8 Reasons CBD Might Not Be Working for Your Arthritis (and What to Do About It)
Cannabidiol, known as CBD, is a type of chemical called a cannabinoid that is found in the cannabis plant. It’s not intoxicating like THC, a different kind of cannabinoid that causes the “high” you get from using pot. Chances are you’ve heard of CBD. It’s one of the fastest-growing supplements in the U.S. and has become a popular topic among arthritis patients, from online support groups to clinical conversations in doctors’ offices.
Unlike many alternative arthritis treatments that get touted online, CBD does appear to have some positive effects, says Elyse Rubenstein, MD, a rheumatologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. “There really aren’t yet any good studies to show that it works for arthritis but I’ve had patients who have found using CBD very helpful,” she says. “I haven’t seen any harm from it so it may be worth trying.”
However, for every CBD success story there are plenty of people who see little or no effects from using CBD. The first time Chris G., 37, of Denver, Colorado, tried a CBD oil tincture she felt nothing. “I might as well have been drinking straight coconut oil,” she says. Her friend had given her a bottle to help with rheumatoid arthritis pain and told her to just try it. Using CBD didn’t help the second time either. Or the third. Or the fourth. “I finished the whole bottle and never saw any difference,” she says. “I hear others talking about it and wonder why it didn’t work for me.”
Then there are the people who feel an effect — but not a good one. “It was like being drunk, but not in a fun way,” says Jason J., 46, of Minneapolis, Minnesota. The father of two tried it to treat his chronic pain from reactive arthritis as well as anxiety. He started with pure CBD oil and felt nothing so then he moved up to a CBD oil with a small amount of THC. The results were not great. While it did lessen his pain, he says it also made him feel nauseous and dizzy. He tried it a second time, this time spacing the doses further apart, but had similar results. He didn’t like the feeling and as a father was hesitant to do anything that might make him impaired while caring for his kids. “I wish it worked for me, but it did more harm than good,” he says.
If either of these experiences sound familiar, don’t give up yet. There may be good reasons CBD has not helped you — yet — and ways to make using CBD more effective for you.
1. Your CBD isn’t actually CBD
Just because cannabis products are becoming legal in certain parts of the U.S. doesn’t mean they are regulated. CBD is the wild west these days: There are a lot of “CBD” products with little or no actual cannabidiol in them, says McKenzie Mann, product development manager for Blue Forest Farms, a farm that grows high-CBD hemp and sells CBD products. The FDA doesn’t regulate CBD products and there aren’t universal quality standards, so unless you have a basement lab and chemistry degree, it’s near impossible to know exactly what you’re getting.
The fix: Look for brands that have their products independently tested (they should be able to provide you with test results), shop only at places you trust (preferably in person, not online), and when you find a brand that works for you, stick with it, says April Olshavsky, founder of Herbal Risings, a company that educates people on the proper use of CBD products.
2. You may benefit from a different strain
Not all cannabis plants are the same, which means the chemical makeup of your CBD product can differ widely. For one thing, CBD is one of many dozens of types of cannabinoids found in cannabis plants. Just as when you eat different berries (blueberries versus raspberries versus strawberries) you’re exposed to different antioxidants and plant chemicals, different cannabis plants have various amounts and types of cannabinoids and other compounds such as terpenes, which also have anti-inflammatory properties independent of the CBD.
The fix: Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a specific strain being good for a specific disease or symptoms, says Bridget Seritt, co-founder of the Canna-Patient Resource Connection, a Colorado-based organization that is working to protect patient rights and end stigma against those who choose cannabis as medicine. A good CBD supplier should be able to show you third-party tests that include both the terpene and the cannabinoid profile. “There are hundreds of products with different formulations of each component, so knowing what goes into your products is essential. Keep a journal so you know which products worked and which did not. You can use the profile information to find similar products,” Seritt advises.
3. You need a different type of extract
There are different types of CBD extracts, and it’s important — from both a health and legal perspective — to understand their differences:
Full spectrum: This oil is how it comes raw from the plant and contains a full spectrum of compounds, including CBD, THC, terpenes, chlorophyll, minerals, and other parts of the hemp plant. “This is usually the best for most people and what we recommend — it’s the ‘entourage effect.’ All the compounds in the plant work best when they are together,” Mann explains. “Like most plants, it’s healthier to use it whole.”
Broad spectrum: This oil is similar to a full-spectrum product but with THC removed. In states where CBD is legal, laws can vary as to how much THC is permissible in CBD products in order for them to be legally sold. Many states in which certain CBD products are legal require them to contain less than 0.3 percent THC. A higher amount of THC in the product may make it more effective for certain conditions, Mann says, but this is a good option for people who live in states with THC restrictions.
CBD isolate: This oil is 99 percent straight CBD. While this might look like what you want — especially as it’s often labeled “pure CBD” — it’s the least effective form, Mann says.
The fix: Opt for a full-spectrum product if it’s legal to use where you live.
4. You didn’t wait long enough to see results
Many people do not see a difference after one or two doses of CBD. “CBD works on the endocannabinoid system in the brain and everyone’s is a little bit different,” Mann says. “One person may feel a difference within 20 minutes but others it may take several days to build up enough to where you feel it.” It can take up to eight weeks of regular use to feel an impact, says Seritt.
The fix: Give your CBD time to take effect. Try a product for at least two weeks before deciding that it’s not working for you.
5. You’re not consistent
“The biggest mistake people make with CBD is failing to follow a regular routine. You need to have patience to see the full effects,” Olshavsky says. This is especially true for people dealing with chronic pain from arthritis and other illnesses, she adds.
The fix: Do at least one dose once a day for at least two weeks to give the product time to build up in your system, Mann says.
6. You need a different method of delivery
Oral tinctures — drops that you place under your tongue — are the most popular way to use CBD but there are plenty of other options. You can also inhale it with vape pens, rub it on topically with a lotion, take it orally with capsules, or eat CBD-infused foods. Different delivery methods may be better for certain health conditions or personal preference.
For those using CBD primarily for targeted joint pain, a CBD lotion may be the best option. If you need CBD to take effect quickly for intense pain, vaping will work the fastest. Worried about prying questions? Capsules are simple and discreet to use. And for people who don’t like pills, edibles such as candy, gum, or other CBD foods are a fun way to ingest it. (However, Mann cautions that some of the potency is lost when CBD goes through your digestive tract, so capsules and edibles aren’t his top choice for efficacy.)
The fix: Talk to a reputable company about which form of CBD will work best for your specific needs.
7. You need a higher dose of CBD
People are often hesitant to take CBD because they equate it with recreational marijuana, which can lead them to under-dose, Olshavsky says. Or your dose may be sufficient but you’re not taking it often enough. What works for your friend may not be the right amount for you.
The fix: Between dosages, routine, and application method, it can take some trial and error to find the right product and regimen for you, Olshavsky says. “The best thing you can do is to keep a journal and record your symptoms and results.”
8. You may benefit from some THC
For many people, CBD works better with some THC in it. The compounds work together, with THC providing pain relief and the CBD helping to manage any negative side effects of THC, Mann explains. Many people who complain about their CBD not working are often using one of the types that has no THC in it, he adds. Even a CBD oil with just 0.3 percent THC may be more effective for you than one without any.
The fix: Consider trying something other than the “pure” isolate version of CBD (though you need to research whether or not these products are legal where you live). If you live in a place where marijuana is legal, consider a CBD oil with a ratio of 3:1 or even 5:1 of CBD to THC, Mann says.
Why CBD Oil Won’t Work for Everyone [Answered]
CBD sales are escalating to the point where they are expected to reach approximately $20 billion globally by 2024. It is one of many interesting CBD statistics:
- There are almost 900 CBD brands in the American market.
- An estimated 40% of Americans have expressed an interest in using cannabidiol.
- Up to 75% of CBD brand founders or general managers are female.
- 90% of hemp-derived CBD consumers in the United States believe weed has medical benefits.
Here is a quick look at just how quickly CBD sales have grown in the United States, plus a projection of the next three years:
Potential CBD Benefits
The list of purported benefits varies from a reduction in seizures in people living with epilepsy to relief from anxiety and stress.
Pain and vomiting
May help reduce symptoms related to pain, vomiting, and nausea
Impacts endocannabinoid receptor activity, thus reducing inflammation and treating pain related to conditions such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and fibromyalgia
Potentially helps you to relax, feel calmer, and may also boost mood
CBD could minimize sebum production, the primary cause of acne
Possibly reduces muscle spasticity and seizures
CBD is linked with the ability to lower high blood pressure and reduce oxidative stress
However, CBD does not work for everyone. Therefore, we advise you to steer clear of any website, organization, or CBD seller that claims the cannabinoid is a cure-all. Research into CBD is ongoing, and while it has uncovered plenty of exciting things, scientists are, at present, unable to conclude the exact efficacy of cannabidiol.
If you have tried CBD and it did not have the effect you desired, there are several reasons. In this guide, we provide explanations for six of the most common.
1 – Low-Quality CBD Products
Due to its relatively new prevalence, the CBD market is still very much like the wild, wild West; heavily unregulated. CBD is not FDA approved, meaning it is not subject to many of the strict rules that other health products and supplements are.
Sometimes, dishonest companies will try to make a quick buck by selling CBD or hemp oil made from poor quality ingredients or with very little CBD content within the products at all. Ideally, look for CBD products that are made with organic hemp and are free from pesticides, insecticides, chemical fertilizers, and other carcinogens.
The way you can make sure a company’s products are free from all those nasty ingredients is by reviewing their third-party lab reports (if they have them). Reports conducted by an unaffiliated lab will give you an honest breakdown of what is featured in a CBD product.
Unfortunately, not every brand decides to quality control and test its products. In 2017, researchers examined the quality of online available CBD extracts. The study published in JAMA found that a mere 31% of products contained the CBD listed on the label within a margin of 10%. That means an entire one-quarter of the products tested had less CBD than its company claimed.
Another concerning factor was that 21% of products also had THC, which poses a massive problem if you are required to take a drug test.
As time went on, we were hoping the CBD marketplace was becoming more transparent, but in 2019, an NBC 6 Miami, Florida team bought 35 CBD products from seven different brands and had them sampled. The results? 20 of the products contained less than half of the cannabidiol content claimed! Even worse, some of the products contained zero CBD. One representative example was a bottle of gummies expressing 15mg of CBD on the label, which results showed only actually contained 2.2mg.
Therefore, if CBD is doing nothing for you, it might be a case of the product not containing much cannabidiol to begin with! Begin your CBD search by looking for reputable brands like PureKana, Premium Jane, Green Roads, Elixinol, and Provacan if you are a UK customer.
Incidentally, Green Roads was one of the brands tested by NBC 6. It was one of the few companies that made the grade. The company’s founder, Laura Baldwin Fuentes, said she spends over $1 million each year to perform three levels of testing. Remember, CBD companies are not legally required to test their products. Only buy from brands that have third-party lab reports backing up their claims.
2 – Dosage & Potency
One thing we DO know about CBD is that it affects everyone differently. Factors such as your age, weight, gender, lifestyle, general health, and the condition you aim to treat all play a role in how it affects you. As a consequence, your best bet is to begin with a low dose to see how CBD affects you. If you are not satisfied with the results, up the dosage accordingly until you reach the minimum recommended dose.
It is entirely possible that 10mg of CBD per day does nothing, but 20mg a day has an effect. As a general rule of thumb, begin with 1-6mg per 10 pounds of body weight, depending on your pain level. For example, you will take far more if you have severe pain when compared to mild discomfort.
Here is a quick table outlining rough estimates based on pain level and how much you weigh.
|Weight||Mild Pain||Medium Pain||Severe Pain|
As you can see, the range is vast. Begin at the lower end and work your way up.
Understanding the potency of the CBD product in question is imperative if you aim to determine your daily dosage. For instance, a bottle that contains 30ml of liquid and 1,200mg of CBD contains 40mg of CBD per ml. Most CBD tincture bottles contain a 1ml or 2ml dropper. Read the label carefully to see how many drops the dropper holds.
It is all too easy to miscalculate your dosage and use too little or too much CBD.
3 – You Have Inadvertently Developed a Tolerance
Those who consume cannabis often can take a tolerance break (T-break) when it feels as if marijuana is no longer offering them the same impacts as prior. After a short period of abstinence from the plant, they return and once again get to reap cannabis’s rewards. Like with cannabis, frequent CBD consumers may also need to take a tolerance break if they find cannabidiol is no longer assisting. It IS completely feasible that one could develop a tolerance to CBD, though they would probably have to consume a significant amount to reach that point.
A December 2018 study presented by Shimrit Uliel-Sibony expressed a trial in which 92 patients have ‘treatment-resistant’ epilepsy. They all were placed on a CBD treatment protocol, where cannabidiol was administered in especially high doses. The researchers found almost one-third of the patients developed a tolerance to the CBD.
Like any substance , i t is possible to develop a tolerance to CBD, though it’s uncommon.
The reports of this study certainly are not encouraging if one is consuming long-term high doses of CBD for epilepsy, but there is a sliver of hope about their findings. The dosage administered and the time frame of administration were both far above the amounts most individuals would practice. Also, it took an average of 7 months for each study participant to reach tolerance. Additionally, the mean dosage was 12.6mg per kg per day.
Just to put these numbers in perspective, a person weighing 154 pounds would need to consume around 882mg of CBD daily to build up such a tolerance, as represented in this study.
There is a short list of why CBD won’t work for you, but developing a tolerance is probably the least likely. Nonetheless, if you are, like many average consumers taking between 30mg-120mg of CBD per day, and you notice a tolerance building, consider refraining from cannabidiol use for one to two weeks and monitor closely how you feel.
4 – Genetics
Even if CBD is immensely popular, there is no actual evidence that it is guaranteed to work for every single individual. Sometimes, a person’s genetic makeup may be preventing them from benefiting from certain cannabinoids, hence why they may not have as positive a reaction as others.
In November 2016, a study conducted by Smith et al. and published in PLoS One examined rare genetic variants in the core endocannabinoid system (ECS) genes. Their research expressed that up to 20% of humans have a genetic mutation that enables us to generate a level of endocannabinoids that is above average. People who are presented with this genetic mutation are often shown to be less anxious, but they also do not receive as much relief when consuming cannabidiol products.
5 – Physical & Psychological Health
Also, there are biological factors at play. Initial research suggests that women are more sensitive to the cannabinoids in weed and hemp than men. As a result, they are more likely to experience pain relief than their male counterparts. It is also worth noting that men are larger than women on average. Since a person’s size dictates the effect of CBD, it stands to reason that men need more CBD to treat conditions such as chronic pain.
Interestingly, the menstrual cycle plays a role in how cannabinoids impact women. Studies going back to the early 1980s show THC works closely with the hormone, estrogen. As a result, marijuana is at its most potent when a woman’s estrogen levels are at their highest. It is less clear whether CBD has the same impact.
If you don’t believe that cannabinoids impact each person differently, consider alcohol consumption and tolerance. You may feel okay after four glasses of wine, while someone else may lose their balance after consuming the same amount. Once again, this is due to, the ECS. Factors such as diet, lifestyle, stress, and genetics determine the impact of CBD.
If you want CBD to work more efficiently, take a look at your fatty acid intake. A study by Kim, Li, and Watkins, published in Nutrition in June 2011, stated that a diet high in Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids would result in increased ECS activation. Increased Omega-3 intake helps modulate the activation of target receptors in the ECS.
Feel Good Already? CBD May Not Help
Oddly enough, if you are in excellent physical and psychological shape, CBD may not provide much assistance. From what we know about the cannabinoid, it works best in individuals with endocannabinoid ‘gaps.’ Do you take aspirin when you don’t have a headache or ibuprofen when you don’t have inflammation?
If you have a condition such as fibromyalgia, for example, you are in dire need of cannabinoids. As such, using CBD should help alleviate at least some of the pain. When you use CBD medicinally, it results in numerous chemical reactions within the body that help restore a state of balance or homeostasis. If your body is already in this state, it stands to reason that CBD won’t give you much of a boost.
It is the same scenario when it comes to mental health. Individuals with depression, PTSD, anxiety, or a similar issue possess a chemical imbalance in the brain. When you use CBD, it potentially restores the chemical balance and improves how you feel. Once again, would you use anti-depressants if you already felt good and did NOT suffer from depression?
6 – You Are Not Using a Full-Spectrum Product
There are plenty of cannabidiol sellers offering CBD isolate. While there is nothing inherently wrong with these products, some research suggests they are not as effective as full-spectrum products. This type of item contains dozens of cannabinoids aside from CBD, including CBG, CBC, and CBN; not to mention scores of terpenes.
Research shows that cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids work better together in a process known as the entourage effect. You can even combine CBD with THC if you don’t mind feeling a little stoned (CBD helps counteract the psychoactive effects of THC somewhat) and live in a legal state.
7 – You’re Not Being Patient! (Unrealistic Expectations)
Once again, the lack of regulation in the CBD industry is a problem here. Too many users believe the hype and think cannabidiol will provide a ‘cure’ for their medical complaint. It is best if you alter your expectations. If you have suffered from crippling pain for years, don’t be disappointed if CBD doesn’t eliminate it completely. It is far more likely that the cannabinoid will reduce the severity of the pain to a point where life is less miserable.
If you expect a 90-100% reduction in pain and ‘only’ get a 50% reduction, you will ‘feel’ cheated. In reality, you are much better off than you were before!
Don’t expect immediate results when using CBD; patience and consistency are key.
Also, don’t expect a situation where you use CBD and feel ‘better’ within five minutes! Many of the possible effects, such as anti-inflammatory properties, take weeks of daily use to notice. Remember, the CBD interacts with the cannabinoid receptors of your immune system and ECS to trigger a response from the cells.
‘Balance’ in the body is not something that happens overnight. Be patient and wait until you finish a full CBD oil bottle, or use a CBD product daily for a month before judging its efficacy.
A Chart Highlighting and Summarizing Each Pitfall
- Lack of regulation
- Not lab tested
- Contains minimal CBD
- You are not taking enough CBD each day
- The CBD product is weak
- You fail to find your minimum useful dose
- Potential to develop a tolerance when taking a lot of CBD for a long time
- Most likely to affect patients with epilepsy
- The least likely reason
- Healthy individuals may not benefit as much from CBD
- A genetic mutation could result in increased endocannabinoid production, thus reducing the impact of CBD
- Women may experience more significant pain relief from CBD than men
- CBD isolate is likely not as effective as full-spectrum products
- Try a product that contains numerous cannabinoids and terpenes
- The entourage effect suggests that cannabinoids work better together
- CBD does not work overnight
- You may not feel the effects for weeks
- Don’t harbor unrealistic expectations
Final Thoughts on Whether CBD Oil Will Work for Everyone
If you have used CBD and are disappointed in the perceived lack of effects, look through this article to see if any of the points apply to you. It might be something as simple as not using a high-quality product, or else you don’t use enough CBD each day. Alternatively, you may be unlucky, and your genetic makeup means cannabinoids don’t impact you in a similar way to others.
On the plus side, it may not work because you are in excellent health. That’s hardly the worst thing in the world.