Should I Do a Cannabis Tolerance Cleanse?

How many of your friends and family are planning on doing some kind of cleanse as part of their New Year’s resolution? Or are you the one swearing off alcohol or junk food for the month of January? This time of year, it seems like practically everyone is cutting out something in search of a fresh start. Increasingly, people are also choosing to begin the new year with a marijuana tolerance cleanse.


How Does our Tolerance for Cannabis Increase?

Despite limited data, researchers have concluded a few things about cannabis tolerance. The first is that people build up a tolerance to marijuana pretty rapidly, so you’re more immune to the plant’s effects as consumption goes on.

It’s now known that genetics play an important role on how immune someone is to cannabis and its effects. Studies have also shown that women build up a tolerance to cannabis faster than men.

According to a 2003 study published in the European Journal of Pharmacology, chronic cannabis use results in the desensitization of CB1 receptors. CB1 receptors are part of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and located largely throughout the brain; they’re activated by cannabinoids like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The more desensitized these receptors become, the less sensitive you are to THC and its psychoactive effects.

Benefits of a Cannabis Tolerance Cleanse

While we build up a tolerance to cannabis quickly, we lose that tolerance just as rapidly. Abstaining from cannabis for three to seven days at a time can knock a person’s tolerance level down and help generate more sensitivity in their CB1 receptors. This means a person would feel the psychoactive aspects of cannabis more vividly while consuming a smaller amount of product.

If you’re a daily cannabis user, odds are your tolerance is high, especially if you’re consuming high-quality, high-THC products. Or maybe you’ve noticed it takes a larger dose of cannabis than it used to, to achieve the desired effects. These are two clear signs you might be due for a cannabis tolerance cleanse.

Completing a three- to seven-day marijuana cleanse every three months can bring all sorts of benefits, including:

  • Helping to lower your tolerance level so you can feel all of the effects of cannabis—like pain or anxiety relief—more potently.

  • Saving you money because it will take less cannabis to achieve the effects you’re looking for.

  • Reminding yourself that you’re not physically addicted to cannabis—that you have control over your consumption patterns.

Tips for Successfully Completing a Cannabis Tolerance Cleanse

Luckily, cannabis is not as addictive as its categorization as a Schedule 1 drug might lead you to believe. The withdrawal symptoms associated with cannabis are not nearly as intense as they are with alcohol or hard drugs like heroin, methamphetamines or cocaine. So, a cannabis cleanse may not be as impossible as you imagine.


Tips for Successfully Completing a Marijuana Cleanse

  • Cut consumption down in the days leading up to the cleanse start date. This can help diminish the shock to your system that going cold turkey can sometimes bring.

  • Try to time it so you are out of cannabis product by the time your cleanse starts. Making it more inconvenient to break your commitment can help you succeed.

  • Put away all marijuana accessories somewhere you won’t see them on a regular basis—out of sight, out of mind.

  • Expect some mild side effects at the beginning of your cleanse, like trouble sleeping or loss of appetite.

  • Eat a healthy diet, stay hydrated and exercise. Nourishing your body with wholesome foods and an appropriate amount of water go a long way in making you feel good—plus, exercise is a natural stress reliever. Maintaining healthy habits during your cleanse will help you feel better and more motivated to stay committed to your goals.

  • Substitute your consumption with another activity. This is especially helpful if you take cannabis on a daily regular schedule. During the times you would be most likely to consume, go for a walk, take a shower, enjoy a decaffeinated tea or curl up with a good book.

  • Go slow when your cleanse is over. Remember: your cannabis tolerance goes away as quickly as it comes. For the first few days following your cleanse, consume half of your regular dose or start with a low-THC strain.

If you decide to try a cannabis cleanse in the new year, we’d love to hear about your experience and whether you felt any positive effects from taking a marijuana break.

Photo Credit: Brooke Lark

If you’re new to cannabis and want to learn more, take a look at our Cannabis 101 post. HelloMD can help you get your medical marijuana recommendation; it’s easy, private and 100% online.


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