A Two Week Tolerance Break to Reset your Endocannabinoid System

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(I just loved this window decal. It adorns a small window belonging to a tattoo studio, called Skulls Tattoos in Cadiz, Spain.)

Sugar Skulls represent change to me. Traditionally they are used to honour the dead and remind the living that their dearly departed have made a change to a state were no pain and suffering exists.

When my husband and I traveled to Spain recently, we had to take a break from our daily use of medical cannabis.

This was a change for us. The last time we took a cannabis reprieve was about 2 years ago.

In Canada, we both have our medical licenses which permit us to possess and use cannabis, legally. When traveling outside our country, even though this plant is medicine for both of us, our medical licenses are not recognized.  We must respect the laws of the country we are traveling to and visiting. The alternative is accepting the consequences, if caught using a substance that is predominantly still prohibited in most parts of the world.

Such was the case with Spain. Spain’s laws allow for medical cannabis use, but only if you are a permanent resident.

Neither one of us was thrilled about not having the freedom to use the plant if we needed it, but we weren’t willing to commit an act of civil disobedience and risk criminal charges or potential incarceration, abroad.

This meant that we went without the plant medicine for 14 days.  Anytime you abstain from cannabis when you are a regular consumer of it, the process is called taking a “tolerance break”. The minimum amount of time for a tolerance break to be be successful is 6 days. However, a full 30 days is recommended for the maximum benefits to be realized.

The benefit of doing this on an annual basis, is to “reset” the neurotransmitter receptor sites, which are found on cells all over our bodies. These receptor sites are biological structures which make up the endocannabinoid system. They are responsible for binding directly with all the cannabinoids of which there are approximately 111, known to date. The two most commonly know ones are THC, which produces a psychoactive effect in the body and CBD which does not.

The endocannabinoid system is self-regulating. This means that when it is regularly exposed to cannabinoids and they are abundant in the body, some of the neurotransmitter sites retract and close. They become no longer “receptive” to cannabinoids. This self-regulating feature is what protects the body from becoming out of balance. This is why a regular cannabis consumer can ingest more cannabis than a person who never consumes or occasionally consumes the herb. It is not related to the size of the body, the person’s weight or the health of their liver.

What tends to happen is that the regular cannabis consumer will insidiously ingest more cannabis, over time to achieve the same effects. The more appropriate approach is to take a tolerance break which will reset the neuroreceptor sites. This opens them again and after the break, the individually will be able to consume less cannabis to achieve the level of desired effects that they want to achieve.

Our experience validated this.

My husband suffers from chronic migraine headaches which side-lines him for days at a time to sunglasses, ice packs darkened rooms and vomiting. In my case, I am consumed with muscle spasms, extreme insomnia and the lack of patience that results with loss of sleep.

At day two, without our plant medicine, my husband had a migraine and I stopped being able to sleep at night and suffered through some wicked muscle spasming in my feet.

We were both feeling rough.

O.K….maybe not as rough as this person…LOL

In my husband’s case he had lots of double espressos, Anacin, ice packs, osteopathy and massage. By day 3, he considered checking himself into this gallery to see if some “rack stretching” would help.

We persevered.  By day 4, his headache had finally broke and we worked really hard to keep ourselves well-hydrated with water. I started sleeping, every other night which I can deal with and we were both having exceptionally vivid dreams. I had some mild night sweats, but over-all the process was completely manageable.

By the time the entire 14 days had passed, and we were back in Canada, both our systems had successfully reset. I am happy to report that we now only require half the dose of cannabis that we were consuming before our trip.

The reset worked and we survived the entire process just fine.

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