I tried CBD and it didn’t work

Despite a rapid growth in uptake, a wealth of new literature showing the positive effects of CBD (and associated terpenes) and a huge amount of anecdotal evidence and testimonials, sometimes, CBD-infused products just don’t seem to do the trick. We’ll be the first to clearly state that CBD is not a miracle cure and while it has proven effects in some areas, other areas remain unexplored entirely or the data suggests cannabinoids simply don’t have a beneficial effect. Although reputable CBD brands with high-quality products rarely receive complaints, one of the most common grievances we’ve seen regarding CBD is that is simply didn’t work. The advice offered in response to these grievances varies in quality – so, if you’ve tried CBD and failed to see a beneficial effect,  we’ve put together a list of the most likely explanations about why CBD didn’t work for you and what you can do to change this.


Your dosing is incorrect

Take a close look at the CBD content and how this is displayed., Sometimes the amount of CBD stated is the quantity of CBD hemp concentrate used to make the product, not the actual amount in the bottle.

For this reason, it is wise to trust a choose a brand which has clear and consistent labelling and displays the actual amount of CBD in the product. This is important not just from a cost perspective but from a dosing perspective as you can accurately record and measure how much CBD you are taking.

As poorly labelled products can contain variable levels of CBD depending on their level of refinement, your 5% oil could actually contain very low levels of CBD which equates to less than 1% actual CBD. In other words, not what you paid for!

As there are no standardised labelling methods, CBD products are often labelled with the quantity of CBD as either percentage (%) or milligrams (mg). Unusually, if a product is labelled with milligrams, this refers to the amount of CBD in the entire product not per millilitre.

For example, a 1000mg CBD oil bottle which is 10ml contains 100mg of CBD per 1 ml (1000mg/10ml = 100mg per ml), whereas a 1000mg CBD oil bottle which is 30 ml contains 33.3mg of CBD per 1 ml. In other words, despite practically identical labelling, the larger bottle of CBD is 3 times weaker than the small bottle per ml. 

Percentage (%) is a much more accessible way of labelling CBD content as 5% CBD means 5% of your product is CBD regardless of the total size of the bottle or container.

Taking CBD is an individual experience, with dosing and frequency varying widely. As such it is not appropriate for us to tell you how much CBD to take. However, we do suggest you start slowly, to find out what works for you.

There are currently no official guidelines around how much CBD to take and there is currently a lack of solid clinical evidence to definitively state the therapeutic range of CBD. Research effort is currently underway to address this.

Using CBD should be approached with a holistic mind. As CBD is a biologically active compound, things like body weight and age should be taken into consideration. Things which are harder to determine but which may also affect dosing efficacy include metabolic rate, genetics and the current health of your endocannabinoid system. The best way to start is slowly, with a low dose. Keep a close eye on your mood, attention and how your body feels. Gradually increase your dosing and see how your body reacts until you reach a level that you feel is beneficial.


Application method 

There are a large number of ways to take CBD, which means the benefits of CBD are within everyone’s reach. We’ve summarised the most common ways below and each have their own particular strengths. Some people stick to one route and others mix and match; it is entirely up to you. However, despite all of these methods ultimately allowing CBD into youe system, their effectiveness varies quite dramatically as the bioavailability of CBD is heavily affected by the way you decide to take CBD. In general, vaping, sprays and oil drops/tinctures all get a good amount of CBD into your system whereas topical and edible application methods are less bioavailable.


A tincture is the classic oil dropper type of application and the most common way to currently purchase CBD. Use the pipette to drop CBD under the tongue and hold under the tongue for at least 1 minute before swallowing.

This is known as ‘sublingual’ application. Due to the large number of capillaries and good blood flow under the tongue, sublingual application is one of the fastest and most effective ways to take CBD. As CBD has direct access to the blood stream, it bypasses first stage metabolism by the liver which greatly reduces the availability of CBD in your system.


Sprays are starting to gain popularity and are also considered a sublingual route of administration as the CBD is sprayed under the tongue. Sprays are more discrete and easier to use the tinctures hence their growing availability. Most suppliers will also state the amount of product released per push of the spray so you can quickly workout how much CBD you are taking.


As can probably be guessed, CBD is now available in e-liquid form so can be vaped. The lungs have a massive blood supply, so vaping is an efficient and fast way to consume CBD. As above, note the milligram amount of CBD per ml of your e-liquid. By doing this you can work out how much CBD you place in the tank of your vape device and can keep track of it through the day.

If you want to be taking 100mg per day and you are using a 500mg bottle of e-liquid, 2mls of your e-liquid will provide what you need. So, if you finish that 2ml tank in the day you will have correctly dosed with 100mg.


Edible CBD usually comes in pill or capsule form which can be hard, soft or liquid (similar to a fish oil pill). The ingested CBD is absorbed primarily in the intestinal tract which has numerous blood vessels. Eating CBD leads to the slowest rate of absorption and a number of other factors can influence this including the type of food you’ve eaten.

CBD capsules are one of the easiest ways to correctly dose as each capsule has a specific amount of CBD. It doesn’t get easier than taking a capsule.Other ways to eat CBD include things like gummy sweets as well as drinks. 


CBD can be absorbed through the skin so topical CBD products like balms, creams and lotions can all provide benefits and can generally be applied in the same way as any other non-CBD products you have. Topical CBD is typically used for muscle aches, sprains and minor injuries and applied directly to the site. To work out roughly how much CBD you are taking, simply divide the CBD weight in mg by the volume of the product. While not all of the cream/balm/lotion will be absorbed, this is certainly a better method than not measuring at all.


Using low-quality products

This is straight forward explanation and something I have touched on before. One of the reasons CBD may not have worked for you is due to using a product with little or no CBD in it. The UK’s Centre for Medical Cannabis (CMC) conducted a study in February of 2019 and the results were eye opening and concerning. The study involved the researchers purchasing a wide range of CBD products currently on the market and assessing their contents.

The report worryingly concluded that 38% of the products they purchased had less than the CBD advertised, 38% had the wrong amount of CBD compared to their stated contents and a handful of cases were reported where expensive products contained no CBD at all!

The correct content of CBD is critical to a good product but there are other factors that go into making a CBD product of top quality including the carrier liquid, the extraction process, the mixing process and much more. If any of these factors are weak or below standard it massively impacts the quality of the overall product. If you have top notch CBD and a great carrier liquid like MCT (medium chain triglycerides) but fail to use an appropriate mixing method, the contents of all your batches and even individual bottles are going to differ which should be of huge concern to any consumer.

Read more about why quality matter here.


Effects on other medications

Odds are, if you are actively seeking out CBD, you have problem taken or are currently taking pharmaceutical medications to help fix your health complaint. While there is no evidence that CBD makes otherwise safe drugs harmful, CBD does have an effect on the system that breaks down a common class of drugs.

When we take drugs orally, a large proportion of the active drug is broken down by the liver. 75% of drug metabolism is governed by an enzyme (and a large related family of enzymes) called p450. P450 is one of the master controls of drug metabolism. CBD in sufficient doses has been shown to inhibit the activity of the p450 enzymes, thus altering how we metabolise a wide range of compounds including drugs. Considering over 60% of the drugs on the market are metabolised by p450, this is a significant discovery. It is also one of the reasons why knowledgeable doctors, or more read members of the CBD community advise spacing the use of CBD and pharmaceutical drugs at least 2 hours apart.

The way CBD interacts with cytochrome P450 is critical; essentially, they deactivate each other. Preclinical research shows that CBD is metabolized by cytochrome P450 enzymes while functioning as a ‘competitive inhibitor’ of the same liver enzymes. By occupying the site of enzymatic activity on the p450 enzymes, CBD actively stops p450 from breaking down other compounds in the vicinity.  Basically, CBD gets first dibs on the p450 enzymes and keeps them so busy the enzymes can’t do much else.

The extent to which cannabidiol behaves as a competitive inhibitor of cytochrome P450 depends on how tightly CBD binds to the active site of the metabolic enzyme before and after oxidation. This can change greatly, depending on how—and how much—CBD is administered, the unique attributes of the individual taking this medication, and whether isolated CBD or a whole plant remedy is used.

To complicate matters even further (as is always the way with science!), recent work summarised preliminary evidence that cannabidiol may actually increase the activity of some cytochrome P450 enzymes. On top of existing work, this more recent finding suggests that CBD can either increase or decrease the breakdown of other drugs; but this is very variable and dependent on the drug in question and the dosages used.

In summary, the evidence is clear that CBD can interfere with the processing of other drugs. What is less clear is the dose of CBD required to cause interference and well as if CBD up-regulates or down-regulates the expression of key enzymes involved in drug processing. Either way, the take home message is that you should be wary of the potential for CBD to interfere with the efficacy of other drugs you are currently taking. If you are unsure you must speak to your doctor especially if you’re the medications, you take are particular potent and/or lifesaving.


You are giving up too soon!

Touching upon a point I made at the beginning of this article; CBD treatment appears to be quite individual, that is, it is variable from person to person. A dosing and application method that works for your friend with arthritis, for example,  might not necessarily work for you even if you have the same health condition. Age and body weight are just two things that impact the effectiveness of CBD. On top of that you must also consider the amount of CBD you are taking, when you are taking it, how often and also how you are getting CBD into your body.

CBD really can work wonders for things like anxiety and pain, but it often requires a bit of time and some experimentation to find what works for you. Rarely,  people can take CBD oil and feel effects almost instantly, but others find they may need to have a go with a few different strengths, applications and timings. If you have tried CBD maybe once or twice and it didn’t seem to help, then maybe you stopped too soon. Give it another go and see what happens – if you need any help or advice always feel free to speak to us on website chat.


CBD doesn’t address your health concern

Over-statements, exaggeration and even outright lies are commonplace in any health or wellness industry but due to its explosive growth, the CBD market seems to have been infiltrated by brands and individuals claiming CBD is the cure to all mankind’s ills. I have news for you, it’s not.

There is a wealth of preclinical (and emerging clinical) data that Cannabidiol and other phytocannabinoids, as well as terpenes, can have powerful beneficial effects in the treatment of anxiety and anxiety-related disorders, acute pain, chronic pain, neuropathic pain and inflammation; all of which are very common problems. There is additional, albeit limited evidence, that CBD may also have beneficial effects on the symptoms of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and various in vitro studies show its anti-cancer effects.

However, showing that CBD has an anti-cancer effect on a cell line in a laboratory, and actually helping combat cancer in humans is VASTLY different. There are thousands of chemicals and compounds that are anti-cancer in vitro but which have no beneficial effect when taken to animal models. As a consumer, you need to be as vigilant as possible for misleading quotes and claims. While CBD is clearly a very powerful molecule and we are continuing to unlock its potential, we are a long way off from labelling CBD as truly anti-cancer. Until we have solid evidence to show it is, it is unfair to label it as such.

This doesn’t just go for cancer but a range of other serious diseases as well. The evidence, as of yet, simply doesn’t support the majority of the claims and the evidence has to inform our decisions lest we get taken for a ride.


UPDATE: Genetics

We know from emerging research and our current understanding of the endocannabinoid system that phyto-cannabinoids like CBD are similar, although not identical, to the endocannbinoids found in all of us. It stands to reason that genetic abnormalities which effect endocannanbinoids or the endocannabinoid system itself may reduce (or perhaps heighten) the effects of cannabinoids we take, like CBD.

A study by Smith et al., published in PLoS One in 2016, looked at rare genetic variants in the core endocannabinoid system (ECS) genes; genes that code for critical system receptors such as the CB1 receptor.  Interestingly, it is thought that up to 20% of us potentially possess a genetic mutation (of varying severity) that enables us to produce an above-average level of endocannabinoids. A woman with a particularly rare mutation in the gene that codes for the endocannabinoid ‘anandamide’ and resulted in increased levels of the molecule,  was found to have insensitivity to pain, faster wound healing and was immune to anxiety and apparently unable to feel fear. While this is an extreme example, the suggestion is that individuals with mutations leading to increased natural endocannabinoids may see no benefit at all when taking cannabinoids, like CBD, from other sources.


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