I Tried CBD Oil and Didn’t Feel Anything. Now What?
My mom called me from New York last week to ask if I had ever taken CBD and wondering where she should start. This is a woman who breaks pills into quarters to get the minimal effective dose, and cautions against taking ibuprofen unless you’re in dire need. The fact that she was inquiring about CBD made me realize that the trend has officially gone mainstream.
If you haven’t already heard, CBD (short for cannabidiol) is one of the many active compounds found in the cannabis plant, and up until recently, it was only available in one of the states where medical or recreational cannabis use is legalized. That’s all about to change with the recent passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which made hemp (a strain of the cannabis plant which contains no more than 0.3% THC) legal in all 50 states. Pretty soon you’ll be able to purchase hemp-derived CBD in states all across the country, and if you haven’t already, you likely will see CBD products popping up in your local pharmacies, grocery stores, and even pet supply shops.
With health claims ranging from reducing inflammation to reducing anxiety, it’s pretty tempting to at least want to give it a try, and there are plenty of options for how to do so. CBD is finding its way into skincare products and treats across the country. With this recent growth comes experimentation, and many people are trying something new and perhaps not knowing what to expect.
I live in Boulder, Colo., where CBD has been legal (and popular) since recreational use of cannabis was legalized in 2014. I recently reflected on when I first tried CBD oil a few years ago and, honestly, was totally underwhelmed. I was expecting to be magically healed from my anxiety and insomnia, but instead I found myself sitting up in bed wondering when it was going to kick in. Now, CBD is a regular part of my wellness routine and I do find CBD oil helps me drift off to sleep, wind down at the end of the day, and recover from a tough workout. But it took some adjustments.
Luckily, the CBD industry has come a long way over the last few years. There is much more educational information available, as well as new companies like Mandara, which takes a personalized approach to CBD and provides customers with Certified Wellness Coaches who are trained in helping customers put together an optimal CBD wellness plan. I talked to Peri Shaplow, the chief marketing officer at Mandara, who gave us a few tips for what to do when your CBD experience falls flat.
Adjust your expectations
Unlike the other major chemical compound found in the cannabis plant, THC, CBD has no psychoactive properties. Meaning no matter how much you take, you are not going to feel high. The effects of CBD are quite subtle. You might notice a slight reduction in anxiety after taking CBD, improved sleep, or fewer aches and pains. But if you’re looking for a dramatic mind-altering effect, you might be disappointed by CBD or think that your product isn’t working properly.
Also keep in mind that our bodies are all different, and so you will react differently to CBD than your coworker or neighbor might. Don’t compare your experience to anyone else’s. As Shaplow reminds us, “There is no one-size-fits-all approach to CBD.”
Evaluate your CBD dose
Like with any new drug, start with a low dosage of CBD, but if you don’t feel the effects you’re hoping for, you might want to consider upping your dosage slowly and over time. Most CBD standard doses will start at 5 to 10 milligrams per day. To put things in perspective, in a recent case study looking at CBD for treatment of sleep and anxiety disorders, patients were given up to 175 milligrams per day. That doesn’t mean you should start administering yourself clinical doses, however it does point to the fact that if you feel fine three to four hours after taking a small dose of CBD, you can start to up the dosage gradually.
Check your CBD source
Not all CBD products are created equal, and you need to be an educated consumer in order to separate the good stuff from expensive imposters. Shaplow recommends, “Always read the label for purity and potency information. Mandara values transparency, which is why our products are lab tested by third parties so you know exactly what you’re getting. If a product is third-party tested, it’s most likely one you can trust.”
Try a different form of CBD
CBD oil is just one way to use CBD, and each method is metabolized slightly differently by the body. “Experimenting with different forms of CBD can help you find the right regimen for your needs; be patient and listen to your body,” says Shaplow. Mandara’s line contains CBD oils, nighttime gummies, and softgels. If you’re looking for CBD to help with aches and pains or even menstrual cramps, you might want to try a topical lotion like this CBD-infused moisturizer. If you stick with oil, you can ingest it directly or even try cooking with it—just make sure to avoid heat to ensure the precious oil doesn’t evaporate and lose potency.
Overall, take the time to experiment and be patient with the results. “It’s worth the time investing in finding the sweet spot for your body and needs. It may be helpful to keep a diary or consult a wellness coach for guidance,” Shaplow says. And remember: CBD might not be for everyone, so if you don’t like the way you feel, don’t force yourself to keep trying.
Why Doesn’t CBD Work For Me?
CBD has become a buzzword in herbal health and wellness circles since it was federally legalized in 2018. If you have even one friend or family member who uses it, you’ve probably heard all about its benefits. If CBD doesn’t work for you the first time, don’t assume you’ve fallen prey to a bunch of hype.
There are plenty of reasons that could explain why you’re not getting the results you expect. You can discover more about the most common problems with CBD below.
Why Doesn’t CBD Work for Me?
Before proposing some solutions, let’s discuss the underlying problem. If your CBD doesn’t work, it’s most likely due to one of these factors:
- Poor product quality
- Inappropriate delivery system
- Insufficient dose
- Lack of commitment
- Personal body chemistry
As you may have noticed, most of these are problems that can be resolved. It’s rare to find people who just don’t respond to CBD. They do exist, but chances are, you’re not one of them.
How to Boost the Effectiveness of CBD
If the CBD products you’ve tried so far don’t work for you, don’t give up hope yet. There are a few ways to address the problems listed above. Try these steps to boost the effectiveness of your CBD:
1. Choose Products Wisely
Not all CBD products are created equal. If the one you’re using right now isn’t working, it might have nothing to do with your brain chemistry. The problem might be with the product itself, especially if you bought it at a gas station or convenience store.
The best place to find high-quality CBD is online. You’ll have access to a diversity of products from reputable vendors. Plus, you’ll be able to find all the information you need to make a more informed decision.
The best CBD products are manufactured from hemp flowers and leaves. They’re also lab-tested to ensure potency and purity. If you can’t find a Certificate of Analysis (COA), contact the vendor. If the vendor won’t provide one, look elsewhere for the products you need.
2. Investigate Other Delivery Systems
CBD is a versatile compound. You can find it in everything from CBD oil designed for internal use to topical creams and ointments. It may seem like it shouldn’t matter which delivery system you choose, but it does. How you take CBD affects its bioavailability.
If you eat CBD edibles, your body will have to digest them before the CBD can be absorbed. Some of the plant’s beneficial compounds may be lost in this process. Taking CBD tinctures, on the other hand, allows the compounds to be absorbed directly into your bloodstream. You should notice quicker, more potent results.
Topical creams, ointments, and balms won’t provide system-wide effects. They’re best reserved for skin problems and muscle or joint pain that’s close to the surface. If the product you’ve been using hasn’t been providing efficient results, try a different delivery method.
3. Up Your Dose
Since CBD isn’t regulated by the FDA, there are no official dosing guidelines. You’ll have to figure out for yourself how much to take. The best way to do that is to start with a low dose, then increase it a little every day. Before deciding how much to take for your first dose, take a look at the product’s label. See how much CBD is in each dose. If that information isn’t available, divide the amount of CBD in the entire bottle by the number of doses.
If you find that you need a lot of CBD to reach an effective dose, that’s fine. Just buy high-potency products. You may also find it helpful to keep a journal of your results. Write down how much you take every day and how often, then note any changes ineffectiveness.
4. Stick With It
Unlike THC, which binds directly to your body’s endocannabinoid receptors, CBD acts indirectly on the endocannabinoid system (ECS). It helps to reduce your body’s reuptake of anandamide and other endogenous cannabinoids. The results won’t always show up right away. It may take you some time to build up sufficient amounts of beneficial cannabinoids in your system.
Many people find that CBD produces no noticeable effects the first time they take it. Don’t give up. Try taking it every day for a few weeks, or even a few months. Note down any changes in your symptoms in your journal and revisit it later. You may find that CBD is helping more than you think.
Other Factors That Can Influence the Efficacy of CBD
There are a few biological factors that influence how you will respond to CBD. Some research indicates that women are more susceptible to its effects than men, for example. Hormone levels can also impact the cannabinoid’s effectiveness. CBD can provide heightened results when a woman’s estrogen levels are also high.
Certain lifestyle factors can also influence the impact of CBD. They include:
- How much Omega-6 you consume
- Use of alcohol or other drugs
- Stress levels
- Frequency and intensity of exercise
If you’re already very physically and mentally healthy, CBD may not provide noticeable results. It works best for people whose endocannabinoid systems aren’t in perfect shape.
When CBD Doesn’t Work?
When CBD doesn’t work and you’ve already tried all the steps described above, you may be out of luck. Up to 20% of people have a genetic mutation that affects their ECS genes. They produce above-average levels of anandamide and other endocannabinoids, to begin with. Most people with this genetic mutation experience lower levels of anxiety and ECS imbalance. They may not benefit as much from using CBD.
What’s the Next Step?
Now that you know what factors influence the efficacy of CBD, it’s time to take action. Try switching to a higher-quality or more potent product. You can also change your method of delivery to better match your needs. Stick with your new routine for at least a few weeks to a few months. There’s at least an 80% chance that it will help.