There comes a time in every cannabis enthusiast’s tenure where the effects just don’t hit the same. Regardless of how much you smoke, you’ll continuously fail at achieving the elevated consciousness that made you fall in love with cannabis.
Most of us solve this phenomenon by taking some time off, otherwise known as a tolerance break or T-break. The phenomenon is expressed perfectly in a quote loosely associated with the great Terrance McKenna, “If you really want to get to know weed, you gotta take 30 days off and then get obliterated.”
But who wants to take a month off? We want an intimate relationship with cannabis every time we smoke!
In this blog post, we’ll delve into the science of cannabis tolerance and t-breaks. In addition, we provide an innovative alternative to going cold turkey using cannabinoids and other natural compounds. After reading, you’ll discover a new way to get your system back to a baseline so you can remain well acquainted with your old friend.
What is Tolerance and How Does it Happen?
Cannabis tolerance is a well-documented phenomenon by the scientific and cannabis community. If you are a veteran smoker, you are well aware that the high you experienced when you first started has come and gone. And if you’ve taken a significant break (2 weeks to a month), you know the effects of marijuana are dramatically more intense when THC is free from your system.
As you smoke more, your body goes through various chemical and psychological changes, altering the experience. Luckily, there is substantial research on cannabis tolerance. If we understand why our bodies become adapted to the psychoactive effects of THC, we can take measures to avoid these changes without taking a T-break.
Four significant factors cause your cannabis tolerance to increase:
- Receptor downregulation;
- Enzyme induction;
- Neuroadaptive changes;
- Psychological tolerance.
We cover each below to give you insights into exactly what’s going on when the weed isn’t hitting like it used to.
The most significant reason why THC becomes less potent the more you smoke is decreased receptor availability at CB1 (the receptor in your Endocannabinoid System (ECS) that releases the chemicals that get you high). THC is an agonist of (ie stimulates) CB1 but becomes less effective as use increases.
Neuropharmacology researchers from Connecticut mapped CB1 downregulation. They used a human brain scanner called the High-Resolution Research Tomograph (HRRT) to measure CB1 availability in cannabis “dependent” and “healthy” controls. The less indulgent subjects recorded 15% more CB1 availability than their counterparts. But when our fellow cannabis-dependent patients took just two days off, there was significantly more CB1 availability measured. After 28 days, there wasn’t any distinction between the two groups.
If you are familiar with the ECS, you already know that metabolic enzymes break down cannabis compounds like THC. Enzymes like cytochrome P450 metabolize cannabinoids, clearing THC from the bloodstream.
When you consume cannabis regularly, your bod kicks enzyme production up to maintain the (unfortunate) increase in demand for cannabinoid metabolization. The result is your brain goes into automated metabolic high blower mode to help you handle being flooded with blissful cannabis chemicals.
Long-term cannabis use alters our brains beyond CB1 downregulation and enzyme production. These changes affect the sensitivity of neurotransmitter systems and receptors, limiting the effects. Parts of the brain responsible for producing dopamine, GABA, serotonin, and adenosine are modified in various ways, changing the cannabis experience.
Regular cannabis use also changes how we perceive the effects and how we function after getting high. If you smoke a blunt every morning, your body has a psychological reaction as well as a physiological one. You naturally become more perceptive to the effects and develop the ability to function on a higher level when under the influence of THC.
While this aspect of cannabis tolerance is less understood and observed scientifically, researchers refer to non-physiological changes as drug conditioning.
These four factors contribute to tolerance by working uniquely for each cannabis enthusiast. While everyone experiences cannabis differently, it’s clear that getting back to a baseline as much as possible is crucial for the most enjoyable cannabis experience possible.
What are T-Breaks?
As the researchers in Connecticut found in their study, cannabis users reach peak CB1 availability after about 30 days off the weed. The industry term for this is a T-break.
While you may never achieve that first-time high because you already know what to expect, T-breaks are highly useful and practical. Breaking the routine of sending a wave of cannabis compounds throughout the brain not only improves your high but also makes not being high more enjoyable. When we are constantly experiencing a rollercoaster of pleasure molecules, it dulls out those natural dopamine bumps we get from things like exercise or hugging a loved one.
The Argument for and Against T-Breaks
As cannabis users, we need to get back or close to baseline as much as possible to experience the effects of cannabis at its maximum potential. If the goal is “getting to know weed” or ourselves through cannabis, smoking 30% gas all day every day isn’t going to get us there.
However, you may not be willing to take a whole month off. In the case of medical patients, this isn’t even on the table.
If only there were a way to get the benefits of a T-break while still enjoying the holistic experience of cannabis…
CBG’s Role in Cannabis Tolerance
CBG (cannabigerol) also effect CB1. While the interaction with the receptors isn’t the same as for THC, THC and CBG work in harmony. According to a meta-analysis published by researchers from the University of Messina in Italy, “CBG is considered a partial agonist at the CB1 receptor (R) and CB2R, as well as a regulator of endocannabinoid signaling.”
Because THC and CBG have similar relationships with endocannabinoid receptors, the effects are complementary. The result is the opposite of how THC and CBD work together. CBD is a negative allosteric modulator or antagonist at CB1, meaning the compound blocks access to the receptor, reducing THC’s effectiveness. As a result, using CBD with THC reduces the high, which is just another unenjoyable way of taking a break.
Using CBG, in unison with THC, helps us get back to baseline while still experiencing the psychoactive properties of cannabis. Furthermore, CBG allows us to consume less THC but still get receptor stimulation. The systems in our brains that are affected by THC, especially CB1, get to take a break from the usual flow of pleasure molecules that results in building tolerance.
Avoid T-Breaks with Bud Love
Rather than going completely sober for weeks, you can slow the progression of cannabis tolerance by changing your physiological and psychological routine. Thanks to Bud Love’s innovative blend of CBG, marshmallow leaf, and cannabis terpenes, you can cleanse your ECS and reset tolerance while still enjoying the effects of cannabis. Happy Mixing!
––This article comes to you from the Bud Love team.