Is My CBD Broken?

A guide for trying CBD without gaslighting yourself.

Maitane Romagosa/Thrillist

You’ve heard the miraculous stories of the powers of CBD. How cannabidiol derived from the cannabis plant can treat the symptoms of epilepsy, autoimmune diseases, and neuropathy more effectively than prescription drugs, as well as fight infections as an antiseptic, eradicate pimples, and solve world peace. Ok, maybe no one’s claimed the latter yet, but CBD has a pretty larger-than-life reputation right now. 

However, say you’re someone who doesn’t suffer from chronic discomfort, and you want to see what the buzz is all about. Maybe you experience occasional anxiety and/or a case of the blues, and hear this shouted from every rooftop as a holistic way to soothe those issues. Perhaps you even do some research on trustworthy brands. You do all the right things, swallow your first dose, and you feel…..absolutely nothing.

You’re not crazy. And you aren’t alone.

CBD is tricky. The mainstream definition of this naturally occurring compound-of-the-moment is typically reduced to it “not getting you high,” using the effects of THC to understand what CBD isn’t. That’s a confusing start.

Cannabidiol engages with a totally different receptor in our brains than THC does, but both of those receptors are tied to our endocannabinoid system, which plays a vital role in regulating physiological processes that affect our daily lives. When our endocannabinoid system malfunctions, it affects mood, energy, intestinal fortitude, metabolism, how we experience pain, and much more. CBD nourishes the endocannabinoid system, simply helping it to do its job without interruption. So when the average person without chronic diseases takes regular doses of well-sourced CBD, it can produce long term results like sleeping more soundly and a more regular appetite. They just won’t feel anything happening in the minutes and hours after consumption. 

Unfortunately, though it could be working without noticeable changes -- there’s still a chance it’s just a subpar product. It’s admittedly ironic how stressful it can be to try CBD. That’s why I put together this guide to identifying reliable CBD and assessing the effects that follow without gaslighting yourself.

Do Your Homework

Start with getting a general idea of how you’d like to take CBD. Are you looking for treats and edibles containing CBD, or a liquid tincture you can drop in your coffee every morning? If you plan on trying a topical, will you be ok with an oily texture or are you seeking a fast-absorbing cream? Rookies may look to brands like Cibdol, which offer a wide range of concentrations so you can start small without doing too much extra math. Think about your day-to-day lifestyle and what products would be easiest to implement with ease. Once you have an idea of what you’re looking for, the fastest way to distinguish between a reliable CBD brand and a questionable one is looking into their supply chain. You want CBD derived from happy cannabis/hemp plants grown by people who know what they’re doing, with the third-party certification to prove it.

Check-In With Yourself

If you don’t know how you feel before trying CBD, you cannot assess if you feel any different. It’s best to take a good 15 minutes to evaluate your current state of mind and body, including how many meals you ate today and whether you got 6-8 hours of sleep last night. Are you feeling irritable? Anxious? Restless? Literally write down everything you can observe about your body’s current state, that way you can relax and just look back at notes later to compare for any changes. 

Be Consistent

Start with a small dose, a set time, and do it every day. Or, if you’re trying it for a certain, less frequent symptom, be consistent about using CBD and only CBD every time. Hold off from Advil or additional topical ointments in the first few weeks of your CBD trial. The more you treat trying CBD like a science experiment, and minimize any variables, the more accurate your experiment will turn out. 

(With Your Notes, Too)

Start a sort of CBD diary to track any changes in physical and behavioral state. And I mean anything. Do you feel better rested, maybe taking less naps? When was the last time you woke up with a stiff neck, or an enormous pimple? Have you gotten into less arguments with your partner since you started your CBD regimen? After two or three weeks, take a look back at all your entries. You just might notice some changes after all.

If you don’t, that’s ok. Don’t give up yet. Before trying a different brand or throwing in the towel all together, increase your dose. If after a week of that you still don’t feel a change, increase it a little more. Over time, your body could still get too accustomed to a product to experience beneficial effects, and it will be time to start the process over with something new. 

Keep Checking In

Even botanically-educated people in the industry have had to dedicate serious unlearning and relearning to adjust their mindset when it comes to the oftentimes undetectable effects of CBD. Yours truly included. With increased clinical trials of many medical claims as legalization progresses across the globe, we learn more about CBD every day. If you want to get the most out of the therapeutic benefits the cannabis plant can provide, you must not only keep tabs on your own physiological changes, but the updates in our understanding of this plant. 

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Lauren Yoshiko is a Portland-based writer and co-host of Broccoli Magazine's podcast, Broccoli Talk. She was among the first journalists to cover the commerce and culture of cannabis starting in 2014 and her work has since appeared in Willamette Week, Forbes, Rolling Stone, and Broccoli Magazine, among others. Follow her on Instagram at @laurenyoshiko for Portland breakfast sandwich recs, stoned nail art, and moderate cat content.
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