For regular cannabis users, there’s nothing worse than building up a tolerance to cannabis, and specifically tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Tolerance means smoking or vaping more to enjoy the same level of high, which inevitably leads to higher costs. While it would be a step too far to call it a waste of weed, there are certainly more efficient ways to make use of your bud.

Some choose to make edibles, as tolerances to inhaling and eating cannabis differ. Others decide to go cold turkey to bring their tolerance down – but for those who smoke daily, this can seem easier than it is.  

However, another cannabinoid may help to reduce your tolerance without having to call it quits for a week or so. Cannabidiol (CBD) is non-psychoactive, but the second-most common compound found in most strains of cannabis sativa and cannabis indica – and it can be used to stop cannabis tolerance building up to unhelpful levels.

Why does THC tolerance happen?

Constantly pumping the body with THC causes the cannabinoid to become saturated in the endocannabinoid system, leading to tolerance. When there is too much THC in the system, CB1 receptors – which THC binds to in the brain to produce psychoactive effects – become desensitized and less expressed, according to studies on rats.

The changes from this desensitization are not permanent, but just a mechanism of the ECS to stop exposure to THC and THC-like endocannabinoids. For example, if there is a surplus of endocannabinoid anandamide in the body, then cannabinoid receptors are not so inclined to bind with them, because their effects are not required.

If you think back to the first time that you ever smoked cannabis, you’ll probably remember that you didn’t need to take very much to feel extremely high – that’s because your body and endocannabinoid system wasn’t used to the phytocannabinoid THC.

Cannabis doesn’t work for all users, and some find that it never helps to remedy their illnesses, however much they take. But if you’re a regular user and are not having the success that you usually do; a high tolerance is likely responsible. Early trials have shown that some parts of the body are especially prone to tolerance.

There is a lack of scientific research into CBD tolerance, although there is some evidence that the body does acquire a tolerance after a while. New CBD users are typically recommended to begin with low doses and build up as necessary. There are studies which point towards THC and CBD tolerance being different. And it’s also possible that over time, one could mentally feel that any kind of treatment isn’t as effective as it once was – think of this as a mental tolerance.

How to effortlessly manage THC tolerance

Long-term cannabis users can experience a few withdrawal symptoms when they lay off for a week or two. Mood swings and anxiety over where the next hit is coming from are just a few of the psychological effects that can be experienced. If this sounds like you, then it may be worth changing your cannabis habits, so that you can still enjoy the herb without feeling like it’s a necessity.

Cannabinoid cycling essentially means changing between CBD-rich and THC-rich cannabis every so often. By supplementing the endocannabinoid system with different compounds, the risk of desensitization through overconsumption is diminished. CBD and THC are very unique, despite both being cannabinoids, and have different effects on the endocannabinoid system.

For example, THC’s main interaction is to mimic anandamide. It does this by binding to CB1 receptors – the powerful effects of this phytocannabinoid alters the chemistry in the endocannabinoid system, causing big changes in mood – if the experience is positive, then happiness and euphoria will set in.

Meanwhile, CBD primarily looks to keep the entire system in balance, acting as a modulator to receptors if required. CBD is a negative allosteric modulator to the CB1 receptor, meaning that when THC links up with CB1, CBD tweaks the connection to reduce psychoactivity. This partly explains the antipsychotic properties of CBD.

More on how CBD affects the endocannabinoid system

When you consume THC, the endocannabinoid system is effectively told to stop making endocannabinoids. However, CBD has the opposite effect, stimulating the production of endocannabinoids whenever it spots an imbalance.

CBD has been referred to as an “endocannabinoid modulator” by neurologist Dr Ethan Russo, who has famously presented and built upon the concept of Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CECD), which suggests that some conditions are caused by dysfunction in the endocannabinoid system. Early research has shown that for fibromyalgia and migraines, this theory may be correct.

By promoting endocannabinoid tone, CBD calls for equilibrium in the body, or homeostasis. While there are many factors that can throw the endocannabinoid system out-of-sync, overconsumption of THC will definitely do this. Therefore, CBD helps to regulate the system when cannabinoid receptors have become desensitized.

 

How to benefit most from cannabinoid cycling

There is no scientific research on how to cycle cannabinoids, so experimentation is key on this one. However, there are no health risks to switching suddenly between CBD and THC, so a few weeks of changing from high-THC cannabis to a CBD vape oil or e-liquid and back again should give you an idea on what sort of a cannabinoid cycling program works best for you.

CBD can also help to ease symptoms of anxiety or mood swings that may occur when taking a break from THC. This makes the prospect of a week off every now and then much more bearable for regular consumers!

There are all kinds of CBD products to choose from. Smokers may prefer vaping over methods as this has most in common with smoking, but edibles such as CBD gummy bears and CBD chocolate are tasty and will produce a similar rebalancing effect on the endocannabinoid system.

Cannabinoid cycling remains something of an unknown, but with our endocannabinoid system knowledge developing, cannabis users are working out for themselves how they can get the most out of cannabinoids like CBD and THC.

Jessica is a Boulder, Colorado native with dual New Zealand and Australian citizenship. Jessica earned her B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Redlands in Southern California, but couldn’t stay away from the stunning Rocky Mountains and Boulder Lifestyle for long. When she’s not working, you’ll find her hiking one of the many Boulder trails with her rescue Chihuahua, Mila, whipping up craft cocktails for her passion project @CocktailsofColorado, trying out a new local restaurant with friends, or traveling the globe. Jessica just returned from a worldwide trip to London, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Italy, Sicily, Australia and New Zealand, and has plans to make the most of her dual New Zealand and Australian citizenship by moving down under and fulfilling her dreams of living on the beach. Jessica has a strong visual arts and design background, and is an experienced Marketing Strategist with thorough experience in Data Analytics, Innovation, Digital Sales, Experiential Marketing and Business Development. Also skilled in Negotiation, Market Research, Management, Leadership, and Team Building. Jessica believes in connecting the vision across multiple channels, looking towards the future, and giving back whenever possible.