5 Reasons CBD Might Not Be Working For You

why cbd might not be working for you

With all of the hype about CBD, it’s easy to build up high expectations. If you’ve heard that it can work wonders in your life, you may anticipate a seismic shift in your wellbeing soon after adding it to your diet. 

However, the truth is that CBD doesn’t always “work” for everyone. It can be quite the buzzkill to go in with a specific outcome in mind, only to find yourself feeling the same as you did before you started taking it. 

If this sounds like you, don’t despair. Here are five reasons why CBD might not be working for you - and solutions for what to try next.


1. Everyone has a unique endocannabinoid system that responds differently to CBD.

Similar to a fingerprint, each person has a uniquely configured endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is one of the largest molecular systems in the human body and is made up of millions of cannabinoid receptors scattered throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems. It supports your body in maintaining stable equilibrium in response to environmental changes. 

Everyone’s endocannabinoid system is unique in its makeup and level of functionality. Just like any other system in the body, there is natural variation from person to person. Those receptors may function in different ways, and there may also be differences in the amount of endocannabinoids that are produced or in how quickly they’re metabolized.

Because of these differences, there’s no “one size fits all” solution with CBD. Some people only need a small amount of CBD to feel a difference, while others may require a significantly higher concentration. Many first-timers start with between 10 to 15 mg of CBD per day for the first several weeks to observe. After that, though, some users find they may need upwards of 50 mg to achieve the desired effect.

The general advice is to start low and go slow to find your sweet spot. We also recommend talking to your healthcare provider before starting any new product, especially if you have a health condition, are using prescription medication, or are pregnant or nursing.

Related Article: ECS 101: Breaking Down the Endocannabinoid System


2. CBD often takes time to really work.

Thanks to some overzealous marketing hooks and media stories, there are many misguided expectations about what CBD “feels” like and how long it takes to experience these feelings. 

It is true that CBD does occasionally produce noticeable effects for some users right off the bat. This can usually be attributed to the person having a very different endocannabinoid system or possibly even experiencing the placebo effect. However, like many nutritional products, it often takes several weeks of consistent daily use to observe any impacts, if not longer. 

The misconception that CBD works right away can be a damaging one because some first-timers find themselves disappointed when they don’t experience the effects they’re looking for on the first day, or even the first week. When using CBD as a self-care tool, it’s important to set realistic expectations and recognize that it takes time, patience, and awareness. 

As you’re starting out with a new CBD routine, it can be helpful to keep a daily log to note any impacts it’s having on your body as it builds up in your system - especially subtle changes. When using your log, be sure to note the time of day you take CBD, how much you take, and any notable physical sensations before and after taking it. 

For an easy-to-use daily CBD log, download our free CBD 101 guide


3. You might not have the right type of CBD product you need.

CBD products come in pretty much any format you can dream of these days - including oils, sprays, soft gels, topicals, edibles, beverages, suppositories, and even infused pillowcases.

The format of the product greatly impacts how CBD will enter the bloodstream. Ingestible products tend to allow a bit more CBD to be absorbed into the bloodstream than topical products due to thinner barriers. If you’ve been taking CBD products consistently for over a month and haven’t noticed any changes, consider the type and concentration of product you’re taking. 

Additionally, there are different types of hemp extracts that are used in CBD products. Full-spectrum extracts, for example, contain a wide array of 110+ cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, including CBD, CBG, CBN, and THC, as well as hemp-derived terpenes. Broad-spectrum products, on the other hand, contain all of the cannabinoids except THC and are also typically stripped of most terpenes. Finally, CBD isolate products feature solely CBD with no other detectable cannabinoids or terpenes.

While all types can be effective, full-spectrum extracts tend to be more popular than broad-spectrum and isolate products. Full-spectrum extracts encourage what’s known as the “entourage effect,” which describes how the compounds of the cannabis plant - cannabinoids, terpenes, and all – work together in a complementary way. In essence, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. 

Therefore, if you’ve been using a certain type of product consistently for a month or longer and haven’t noticed any effects, you might try using a different format or different type of hemp extract to switch it up.

Not sure which CBD product will best fit your needs? Try our product finder quiz!


4. Some “CBD” products don’t actually contain CBD. 

The number one rule when shopping for CBD is to always look for third-party testing. 

If a company doesn’t share recent tests on their products, it’s possible that they are not trustworthy and their products could contain misrepresented amounts of CBD or potentially harmful contaminants, like pesticides or heavy metals. 

For example, a study of 47 CBD products from different companies revealed that 11% of products delivered no CBD whatsoever. 23% of products delivered less than 80% of the CBD advertised on the label. Likewise, the FDA has responded with warning letters over the past several years to companies who have falsely labeled and marketed CBD products, misleading their customers into believing that they’re getting more CBD than they really are. 

CBD manufacturers and retailers should be fully transparent and share a certificate of analysis for every single batch of every single product that leaves their facility, so that customers don’t have to blindly trust their product will be free from contaminants and contain the amount of CBD that they are expecting. 

Related Article: How to Read CBD Lab Tests and Labels


5. CBD isn’t a panacea.

The fact of the matter is CBD is a supplement and, as such, it is intended to do what its name implies: supplement, or build on top of, an already healthy diet and lifestyle. 

It’s true that CBD works well for many people, but it’s not a cure-all. It can help support bodily balance, but it can’t make up for a non-nutritive diet, sedentary lifestyle, lack of sleep, poor emotional health, or disconnection from one’s community and social support network. In order to reap the benefits of CBD and maintain true wellness, you have to put together all the puzzle pieces.

Need tips for improving your overall wellness routine? Check out some of our top blogs on nutrition, exercise, and mental health. 

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Still have questions about CBD? Check out our free guide, Finding Success with CBD, to learn more.