What Does It Feel Like When CBD Is Working?
Read Time: 8 minutes
If you’ve recently started taking CBD, or are looking into trying it out, there’s a good chance you are curious as to whether it’s truly working or not. As CBD doesn’t have an intoxicating effect on the brain, it could be difficult at first to know whether or not it’s having a noticeable effect—but there are a few ways to help determine whether you’re getting the most from this therapeutic cannabinoid. Read on for an easy guide to trying CBD and finding the ideal serving size for you.
What does CBD feel like?
While the effects of CBD are felt a little differently by everyone, one good way to understand its impact on the body is actually noticing the absence of certain feelings—such as the absence of everyday anxiety, restlessness, or even aches and pains. Essentially, CBD doesn’t add on feelings you really notice, per se—like the way THC causes you to feel high. Rather, CBD helps to manage feelings such as anxiety, stress, and inflammation. What you’re really feeling is the after-effects of this.
Honing in on the presence (or absence) of anxiety or pain is an essential part of supplementing your day-to-day with CBD products successfully. We strongly recommend a mindful approach to your physical, mental, and emotional state. Understandably, it can prove a bit difficult initially to “feel” the absence of anxiety, stress, or inflammation—which is also the reason so many people use words like “balance” or “wellbeing” to describe their experience with CBD.
Does CBD make you feel high or stoned?
With something like THC, it’s easy to tell whether a particular serving size is having its intended effect—and likewise, whether it’s more than someone can handle—because THC is intoxicating.
Unlike THC, CBD will not cause you to feel stoned. Though it’s good to remember full spectrum products do contain very low levels of THC that some may be sensitive to—especially when they accumulate with higher servings of CBD. This can make it less obvious whether CBD is working.
Does it matter how I take my CBD?
It’s really important to pay attention to the way you’re taking your CBD. The effect that a CBD topical has on the body will be vastly different from the effect exerted by CBD oil tinctures.
Topical CBD is applied to the skin as a lotion or balm and typically won’t penetrate further than the muscle and fat layers that are directly beneath the skin. New technologies being developed allow CBD molecules to penetrate even deeper and enter the bloodstream, but typically these are reserved for pharmacological interventions—not the CBD massage oil or lotion that you can purchase over-the-counter.
As a result, CBD topicals are crafted to relieve inflammation and promote overall recovery at the level of muscles, connective tissue, and tendons. So it stands to reason that a topical would not be the go-to choice for someone who wanted to target anxiety, sleep issues, or headaches.
Taking CBD sublingually (i.e. by dropping it under your tongue and allowing the CBD to enter the bloodstream via the mucosal membrane) is a completely different method than swallowing CBD and it being digested and absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract via edibles.
Because the CBD in sublingual delivery and edible ingestion take different pathways to reach the bloodstream, they have slightly different profiles in terms of bioavailability and speed of onset. For instance, sublingual delivery tends to take roughly 15-30 minutes for onset of effects—while orally ingesting it takes closer to an hour for effects to kick in.
Both methods allow CBD to enter your bloodstream, as opposed to the more superficial layers of muscle and tissue involved in topical delivery. Each of these methods can have a much more systemic effect than you’d reach with topical CBD. By simply changing up the way you take your CBD, you can better tailor its effects to suit your needs!
How To Determine If CBD Is Working For You
Pay close attention to your answers to the following—and be honest! Once you establish what your baseline may be, try a single serving size of CBD. If you’re just starting, we might go with a THC free product—that way you can really dial in what your reaction to CBD is without it being affected by your body’s reaction to minimal amounts of THC.
How many hours of sleep do you usually get? Now, what if you take 25mg of CBD before bed? Did those hours change? How did you feel in the morning? If nothing changed, try increasing your serving size and see if that has an effect.
Studies looking at CBD as a sleep aid have found significantly improved sleep resulting from at least 100mg doses of CBD—but remember, you can always start lower and work your way up.¹
CBD has been shown to be able to help significantly when taken before anxiety-inducing events such as public speaking or, for some, flying. How do you usually feel before any big meetings or presentations? Do you have a racing heartbeat? Are your thoughts disordered? Do you shake or fidget?
Try taking 50-100mg of a CBD oil tincture 30 minutes beforehand. (If even small amounts of THC stir up anxiety for you, go with a THC free product.) This may take a few tries—especially if you aren’t frequently faced with difficult situations—so multiple trial runs to determine an optimal serving size could be in order.
In social anxiety studies of CBD, scientists determined that 600mg of CBD significantly lessened anxiety, cognitive impairment, and discomfort in participants before an anxiety-inducing event.² You may not need 600mg to feel supported in managing your anxiety, so we would recommend starting at a lower serving size (like 50mg) and working your way up.
Pain is something humans are highly adaptive to—and can learn to tolerate even as symptoms stay the same or worsen. Are you suffering from headaches? Perhaps you have aching joints or tendons from overuse, or inflammatory conditions such as arthritis—or maybe you’re an athlete with an injury that’s dragging out your recovery time.
If you struggle with headaches, try a systemic delivery method such as oil tinctures or edibles as they will enter the bloodstream and reach the brain. For pain and discomfort in musculoskeletal tissues, we recommend topicals for targeted relief—however, oil tinctures and edibles are still viable options in your toolbox!
Studies in animals have shown that serving sizes of 2.5 to 20mg/kg were effective in helping to reduce pain symptoms in models of chronic pain.³ 2.5mg/kg in an average-sized adult is around 170mg—while a 20mg/kg serving size would be over 1300mg of CBD. In other words, the range of effective serving sizes can be quite large, so start at the lower end of the spectrum as you see what works best for you.
How do I know whether I’m taking enough CBD?
One of the primary reasons people think their CBD isn’t working is because they’re not taking a large enough serving size. You’ll need to recognize your baseline to really be able to determine the effects or changes that are a result of your CBD intake.
What’s The Best Way To Take CBD?
When figuring out how CBD interacts with your body, we recommend using a product that does not include additional functional ingredients at first—if you really want to know what your ideal CBD serving size is.
For instance, our Energy Capsules include caffeine and other naturally effective energy-boosters that may heighten your focus and cognitive function in a way that masks your reaction to CBD on its own. Once you know your optimal range of CBD servings, adding in functional ingredients will be a simple upgrade. You’ll also be able to enjoy a clearer sense of how your body responds to ingredients such as melatonin or caffeine versus CBD!
We also recommend starting with an oil tincture or edible with a moderate serving size such as 25mg. Some of our softgels come at higher serving sizes of 100-200mg each.
If you see no difference, try increasing your serving size by 50% or more. Remember that CBD is non-intoxicating and non-toxic, so you’ll never overdose or take too much CBD that will disrupt your ability to work or otherwise function normally. Again, this applies to CBD on its own. We’d recommend smaller incremental doses if you’re experimenting with a full spectrum product or product crafted with active, functional ingredients.
CBD & THC Working Better Together: The Entourage Effect
While we don’t want anyone to confuse THC’s effects with those of CBD (especially when you’re increasing your serving size beyond the initial dose, and therefore taking in more than a minimal amount of THC), we are big proponents of “the entourage effect.” Studies show that we enjoy a host of boosted benefits when our endocannabinoid system interacts with the full spectrum of cannabinoids derived from the cannabis plant.
While CBD on its own has an incredible array of benefits, studies have shown that CBD works in concert with other cannabinoids—such as THC, CBG, CBN, and more—to really facilitate its full potential. If you’re driving, unsure of your reaction to THC, or want to generally be fully focused, we recommend sticking with products free of THC. Otherwise, we recommend our full spectrum products to benefit from the full properties of the hemp plant in a form closest to how it exists in nature.
In summary, sometimes with CBD it’s what you don’t feel that makes all the difference. There’s really no shortcut when it comes to finding the serving size and delivery method that works best for you and your lifestyle. It’s a matter of experiencing for yourself, observing and making notes, and incrementally adjusting to reach the effects you’re after. If you feel like the CBD you’ve been using isn’t working, we would strongly encourage you to give yourself time really dialing in what your body needs—and to ensure that you’re only using high-quality, third-party tested products from a reliable source. Lazarus Naturals is happy to support you each step of the way along your wellness journey. Browse our complete line of effective CBD—there’s something for everyone!
¹Shannon, S., Lewis, N., Lee, H., & Hughes, S. (2019). Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series. The Permanente journal, 23, 18–041. https://doi.org/10.7812/TPP/18-041
²Bergamaschi, M. M., Queiroz, R. H., Chagas, M. H., de Oliveira, D. C., De Martinis, B. S., Kapczinski, F., Quevedo, J., Roesler, R., Schröder, N., Nardi, A. E., Martín-Santos, R., Hallak, J. E., Zuardi, A. W., & Crippa, J. A. (2011). Cannabidiol reduces the anxiety induced by simulated public speaking in treatment-naïve social phobia patients. Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, 36(6), 1219–1226. https://doi.org/10.1038/npp.2011.6
³Costa, B., Trovato, A. E., Comelli, F., Giagnoni, G., & Colleoni, M. (2007). The non-psychoactive cannabis constituent cannabidiol is an orally effective therapeutic agent in rat chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain. European journal of pharmacology, 556(1-3), 75–83. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejphar.2006.11.006