Regularly consuming THC will lead to building a tolerance and negating some of the cannabinoid’s effectiveness. However, research shows that CBD does not trigger the same tolerance-building processes. Read on to discover the unique and intriguing properties of CBD in regard to tolerance.
The human body is very good at adapting to different substances over time. One of the ways it does this is by building tolerance to frequently ingested substances. When it comes to THC, this often leads people to consume more of it in order to achieve the same “high”, or to reset their system with a tolerance break. But does the same apply to CBD?
WHAT IS TOLERANCE AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
Tolerance is a phenomenon whereby one must consume more of a specific substance in order to feel the same effect as last time. It is where the term “chasing the high” comes from. Tolerance is complex because it occurs at different levels of physiology, and because it can work differently from person to person.
Tolerance can also be experienced differently by different people. Because everybody’s physiology is different, some individuals may build tolerance more quickly or hold onto it for longer than others.
BUILDING THC TOLERANCE
THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) builds tolerance at a cellular level. This is because THC interacts with CB1 cell receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system to produce effects. Tolerance occurs due to two processes that try to reverse the activity of THC in favour of maintaining normal activity among CB1 receptors.
The first one of these processes is called desensitisation. This occurs when CB1 receptors simply stop binding to THC molecules with the same affinity as before. The second process is called internalisation. This occurs when CB1 receptors withdraw from the surface of their cell and into its interior. While desensitised receptors still maintain some binding affinity for THC, internalised ones are completely unresponsive to THC’s stimuli.
The common prescription for high THC tolerance is either consuming more THC or taking a tolerance break. This is why seasoned smokers always seem to find themselves smoking several times more than what a beginner would. A tolerance break, otherwise known as a “t-break“, is the process of abstaining from marijuana for a certain amount of time, so as to let it leave your system.
Everyone who chronically consumes THC will inevitably have to take a tolerance break. But is the same true of CBD?
CAN YOU BUILD A TOLERANCE TO CBD AS WELL?
CBD does not trigger the same tolerance and resistance mechanisms as THC. This is primarily because it interacts with endocannabinoid receptors differently than THC. Rather than attempting to bind directly to CB1 and CB2 receptors (and giving them a chance to refuse), CBD exerts its effects through more indirect actions.
Because of this, CBD appears to have the opposite effect on tolerance. By reducing the binding affinity of CB1 receptors, CBD actually gives your endocannabinoid system a break. Research shows that CBD is able to reduce the activation of CB1 receptors without triggering resistance processes like desensitisation and internalisation. This means that it can function without building tolerance as THC does.
However, CBD may even go beyond that to reverse the tolerance-building processes that dampen the effects of other cannabinoids. Considering its antagonising effects on CB1 receptors, it would not be surprising if CBD actually modulated and negated some of the tolerance-forming habits of THC. Nevertheless, much more research is necessary to prove CBD’s tolerance-reversing potential.
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