The True Benefits of Low-THC Therapy
by Bethan Rose
There are a variety of reasons that people seek to lower their tolerance to cannabis. Frequent consumers find that the effects of cannabis products weaken over time, creating a need for more and more in order to meet the same goals. Combatting this can help users switch to less-potent products or consume less overall—which saves money.
If you’re looking to lower your cannabis tolerance level, you probably have a few questions about it. Does drinking water lower your tolerance? Can you use CBD on a T break? Sorry to break it to you, friend, but water alone will not lower weed tolerance; it’s a little more complicated than that. Let’s explore cannabis tolerance and some ways you can reduce it.
Tolerance is a fancy way of saying your body has gotten used to a substance—in this case, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Two good indicators that you’ve developed a high tolerance are experiencing withdrawal symptoms if you don’t consume cannabis or having to steadily increase the amount of cannabis you are consuming because you cannot feel the effects anymore.
People usually develop a high tolerance to cannabis through regular, daily, or even more frequent use. Consuming cannabis products that contain high THC levels can also contribute to cannabis tolerance. If you consume THC regularly, you can actually reduce the number of cannabinoid receptors—specifically CB1 receptors—in your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS).
These receptors are primarily found in the central nervous system (CNS) and help the body maintain homeostasis by regulating a variety of functions, including appetite, memory, sleep, mood, and pain, among others. They are also responsible for creating effects in your body when they come into contact with THC from cannabis you’ve consumed.
While you might not be able to chain-smoke joints like Snoop Dogg, lower cannabis tolerance certainly has its perks. One of the biggest is that it’s cheaper. Consumers will save money at the dispensary because it takes less cannabis to produce the desired effects.
The effects will also be enhanced by a lower tolerance, which can result in a better “high.” This can be of particular importance to medical patients who need strong effects to treat debilitating conditions such as chronic pain.
Lower tolerance also allows you to benefit from a wider variety of products. Someone who dabs daily, for example, might be disappointed when they try to smoke flower with their friends or eat an edible they were gifted. But someone with a lower tolerance can often have a great experience with all of the various cannabis products available because they aren’t limited to high-potency ones.
THC is stored in the body’s fat cells and can take about a month to leave your system entirely. However, depending on the individual—and a variety of factors like the amount of product consumed, weight, sex, etc. that can influence tolerance—this period of time could be shorter or longer. If lower THC tolerance is your goal, check out these five ways that you can speed up the process.
Most are familiar with this tried-and-true method—the tolerance break, or “T break” for short. A tolerance break involves taking a week or two off from consuming any cannabis products in order to lower your tolerance through abstinence.
As mentioned previously, regularly consuming cannabis can reduce the CB1 receptors found throughout the ECS. In one study from 2011, researchers found that CB1 receptors could recover after a period of time. The study states, “We found decreased CB1 receptor binding in subjects who had smoked large amounts of cannabis daily for years. Even in these heavy smokers, binding returned to normal levels in most regions after ~4 weeks of abstinence.”
So, how long should a tolerance break from cannabis be? Again, everyone is different, so the best way to assess this is by experimenting. Try abstaining from smoking or consuming any cannabis products for several days to one week and observe the results when you resume consumption. If this period of time proves to be too short, try a tolerance break of a couple of weeks until you find a length of time that adequately suits you.
Alternatively, reducing consumption is another great way to lower your tolerance if complete abstinence is unappealing or not an option for you due to medicinal needs. This can be accomplished in two different ways, the first being microdosing. Microdosing is consuming smaller amounts of THC (generally less than 10 milligrams) to feel mild effects.
Instead of decreasing the amount of cannabis consumed, you can also decrease the frequency that you consume. In other words, if you smoke every day, try smoking every other day. If you smoke three times a day, try smoking once a day.
It’s important to observe results and adjust accordingly. For example, if you are a medical cannabis patient using THC to treat a condition, it’s very important to discuss any consumption reduction with your doctor in order to create a plan that still offers symptom relief.
Switching to cannabis products with less THC and more CBD is also an option. Our bodies react to cannabidiol (CBD) and THC differently, so a product with a new cannabinoid ratio could be just what you need. On top of the fact that CBD is recognized by the body as a different cannabinoid than THC, CBD doesn’t reduce CB1 receptors in the body like THC does. This means that high-CBD products won’t have nearly as much of an impact on your tolerance.
Although CBD does not produce the same effects as THC, such as the telltale “high,” it has extensive benefits associated with it, including anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties, which will help temper any withdrawal symptoms. Check with the budtender at your local dispensary to find products with new cannabinoid profiles. If you prefer flower, try one of these CBD-rich strains.
Because this method involves picking a new strain, it’s mainly recommended for consumers who tend to stick with a specific one regularly. There are hundreds of strains of cannabis, and each one offers a slightly different experience due to the unique terpenes and cannabinoids it holds. Strains don’t just apply to flower, either; some edibles and concentrates are strain-specific.
Strains are usually categorized as either sativa, indica, or hybrid at dispensaries, but these categories have lost some importance due to the fact that so many strains have been crossbred at this point. Still, it doesn’t hurt to try switching to indicas if you only consume sativas (or vice versa) to see if doing so makes a difference in your tolerance.
Finally, let’s talk about how you consume your cannabis. Whether you’re eating edibles, dabbing or vaping concentrates, or smoking flower definitely affects how your body is processing the THC. And certain methods, like smoking a bong or using a vape pen, are harder on your tolerance than others.
Choosing a different consumption method will give your body a new kind of exposure to THC, resulting in a better high. This could in turn reduce the amount of product needed to get desired effects. For example, if an individual typically smokes flower, they should try concentrates, edibles, or tinctures.
Most cannabis users can benefit from reduced tolerance at some point or another, and putting energy into this effort always pays off. What effectively lowers tolerance to THC will look different for everyone, so it’s important to find a method that is right for you and your specific circumstances.
If you are a medical cannabis patient, be sure to discuss your concerns about high tolerance with your MMJ doctor so that you can address it in a way that works with your treatment. You can also book a consultation with a cannabis coach to take a personal deep dive into your tolerance and related topics.
Note: The content on this page is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be professional medical advice. Do not attempt to self-diagnose or prescribe treatment based on the information provided. Always consult a physician before making any decision on the treatment of a medical condition.
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