Can You Build a Tolerance to CBD?

Can you build a tolerance to CBD? That is the question of the day. You’ve probably already built a tolerance for other things that you use frequently, such as caffeine, for example. Maybe you were a tea drinker, then you moved to coffee, then you moved to 2, 3, even 4 cups of coffee a day. Or, if you’re like me, you’ve moved to a giant french press each morning with the addition of sodas and sweet teas throughout the rest of the day. The reason we (myself included) have increased our caffeine drinks is because we’ve lost that initial “buzz” from caffeine. So, in order to feel more energetic, you add more caffeine. This is developing a tolerance. If you can do that with things such as caffeine, why not CBD?

You’ve probably heard of a T-break, but just in case… a T-break is a break you take from THC products. These breaks usually last about 21 days and they are taken to ensure you continue to feel the effects of cannabis, without needing to add on to your dosage. So, why wouldn’t CBD react the same way? In this blog, we will go over what tolerance is, how CBD affects the Endocannabinoid System, and if you can develop a CBD tolerance. 


First off, your Endocannabinoid System helps maintain the healthy functioning of your immune system, brain, nervous system, and more. Your ECS is made up of three parts: endocannabinoids (naturally-occurring neurotransmitters), endocannabinoid receptors, and enzymes. 

Endocannabinoids attach to the endocannabinoid receptors in order to maintain balance for certain responses (i.e. relieving pain, balancing mood, etc.). There are two types of endocannabinoid receptors; CB1 and CB2. Each one has its own unique responsibilities for regulating certain systems of the body. Once the needed response is fulfilled, the enzymes break down the endocannabinoids.

Endocannabinoids, also called endogenous cannabinoids, are naturally occurring throughout your body. Cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, can also react or bind to your endocannabinoid receptors. When your ECS is out of balance you can feel all types of “pain” including actual pain, mood swings, sleep deprivation, and more. Cannabinoids (endocannabinoids, THC, or CBD) help regulate and relieve those pains. This is why when you use CBD products, you can feel “good” effects from them. 


There’s a reason you keep hearing more and more about the powerful benefits of CBD, THC, and more. Though research is severely lacking and the FDA continues to overlook CBD, you can find many testimonials, including some studies, about how beneficial CBD can be. 

While THC is psychoactive, CBD is not. Psychoactive means it has an effect on your brain. This is why you may feel “high” when using THC products. Other than using these products for recreation, or feeling high, people use cannabinoids for a variety of reasons.

The benefits of using THC and CBD can be; 

  • Anxiety relief
  • Pain management
  • Depression relief
  • Sleep aid
  • Appetite management
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Neuroprotective
  • Help lower blood pressure

These are only some benefits of CBD and THC. Benefits and effects can vary from person to person depending on weight, body chemistry, gender, genetics, and more. 


Tolerance is something we associate things like alcohol and cannabis (THC) with. To put simply, when it comes to tolerance, there are 3 different types; cellular, metabolic, and behavioral. Tolerance can also come around as a combination of the 3, depending on how the substance interacts with your body. 

Cellular tolerance means that your cells become less and less responsive to the substance. Metabolic tolerance happens when less of the substance reaches the target area. 

Behavioral tolerances is when we become psychologically attuned to the effects of the substance.


First, THC causes a cellular tolerance. So, the more THC, the less responsive your endocannabinoid receptors are to it. Hence, the t-break. Since THC and CBD are related, it’s easy to assume that you can build a tolerance to CBD. Well, let’s look at how CBD interacts with our Endocannabinoid System. 

While THC works by binding to your receptors, CBD works with your ECS indirectly. This means it doesn’t need to actively bind to your CB1 or CB2 receptors, instead CBD activates the endocannabinoid receptors, prevents endocannabinoids from being broken down, and encourages the production of endocannabinoids. 

In short, you cannot build a tolerance to CBD. Though, research suggests that CBD can potentially create a reverse tolerance.


What in the heck is reverse tolerance? A reverse tolerance means that you may end up taking less CBD over time to feel the same effects. Why? Well, the way CBD interacts with your ECS is very hands-off, right? Okay, well, as you use CBD products, you continue helping your body’s production and use of endocannabinoids without directly affecting the receptors. Since your natural endocannabinoids are getting stronger and able to multiply, then as they are regulating your ECS more and more on their own, the less CBD you’ll need in order to feel a balanced ECS. Now, of course, if you decide to take a break from CBD, your body will slowly go back to the imbalance due to the lack of CBD. Then you’ll see that you need more CBD again.  


Maybe you haven’t noticed any effects of CBD. This can be because of a few things. 

Poor Quality

This is very important, so I’m going to “yell” it at you: BUY FROM A REPUTABLE SOURCE! Buy from a good brand or retailer. Make sure you have the lab results of the product. Make sure it includes quality ingredients. That’s why buying from us at The Green Dragon CBD, you know you’re getting good products. We vet each and every brand and product that ends up on our website or in our stores. 

Reverse Tolerance

We talked about this already. You may be experiencing the need to use less and less CBD over time. Remember, reverse tolerance isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it actually means your CBD is doing what it’s meant to do. Your body is reacting the way it should and you are feeling the effects and benefits of the products. You can take a CBD break, as you would a THC break, so you can continue to actually feel the effects of CBD. 


Your dose may be wrong. Dosing the correct amount of CBD depends on quite a few things such as the product, your body chemistry, your weight, and more. Read our guide on how to dose CBD. It focuses more on CBD oil, but it will generally help you figure out how to dose your specific products.


Is CBD legal?

Yes – under the 2018 Farm Bill, CBD is federally legal.

What is reverse tolerance?

Reverse tolerance is when you need less and less of something over time to feel its effects.

Can you build a tolerance to CBD?

The short answer is no. You can’t build a tolerance to CBD, because CBD does not directly bind to your ECS receptors. But you can potentially build a reverse tolerance to CBD.


Most people can benefit from the powerful effects of CBD (or THC). Though, sometimes we aren’t feeling those benefits. There are ways to measure if our CBD product is actually working for us or if we have built up a reverse tolerance. Read this blog on how to measure the success of your CBD. By measuring the success of your product, you can figure out if you need to change your routine whether it be the product or if you should take a CBD break. Also, if you’re wondering if CBD is addictive or not, read our blog on addiction here.

As always, reach out to us if you have questions, comments, concerns, or consultations for the products we offer. We can’t wait to hear from you and how CBD is affecting your life!


Brie Lowrey, resident Head of Customer Engagement here at The Green Dragon CBD, is a Kansas City Native now residing in St. Louis. She thrives on keeping up with social media trends, staying up-to-date on CBD news, and sending out office-wide dragon jokes. Connect with her on LinkedInInstagram, or read other posts by Brie.

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