Director of Innovation & Development at Revibe

What is important to mention when speaking about CBD tolerance?

When discussing CBD tolerance, it’s important to mention endocannabinoid tone and endorphin physiology, which can truly vary dramatically from person to person. For instance, patients that take Low Dose Naltrexone are able to experience a profound calming effect and immune modulation with low doses of CBD. In contrast, athletes can take up to 300 mg of CBD to modulate immunological pathways that can have a powerful effect on exercise recovery.

CBD Tolerance: The Definition of Tolerance

Dr. Laszlo Mechtler, Jushi Holding's medical director who helped to develop a line of full-spectrum hemp oil with Nira CBD, says that many people misunderstand the meaning of tolerance. He explains that in a medical setting, tolerance means a person’s decreased response to a certain substance, for example, drugs. This happens due to repeated use and/or exposure. 

CBD tolerance: CBD extract.

He also highlights the fact that people manage to produce cannabinoids on their own. They’re called endocannabinoids that are also known as endogenous cannabinoids and can be found throughout our bodies. 

The doctor says that people who are suffering from multiple conditions, including chronic pain, migraine, fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome, are often experiencing diminished levels of endocannabinoid. To increase endocannabinoid levels, many people are taking advantage of phytocannabinoids that are plant-derived cannabinoids. 

There are 3 different mechanisms that tolerance can form through: 

  • Cellular. Cellular tolerance means that your body cells become less responsive to certain substances, that’s why you need to increase the dosage. 
  • Metabolic. Metabolic tolerance occurs when lower amounts of the substance reach the site.  
  • Behavioral. It happens when a person gets used to certain medications or drugs due to repeated use.   

Even though you already know how tolerance works, you shouldn’t make any invalid assumptions about CBD tolerance, as it works a bit differently. Continue to the further section to find out all about that. 

THC and CBD Tolerance: Is It the Same?

Even though many people believe that THC and CBD tolerance works the same, it’s actually completely different. The confusion comes from the term “cannabis tolerance”, which can be understood more like THC tolerance that develops when you are using it regularly and your body cells decrease the production of endocannabinoid. 

CBD tolerance: taking CBD oil.

When this happens, you can experience an imbalance of the endocannabinoid system[1], meaning that you will need higher levels of THC each time to reach the previous effects. 

Garrett Greller, the co-founder at Uncle Bud’s Hemp, claims that people who are using THC are familiar with the fact that you can build up tolerance over time. That’s why the majority of them assume that the situation is similar when it comes to CBD. However, according to the specialist, these two compounds work completely differently. He adds that “CBD actually promotes increased receptor sensitivity over time while THC is known to deaden these same receptors.”.

Moreover, according to Bryan Woods, a compounding pharmacist and a member of Double Down CBD consulting staff, THC tolerance can build up so much easier than CBD tolerance. What is more, Konstantinos Tsilkos, the CEO at PharMed, claims that this happens due to the fact that “CBD interacts differently with the endocannabinoid system”. That being said, some people might need less CBD overtime to reach the desired effects. 

CBD tolerance: woman working with CBD in lab.

To learn more about that, let’s move to the further section and find out the answer to the question “do you build a tolerance to CBD?”

Can You Build a Tolerance to CBD?

There are two controversial opinions when it comes to the question “can you build a tolerance to CBD?”

The first group of advisors answered this question positively. Bryan Woods believes that you can build a tolerance to CBD just like to any other drug that activates receptor sites for activity. Konstantinos Tsilkos has the same opinion, claiming that “just like with many other drugs and potent chemicals”, you can build CBD oil tolerance. 

Ryan Lee, the co-founder of Alive&Kicking, also claims that you can build CBD tolerance and, therefore, notice that the effects of CBD can decrease over time. For this reason, he recommends taking periodic breaks from this compound as well as taking it in smaller dosage. 

However, there’s also another opinion when it comes to developing CBD tolerance. Dr. Laszlo Mechtler, who answered the question negatively, claims that:

“To-date, there is no evidence that CBD binds directly to any of the known cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2), but rather acts as a negative allosteric modulator. This means that CBD interacts with the receptor in a way that changes the binding site, thereby reducing the ability of other molecules to bind.”

He also adds that if CBD would be able to interact with the binding site directly, then it would be possible to notice decreased response over time. When treating certain conditions and homeostatic levels are reestablished, there might be false impressions that people have built up a CBD oil tolerance. What people should be aiming for is to maintain the endocannabinoid levels within a certain range. 

CBD tolerance: doctor holding CBD oil.

Dr.Giuseppe Aragona, a general practitioner from Prescription Doctor, also claims that it’s completely opposite and CBD can actually improve the binding affinity of specific receptors. Dr. Lina Velikova, MD, Ph.D., and a medical advisor at Supplements101, agrees and suggests that CBD works differently from THC and doesn’t build a tolerance. She also mentions a phenomenon called reverse tolerance, when people can progressively take CBD in smaller dosage and feel the same effects. 

Even though the research gap exists, based on the study[2] that was focusing on cannabidiol as a promising approach to treating and preventing movement disorders, CBD doesn’t seem to induce tolerance.

At this point, I would like to move into the further section and continue speaking about CBD buildup and the opposite effects. 

CBD Buildup and the Opposite Effect 

There are a few reasons why so many researchers agree that you cannot build up a CBD tolerance. The majority of them claim that when using CBD regularly, you can expect reverse effects[3]

Since CBD doesn’t work like THC that binds to cannabinoid receptors, it could result in reverse CBD tolerance. It means that the longer you use CBD, the less you might need it to feel the same effects.

CBD tolerance: CBD oil lab tests.

Dr. Laszlo Mechtler completely agrees CBD buildup can occur when this substance is used regularly and claims that, in many cases, it is a good thing. The medical director explains that “when one is suffering from a condition that is linked to endocannabinoid deficiency syndrome (where you want to re-establish and then maintain homeostatic levels), CBD buildup is especially beneficial. 

However, he also distinguishes the fact that if you’re using too much CBD, you might be feeling side effects, such as fatigue, dizziness and/or diarrhea. If that happens, you should decrease the dosage until you find the right level and the side effects are no longer tormenting you. Thus, it’s all about balance

Dr. Giuseppe Aragona also distinguishes the fact that CBD can lead to reverse tolerance that is when you need less substance to feel the same effects. He explains that “CBD compound can improve the binding affinity of specific receptors and encourage the production of endocannabinoids, compounds vital for maintaining balance (homeostasis) via the ECS.”.

Is it OK to Use CBD Every Day?

Even though CBD is a natural compound and shouldn’t build a tolerance, the majority of you might be still wondering whether or not it’s ok to use CBD every day. Let’s find out. 

Dr. Laszio suggests that it’s alright to use CBD on a daily basis as long as it comes from a reputable provider, is made of high-quality hemp and is tested in third-party labs. These three aspects are crucially important, so you should pay attention to each of them when choosing CBD products and ensure that none of them is missing. 

The doctor says that he noticed that some of the patients were using CBD oil that doesn’t have proper labeling. However, to ensure that CBD doesn’t contain heavy metals, insecticides, pesticides, fungi, production residuals and any other contaminants, the label is a must. 

CBD tolerance: doctor holding CBD oil.

One more reason why you should choose only third-party tested products is that you should be aware of THC and CBD concentrations. Under Federal law, hemp-derived CBD oil cannot contain more than 0.3% of THC by weight. That being said, if your state has strict CBD laws, you might get in trouble. 

Moving back to the question if CBD is safe to use every day, Dr. Lina Velikova says that the clinical research gap exists when it comes to the long-term effects of CBD. However, she adds that it’s important to know that the WHO (World Health Organization) has labeled CBD as a well-tolerated and safe substance

The doctor also adds that if you’re using CBD on a regular basis, you should discuss it with your doctor. What is more, it’s important to know that CBD can affect other conventional medication if you’re using them together. 

If you’re not sure which CBD brand to choose, I’d suggest CBDistillery, cbdMD and Charlotte’s Web. Each of these providers source CBD from high-quality hemp, test each batch in independent labs and provide potent as well as effective products. 

CBD Tolerance Breaks

If you’re not feeling CBD effects, you might want to consider a so-called “tolerance break” that’s recommended by some medical experts.

According to Bryan Woods, the pharmacist: “The tolerance break is recommended to reset your receptors, CB1 and CB2.”. This will help you to restart a dose and get back to where you started from. This has to do with the fact that CB receptors become unresponsive over time and they need a recharge.

Dr. Laszlo Mechtler also recommends a tolerance break, however, highlights the fact that effectiveness might vary from patient to patient. While some individuals find it extremely useful, others have an established dosage and stay on it. 

CBD tolerance: CBD oil.

Konstantinos Tsilkos says that you could take a tolerance break anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. This way you can “reset” your endocannabinoid system and enjoy the same effects when using smaller dosage of substance. 

However, the CEO at PharMed also highlights the fact that the tolerance break is so much more effective when it comes to THC. That’s because CBD interacts differently with the endocannabinoid system, and you might need to take less CBD over time. This is something that we already concluded when answering the question “do you build a tolerance to CBD?”. 

Why Isn’t CBD Working for Me? 

If you noticed that CBD doesn’t work for you anymore, you might be thinking that you gained CBD tolerance. However, since we already know that CBD oil tolerance is not something that you should be concerned, I would like to provide you with a few more reasons why CBD might not be working for you

  • Unreliable source. Make sure that you’re using third-party tested CBD products that are derived from high-quality hemp and come from reliable CBD providers. 
  • You haven’t found the right dosage yet. You might want to increase dosage gradually until you reach the desired effects. 
  • You should wait a little bit more. You may not feel the effects of CBD right away, so keep using it. It has to do with a so-called “CBD buildup”. Some studies suggest that when using CBD daily, you might build it up in your system, and you will need it less over time to experience the same effects. 
  • It doesn’t work for everyone. There are multiple factors related to biochemistry, genetics and metabolism that might affect how your body reacts to CBD. While everyone wants to experience CBD effects, if you already have an increased amount of endocannabinoids in your system, you may not notice any difference when taking CBD. 

Now, if nothing seems to be working for you, you might want to take a tolerance break to reset CB1 and CB2 receptors. The break should continue from a few days to a few weeks. 

Conclusions

Therefore, there are two controversial opinions when it comes to CBD tolerance. While some suggest that you can build THC as well as CBD tolerance, many studies and health experts claim otherwise. 

Since CBD works differently than THC, it shouldn’t build up a tolerance and even lead to reverse effects as well as create CBD buildup. It means that when CBD is used regularly, you will need to use it in a smaller dosage to expect the same effects. 

If you don’t feel CBD effects, there are a few conceivable reasons for that. You might be using a CBD from an unreliable source, take too small dosage, or use an unsuitable form of CBD. What is more, it’s clear that CBD doesn’t work for all people or it can simply take longer to feel the effects. 

Now, if you're not sure which providers to pick, you can check out cbdMD, CBDistillery and Charlotte's Web

I hope that you enjoyed this article on CBD tolerance and managed to find all the answers that you were looking for!

Awais Spall

Director of Innovation & Development at Revibe

Contributed By Awais Spall, Director of Innovation & Development at Revibe

Awais Spall is a cannabis researcher that has spent 5 years as a clinical advisor, advising doctors and practitioners on the safe use of cannabis as medicine, along with its various applications. H...

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Scientific References

Contributed by Awais Spall, Director of Innovation & Development at Revibe

1. Stephen C Woods: 'The Endocannabinoid System: Mechanisms Behind Metabolic Homeostasis and Imbalance'

2. Fernanda F. Peres, Alvaro C. Lima, Jaime E. C. Hallak, et al.: 'Cannabidiol as a Promising Strategy to Treat and Prevent Movement Disorders?'

3. Kazuhide Hayakawa, Kenichi Mishima, Kohji Abe, et al.: 'Cannabidiol Prevents Infarction via the non-CB1 Cannabinoid Receptor Mechanism'


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FAQ

Can you build a tolerance to CBD?

Even though there are two controversial opinions, the majority of medical experts claim that you cannot build a tolerance to CBD . That's because CBD actually promotes increased receptor sensitivity over time while THC is known to deaden these same receptors.

How should I know if I need CBD break?

If you noticed that CBD is no longer as effective as it was before, you can try taking a break from it. The break should last somewhere between a few days and a few weeks. Also, if you find CBD no longer effective, you might want to switch to reliable, third-party tested products.

Is CBD good for me?

There's a lot of ongoing research in the field of CBD, but you can already find studies stating the different benefits of CBD oil. Thousands of CBD users report different pros of the product. We represent the voice of the majority of CBD users, who struggle with sleeping problems, anxiety, various diseases & so on. Reading through our CBD oil reviews, you'll understand the details about CBD products, but you should always consult your doctor for more in-depth advice.

Does CBD have side effects?

According to user reviews, different CBD oils may have certain side effects on some people. The most common ones include drowsiness, sleepiness, nausea. However, analyzing the extent of these side effects, it seems that it’s not common, and mostly depends on the usage of the oil (the amount, concentration, flavour) & brand. The benefits seem to overshadow any possible side effects that may occur.

How is AllbestCBDoil different from any other websites that write CBD oil reviews?

AllbestCBDoil is an investigative initiative. The team behind the project is working hard at finding & filtering thousands of user reviews. We deeply investigate products by creating expert documentations, all to provide readers with the most accurate information possible. We are independent & completely unbiased. Unlike some other review sites, AllbestCBDoil cares about your wellness & always aims to uncover the truth behind each CBD brand. We do not compete with other review websites - instead, we focus on the most truthful content.

What do the different concentrations of CBD oils mean?

Different concentration levels mentioned in various CBD oil reviews reference the fact of just how “strong” the oil actually is. Depending on the reason why you want to purchase CBD products, you’re going to need different amounts of cannabidiol in the oil itself.