I would be doing a disservice if I didn’t believe it’s important to sometimes take a break from cannabis and reassess our use.
Cannabis is one of those drugs that we sometimes need to cleanse from our system and then determine what we really need. My goal as a cannabis consultant is to reduce symptoms, increase quality of life, and reduce harmful medications. But cannabis is a very powerful herb. So, reducing that medication can be helpful.
I help people who are either addicted to marijuana or patients who are using so much that it’s not effective anymore. I help people balance their THC use with CBD or find other ways of getting benefits while giving their receptors a break.
Enough is Enough
We have to recognize when that is.
We need to know that the endo cannabinoid cell system in our bodies creates homeostasis. This balances things out and keeps us even-keeled, right? So, if you’re delivering so much THC or CBD to your system that your receptors get flooded with the cannabinoid then this regulating effect goes out of balance.
Essentially, the cannabinoids are self-regulating. They send messages to the body saying, “Look, that’s too much of this regulating chemical.” It’s like if we put a stop light on every intersection in a town. Stop lights can be really great for traffic, but if there are too many it’s defeating the purpose.
Hyperemesis syndrome is one reason why we might want to take a break from cannabis. This can happen when people consume so much THC that eventually their body has a very strong reaction that causes nausea and vomiting. Often, this happens to chronic users who have been smoking or consuming cannabis every day for years. Eventually the body says, “Enough.”
Some people lack CBD, which helps balance out THC. I have also seen this syndrome with cancer patients who are trying huge doses (1,000 milligrams a day) of cannabis. Sometimes that is just too much in the body.
Another reason why someone might take a break from cannabis is the brain fog that happens with THC. You may eventually find that it’s making your short-term memory a little less active. That’s a good message that you need to sort of clean the receptor sites. Even just a few days off resets the receptors and then a very small amount of THC can have the effect of a large amount.
Sometimes people take THC for anxiety. But after a while it sneaks up and you realize that the THC is actually contributing to the anxiety. When we smoke it releases endorphins, so we feel good. But once it fades away the anxiety comes back even stronger. This is essentially the nervous system saying, “Enough of this chemical.”
One simple recommendation is to take a 48-hour break. This can be challenging for a patient who has chronic pain. Just like with other medications, taking a break can be very challenging if you have severe ailments. But it’s a good way of backing off and then assessing how the ailments are coming back in that two-day period. The break allows us to connect to the mind-body experience of cannabis.
Connecting with Cannabis
Cannabis has rituals attached to consuming it. We also have our mind connection – it makes us feel a certain way.
So often we get enamored or addicted to that feeling even when cannabis is not physically addictive in the body. But we are accustomed and addicted to the rituals of it.
If someone has severe ailments and experiences harm taking a two-day break, then one simple compromise is to use cannabis topically. If you have chronic pain and smoke every day but you want to reset your receptor sites, try rotating methods of consuming cannabis.
This means switching from an inhalable product to a topical oil that you apply to your body. Add THC oil to another carrier such as olive oil or sesame oil. Massage it into the body and see if there are pain-relieving benefits without the high. This allows different receptors to receive the cannabis while the receptors that have received it repeatedly over time can take a break.
Recreational users who don’t have severe ailments might like cannabis for sleep or to relax after a long day’s work. That’s fine. But if we’re going to get to our highest self, as I say, we can’t get there by getting high.
We might have to allow ourselves to take five days away. Assess why we need this medicine, why we have trouble sleeping, or what is so stressful that we absolutely need to get high at the end of the day – or at the beginning of the day for some people. A five-day break is a great time to reset the receptors and acknowledge that we may have some ritualistic or addictive aspects to our consumption.
The beauty of taking a long break after regular cannabis consumption is that you may need just a tiny amount when you reintroduce THC into the system and rekindle that euphoric, connecting experience.
Be reminded that cannabis is a powerful plant, not something that you just smoke every day and forget the effect it’s having on your body. That break period is a really good way of toning the mind-body relationship with cannabis and replenishing those regulators with healthy oils and plenty of water.
I sometimes recommend a 30-day break for chronic users who are worried about their addiction or stuck in a medicated loop for social anxiety. It’s beyond just a week-long cleanse. It’s really forcing the user to say, “All right, can I get through this without cannabis?” A 30-day break for someone with chronic pain who uses cannabis to reduce harmful opioid use might be just a month of horrible pain. That’s not what I’m trying to do. A 30-day break is more for a recreational user than a medical user. Or for a medical user who’s not doing anything to change their lifestyle, like working on their anxiety with a therapist or treating themselves holistically.
I think cannabis is really good if we allow it to be a catalyst for healthy, positive change in our lives. But if it becomes a rut of overuse then we need to move away from cannabis and regain health without it.