CBD Oil Not Working: What Might Be the Reason?

Many people believe that the palette of health benefits of CBD oil makes this product a miracle cure. Let’s make it straight once and for all – it’s not. Yes, there is a growing body of scientific research showing Cannabidiol’s potential in relation to easing the symptoms of many serious health conditions. The list includes social anxiety disorders [1], insomnia, inflammation, neurodegenerative diseases, skin rashes, and more. But miracle cures do not exist and we would like you to keep that in mind.

While CBD is a great addition to a healthy lifestyle and can aid many people in their ailments, nothing is 100% effective for everyone.

What’s the Truth About the Efficacy of CBD Oil?

Here’s what makes us pretty mad. Amidst the sea of positive opinions about CBD oil, some people suggest that CBD is a scam because it didn’t work for them. While we are aware that masses aren’t always right, it must be a strange phenomenon when something works for thousands of people, excluding only some individuals, don’t you think?

So, maybe there’s not anything wrong in CBD oil itself, but it’s YOUR oil that doesn’t meet certain standards? Or – because that’s perfectly possible, too – you’re one of the few people whose genetics make them less receptive to Cannabidiol?

In this guide, we explain why CBD might not work for you

CBD Oil Not Working? Here are Some Possible Reasons

Believe us, there are good reasons why CBD oil didn’t work for you, and the sooner you realize it, the better. Some of those factors can sound a bit odd, but yes, they DO play an important role in shaping the effects of CBD oil.

Let’s go into further detail and explore why CBD isn’t working for you.

You Bought Inferior Quality CBD Oil

To begin with, the term “cheap and effective CBD oil” is a textbook example of an oxymoron. These two things simply don’t go together in one sentence.

The entire process of making CBD products is very expensive itself. From sourcing to extracting and packaging, each stage has to go under strict quality control if a company aims at achieving pure and potent CBD oil.

Quality of CBD from Hemp

High-quality CBD goods can hurt your pockets, but we wouldn’t count it as an expense, but rather as an investment. A very good, long-term investment, to be honest. Otherwise, you might end up with a cheap and contaminated CBD oil whose CBD content is a far cry from what is written on the label.

Speaking of which, some companies claim their bottles have 1,000mg of CBD oil but they only have 300mg or even less. If a company does not provide lab testing results to prove their CBD content, then how can you tell if there are even trace amounts of Cannabidiol? Further, how can you know if you’re taking enough?

This, dear friends, is a vicious circle that will continue to spin until you start to double-check the credibility of CBD retailers.

The Dosage Is Either too High or Too Low

Provided that you have high-quality CBD oil, and it’s still not working, you might want to examine your dosing regimen a bit closer.

For example, if you start out with too large of a CBD dosage, the effect may be too strong for you to revel in the benefits of Cannabidiol. In that case, your tolerance may increase to match the dosage [2].

Simply put, when you take excessive amounts of CBD oil at first, your body receives signals telling it that a lower CBD dosage may not work again, so if you want to cut on the amount, it may turn out that the current dose of your CBD oil is not working.

On the other hand, if your dosage is too low, then the issue is obvious. You won’t feel any effects if you don’t use enough CBD oil to produce the desired effects. But then, complaining that CBD oil is not working is a very bodacious act, to say the least.

Your CBD Has Low Bioavailability

Bioavailability defines the percentage of CBD that actually gets into your bloodstream. Different methods of CBD administration show different levels of bioavailability.

Let’s put it this way: 25 milligrams of sublingual tinctures typically allows around 20-30% of the CBD to actually enter your bloodstream. On the contrary, the same amount administered orally in the form of a capsule results in only about 5% being absorbed by your body [3].

Conclusions? You may be giving your body less CBD than you need simply by choosing a wrong ingestion method. So, the next time you start complaining about CBD oil not working, ask yourself if you’ve really bought a CBD product with high bioavailability.

High Tolerance, Maybe?

Even though CBD is non-intoxicating, it can still cause you to build up a tolerance over time. You may find that your body needs a higher dose of Cannabidiol to achieve the same results you got from lower doses back then. At some point, a high tolerance can make CBD oil cost prohibitive.

If that’s the case, you may want to take a break from CBD to allow your cannabinoid receptors to unwind after the consistent influx of CBD and other cannabinoids. After a couple of days or weeks, you can get back on track and hopefully intense you will be able to enjoy your desired effects again at a much lower dose.

Genetics May Have an Impact, Too

As studies suggest, 15-20% of people have a higher level of their bodies’ natural endocannabinoids. While this is generally considered a good thing – come on, who wouldn’t like to be happy, relaxed, and focused all the time? – the higher level of endocannabinoids can mean that such people are less receptive to the benefits of CBD oil.

Genetics Effect CBD Usage

Long story short, yes, you might be naturally resistant to the effects of CBD. If that’s your story, you might want to look for more concentrated forms of Cannabidiol, such as CBD extracts (wax, shatter, etc.)

You’re Using a CBD Isolate

Many hemp enthusiasts – including patients, recreational users, breeders, and researchers – believe in the entourage effect in cannabis. The entourage effect refers to the synergy achieved by all cannabinoids and other active compounds of the cannabis plant. Simply put, it’s said that CBD works better when in the presence of other cannabinoids.

The entourage effect has been examined by Dr. Ethan Russo, who investigated the relationship between CBD and THC. According to his findings, Cannabidiol can counter the intoxicating effects of THC while boosting its painkilling and anti-inflammatory properties. On the CBD’s side of the equation, THC and other cannabinoids can enhance its health benefits, too, contributing to the overall effect of CBD extracts [4].

When accompanied by other active compounds of hemp, CBD can produce better effects on both the body and mind. On the other hand, when you use a CBD isolate, you’re supposed to draw less benefits from Cannabidiol even though this cannabinoid occurs in greater concentrations in isolates.

In this scenario, a switch from an isolate to a full-spectrum CBD extract should do the trick. If it doesn’t, see the above reasons to see why CBD oil is not working for you.

How to Increase the Efficacy of CBD Oil

As you can see, there are numerous factors that can make or break your CBD experience. From a high tolerance to unique genetics and the spectrum of cannabinoids, you need to take extreme caution when buying CBD oil, be it online or locally.

At this point, we would like to give you a quick cheat sheet of differentbest ways to make sure your CBD oil works:

  • Always buy from a trusted supplier.
  • Check the source of CBD; the hemp used for extraction should be 100% organic, pesticide- and GMO-free, and if it’s certified, it’s all the better.
  • Ask for 3rd-party lab testing results to make sure that the label claims don’t lie.
  • Start with low doses and don’t rush on increasing the amount of CBD oil consumed. This way, you will be able to figure out the proper dosage and avoid an early tolerance buildup.
  • Use full-spectrum CBD extracts instead of CBD isolates.
  • Don’t buy cheap CBD oil.

But above all, keep in mind that CBD is not a miracle cure. In order to draw full benefits from CBD oil, you have to use it as a supplementation to your already healthy lifestyle. Our bodies are more complex than we can imagine, and the myth of the magical pill will forever remain… a myth.

Besides, pills have low bioavailability – checkmate!

Does CBD oil work for you? What do you do when your CBD oil is not working?


  1. Zuardi AW et al. A Critical Review of the Antipsychotic Effects of Cannabidiol: 30 Years of a Translational Investigation. Current Pharmaceutical Design. Published in 2012.
  2. Zhornitsky S., Potvin S. Cannabidiol in Humans – The Quest for Therapeutic Targets. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). Published in May 2012.
  3. Huestis, Marilyn A. “Human Cannabinoid Pharmacokinetics.” Chemistry & biodiversity 4.8 (2007): 1770–1804. PMC. Web. 3 Sept. 2018.
  4. Russo, Ethan B. “Taming THC: Potential Cannabis Synergy and Phytocannabinoid-Terpenoid Entourage Effects.” British Journal of Pharmacology 163.7 (2011): 1344–1364. PMC. Web. 3 Sept. 2018.
James Reed

James Reed

James is our in-house cannabis expert and foodie. He earned a Bachelor of Health Sciences with a focus on pharmacology several years ago and has since been working as a writer and editor for cannabis-related blogs and e-commerce brands. In his spare time, he enjoys exploring the landscape around his Crescent City home with his dog Gus.

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