Like with other medications, taking too much cannabis over a course of time can cause you to build up a tolerance to it. Increased tolerance to cannabis can make it more difficult for you to achieve the same pain-relieving effects that you normally get from your standard doses. For medical cannabis patients to reset their tolerance to its previous level, doctors recommend a tolerance break, or a “T-Break.”
Here are some questions to help you decide if a “T-Break” is right for you:
What is a tolerance break?
A “T-Break” is a period of abstaining from using THC based medications, typically at least 48 hours. The longer the time you’ve used higher doses, the longer the break you may need to get back to optimal function, especially if using it for a chronic disease.
Should I talk to my doctor about it?
Yes! Give your MMJ doc a call to discuss your situation. You will get advice based on your patient history and her years of clinical experience treating others with similar conditions. If your doctor suggests a T-Break instead of switching strains, here’s what you might expect.
Do I need to take a T-Break from CBD or just THC?
CBD and THC, cannabinoids found naturally in cannabis, affect our endocannabinoid system (ECS). Our ECS regulates at least 15 major bodily functions. In fact, we now know that our ECS is so critical to our bodily functions that Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CED) has arisen as a potential new diagnoses, theorizing that many chronic illnesses are actually ECS imbalances.
CBD up-regulates the ECS, but does not directly stimulate our ECS receptors. THC does directly stimulate our ECS receptors and thus affects the bodily functions regulated by the ECS more directly. A direct example of this is that THC makes you feel “high” or “stoned” while CBD does not give you these psychoactive effects.
Because CBD does not directly stimulate our ECS, we do not need CBD breaks because we do not experience a CBD tolerance.
THC and Tolerance Breaks
THC is different; too much can cause overwhelm to our ECS and we can experience diminishing returns on our cannabis use.
Long time users of increasingly higher THC levels need a longer T-Break to get back to optimal dosage. Daily users can start by taking just one day off per week from using THC for a quick refresh of the ECS. It can take up to a month of abstaining from THC to return to regular ECS function.
Varying your strains and forms of administration of your cannabis consumption can help mitigate tolerance development, as one can become tolerant even to a particular cannabis strain or THC delivery method.
It is important to continue using CBD and other methods of up-regulating the ECS (yoga, diet, sleep, etc) during tolerance breaks. Restart THC medications after a tolerance break at a rate of about 50 percent of the dose that was effective before the break.
When returning to your higher dose: Start low, go slow, and be mindful of the results. Tolerance breaks can have the benefits to patients of obtaining symptom relief without unwanted side effects or auxiliary challenges, such as increased medication costs.