Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the active compound found in hemp-derived CBD oil. Does regular CBD oil use cause a CBD tolerance buildup? Building up a tolerance means that over time, with regular use, you require more and more of something to get the same effect. There is also something called reverse tolerance in which lower doses are required over time to produce the same effects.
A good example of tolerance buildup would be alcohol. The first time someone drinks alcohol, just a little might intoxicate them. But if they drink alcohol on a regular basis, it takes more of it to cause the same effect.
Does this happen with CBD? Will someone who takes CBD oil to help them sleep or reduce anxiety need more CBD oil to get the same effect as time goes on? In order to answer this question, let’s take a look at how CBD works and its most common effects.
How Does CBD Work?
CBD has a wide range of effects, which we will go over in a moment. Let’s start with how CBD works to produce these effects.
CBD is short for cannabidiol. Cannabidiol is just one of a group of naturally-occurring chemicals found in hemp which are known as cannabinoids. Full spectrum CBD oil contains not only CBD, but also trace amounts of other beneficial cannabinoids such as cannabigerol (CBG), cannabinol (CBN) and cannabichromene (CBC). These cannabinoid compounds produced naturally in hemp are collectively known as phytocannabinoids. That just means they were made in plants.
The human body also naturally produces a variety of cannabinoids. These cannabinoids produced by the human body are called endocannabinoids. Cannabinoids are considered signaling molecules. This means that they relay signals from the brain to individual cells. They are part of a larger system known as the endocannabinoid system. This system includes not only the cannabinoid chemicals but also cannabinoid receptors, or microscopic pockets on the surface of cells throughout your body with which cannabinoids interact.
The purpose of the endocannabinoid system (ECS for short) is to regulate bodily functions on a cellular level. Just like traffic signals tell individual drivers how to behave on the road, these cannabinoid signaling molecules tell cells how to behave.
Cannabinoids also produce medicinal effects which do not involve cannabinoid receptors such as reducing inflammation. Inflammation is what causes the swelling, redness, heat and pain resulting from an injury or infection.
What Are CBD’s Effects?
The ECS is responsible for regulating a very wide variety of bodily functions. Its job is to keep health in balance. When the brain detects that something has gone out of balance, it produces endocannabinoids to signal cells to change their behavior in such a way as to bring balance back to the system.
For example, it’s the endocannabinoid system that regulates appetite, sleep, mood and much more. When you need rest, the endocannabinoid system makes you sleepy, and when you’ve had enough rest, it wakes you up. When you are low on nutrients and energy it’s the endocannabinoid system that makes you feel hungry, and when you’ve eaten enough, it makes you feel full and dampens your appetite. And when you are in danger, it’s this system that puts you on edge, and when the danger passes, it makes you feel relaxed again. There are other systems in your body have a role in maintaining health, but cannabinoids play a very important role.
As it turns out, CBD and other phytocannabinoids produced in hemp have very similar effects on the human ECS as our own naturally-produced endocannabinoids. Cannabinoids also provide powerful inflammation-reducing effects. Reductions in inflammation are often associated with reductions in pain.
Here is a short list of just a few of the most commonly reported effects of CBD which have also been the subject of scientific studies:
- Pain reduction
- Sleep aid
- Anxiety relief
- Digestive aid
- Nausea reduction
- Improved brain function
This is just a short list. The actual list of benefits is much longer but these are the most common. Symptoms such as pain, sleep problems, anxiety, depression and nausea are involved in numerous medical conditions and are also common side effects of prescription medications.
So let’s answer the question of whether or not it takes more CBD to produce these effects as time goes on with regular use of CBD oil.
Research on CBD Tolerance Buildup
In a report on a clinical study of CBDs effects on stroke patients written back in 2010, researchers claimed that the anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and neuroprotective effects of CBD made it a good candidate as a treatment for a variety of serious health concerns. But, most importantly for this discussion, they found that patients given CBD oil did not build up a tolerance to the CBD compound. Another study done in 2012 reached the same conclusions.
Then in 2017, researchers looked at all the available CBD research to date in order to determine the safety and side effects of CBD oil. Their report claimed that not one of the studies they looked at reported a tolerance buildup to CBD.
It is possible that in addition to CBD not causing a tolerance buildup in most users, it may actually result in reverse tolerance. What this means is that, over time, a lower dosage of CBD might be required to produce the same effects.
To summarize, the scientific evidence shows that the regular use of CBD does not produce a tolerance buildup. Furthermore, regular use of CBD might actually result in a reverse tolerance in some patients resulting in the same effects at lower doses.
For this reason, it’s important to maintain a particular daily dose of CBD and pay close attention to the effects so that you can notice whether or not the effects diminish or increase over time, or remain consistent.
If the effects diminish — which is uncommon with CBD — then a tolerance break of a few days to a week might bring the required dosage back down. And if the beneficial effects seem to increase over time, which is much more likely, you might be able to use less.