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Tolerance and the “herbal holiday” – THC vs CBD

herbal holiday
Written by Dr. Leah Zachar

Are you taking cannabis for pain, specifically THC, and finding that you’re developing a tolerance and needing more every day to achieve the same level of relief?

If this sounds familiar, you might want to consider taking a tolerance break, also known as a t-break or “herbal holiday”, to get back on track. The name is kind of self explanatory, but there are different ways people approach the issue. Some people will use the herb for 6 days out of the week and take a break on the 7th day. Others use it for 4 weeks at a time then take a week long break on the 5th week.

Ultimately, the length and intensity of your herbal holiday should be based on your individual consumption patterns. For regular users, a week long break every month would likely be more effective then quitting for just one day at the end of the week.

Why Would I Develop A Tolerance?

As the saying goes, too much of anything can be a bad thing. THC causes tolerance because it works at the CB1 receptor which is eventually downgraded making a person require more THC to reap the same benefit. These receptors become over-saturated, so to speak, and a tolerance develops. After a certain point, even raising the dose or switching to stronger products won’t work.

There is good news though, and that’s because of how THC tolerance actually works… it’s only temporary. So a short break will clear the THC from your system and completely diminish the tolerance that’s been building up over time. Generally speaking, developing the tolerance takes much longer than reversing it (anecdotal evidence, this hasn’t been scientifically proven yet).

What about CBD?

Due to various mechanisms in the body that regulate tolerance, people who use only CBD extract on a regular basis won’t develop a tolerance like heavy THC users. Although a recent study did indicate a tolerance to CBD distillate in epilepsy patients, that’s entirely related to the disease itself, not the medication. The study also only looked at CBD distillate, not full-spectrum extracts.

It’s important to keep in mind that other CBD extracts DO NOT create a tolerance in the body. Furthermore, CBD distillate is a purified molecule and thus cannot benefit from the other cannabinoids, the many flavonoids, and hundreds of terpernes that work together to create the entourage effect.

Overall, multiple studies have proven that CBD extract has NEVER created any kind of tolerance in the human body. Plus, CBD has more medicinal effects than THC,
especially as an anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, anti-arthritic, and a treatment for osteoporosis and bone repair.

CBD is also effective for treating chronic pain and it’s much safer than using prescription opioids, which are highly addictive and actually lose their effectiveness rather quickly. This leads patients down the dangerous path of needing more and, unlike THC, it’s not so easy to quit once you reach a certain point.

Take Home Point

Take an “herbal holiday” to revive your CB1 receptors to which the THC binds. An herbal holiday will mitigate some of the long-term effects of the THC and will reduce the drug tolerance, thus making it effective once again for you to use medically.


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About the author

Dr. Leah Zachar

Dr. Leah Zachar, M.D. is a physician who worked for nearly thirty years in Internal Medicine.
She currently is a scientific adviser to CBD Testers. Dr. Zachar believes that there is much that medical cannabis, and cannabidiol in particular can offer to traditional medicine.