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Can You Build CBD Tolerance?

By: Katrina Lubiano

If you've recently found your CBD oil ineffective or you've never had any luck with CBD oils, your dose may be to blame. However, there can also be other factors at play, including poor quality CBD oils or how you're taking CBD.

Over time, as we introduce either plant-based or synthetic compounds into our bodies, we begin to develop tolerance. Due to this phenomenon, you may need higher doses of the substance to get the same level of desired effect.

We'll break down everything you need to know about CBD tolerance, safety, and how to source quality CBD products in this article.

Can You Take Too Much CBD?

Yes, you can take too much CBD.

That being said, CBD has been proven safe, even in high quantities, and won't lead to lethal overdose [1]. But this isn't to say you won't experience any discomfort if you take too much. Any compound that alters the way you feel has the potential for adverse side-effects — though some much more severe than others.

Here are some common side effects of CBD overdose:

  • Fatigue
  • Dry mouth
  • Loss of appetite
  • Low blood pressure
  • nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Thankfully, the aftermath of taking too much CBD wears off as soon as it's out of your system, within 2–3 hours. However, to avoid any chances of discomfort, you should start with lower doses and build up gradually over time until you reach your desired effects.

Keep in mind, CBD can create undesired outcomes when taken with other medications, which is why you must speak with your doctor before using CBD oil to treat a condition.

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5 Reasons Why CBD is Not Working for You

It can be frustrating to try numerous CBD products, only to find nothing but wasted money and disappointment in your purchases. There can be several contributing factors as to why your CBD is not working and here we'll go over the common problems while offering solutions for each.

1. You're Using Low-Quality CBD Products

The CBD industry is relatively new and poorly regulated. Unfortunately, there are companies out there selling fake CBD oil that contains very little CBD or harvesting CBD from contaminated hemp sources.

Before you purchase a CBD product, check for third-party lab tests and read online consumer reviews.

Reputable brands send samples of their products to non-biased, third-party labs to ensure quality control measures are met. These labs test for CBD content and potential contamination from harmful solvents, heavy metals, pesticides, or mycotoxins (mold).

You want to verify that the CBD content on the test matches what's labeled on the bottle and that the extract is free from contamination that can render the CBD ineffective or potentially dangerous.

2. You Need To Find The Right Dose

If you're just getting started with CBD and you're not getting the desired effects, chances are you haven't found the right dose. The tricky thing about dosing is that everyone responds to CBD differently. Your ideal dose will depend on various factors, including genetics, experience with CBD, metabolism, and health conditions.

You can expect to experiment with your CBD doses, but start with smaller amounts and build up gradually over a few days until you find your Goldilocks zone. It may help to make note of your doses in a journal or your notes app on your phone to track how much CBD you're taking.

3. You Need To Use CBD Consistently

While CBD has been proven effective for many health benefits, it's not an overnight fix-all compound.

People will often buy CBD oil thinking it works like Tylenol for instant pain relief — but it just doesn't work that way. Aside from finding the appropriate dose unique to you, it can take CBD days or several weeks before you experience a noticeable difference in how you feel.

CBD isn't particularly good at binding to receptors that activate an immediate response. Consistent use of CBD oil maintains the body's endocannabinoid system function by making the receptors more sensitive to stimulation from internal cannabinoids.

In addition to giving CBD some time to work, we recommend taking your CBD at the same time each day with your vitamins for overall health support or an hour before bed as part of your winding down routine if you're looking to use CBD to improve sleep quality.

4. You're Using The Wrong Delivery Method

Cannabinoid receptors are located throughout the body, which allows CBD users to enjoy different delivery methods for consuming CBD from CBD oilscapsulesspraysgummies, and skincare.

However, the effects you're looking to experience with CBD can depend on the delivery method you choose. For example, topical CBD formulas like lotions and salves work well for relieving localized muscle aches from a strenuous gym session, but it won't help support a normal digestive process or mood because it doesn't enter the bloodstream.

Do you find vaping CBD products to work well initially, but it seems to taper off quickly? This is because CBD inhalation is the fastest delivery method as it bypasses the digestive system that can breakdown the active compounds before entering the bloodstream. However, the effects of smoking CBD also wear off faster.

If this is the issue, consider taking a break from smokable products and use edible forms of CBD instead such as capsules, oils, or gummies.

5. You've Built A Tolerance To CBD

It's possible that you've built a tolerance to CBD when you feel like your CBD product isn't working as well as it used to.

Long term CBD users are likely to experience tolerance and have to increase their doses to get the same level of effects. A high tolerance can make CBD use expensive. However, it's possible to reduce your threshold if you take a CBD tolerance break.

A tolerance break means you stop taking the substance you’ve built a tolerance to in order to let it completely run its course from your system. There isn't a scientific rule for how long you should take a break from CBD — but many people report 3-7 days seems to do the trick to reset their system.

Tolerance breaks, much like dosing CBD, is an individual affair that requires experimentation and observation. It may be helpful to record your doses before you go on a tolerance break so you can have a reference to look back on for future dosing with a more accurate assessment of your condition before, during, and after you temporarily abstain from CBD use.

Here's what to record if you should decide to take a CBD tolerance break: how long you've been using CBD, your doses before the break, symptoms, how many days of tolerance break, symptoms during break, doses after the break, increasing doses gradually, note any changes in symptoms or side-effects.

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How Fast Does CBD Tolerance Build?

It's difficult to say how quickly CBD oil tolerance builds because it's different for every individual and your CBD doses may fluctuate depending on the state of your health and your current lifestyle.

The endocannabinoid system is responsible for regulating homeostasis (balance) in the body, which means you may need more or less CBD at any given time. Dosing CBD oil that's right for you comes with a lot of trial and practice — so there's no one size fits all approach to dosing.

Tolerance depends on a variety of factors, including:

  • Age
  • Weight
  • Sex
  • Experience with CBD
  • Metabolism
  • Genetics
  • How much CBD you're using

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CBD Tolerance vs. CBD Dependence

Defining Substance Tolerance

The word tolerance is often associated with drug addiction and the negative consequences of a condition called dependence that can be dangerous. Let's quickly run through the differences of substance tolerance and dependence.

Tolerance is what occurs when your body loses sensitivity to a compound to elicit the desired outcome. Just as you can build a tolerance to caffeine, your system can build a tolerance to CBD.

The effect of tolerance makes users consume more of the substance to achieve the same level of impact because their body has lost sensitivity to the active compound.

Defining Substance Dependence & Withdrawals

Dependence is what happens when a user goes through withdrawal symptoms, which can include both physical and emotional disruption.

Withdrawal symptoms can be as mild as headaches, moodiness, or fatigue due to caffeine withdrawals, or more life-threatening, such as a fast heart rate, muscle pain, depression, and vomiting from withdrawals.

These severe withdrawals create a dependence on the substance in order to avoid adverse symptoms. The body becomes dependent on the compound and now needs it to reach a level of homeostasis (balance).

When it comes to CBD, you can build a tolerance. However, severe withdrawal symptoms are highly unlikely to develop, even for long term users [2]. The most discomfort felt in a randomized CBD trial that investigated what happens when users take an abrupt break from regular use included headaches and diarrhea.

You're not likely to experience a CBD dependence because it doesn't produce withdrawal symptoms when you're not using it.

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What Is Reverse Tolerance?

Reverse tolerance is when you require less of a compound to reach the desired effects — opposite to building tolerance. You become more sensitive to the compound, which can be a positive or negative, depending on the compound.

Some anecdotal evidence suggests that CBD has this reverse tolerance effect with long-term use, but there's still a lot of medical research needed to confirm this. It's more likely that it takes a long time to develop a tolerance to CBD in general because of it's unique interaction with the endocannabinoid system.

Our body's receptors rely on chemical messengers to send signals for actions within the body. Most compounds that build tolerance in the body bind with these receptors to elicit a specific action. With prolonged exposure to the chemical messenger, the receptors lose their sensitivity.

CBD isn't efficient at binding to CB1 or CB2 receptors, like its famous psychoactive counterpart, THC is.

Continued use of THC has been shown to increase the body's tolerance [3]. However, consuming CBD with THC has shown to improve THC interactions, which is one of the reasons that have lead researchers to believe that CBD tolerance either isn't real or there is a reverse tolerance occurring.

CBD doesn't directly unlock actions on the CB1 or CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system. Rather, CBD promotes receptor activity, which helps facilitate the binding of the cannabinoids to receptors, and CBD prevents the breakdown of internally produced cannabinoids.

To Wrap Up: CBD Tolerance

Can you build a tolerance to CBD? Yes, it's possible.

However, CBD's unique interaction with cannabinoid receptors makes it difficult to study the mechanisms for tolerance. CBD has such varied effects on individuals long term that people may experience the phenomenon of reverse tolerance, but there's still more research to be done to substantiate this.

What do you do if your CBD product is no longer working as well as it should or if you've never had any luck with CBD?

Make sure you're buying CBD from reputable brands. There's a lot of misinformation surrounding CBD — steer clear from brands offering too-good-to-be-true medical claims.

Look for brands that opt for non-biased third-party lab testing to prove the product’s CBD content and safety.

Additionally, you should experiment with your doses and delivery methods (as your needs may change over time), and if you've built a tolerance to CBD, it's a good idea to take a break once in a while.

Luckily, CBD is a well-tolerated compound, and there are many different delivery methods you can experiment with to help you find the most desired outcome. If you're interested in learning more about CBD, visit our blog for more resources.

Resources:

  1. https://www.who.int/medicines/access/controlled-substances/CannabidiolCriticalReview.pdf
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1525505019311163
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0091305793905466
  4. https://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/ben/cds/2011/00000006/00000004/art00005

Disclaimer

The statements made regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All information presented here is not meant as a substitute for or alternative to information from health care practitioners. Please consult your health care professional about potential interactions or other possible complications before using any product.

About Katrina Lubiano

Katrina Lubiano is a content writer in the health and wellness space based in Vancouver, Canada — Canada's epicenter for cannabis culture. When she's not working, she enjoys sailing, watercolor painting, and cooking.