Remember back in the day when you first smoked weed or started using medical cannabis? When one or too hits off of that joint would give you a long lasting and powerful relief? This is exactly what one of my patients recently asked me at a follow up appointment.
Mrs. Smith, a 53 y/o Female who was dealing with severe and chronic joint pain associated to Rheumatoid Arthritis. Had tried a number of pharmaceutical medications including Immune modulators and opioids with little relief. Had never used Cannabis in the past, not even in college and was hesitant about it. After getting her card she started using vaporized cannabis oil and she remembers that only one hit would give her the relief she was looking for and seem to last her 3-4 hours. As time went by, she noticed that she had to used to 2-3 and ever 4 hits to get the same relief she got before with only 1 hit. Mrs. Smith went to her local dispensary and the Budtender suggested she tried a cannabis oil concentrate which she did and seemed to work better for a while but then again it’s power seem to fade away over time. Mrs. smith even tried smoking flower out of a pipe and again after a few weeks she found herself using more and more flower to get the same effects.
I immediately suspected that Mrs. Smith had developed tolerance to her medicine, a problem most medical Cannabis patients go through. Tolerance can develop fairly quickly, someone who medicates 3-4 times a day will develop some type of tolerance after a week or so when using more than the optimal dose. The good news is that the tolerance is fairly quick and easy reversible. Just after a few days your cannabinoid receptors start working better and after a few weeks are completely back to normal.
Why do we develop tolerance to Cannabis?
When patients use Cannabis products, THC activates CB1 receptors in the brain and this abnormal increase in activity gives patients the so called high. Once THC is gone, this activity returns to normal. If THC is used repeatedly, several times per day over several days to weeks, without letting the brain return to normal activity the brain with adapt to minimize the increase in CB1 receptor activity. To do so, CB1 receptors are reduced in number by a process called internalization and their effects are weakened by a process called desensitization. When this happens, patients need to consume more THC to achieve the same relief they did before with less. This is called Tolerance and can lead to more money being spent.
In a recent study scientist found that regular daily Cannabis users had up to 20% less CB1 receptors than the participants from the control group who did not use Cannabis. What was surprising in this study is that no matter how much cannabis they consumed, after just a two-day tolerance break, test subjects started growing their CB1 receptors back.
There are a few things that you can do to avoid developing tolerance to cannabis!
✅ Remember that it’s associated usually with heavy daily users so the most important step is finding your optimal dose and stick with it.
✅ Tolerance has a stronger associated with patients that medicated multiple times during the day as compared to those who use high dose less times.
✅ The trick is to use the smallest amounts of cannabis needed to achieve the desired effects. This approach is called micro-dosing and is particularly useful for medical users who need to stay medicated throughout the day.
✅ Avoid using concentrates, they will only saturate your receptors faster and lead to tolerance sooner. The answer is not more THC or a more concentrated form of TCH, you might just need to add more CBD to your regimen instead.
✅ Try using longer acting routes. While the inhalation route is great for quick relief, patients find themselves medicating more often when compared to the oral route like tinctures and capsules which in turn leads to tolerance quicker.
✅ Avoid waking and baking. If the moment you wake up, you stimulate your CB1 receptors with THC, by the end of the day this receptors will be saturated already and you will not have the same effect that you had early in the morning.
If you already developed tolerance to your medicine and find yourself using more and more medicine and spending more and more money, it might be time for you to take a tolerance break. For actual Medical Cannabis patients this might not be something easy, these patients are plagued with 24/7 debilitating pain, traumatic thoughts and symptoms that most people could not tolerate and Cannabis has been the only thing to give the relief but trust me, once you finish this 6 day protocol developed by the world renowned Dr. Dustin Sulak, you will be able to find your optimal dose, increase the benefits of cannabis by lowering your tolerance and increasing your sensitivity to cannabis.
“Using the correct dose is the single most important factor in having a successful and therapeutic relationship with cannabis” Says Dr. Sulak
6-Day Cannabis Sensitization protocol
Patients typically see the following results after completing the 6-day Cannabis Sensitization Protocol:
-Users reduce the amount of cannabis they use by up to 60% per month. Patients are able to save thousands of dollars a year by using less medicine.
-Increase in desired medical benefits. The vast majority of patients find that less cannabis equals more positive results and less undesired side effects.
-Using the correct dose is the single most important factor in having a successful and therapeutic relationship with cannabis. People who use their optimal dose of cannabis can avoid building tolerance and retain the therapeutic effects for years or decades.
-Your goal is to use the minimum amount of cannabis and achieve the maximum amount of benefits possible. Many longtime cannabis users have been amazed by the effects of the Cannabis Sensitization Protocol and say 2 puffs gets them better relief than the 1 or 2 joints they were smoking before.
Day 1 and Day 2 – A 48-hour Cannabis Fast.
Probably the most difficult part of this 6-day journey. Remember that your goal is to increase your sensitivity to cannabis. Your cannabis fast needs to be intentional. Think of it as a positive event and pick a comfortable place and time to begin your 48 hour fast. To make the fast easier you should drink plenty of water and stay hydrated. 48 Hours from now you will be ready to use Cannabis again. Your body will develop more cannabinoid receptors during this period and will continue to develop more over the next twenty-four hours. To make the next twenty-four hours easier, remember to support your fast. Use the suggested foods, vigorous but enjoyable exercise, and the healing practices in our Wellness section to increase natural cannabinoid levels and curb your cravings. Remember to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated. At the 48 hour mark you will break the cannabis fast.
Day 3 to Day 5 –Increasing your sensitivity
Congratulations, you have passed the toughest part of the protocol. For the next 3 days you will be able to medicate but only minimally. Your goal is to feel the slightest effect from cannabis. Your body’s sensitivity to cannabis will continue to increase during the next three (3) days, allowing you to experience greater therapeutic results with less cannabis. Take 1 inhalation (From a vaporizer or pipe). Wait 5 minutes. If you can feel any minimal effect from the inhalation, stop and go about your day. If you can’t feel no effect at all, then repeat the cycle. Take another inhalation. Wait 5 minutes. Stop once you feel the slightest effect.
*IMPORTANT NOTE: Most of the time less cannabis is more. Listen to your body and don’t take more than necessary. Remember to follow the process of taking 1 inhalation, waiting 5 minutes and trying to feel the slightest or minimal effect each time. Depending on the route use to medicate, you can use Cannabis up to 3 times per day if inhaled or 2 times per day if ingested. Make sure to stay hydrated, keep your goal in mind, exercise and used Cannabis enhancing foods.
Day 6 – Finding your optimal dose
Today you will find your optimal dose, the lowest cannabis dosage needed to achieve the optimal benefits. On days 3-5, you’ve been using cannabis to find the minimum dose required for you to feel a minimal effect. Today, you will be increasing your dose of cannabis to achieve your optimal effect. Take 1 inhalation, wait 5 minutes, and see the effect it had on you. If you do not feel the desired relief from your symptoms, you may increase your dosage by repeating the process. Stop the process once you feel the optimal benefits or once you feel relief from your symptoms. This should be your optimal dose.
Use this optimal dose every time you medicate and only go over that dose if you need it. Some patients are able to medicate using their optimal dose for months and even years without having to increase it. If you find you are constantly going over your optimal dose it might be time for you to change strains, change dispensaries or change the route you’re using. It might also be time for another tolerance break since many Cannabis users repeat this protocol every 2-3 months to help them maintain a healthy and sustainable relationship with cannabis.
Endocannabinoid-Engancing Foods And Activities
An essential part to this protocol is to enhance our bodies endocannabinoid system by feeding the appropriate foods like those high in essential fatty acids like hemp, flax & chia seeds, sardines and anchovies. Chocolate, herbs, spices, and tea can naturally help the endocannabinoid system (ECS) function optimally, improve your health, and enhance the effectiveness of medicinal cannabis.
Certain activities can naturally enhance the endocannabinoid system’s function, improve your health, increase the effectiveness of medicinal cannabis, and feel great. Accompanying the protocol with your diet and the proper stress reducing activities like meditating, yoga, breathing exercise and social interaction can really help patients achieve their goal.
Going back to Mrs. Smith, she started the 6-day sensitization protocol and despite recalling that it wasn’t easy, she completed it and, after the last day, she was able to find her optimal dose. She been able to stick with it thus saving hundreds if not thousands of dollars a year. If Mrs. Smith was able to do it, so can you.