Cannabidiol (CBD) has become more popular since its production from hemp was declared legal under the 2018 Farm Bill. Today, its therapeutic properties are widely recognized, but that’s not to say that CBD users don’t have some questions. One of the many is whether or not you can build a tolerance to CBD?
Before we dive into this answer, we must first understand how tolerances affect us. Tolerance is the ability to respond less to a substance after taking it several times.
When it comes to cannabis products, tolerance is built within the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system is largely responsible for a number of aspects of our day-to-day lives and is what cannabinoids from the cannabis plant interact with.
How the Body May Build a Tolerance to CBD
We know that the rate of tolerance to a substance will vary from person to person based on our physiology and unique genetic structure. For example, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the psychoactive compound of cannabis – can develop tolerance after repeated use. The more THC you take, the higher dose you’ll need in order to feel the initial effects.
Studies have linked this to how THC works in our system. Tolerance to THC is attributed to the CB1 cannabinoid receptors in the brain. These receptors are responsible for the “high” feeling most associate with cannabis. CB1 receptors lose sensitivity to THC with repeated activation. Therefore, this leads to a continuous need to increase the dose of THC to make them more sensitive.
In Japan, the Department of Neuropharmacology at Fukuoka University found that CBD does not work directly with CB1 receptors. Rather, it’s believed to indirectly balance out CB1 and CB2 receptors to return our entire ECS to a state of balance. For this reason, some have even found CBD to calm the effects of THC and reverse the “highs” when they become too much.
So, CBD is theoretically less prone to tolerance mechanisms than THC.
However, not enough studies have been published concerning this topic to confirm such a statement. Furthermore, some individuals have a self-reported feeling a tolerance built after taking CBD for prolonged periods of time – requiring stronger doses in order to feel the initial effects. Though it’s possible this can be a placebo.
Taking CBD or THC as a treatment is legal in many US states, but it’s always best to consult a doctor before taking cannabis compounds. It’s also good to remember that each person will feel different when taking these substances and tolerance rates can vary.