Tolerance breaks are all the rage. In a cannabis 3.0 world, the tolerance break is a common technique that is widely respected as a way to access the benefits of cannabis without letting the habit become excessive or out of control. The common belief among cannabis wellness seekers is that taking a break from cannabis is smart because it can “reset” cannabinoid receptors and reduce tolerance.
This post explores the possibility that though they are on the right track, advocates of temporary abstinence from cannabis consumption fail to understand the reach of the plant’s medicinal properties.
Cannabis Practitioners: Tolerance Breaks Deny Your Body The Wellness It Needs
Thai traditional medicine practitioners & many Western medical cannabis providers agree: “Cold turkey” approaches to THC tolerance issues are impractical and even dangerous for patients who rely on THC for medical reasons such as seizure control or cancer pain management. Instead, say these experts, develop a more balanced approach that involves incorporating a full spectrum of cannabinoids, including CBD, CBG, CBGa, and CBC, into one’s regimen.
Is The Source of Tolerance Breaks Intolerance For Cannabis Use?
At his blog, The Researcher OG, Mike Robinson appeals to personal experience and other patients he works with to call out the prejudices behind the idea of tolerance breaks:
There are way too many of us that simply can’t stop THC use and the science behind the dreaded “Tolerance Break” is simply not there. It’s what I call junk for a very good reason – it’s based on what happens to ‘Cannabis Addicts’ and that term is a government created and used by researchers paid by them to give input that none of us ever pay attention to.
A Thai traditional medicine practitioner I spoke with said:
Tolerance breaks are not the best way to cope with an excess of THC in your bloodstream. We should examine the fact that we deny ourselves food and drinks that we know are not good for us. Why would cannabis be included with foods that are bad for us? It’s medicine, not sugar. It’s not alcohol. Cannabis has no business in the category of things we ingest even though we know they are not good for our health. This is the result of Western propaganda.
Thai traditional medicine corroborates Mike Robinson’s assertion that incorporating a full spectrum of cannabinoids, including CBD, CBG, CBGa, and CBC, can lead to a reduction in THC tolerance and an increase in efficacy without having to quit THC entirely.
The Science Against Tolerance Breaks
While the article lacks scientific references to support its claims, there is scientific evidence to suggest that cannabinoids interact with each other in complex ways, and that taking a break from THC may not be necessary to reduce tolerance.
For example, a 2015 study found that CBD can modulate the effects of THC and reduce its psychoactivity, which may help to lower tolerance over time (1). Another study from 2019 suggested that CBG may have neuroprotective effects and enhance the analgesic effects of THC, again suggesting that a full spectrum of cannabinoids may be beneficial (2).
Research has shown that THC can have different effects on the body depending on its concentration and the way it is consumed. For example, a 2019 study found that low doses of THC can enhance attention and cognitive performance, while high doses can impair these functions (3). This suggests that a balanced approach to THC use, rather than simply quitting it altogether, may be more effective in achieving the desired therapeutic outcomes.
In addition to the wisdom of Thai traditional medicine and the practical experience of everyday cannabis wellness experts, there is also scientific evidence to suggest that incorporating a full spectrum of cannabinoids, rather than simply quitting THC, may be a more effective way to reduce tolerance and increase efficacy.
- Morgan, C. J., et al. “Cannabidiol attenuates the appetitive effects of Delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol in humans smoking their chosen cannabis.” Neuropsychopharmacology 40.10 (2015): 2288-2298.
- Cassano, T., et al. “Cannabigerol analogues enhance activity of cannabidiol against Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol-induced neurotoxicity.” Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research 4.1 (2019): 12-23.
- D’Souza, D. Cyril, et al. “The dose effects of short-term dronabinol (oral THC) maintenance in daily cannabis users.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence 196 (2019): 146-156.