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Can You Build a Tolerance to CBD?

Updated: Apr 26, 2022

What a straightforward question! Unfortunately, the answer contains a few switchbacks.  The simple answer is, for most individuals, no.  Supplementing with CBD doesn’t result in increased tolerance, BUT, it could result in a REVERSE TOLERANCE!  Keep reading...  While CBD does not directly bind to the receptors it interacts with; CBD works within the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) in ways that protect the receptors.  Often, supplementation with CBD results in an increase in the efficiency of these receptors.  For many individuals, this creates what is called a "reverse tolerance."  This is switchback number one.

Furthermore, many “CBD products” do not refer simply to CBD.  Many use the term CBD to refer to the whole non-psychoactive cannabinoid industry.  I guess it’s catchier than, "Hey Joe, have you tried non-psychoactive cannabinoids yet?"  Therefore, your “CBD” product could have a lot more cannabinoids than just CBD.  There have been over 115 cannabinoids discovered; a good hemp strain will have over seventy.  Switchback number two. What in the heck is a "reverse tolerance?"

Let’s first look at what tolerance refers to. Building a tolerance refers to one or more of these three things:

1. The receptors that bind with the substance become desensitized because of constant interaction or the receptors themselves lose density.  2. Your body begins to metabolize the substance quicker and it doesn’t reach the receptors in the same quantity as it used to (enter oral consumption--think capsules and edibles). 3. The individual gets used to the feeling of the substance and reaches a "behavioral tolerance" (this is mainly seen in psychoactive substances).  For example, THC builds tolerance in the user by desensitizing the receptors it binds with and even decreasing the number of receptors it interacts with. THC users also build a "behavioral tolerance" mentioned above.  CBD doesn’t directly bind to cannabinoid receptors like THC.  CBD protects these receptors making them more efficient and in many cases, more abundant; giving the consumer the ability to cut back on the dosage without losing the desired effects over time.   There have been animal studies and anecdotal evidence from many parents of children medicating with CBD (to prevent seizures) that have cited this "reverse tolerance." Not all CBD products are simply "CBD products." There are different kinds of CBD products.  Two examples are CBD isolated out by itself (aka "CBD Isolate") and full-spectrum CBD products.  The consensus is that full-spectrum is the way to go (just Google it) due to the many different cannabinoids working synergistically plus all the amazing benefits from the hemp plant itself.  Due to the fact that lesser cannabinoids can be found in full-spectrum products in trace amounts, one would have to wonder if they have an effect on tolerance build-up. What the heck?  Can I build a tolerance or not?! People are different; you are special!  The thing to do is consume a good quality full-spectrum product consistently at a regular dosage.  If you aren’t getting the desired results you want, back off the serving size.  You may have created a reverse tolerance! Go low and slow, and remember dosing depends on consumption methods. A good way to test would be to start with two to five milligrams systemically per day and increase weekly.  The average person will only absorb about ten percent of the milligrams consumed in pill form.   The sublingual tinctures have approximately a forty percent absorption rate. Some transdermals have a very high absorption rate (Arcanum’s Quill has a tested ninety percent absorption rate).  This needs to be taken into account when finding that perfect dose.   Stay Healthy, My Friends!

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