Skip to main content
Does CBD Cause a Tolerance Buildup?

Does CBD Cause a Tolerance Buildup?

It’s fairly common knowledge that regular use of THC, the chemical in marijuana which causes intoxication, results in a buildup of tolerance to its effects. In other words, the longer you use THC, the more you need to get the same effects. Does THC-free CBD oil from hemp cause this same effect? According to scientific research, not only does regular use of CBD oil not produce a tolerance buildup, it may result in what is known as reverse tolerance in which less of the compound is needed to produce the same effect.

That being said, some CBD users do claim to experience a tolerance buildup with ongoing use of CBD for pain reduction, anxiety reduction, and as a sleep aid. Some also claim that a “tolerance break” results in a return to the efficacy of the original dosage. It’s evident that the effects of CBD oil can differ from person to person.

Does CBD Cause A Tolerance Buildup?
Regular CBD use may result in reverse tolerance.

Research On Tolerance Buildup With CBD

Researchers have theorized that a buildup of tolerance to THC might be the result of the cannabinoid receptors in the brain to which THC binds. Research on lab animals has shown that regular use of THC correlates to a measurable reduction of CB1 receptors. In 2012, a group of researchers reached the same conclusions and also showed that a 4-week break in THC use resulted in an increase in the expression of CB1 receptors, suggesting that it might be possible to reverse a tolerance buildup to THC is reversible simply by taking a break from its use.

However, regular CBD use may result in reverse tolerance. Because CBD does not work by actually binding to cannabinoid receptors as THC does, the effects of CBD may not be subject to a buildup of tolerance. CBD affects the behavior of cannabinoid receptors by interacting with them in other ways.

Back in 2010, in a report titled, “Therapeutic Potential of Non-Psychotropic Cannabidiol in Ischemic Stroke,” researchers wrote, “In the past five years, an increasing number of publications have focused on the discovery of the anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and neuroprotective effects of CBD. In particular, CBD exerts positive pharmacological effects in ischemic stroke and other chronic diseases, including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. The cerebroprotective action of CBD is CB1 receptor-independent, long-lasting, and has potent antioxidant activity.” The went on to conclude, “Importantly, CBD use does not lead to tolerance.“

Another finding which the researchers reported was that different areas of the brain became tolerant to THC at different rates. Furthermore, although the pain-relieving effects diminished over time, other effects such as reductions in anxiety levels did not suggest that not all of THC’s effects are subject to tolerance buildup.

As recently as 2017, a research review was published under the title, “An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies.” In this study, researchers gathered all available clinical data on CBD’s effects, efficacy, and safety. In addition to showing that CBD was safe and effective, none of the studies mentioned that any subjects reported a buildup of tolerance to CBD.

CBD Tolerance
There is evidence that CBD does not produce a tolerance buildup.

CBD Use May Result In Reverse Tolerance

There is, in fact, evidence that not only does CBD not produce a tolerance buildup, but it may also actually result in reverse tolerance for certain effects. As far back as 1981, a study on the efficacy of cannabinoids in reducing seizures in animals showed that while the subjects developed a tolerance to THC in all cases, those who received CBD showed signs of reverse tolerance. Many parents of children with epilepsy also commonly report that CBD use results in reverse tolerance.

These studies show the importance of maintaining a particular dosage of CBD and paying close attention to its effects on your body. It’s best to start with low doses and work your way up. At some point, you may realize that the effects are increasing without the dosage increasing, in which case you can cut back.

Keep in mind that being a natural substance with a complex makeup of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other active compounds, CBD oil will have different effects on each individual. So, again, it’s up to you to pay close attention to how it affects your body and adjust your dosage accordingly.