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What are Cannabis Tolerance Breaks? Should You Consider One?

    • The endocannabinoid system can get overwhelmed if you use THC every day, causing it to lose its effectiveness.

 

    • Taking breaks can reset your tolerance level, increase the effectiveness of the cannabis product you’re taking, and even save you a little money.

 


Medical marijuana provides relief for patients from all walks of life. Whether you’re dealing with chronic pain, anxiety, traumatic stress disorders, or other life-interrupting conditions, cannabis may hold the key to a new healing path.

If you want to start using cannabis products, you should also be aware of tolerance breaks. Often referred to as “T-breaks,” these are periods of time when you intentionally avoid THC products. If you do a T-break right, you can reap notable benefits.

But how do you take a T-break properly? And what are the actual benefits associated with them? In this article, we’ll dissect the science of the endocannabinoid system, what T-breaks are, and how they can help you get the most out of your cannabis experience.

The Science Behind Cannabinoid Receptors

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a crucial and often misunderstood part of the body’s natural chemical balance. It was discovered in the 1990s during research into THC, one of the main compounds present in many varieties of the marijuana plant.

The ECS plays an important role in supporting your body’s health, and preliminary studies show that it may affect:

  • Mood stability and regulation
  • Sleep quality
  • Appetite
  • Memory.

Endocannabinoid receptors exist throughout the body, and the body also produces two endocannabinoids of its own: anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG).

Endocannabinoids (cannabinoids produced inside the body) and cannabinoids (which are sourced outside the body) both interact with the ECS by attaching to endocannabinoid receptors. The type of cannabinoid and the location of the receptor both impact the resulting effect, but a common and popular example includes the reduction of pain and inflammation.

The ECS works in tandem with many other systems in the body, such as:

  • The immune system
  • The cardiovascular system
  • The digestive system
  • Skeletal and muscular systems
  • Liver and reproductive organs
  • The central and peripheral nervous systems

Because of this wide reach, current data suggests that the ECS primarily supports homeostasis—or balance—within the body.

THC and CBD

Marijuana is made up of hundreds of cannabinoids, but two—tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD)—are the most well-known.

THC is the cannabinoid that makes you feel “high.” It binds to the cannabinoid receptors to produce an intoxicating effect (in high enough concentrations). It can reduce pain, stimulate appetite, and boost creativity, among other results—these vary widely on an individual basis.

CBD, on the other hand, doesn’t have the same cerebral “high” effects, but it can still provide a variety of advantages (some similar to THC), including:

  • Improved sleep hygiene
  • Mood support
  • Relief from chronic pain and muscle soreness

Who Does Marijuana Benefit?

Medical marijuana is a versatile tool that can benefit people living with a variety of conditions—both mental and physical.

You may find some relief through the use of cannabis if you experience:

  • Chronic nerve pain
  • Musculoskeletal pain
  • Trouble with mobility and motor skills
  • Difficulties with speech
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other trauma disorders
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Appetite challenges
  • Sleep disruption

If you think medical marijuana may serve your needs, then it might be time to take the next step.

How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card

The first step on your cannabis journey is learning how to get a medical marijuana card. This process may seem daunting, but that’s where TeleLeaf comes in.

Patients commend our easy process; it’s one less stressor to worry about on your journey to improved health and quality of life. We’ll connect you with an experienced medical marijuana doctor who can make sure marijuana is the right choice for you. Then, together, you’ll create a game plan so you know what to expect out of your treatment.

Once you’re on this new path, consider planning for T-breaks.

Why Taking Breaks Helps

By taking a temporary pause from medical weed (or significantly decreasing your dose for a set time), you can help your body reacclimate to a lower volume of THC or CBD. This is the entire purpose of a T-break: decreasing your tolerance to marijuana.

Most of what we currently know about tolerance breaks focuses on how readily cannabinoid receptors process marijuana. Basically, the longer you use marijuana, the higher your tolerance to cannabinoids becomes—and the more of your chosen cannabinoids (THC, CBD, or both) you’ll need to feel its effects.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing:

  • The cerebral effects of THC can fade as your body becomes more accustomed to processing cannabis.
  • Increasing your dose can increase the positive effects of your chosen product.

You might be wondering: will increased intake increase your likelihood of cannabis overdose? It’s extremely unlikely. While it’s possible to experience short-term, negative effects of overconsumption of marijuana (often called “greening out”), it’s impossible to take a dose of THC or CBD high enough to permanently harm your body.

So, if not to prevent overconsumption, why do some patients take T-breaks?

  • To save money – Medical cannabis isn’t free. To keep costs down, some patients may try to keep their doses low—T-breaks can help with this.
  • To keep their dosing simple and consistent – Once patients notice that their usual dose isn’t doing the trick, they may choose to cut back in order to keep their consumption as consistent as possible (rather than gradually increasing their dose as needed). This approach can take some of the guesswork out of treatment.

When Should You Take a Break?

Generally speaking, there’s no one-size-fits-all guide to when you should take a T-break. Some experts suggest a break every few weeks, while others say every few months. Some even suggest just one break a year.

The best thing to do? Listen to your body to decide if it’s time to take a T-break. You can start by asking yourself these questions:

  1. Does your usual dose seem to have less of an effect lately?
  2. Do you seem to be spending more money on marijuana?
  3. Have the effects you experience changed for the worse?

If you answer “yes,” it might be time to tap out for a bit.

How to Take a Tolerance Break Effectively

You won’t get the benefits of a tolerance break if you don’t do it right, but what’s the “right” way to do it?

If you use marijuana every day, consider starting with a T-break of about one week. Sometime around the 5-7 day mark, reassess with some self-inventory questions:

  • How is my body feeling overall?
  • What are my symptoms like?
  • How has my behavior changed?

If it’s simply too difficult to manage a longer T-break, return to your regularly scheduled programming (or increase your dose if needed).

There are a few ways to take a T-break:

  • Wean off – Slowly decrease your dose of marijuana each day until you reach a very low dose (or don’t consume at all).
  • Decrease your dose all at once – If you opt to continue using some marijuana products during your break, you can decrease your dose without a wean-off period.
  • Cold turkey – You can, of course, stop using cannabis completely whenever you’d like. Unlike many pharmaceuticals, there’s no risk of “quitting cold turkey” without a wean-off period.

If there’s no risk associated with the cold turkey approach, why might you choose to wean off slowly or simply decrease your dose? The answer has everything to do with symptom management. Without your usual dose, you might have more intense symptoms than you do while you’re using cannabis. If your symptoms are severe, you may need a more gradual, personalized approach to a T-break.

Our advice? Talk through your T-break plan with your medical cannabis doctor. These healthcare professionals can help you assess whether or not you need a break and help you create a customized plan for managing one.

What to Do After Your Break

Once you’ve had your tolerance break, what’s next? You can begin taking your products again, but keep these tips in mind:

  • Start slow—if you quit cold turkey, consider restarting at your original starter dose.
  • Raise your dose very slowly until you reach an effective level.
  • Don’t try new products while you’re re-introducing your old ones.

This is a relatively quick process since you can increase your dosage by increments of your choice until you reach your ideal level.

If you find that you aren’t getting the same benefits even after a T-break, it’s possible that you’ve gained a tolerance to the strain you’re using. You may want to discuss switching to a different product with your cannabis provider.

Start Your Medical Marijuana Journey on the Right Foot with TeleLeaf

Now that you know more about the endocannabinoid system and how it works, you can go into your own cannabis experience, understanding the why and how behind medical marijuana.

You can also get the most out of your products through the mindful incorporation of T-breaks, a crucial component of maintaining your ideal tolerance level and retaining balance in your ECS.

If you’re ready to pursue your medical card qualification, reach out to us. At TeleLeaf, we understand the unique joy of finding a new tool to help in a long health journey, and we’re here to stand by your side as you carve out a healing path completely tailored to your needs. Make your first appointment with us now.


Sources:

Healthline. A Simple Guide to the Endocannabinoid System.
https://www.healthline.com/health/endocannabinoid-system

WeedMaps. What is a cannabis tolerance break and when is it useful?
https://weedmaps.com/learn/cannabis-and-your-body/what-is-a-tolerance-break

The Independent. Here’s How Much Marijuana It Would Take to Kill You.
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/how-much-marijuana-take-to-kill-you-fatal-weed-a8043856.html

Happy Valley. Why a weed “tolerance break” pays off in the long run.
https://www.happyvalley.org/resources/weed-tolerance-break/

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