The use of THC has become increasingly popular, and likewise, it can be hard to figure out the right dosage. One of the most common issues that individuals face is the development of THC tolerance, so the same dose of THC may not deliver the same effects they once did.
If this sounds like you, read on to learn more about THC tolerance and what you can do to combat it.
Why THC tolerance develops
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is one of many cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. While it is naturally occurring, there are also synthetic forms of THC. THC is often known for its psychoactive effects by activating the CB1 cannabinoid receptors within our endocannabinoid system.
In one study published in 2016, researchers found that in cannabis-dependent individuals (CD), there were 15% fewer CB1 receptors than that of healthy controls (HC). This research also shows that there may be promise in abstinence, as this difference dissipates after 4 weeks of non-smoking in CD individuals, showing change by the second day.
In short, cannabis tolerance has more to do with the frequency of usage rather than the regularity of it or dosage. The more often TBH is in your system to interact with CB1 receptors, the fewer of those receptors you will have over time. This can be why the same amount of THC has a reduced effect, as there are fewer receptors to recognize the ingested THC.
While frequency plays a large role, the strength of cannabis and genetics can play a role in one’s development of tolerance.
Taking a “T break”
As we briefly mentioned, abstinence from cannabis is one easy way you can lower tolerance. These are very common, often referred to as a “T break.”
Just as the previous 2016 study, another study also found that “T breaks” can help decrease tolerance back to normal levels after four weeks. In contrast, this study found that chronic users had up to 20% fewer CB1 receptors than that of the healthy control group. While some literature states that T breaks can help lower tolerance after only 2 days, more research in this area is needed to be sure. Due to the lack of concrete information, the length of a T break is entirely up to you, but be sure to contact your doctor for any advice.
According to the majority of online forums, 2 weeks is usually more than enough time to start feeling the effects of abstinence.
The issue with this method for many is the length. This is the most traditional and trusted way to lower your tolerance, but it can take up to weeks.
Another issue with this method is if you are using it for medical purposes, stopping altogether may not be an option. There are, however, many other options you can try to lower your tolerance, and faster.
If you can, dosage adjustments may help reduce your tolerance to THC instead of complete abstinence.
Use cannabis products with a higher CBD-to-THC ratio
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a commonly misunderstood cannabinoid. Many confuse it with THC, but the main difference is that it does not produce the same psychoactive effect as THC. Due to the popularity of the two compounds, there is a range of products out today with varying degrees of each. Many shops may have products with a 1:1 ratio up to 16:1.
It does not produce the same “high,” so people often use CBD to reduce inflammation and pain. Studies show that CBD may have more benefits than inflammation, though more research in this area is required. For those who may be wanting to reduce their THC tolerance and are interested in CBD, this may be an easy way to ease into trying CBD.
Ensure you talk to your doctor before making this adjustment, especially if you are taking any other medications.
Use cannabis less often
The frequency of usage is important, try to space out your usage, whether throughout the day or the weeks. The more time between usage, the better.
If you are using THC more for recreational usage, CBD may not be appealing to you. In such a case, regulating your doses of THC will make it less likely for you to develop tolerance. Cannabis available these days tends to be more potent, which can make the development of tolerance come so much sooner. Try to use the minimum requirement to feel the effects. Most dispensaries will state the amount of THC present; try to find and stick to your lowest effective dose.
Research in this area is severely lacking, but here are some other options that have more anecdotal evidence than anything to support.
According to some online forums, increasing your body’s metabolism of THC may help reduce your tolerance of THC faster. In theory, this should help “cleanse” the system. Many of these methods are healthy regardless. However their, interactions with THC have yet to be studied thoroughly.
Methods of increasing THC metabolism
For the most part, this is purely speculation, so while it makes sense that the removal of fat stores would correlate with decreased storage of THC, this is not accurately studied. There are so many factors such as genetics that impact our body fat percentage, so this may not be something easily adjusted. Likewise, adipose tissue has a protective function in our bodies, low body fat percentage may be linked to a higher risk of metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and self-esteem issues.
While this may seem adjacent to the issue, some say this may actually help with the removal of THC from our systems. This is thought to be due to the fact that THC is stored in fats, and therefore burning fats may help release THC stored there.
One study looking into the effects of food deprivation and ACTH (lipolytic agent) found that there may be an increased risk of “re-intoxication” in food-deprived rats. The study found that fat loss increased THC levels by releasing cannabinoids stored in the fats, with stores lasting up to 28 days.
Exercise is not just good for your metabolism but cardiovascular health, mood, and energy. Whether through a daily walk or jog, increasing exercises don’t have to be drastic. Our bodies have enough energy from glycogen in our muscles and liver for about 45 minutes, so it is usually recommended that we have at least 45 minutes of exercise daily.
If you are a regular user, there is a higher likelihood you may experience withdrawal symptoms. For this reason, it is important that you consult your doctor before making any drastic changes to avoid these symptoms.
THC withdrawal is very common, so it is probably best to taper off slowly than quit cold turkey for those using at higher doses. While withdrawal from cannabis is not as debilitating as alcohol withdrawal, it is good to look out for these symptoms:
- decreased appetite
- mood swings
- trouble sleeping
- intense, vivid dreams
- cognitive impairment
If you experience the following symptoms, ensure that you drink plenty of water and rest. For headaches and nausea, panadol and ibuprofen may help alleviate the less severe pains.
Withdrawal symptoms can make THC usage hard to limit. If you find yourself wanting to start again or increase your dosage, talk to friends or family. They can help keep you accountable and support you through the process.
Withdrawal symptoms usually last around 72 hours. Take note of the change in dosage between regular usage and “T breaks,” and try to make the gap here smaller over time to lessen the severity of withdrawal symptoms.
It is fortunate that reducing tolerance is a fairly cut and dry process. However, it’s probably not something you want to be doing all the time, especially in the presence of withdrawal symptoms.
Don’t use THC too often
Keep note of how often you are using it. Aim to make the frequency of your uses less than your previous pre-“T break” times.
Use lower THC products
Look at the ingredients list of the THC product. You might find that the level of THC is much higher than it needs to be.
Use CBD instead
As discussed, using CBD may be an option, especially for those using THC for therapeutic purposes. Make sure you do plenty of research on CBD and its uses, as it interacts very differently with the endocannabinoid system than THC does.
The bottom line
Building tolerance to THC can be particularly disheartening, especially when you have found the dosage that works for you. Luckily there are a range of options to lower your tolerance.
If you are using THC on prescription, ensure that you talk to your doctor about the points discussed. Be sure to be proactive about any side effects if you experience them.
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