A guide to tolerance breaks


A Guide to Cannabis Tolerance Breaks

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The most important factor when it comes to having a successful experience with cannabis is using the correct dose. While the common concept is that if a certain dose is not working as well as it used to, you should take more, but this is not always the case. For some people, an increased dosage is the opposite of what they actually need because their tolerance to cannabis is too high. Increasing the dose could diminish the therapeutic results you are looking for while increasing the amount spent on cannabis products. Taking a tolerance break from cannabis and changing how much you use after the break can increase your benefits and lower the amount of cannabis you require by 60 percent or more. 

Signs you need a THC tolerance break

What is a tolerance break from cannabis?

A tolerance break is simply a brief period of time (Dr. Sulak  recommends 48 hours) when you avoid exposing your system to cannabinoids. You can think of it as a 2-day fast that allows your body’s sensitivity to cannabis to reset. With heavy or ongoing cannabis use, your body can develop tolerance to cannabinoids such as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) or CBD (cannabidiol). As tolerance to cannabis builds, you will need higher and higher doses to see the same effects as you did when you first started using cannabis therapeutically. In many cases, no amount of increasing the dose will recover all the benefits experienced when first starting cannabis. The goal of a tolerance break is to resensitize your system, making it more sensitive to cannabis so that it will be more effective at lower dosages when reintroduced into your therapeutic regimen.

What are the signs of building tolerance to THC?

If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, then you are building tolerance to cannabis:

  • Do you require more cannabis per use to get the same effects?
  • Do you need to use cannabis more frequently throughout the day?
  • Do you notice that the effects lessen or do not last as long?
  • Are the effects from cannabis reduced compared to when you started using it?
  • Are you using more cannabis and spending more money per month than you used to?

How often should you take a tolerance break?

Dr. Sulak recommends that most of his patients take a 2-day tolerance break once or twice annually, even if they’re not sure they’ve developed tolerance, as a useful exercise that can help inform them just how much cannabis is helping and if they have built tolerance and to it. Rather than use a set tolerance break timeline, it’s better to pay attention to what you experience when using cannabis. You need to take a tolerance break if:

  • The effects of cannabis at what you assumed to be your optimal dose are diminishing
  • You seem to require a bigger and bigger dosage to achieve the same level of relief
  • You feel you have to spend more and more on cannabis to feel well from month to month
  • The duration of therapeutic relief is shorter compared to what it used to be

How long of a tolerance break from cannabis do you need?

For most people, a two or three-day tolerance break length is usually enough, but this can vary depending on the individual. At Healer, we recommend starting with a 48-hour tolerance break that involves using things like voluntary exercise, endocannabinoid-enhancing foods, and breathing exercises to enhance the tone of your endocannabinoid system and prevent any withdrawal symptoms.

Dr. Sulak’s recommendation for 48 hours of abstinence, which he learned from interviewing hundreds of patients who had successfully used tolerance breaks, was confirmed by an imaging study that showed cannabis-dependent men had 15% lower CB1 receptor availability in the brain compared to healthy controls. After just 2 days of abstinence, the cannabis-dependent subjects had no difference in CB1 availability compared to healthy controls. Interestingly, the CB1 availability increased only slightly between day 2 and day 28 of abstinence. The intensity of withdrawal symptoms was strongest in the subjects with the lowest levels of CB1 availability in the brain, suggesting that avoiding and reversing cannabis tolerance is not only important for maximizing therapeutic effects,  but also for preventing dependence and withdrawal.  

How to Take a Tolerance Break from Cannabis

Our Sensitization Protocol offers a detailed explanation of how to take a tolerance break, but the basics are simple:

  1. Set a time and date when you will intentionally start your 48-hour cannabis fast and four days of intentional reintroduction of cannabis designed to help you find an optimal dose that will avoid tolerance-building in the future.
  2. Use our 6-Day Cannabis Sensitization Protocol for guidance and support, and use our worksheets to document how your cannabis use changes throughout the protocol.
  3. Take note of your fast start date and time and end date and time in a weed tolerance break chart.
  4. Once the break starts, don’t use cannabis at all.
  5. Use physical exercise and other simple methods demonstrated by Dr. Sulak’s videos to encourage endocannabinoid production and sensitivity.
  6. Reintroduce cannabis after 48 hours, but do so slowly and with only the dose that produces a minimal effect 3 times per day for the first 3 days. This will make your system more sensitive to lower amounts and is a critical step that most tolerance-break regimens omit.
  7. On the fourth day after your fast, you may increase your dosage to achieve equal or greater effects from cannabis compared to your experience prior to the fast.

Healer's 6-Day Sensitization Protocol

FAQs About Taking a Weed Tolerance Break

Will CBD ruin my tolerance break?

If you are trying to overcome tolerance to THC, you may use CBD during the fasting period. Full-spectrum CBD products contain less than 0.3% THC, which will not affect your cannabis fast as long as your total dose of THC is less than 1-2 mg per dose up to three times daily.

Will a 2 day tolerance break do anything?

Yes, a 2-day tolerance break is effective for most people. However, you are free to take a longer break if you think you may need a bit longer, or simply to challenge yourself. Add another day if you reintroduce cannabis after your break and don’t notice a difference. For example, if you tried a 2-day fast with no improvement, try a 3 day tolerance break next time.

Why should I take a tolerance break?

If your tolerance is too high, cannabis may not be as effective as it should be for the ailments you are trying to address. In fact, higher dosages may even make some ailments worse and increase the likelihood of negative side effects. Further, achieving a lower tolerance can mean as much as 50 to 60 percent cost savings on cannabis and cannabis products.

Ready to increase your sensitivity to cannabis?

Having a high tolerance for cannabis means you are not getting the most for the money you spend on cannabis products. Plus, a high tolerance impedes your therapeutic relationship with cannabis and may prevent you from experiencing the maximum positive effects.

If you suspect your tolerance is too high, we offer free dosage programs to help. Explore Healer’s Sensitization Protocol to begin your journey to better experiences using less cannabis.

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