How Long Does CBD Oil Take to Work? Ask a Pharmacist
Posted by Dr. Leslie Mudd, PharmD on Jun 30th 2020
When asking how long it takes for CBD to work, you first need a basic understanding of what CBD is, and how different variables can impact how it works for you. In general, it takes CBD within 30 minutes to 2 hours to absorb into the bloodstream, depending on the method of consumption. 1 But other factors like the amount of CBD you take, whether your product is full spectrum or THC-free, how often you take it, and the product quality can all play a role in how long it takes to feel CBD, and how long CBD will stay in your system.
The major caveat to all of these questions are that it really depends on your body, your goals, and expectations.
Some people may notice results from CBD within a matter of days, while others may require weeks of consistent use before beginning to notice a difference. Consistency and patience are required before you can make any judgements about whether CBD works for you.
If you find yourself wondering, “How long does it take for CBD oil to work?” read on as we explore the variables.
Table of Contents
- Factors That Impact CBD Absorption
- Factor 1: Method of Intake
- Factor 2: Dosage & Potency
- Factor 3: CBD Quality
- Factor 4: Individual Biology
- Factor 5: Consistency
- What kind of CBD should I take?
- How much CBD should I take per day?
- What time of day should I take CBD?
- How often should I take CBD?
- After one month of CBD: how will I feel?
How Long CBD Takes to Enter Your System
As I mentioned above, how long it takes for CBD to work really depends on your own definition of the word “work.” Taking CBD for mild discomfort may have faster results than someone who is trying CBD for a serious issue.
Simply put: the answer to this question isn’t one-size-fits-all. For example: how long it takes CBD to work will differ drastically between sublingual oils, CBD capsules, and CBD topicals because of how each absorbs into your body. So let’s get down to the nitty gritty!
Factor 1: Best Method of Taking CBD
There are many different ways to consume CBD. Each method has a different impact on how much, and how quickly, CBD is absorbed into the bloodstream. 2
This phenomenon is called bioavailability. It’s important to understand this because it will help you determine how long it will take for CBD oil to work, and when you can expect to feel the effects of CBD.
CBD Chart for Bioavailability
As you can see in the chart above, the method of consumption is the biggest determining factor in how long CBD may take to work. The quickest and most bioavailable method of consumption is through inhalation. However, hemp flower is still illegal in many states, and vaping has a questionable safety record. The next best way to take CBD is by using CBD oils and CBD tinctures, followed by ingested products, and finally topicals.
CBD capsules, CBD gummies, and CBD edibles have to travel through your digestive system before fully absorbing. This means that it will take longer for the CBD to reach your bloodstream and longer to feel the effects of CBD. On the other hand, consuming CBD via sublingual oil avoids first-pass metabolism by going straight through the capillaries under your tongue. This makes it the most effective method of delivery other than inhalation. 3
Bioavailability is also the main reason we formulate our organic CBD oils with medium-chain coconut oil (MCT oil). Because of its thin and viscous characteristics, MCT oil absorbs more quickly than long-chain triglycerides, such as olive oil or hemp seed oil. Since MCT oil absorbs so easily into our skin membranes, it is the perfect carrier oil for fast CBD absorption.
Factor 2: CBD Dosage and Potency
The amount of CBD you take every day will affect how quickly you will begin notice changes. An individual’s perfect CBD dose depends on their specific body chemistry and needs. It’s best to be consistent with your CBD and take notes on your results, then you can adjust your dose for your body.
How Much CBD Should I Take?
When you’re choosing a CBD product you should consider the level of your discomfort, and adjust the amount of CBD in your dosage accordingly. This may also include testing different consumption methods. This is because your CBD experience can also depend on your body mass, metabolism, and if you’re taking any prescription medications. 5
Everyone is different, and your ideal CBD dosage is something you will have to dial in for yourself. We think 25 mg a great daily serving to start with. But some people need to take more to feel the effects, while some are able to take less for the same effect.
CBD may be an incredible discovery for maintaining general wellness, especially when THC is alongside it. Consult with your doctor to determine the right CBD dosage for you and avoid any potential miscommunications.
Factor 3: Choose a High Quality CBD Oil
Not all CBD products are created equal. Because the hemp market remains unregulated, many CBD brands do very little to produce safe, high quality products. 6
Some CBD brands use ingredients that have impurities, additives, and adulterants which will significantly affect the safety of their CBD product. This is why you should always look for a third party lab test to know that you’re getting a clean, safe CBD product.
We also recommend looking for a full spectrum product, which contains more cannabinoids than just CBD. Just like CBD, these other cannabinoids don’t get you high. But they do have a synergistic effect that could impact the final result. 7
One of those cannabinoids that you’ve heard a lot about is THC. In order for a CBD oil product to truly be considered full spectrum, it will contain trace amounts of THC. The legal amount is no more than 0.3 percent of total dry weight, and this is far from enough THC to become psychotropic or produce euphoric effects. But, it is enough to help the CBD compounds work better.
The origin of the raw hemp material is another key factor that determines the quality of your product. Hemp is a powerful bio-accumulator. That means that hemp absorbs all the toxins in the soil in which it grows. If the soil isn’t pre-tested for toxins, pesticides, or heavy metals, those things could end up in your CBD oil which could be harmful, especially for anyone taking the product consistently for a long period of time.
In addition, if the farmer uses synthetic fertilizers, those fertilizers could also end up in the final product. Although CBD oil companies are testing for pesticides and heavy metals, most of them are not testing for residual fertilizers. Because our fields go through a multi-year crop rotation in order to regenerate our nutrients in a natural way, there is zero risk that synthetic fertilizers will end up in the final product. 8
You can avoid all of these problems by opting for a USDA organic hemp product that has been certified by a legitimate agency – in our case the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. As we explore in this article, the USDA has strict guidelines for organic farming and processing. This means that USDA certified organic CBD products will be responsibly sourced and of higher quality with far less risk of contamination compared to non-organic CBD products. 9
Factor 4: Individual Biology
Although you can count on experiencing certain effects of CBD oil, no two people respond exactly the same to taking CBD. Even if they take the same dosage, the same delivery method, and have the same body composition, they may have different results. 10
There are several key considerations that fall into this category, and they all affect the amount of time it will take to feel any effects of CBD consumption.
Like most cannabinoids, CBD is fat-soluble. Those with higher body fat content will absorb and store CBD in their bodies longer.
While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it does mean that people with more fat cells in their body will need more time to adjust to taking CBD. So the higher your body weight is, the longer it may take for your CBD to start working. 11 Your ideal CBD dosage may also be higher than average.
A person’s individual metabolism affects how the body breaks down compounds like CBD. Depending on your age, lifestyle, digestive system, and genetic profile, your metabolism can function at different rates. This is what we call our metabolic rate – and we all have different ones! 12
If you exercise regularly and have a high metabolism, you should feel the wellness potential of CBD more quickly. On the flip side, it may wear off more quickly as well. If you have a slow metabolism, you’ll likely notice that it takes longer to feel the effects of your CBD oil.
CBD is part of a unique set of compounds called cannabinoids. These compounds interact with a biological system found in nearly all mammals called the endocannabinoid system. This system is comprised of cannabinoid receptors that are found throughout the human body.
We are just beginning to understand how the endocannabinoid system works. Research suggests that the endocannabinoid system could be responsible for regulating different functions. 13 If your endocannabinoid system is out of balance, you could experience any number of unwanted results. In that case, you may have better chance of finding comfort through cannabidiol extracts like CBD. While there’s no way to quantify what you’re experiencing, you can probably gauge this yourself by paying attention to how your body feels.
Factor 5: Consistency
For some people, results come sooner than others. A lot of people will notice the wellness potential after just one serving of high quality CBD. For others, though, it might take a few weeks to notice a difference. So if you don’t feel it right away, be patient.
A lot of people give up after a few doses and brush it off as snake oil that doesn’t work. They may be taking a bad-quality product, or they could be ignoring one of the key properties of CBD oil.
Regardless of what you have going on, the results of a consistent CBD routine will begin to reveal themselves slowly over time. The key to getting the most out of your CBD is consistency and longevity! A consistent, daily dose should eventually give you the end result you desire.
How CBD Works for You
Most people new to using CBD oil products want to know how long it takes for them to work. The first thing to understand about CBD is that it might take a few days or even weeks to notice. Also, it’s important to be mindful of how your body feels from day to day while consistently using CBD oil, because the effects could be subtle.
We recommend trying CBD oil for a full 30 days, while keeping a journal on your daily progress. Your logs should include the dosage and time of day so you can looks for patterns and find the dosage and routine that works best for you. Your first 30 days is an important time to better understand your body and how it responds. Below are frequently asked questions many people ask when starting a CBD regimen.
After answering these questions below, it won’t be long before you introduce hemp-derived cannabinoids like CBD oil into your every day wellness routine.
How long until your CBD oil works? Dr. Mudd tells us that the amount of time it takes for CBD to work depends on variables like how it's taken, your body weight, the time of day, and more.
How Long Does It Take for CBD Oil to Work?
by Taylor Hogan
So you’ve made the decision to start taking CBD. After taking a few drops of CBD oil or drinking some CBD coffee, you might start to wonder how long it will take for the CBD to work and how long the effects of CBD will last.
While many factors can influence how quickly your body absorbs CBD, it will generally take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours for CBD to work properly, which we’ll examine in greater detail below. Of course, this will depend primarily on factors like your method of CBD consumption, your body chemistry, the CBD serving size, and your frequency of use.
Let’s begin by taking a closer look at CBD and the many factors that will influence how long it takes for CBD oil to work. Then we’ll explore how long the effects of CBD may last.
How CBD interacts with your body
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid found in the hemp plant that works with your body’s endocannabinoid system. The effects of CBD are non-psychoactive, so we can use CBD for a variety of reasons and consume it in multiple forms.
From CBD oil products to CBD lotions and tinctures, often the CBD we consume is extracted from the hemp plant. The 2018 Farm Bill ensures that any CBD product derived from the hemp plant won’t contain more than 0.3% THC.
To understand how long it takes for CBD oil specifically to work, we need to take a closer look at how CBD interacts with our brain and body.
Once you’ve consumed a recommended serving of CBD, it will begin interacting with your endocannabinoid system (ECS). For this to occur, special receptors in the ECS have to accept CBD and allow it to interact with your body. They’re called your CB1 and CB2 receptors.
While THC may bind to these receptors and create the feeling of being high, CBD has an inverse effect when it binds to these receptors. When cannabidiol is introduced to your ECS, it inhibits the production of a neurotransmitter known as anandamide, a natural cannabinoid your body produces in order to regulate pain.
Though the relationship between CBD and our body is complicated, it’s easier to understand which factors will influence how long it takes for CBD to work and how long the effects of CBD will last.
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Factors that influence CBD
There are a lot of things that influence how long it takes for CBD to work. From your method of consumption to your body weight and metabolism, we’ve broken down these primary factors in greater detail below.
The method of consumption
There are five predominant ways to consume CBD that will influence how long it takes for CBD to work in your body. These include ingestion, topical application, sublingual consumption, vaping, and transdermal.
A common CBD delivery method is to ingest as CBD oil. (Other ingestion methods include a CBD capsule or CBD edible like gummies.) With this method of consumption, CBD enters your digestive system and eventually reaches the liver. There, enzymes will break down the CBD before reaching the bloodstream. When CBD is broken down by the liver, you lose some of the concentration before the remaining CBD is sent to your bloodstream. Because the process of digestion and absorption takes time, it could be up to two hours before the effects of CBD set in.
Topicals made with CBD include lotions, balms, rubs and creams. Your skin absorbs topical products upon application and CBD begins interacting with cannabis receptors. Because our skin can’t absorb CBD as easily, it’s best to either increase the amount of CBD topical you use or instead find a topical that contains a higher concentration of CBD. The effects of CBD topicals will often peak within 90 minutes of application.
Sublingual CBD consumption is a fancy way of classifying CBD products that are absorbed under your tongue. CBD tinctures, sprays, lozenges, and more can be held and absorbed in your mouth, and work more effectively by bypassing the digestive system. This allows CBD to enter your bloodstream without being metabolized. The effects of sublingual CBD ingestion can be felt faster than edible products, so choose this route if you’re looking for quicker results.
Vaping CBD is the process of inhaling vaporized CBD oil contained in a cartridge or pen designed for that purpose. When you inhale CBD, it enters your bloodstream through the lungs. While little data exists to suggest how long it takes to feel the effects, since CBD gets to the bloodstream fairly quickly and from there can be distributed throughout the body, you should feel the effects within 2-5 minutes.
People have been using transdermal skin patches in some form for decades. Because our cells are made of lipids and CBD is a lipid, we can diffuse CBD through our cells until it eventually reaches our blood vessels. Though this option is discreet and effective, it’s still somewhat slow because CBD needs to pass through the many protective layers of our skin. Transdermal patches tend to be slower, taking around 45 minutes to set in but lasting for upwards of 96 hours.
The way CBD interacts with your body is also dependent upon factors that change from person to person. These include your body weight and metabolism.
How much body fat you have will directly influence the amount of CBD you need to consume in order to receive the benefits of CBD. Those who weigh more will need a higher dosage of CBD oil in order to feel the effects, and body fat will also dictate how long CBD stays in your system. While CBD doesn’t have to build up in your body for it to work effectively, it does get stored in fat cells and will remain in your body even after the effects of CBD decline.
Your body’s metabolism determines how quickly you break down and synthesize compounds, and this includes CBD. Those with a faster metabolism will feel the effects of CBD oil sooner because their body will process CBD in a highly efficient manner. Those that have a slower metabolism, on the other hand, will wait a bit longer to feel the effects of CBD. Because everyone’s metabolism is different, there’s no specific amount of time in which CBD will take effect. Trial and error will help you better understand how your body’s metabolism works with CBD.
How much you consume
Finding the optimal dosing schedule that’s right for you is an important part of the consumption process. Do you want to enjoy a CBD oil tincture every day? Are you using a CBD topical every now and then in your skin care routine? The answer to these questions will depend on the type of CBD product you use, the concentration of CBD in the product, and the frequency with which you use CBD. Consuming CBD more frequently may increase the cannabinoid receptors in your body, thus making your endocannabinoid system more receptive to CBD.
Finding the ideal CBD dosage is an important part of the consumption process and will directly impact how long it takes for CBD to work as well as how long it will stay in your system. High-quality CBD derived from the hemp plant is not intended to produce a high, so you don’t need to be conservative with your dosing. That being said, it’s best to start with a lower dose and gradually increase it over time until you’ve found the ideal effects. Taking a higher dosage will also change how long CBD remains in your system, as will the concentration of the CBD oil you’re using.
How long will CBD last?
The amount of time CBD remains in your system is heavily dependent upon the factors above. In general, CBD will remain in your system for 2-5 days or longer, though this doesn’t necessarily correlate with any detectable effects of CBD.
Depending on your consumption method, the effects of CBD will last for 2-4 hours. Of the many consumption options that exist, CBD topicals will last the longest simply because it takes the skin longer to absorb CBD. However, absorbing it through the tongue, such as with a CBD tincture, will tend to work the fastest.
If CBD doesn’t seem to be working for you, be sure to check both the dosage and quality, particularly that you’re using full spectrum CBD oil.
How will CBD oil work for you?
To understand how CBD will interact with your body, it pays to start small and work your way up. If it’s your first time or you’re new to CBD, follow a process of trial and error to determine which CBD product meets your needs, always making sure you’re purchasing something that’s high quality. From there, you can fine-tune your dosage until you’re receiving the desired effects.
Be patient as you find out how much CBD oil works for you. Check out our handy guide to help you determine the right quantity and concentration of CBD oil to use.
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Many factors influence how long it takes for CBD oil to work. We look at how CBD interacts with the body so you know when and how it starts to take effect.