By Sierra Waldrop –
Just like with most substances that we put into our body on a regular basis, frequent cannabis users tend to find themselves developing a tolerance to the effects of THC. Those who use medical marijuana daily may find that it begins to take larger amounts of cannabis or higher THC strains than previously, to feel the same effects as when they first started using cannabis.
This can be a frustrating situation to many medical marijuana users who don’t want to smoke Snoop Dogg levels of cannabis every day.
Many users may simply take a short break from using cannabis to give their body a chance to reset, but what about medicinal marijuana users with serious conditions who count on the pain relief, anti-nausea or mood stabilizing effects to help them have productive days without symptoms?
Luckily, there are a variety of helpful ways that can help you effectively lower your tolerance.
How Does Tolerance Develop?
Natural tolerance to THC varies greatly from person to person and relies on a variety of factors such as BMI, sex (males and females respond to THC differently), and the THC level in the strain just to name a few. Individual tolerance changes as marijuana is used more frequently and the cannabinoid receptors become accustomed to the arrival of cannabinoids.
After repeated exposure to THC in a certain matter of time, the frequent initiation of receptors makes the receptors become desensitized to the influx of cannabinoids. When this occurs, the number of CB1 receptors lessens, which then requires more THC needed to feel the effects on the remaining receptors.
Don’t worry, your brain isn’t being killed off, this process can be easily fixed and you can regain your normal number of CB-1 receptors.
Don’t Overdo It
The easiest way to combat high tolerance is to start early and take steps to keep your cannabis tolerance low. This can be done by not “over medicating”, meaning you take just enough to feel the needed effects and then stop there. This may not get you completely stoned if that is what you’re looking for, but it will still allow you to feel the necessary effects while keeping your THC tolerance from getting too crazy.
Take a Break
Probably the most common solution is to take a short break from using marijuana. This allows the CB-1 receptors to bounce back and redevelop in the brain, and this rebuild of receptors doesn’t take as long as you think. The length of time needed for a break depends on how high your tolerance has become, but results are more noticeable the longer the break lasts (generally up to six weeks). To see substantial results, between two days to one month is recommended.
This method is certainly effective, but for many using the medicinal users, it may not be plausible.
Although much less noticeable than side effects from other substances, such as tobacco, some users may expect mild side effects if going “cold turkey”. Heavy users may show mild signs of moodiness or irritability.
Cut back to smaller amounts
If you are unable to take a tolerance break, try gradually reducing your intake to bring yourself back to the bare minimum needed. This won’t necessarily give your body the same “reset” as taking a full tolerance break would, but it is a similar option that can be effective. To do this, just lower your doses every day where you can still feel the needed effects, only a bit less, until your body gets used to the lower levels of cannabinoids.
Not only can regular exercise give you more energy, reduce your risk of chronic disease, help brain, skin, bone and muscle health, enhance your sleep quality and improve your mood (among numerous other benefits) but physical activity can also lower your cannabis tolerance level.
This is due to a couple of different reasons, one being that THC is stored in fat cells, and during exercise when fat is burned, the stored THC is released into the bloodstream in small amounts, creating a short but effective high. Some believe this release of THC from the cells leads to lower tolerance, or that maybe the high given during exercise (either from endorphins or through the cannabinoid system) means less cannabis is needed for that day. This isn’t a proven method, but many marijuana users swear by the practice.
Switch It Up
Strains – If you have a favorite strain that you smoke consistently, but your tolerance has started to get higher than usual, try switching to a different strain for a while. If you mostly smoke Sativa dominant strains, try
Indica dominant strains or vice versa. This may allow your body to get kicked out of the pattern that it is used to.
Cannabinoid Levels – More effectively, try using strains with different cannabinoid levels. If you commonly use a medium to high THC level strain, instead try a low THC/high CBD strain. The reasoning for this is that different cannabinoids bind to different receptors in our endocannabinoid system. THC binds and reacts with the nervous systems CB-1 receptors, whereas CBD mostly binds with CB-2 receptors. The switching of receptors being used will allow the receptors to adjust back to normal levels.
Also, CBD is thought to ignite the creation and release of new receptors in the endocannabinoid system (fixing the issue mentioned earlier that tolerance develops due to fewer CB-1 receptors being available), which allows rejuvenation from high THC tolerance.
Methods – Trying new methods of cannabis use is also helpful. If you normally smoke by blunts or joints, try using a vaporizer instead, or try a different method than inhalation completely, such as tinctures or edibles. We have cannabinoid receptors all throughout our body and central nervous system, switching from smoking to something such as tinctures (which are taken as drops under the tongue) will allow activation for different receptors in the body, instead of relying on the same ones that have been used.
Benefits of a Higher Tolerance
For some patients, having a higher tolerance can be beneficial. One reason may be that side effects, such as paranoia or dizziness, are less prevalent with a higher tolerance. Or those who may have originally been a “lightweight”, may find themselves being able to function better (while high) now that their body is a bit more acclimated to the influx of cannabinoids.
If you have found your tolerance has become too high, it may take two or three of these methods to get your tolerance level back to where you want it to be. Everybody is different and responds to things in different ways, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t see immediate results. It most likely took time to build tolerance so it will probably take time to reduce it as well!