How Long Does It Take for CBD to Work?
We’ve gathered all you need to know about how CBD interacts with the body so that you can have a reasonable expectation of how long its effects will take to occur.
What is CBD?
CBD is a chemical compound found in and extracted from cannabis and hemp plants. Also known as CBD, this chemical belongs to a family of compounds called cannabinoids. Native to cannabis and hemp plant groups, cannabinoids can interact with our bodies when consumed to induce a range of potential effects.
CBD is best known for its potential health benefits. Research tells us that CBD holds significant health potential, with evidence that it may be able to improve the symptoms of anxiety, pain, sleep, and inflammation ( 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 ).
How does CBD interact with the body?
CBD interacts with a body a little differently from most cannabinoids, affecting different receptor types. Typically, cannabinoids exert their effects on the body by binding to cannabinoid receptors like CB1 and CB2. CBD, however, can only weakly bind to CB1 and CB2, meaning that cannabinoid receptors are not an effective means of action. Instead, CBD’s effects occur by the cannabinoid binding to non-cannabinoid receptors and acting on other receptor pathways.
The receptor that CBD binds to will determine the effects that you experience. If a CBD binds to a serotonin receptor, then you might feel reduced anxiety, whereas if it binds to a glycine receptor, then you might experience reduced inflammation ( 6 , 7 ).
Method of consumption matters
The way you choose to consume CBD will alter how quickly you will feel its effects. Different consumption methods go through different biological systems with varying forces that impact how quickly CBD reaches your bloodstream to induce its effects.
As well as affecting the speed of delivery, different consumption methods will also determine CBD strength. This is known as the bioavailability of a consumption method. The higher the bioavailability percentage, the higher the amount of CBD that actually reaches the bloodstream. A high bioavailability percentage means that you will experience stronger effects from the CBD.
Ingesting CBD is likely to leave you with a longer wait time to experience the full effects. Because of the slow absorptive nature of the gut, you should expect edible products to hit their peak at roughly 1.5 to 4 hours after ingestion ( 8 ).
CBD edibles might last a while, but they are not the hardest-hitting product available. Because CBD degrades in the strongly metabolic gut, you can expect a relatively low amount of CBD to reach your bloodstream when you eat it, with a bioavailability hovering around 6-20% ( 9 ).
Inhaling CBD smoke or vapour will transport the cannabinoid’s effects to you quickly. This speedy delivery is because inhalation passes smoke and vapour through the lungs, which contain extremely permeable tissue that allow CBD to get to your bloodstream faster. With CBD inhalation you can expect to feel peak results as early as three minutes after consumption ( 10 ).
The effects of inhaling CBD are also likely to be strong. Smoking CBD can result in a bioavailability of roughly 31%, while vaping can reach a whopping 70% ( 11 , 12 ).
Applying CBD under the tongue can be a way to take CBD with slightly quicker and stronger effects than edibles. Placing CBD oil under the tongue rather than swallowing it might not seem like much of a difference, but the structure of the tongue may provide a quicker delivery. The underside of the tongue contains a mucous membrane that can absorb CBD and transfer it to the blood more effectively than if it had to go through the gut. You can expect to feel CBD’s peak effects at around 2 hours after consumption ( 13 ).
Transdermal products like CBD patches are designed to reach your bloodstream by travelling through your skin, and the time it takes for you to feel the effects of CBD will depend on the specific make-up of the product. These typically have additional ingredients added to them to help CBD penetrate your skin. Transdermal patches can take a few hours to a day to induce their peak effects on the body.
Due to the nature of CBD, it cannot reach the bloodstream through the skin alone. CBD is lipophilic, meaning that it can’t dissolve in oil. Our skin has an oil layer and to cross it, CBD must be “carried” across through additional ingredients like those found in transdermal CBD products.
The key benefits of transdermal CBD are that it allows for easy delivery while avoiding the gut, which degrades CBD and leaves you with a lower bioavailability. An effective transdermal CBD product should leave you with stronger effects than an edible CBD product ( 14 ).
While they are placed on the skin like transdermal CBD products, topical CBD differs in that it is not designed to reach the bloodstream. Topical CBD products like lotions and shampoos are meant to induce a local effect on the area of the skin that they are applied to. Because of this, you may feel local effects from topical CBD relatively quickly.
How dosage affects duration
Because of how different consumption methods metabolise CBD, the time it takes for CBD’s effects to be felt in the body will be roughly the same regardless of the dose . The biggest difference you will experience from a higher dose is the strength of those effects. There may be some slight time added to the duration due to the additional metabolism required.
The bottom line
When it comes to CBD, the method you use to consume it will have the most significant effect on how long it will take to work. Some methods will leave you waiting a few hours before you experience the peak effects of the cannabinoid, while others can deliver you results in minutes.
How Long Does CBD Oil Take to Work?
To understand how long CBD takes to work, you first need a basic understanding of what CBD is, and how different variables can impact its onset of action. In general, CBD is absorbed into the bloodstream within 20 minutes to 2 hours depending on the method of delivery. 1 Other variables like the dosage, full spectrum or THC-free, consistency, and quality can also play a role in how quickly you begin to feel the benefits of CBD. How long does CBD oil take to work? It really depends on your goals and expectations, along with other variables like your age, body weight, and metabolism.
However, for anyone trying CBD for a more serious issue, consistency and patience needs to be part of your wellness routine for the full potential of CBD to be realized.
- 1) CBD Takes to Enter Your Bloodstream
- a) Factor 1: Method of Intake
- b) Factor 2: Dosage & Potency
- c) Factor 3: CBD Quality
- d) Factor 4: Individual Biology
- e) Factor 5: Consistency
- 2) Feeling Out How CBD Works for You
- 3) What kind of CBD should I take?
- 4) What time of day should I take CBD?
- 5) How Often Should I Take CBD?
- 6) How Long Does It Take for CBD to Work?
- 7) After one month of CBD: how will I feel?
If you’d like to know more about what it takes to begin seeing results, read on as we explore the variables, but first watch my short video below!
How Long CBD Takes to Enter Your Bloodstream
As I mentioned above, the answer to how long CBD takes to work really depends on your own definition of the word “work.” Mild anxiety is going to be much quicker and easier to address than a more serious condition.
Simply put: the answer to this question isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. It is a step by step approach that acknowledges how the benefits of CBD, and how long it takes to achieve them, may differ from different delivery methods and the issue at hand. For example: how long it takes CBD to work will differ drastically between sublingual oils, CBD capsules, and CBD topicals. So let’s get down to the nitty gritty!
Factor 1: Method of Intake
There are many different ways to consume CBD. Each of these methods has a different impact on how much, and how quickly, the CBD gets absorbed into your bloodstream. 2 This phenomenon is called bioavailability. It’s important to understand this because it will help you determine how much you’ll need to take to feel its effects; and you can also get an idea of how long it will take for your CBD to work.
CBD Bioavailability Chart
As you can see in the chart above, the consumption method of CBD is the biggest determining factor in how long it may take for CBD oil to work. The quickest and most bioavailable method of CBD consumption is through inhalation, but many states still prohibit the sale of CBD-rich hemp flowers for smoking. The next best is a sublingual oil or tincture, followed by ingestible CBD capsules and finally topicals.
Because CBD capsules have to travel through your digestive system, they have what’s known as a first-pass metabolism. This means that it’ll take longer to feel the effects of the CBD, or in medical terms – the bioavailability rate. (To clarify: this applies for all edible cannabis products, because all of them have to pass through your digestive system.)
On the other hand, CBD oil avoids first-pass metabolism by going straight through the capillaries under your tongue. This makes it the most effective method of delivery after smoking, and it means you’ll feel it quicker. 3 This is also the main reason we formulate our organic CBD oils with medium chain coconut oil. Because of its thin and viscous characteristics, it absorbs quickly when placed under the tongue.
There are other variables at play in how long it takes, but this should help you determine when your specific form of CBD will start working.
Factor 2: Dosage & Potency
The amount of CBD you’re taking every day will affect how quickly you will begin feeling its effects. In general, the more that you’re taking, the quicker you’ll feel it.
For example, if you take a high dose of CBD to Support a healthy Sleep Cycle, you’ll probably feel sleepy in about 15-30 minutes. In contrast, if you take a lower serving for general wellness or everyday aches or pains, it could take a few days of dosing to notice significant results. 4
How Much CBD Should I Take?
The bottom line is that when you’re choosing a CBD product, you should consider the type of results you’re trying to achieve and adjust your dosage accordingly. This may also include testing different consumption methods or a different application style. It can also depend on your body mass, and if you’re taking any prescription medications. 5
Everyone is different, and this is something you need to dial in for yourself. A full dropper of our 750 mg CBD oil is 25 mg, which we think is a great daily serving to start with. But some people take more, and some need less. CBD can be a powerful supplement, especially when it contains THC alongside it. So it’s best to consult with your doctor to determine the right dose for you and avoid any CBD side effects.
Factor 3: CBD Quality
We’ve said it time and time again: not all CBD products are created equally. Because this market is largely unregulated, many brands on the market do very little to maintain the quality of their products. 6 Some CBD brands use ingredients that have impurities, additives, and adulterants which will significantly effect the safety of your product. This is why you should always look for a third party lab test to know that you’re getting a high quality CBD product, along with the USDA organic seal.
We also recommend looking for a full spectrum CBD product, which contains more cannabinoids than just CBD. Just like CBD, these other cannabinoids don’t get you high; but they do have a synergetic effect that heightens your body’s response through the “entourage effect.” 7 One of those cannabinoids is probably one you’ve heard a lot about, and that’s THC. In order for a product to truly be considered full spectrum, make sure it contains trace amounts of THC. The legal amount is no more than 0.3 percent of total dry weight.
The origin of the raw hemp plant material is another key factor that determines the quality of your product. Hemp is a powerful bioaccumulator, meaning that it soaks up all the nutrients and toxins in the soil it grows in. If the soil isn’t pre-tested for toxins, pesticides, or heavy metals, those things could end up in your CBD. That’s why you should only use CBD products made from hemp grown in the USA, and preferably in Kentucky. In addition, if the farmer uses synthetic fertilizers, or if the field doesn’t go through a multi-year crop rotation, there will be fewer nutrients in the soil and the hemp will contain less CBD. 8
You can avoid all of these problems by opting for an organic cannabis product that’s been certified organic by the USDA. As we explore in this article, the USDA has strict guidelines for organic farming and processing. This means that USDA certified organic products will be responsibly sourced and of higher quality. 9
Factor 4: Individual Biology
Although you can count on certain effects to take place, no two people respond exactly the same to CBD, even if they have the same consumption, the same delivery method, and the same body composition. One person could feel their CBD tinctures in 10 minutes, yet someone else could take the same dose and feel it in an hour. 10
There are several key considerations that fall into this category, and they all affect the amount of time it will take to feel CBD’s effects.
Like most cannabinoids, CBD is fat-soluble. Those who weigh more tend to have more fat cells in their body, which means that they’ll absorb and store CBD for longer in their body.
While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it does mean that people with more fat cells in their body will most likely need more time to adjust. It’s not all bad news, though: the higher your body mass, the longer it takes for CBD to work. 11
While individual metabolism does involve burning calories, it also affects how your body breaks down compounds like CBD. Depending on your age, your lifestyle, your digestive system, and your 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’ll feel the effects come on faster; but you’ll also feel it wear off more quickly. On the other hand, if you have a slow metabolism, you’ll notice that it takes longer to feel your CBD coming on; and it will stay in your body for longer.
CBD is part of a unique set of compounds called cannabinoids. These compounds interact with a biological system found in nearly all animals. It’s called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), and its cannabinoid receptors are found throughout your entire body. While we’re just beginning to understand how the ECS works, research suggests that it’s responsible for many of your biological functions like your mood, sleep, appetite, and pain response. 13
If your ECS is imbalanced, you could experience a large range of negative symptoms as a result. While the science is still out on this subject, CBD could help to alleviate these symptoms by attaching to the receptors and rebalancing your system. In general, the more your endocannabinoid system is imbalanced, the longer it will take to feel the effects.
While there’s no way to quantify how much of an imbalance you’re experiencing; you can probably gauge this yourself by assessing the severity of your symptoms.
Factor 5: Consistency
For some people, the positive effects come immediately. A lot of people will notice that they’re experiencing less stress, less tension, and better sleep after just one dose of CBD — but this is just from anecdotal reports. For others, it might take a few weeks to notice the powerful effects of CBD. So if you don’t feel it right away, be patient.
Some impatient people might give up after a few CBD doses and brush it off as snake oil that doesn’t work. While these people might be taking a bad-quality product, they’re also ignoring one of the key properties of CBD oil — take it consistently.
Regardless of what you’re feeling, the positive results come slowly. The key to getting the most benefits out of your CBD is consistency! A consistent, daily dose will eventually restore balance your ECS; and you’ll be glad you stuck with it.
Feeling Out How CBD Works for You
When you’re new to CBD, the first thing to know is that the effects take a few days to become noticeable. That means when you begin taking CBD every day, it’s good to be mindful of how your body responds to your daily CBD dosage. To discover its full effects, we recommend trying it for a full 30 days.
Your first 30 days on CBD is an important time to better understand your body and how it responds. Below we answer many of the most common beginners’ questions about CBD.
The potential therapeutic benefits that CBD oils and tinctures offer are becoming more recognized, making people more interested in getting started. The first 30 days can be a trial and error time in finding what works best for you, the individual. After reading these answers to the most common questions, you are likely to add a cannabis supplement into your everyday routine soon.
What Kind of CBD Should I Take?
For first time users, we always recommend starting with full spectrum CBD oil, which you take sublingually — which means a dropper of oil under your tongue for 30 to 60 seconds to let it absorb through the mucous membrane in your mouth.
Some people have trouble taking our CBD hemp oil under the tongue, and so they prefer the CBD capsules. They are also worth considering if you’re experiencing inflammation in the lower digestive tract, as capsules get further down into the gut.
People looking for pain relief in a specific area often apply a CBD lotion on the affected area, while avoiding the eyes and mucous membranes. For best results, we recommend pairing CBD lotion with sublingual oil, and using the same delivery methods at the same time everyday.
You’ll also always want to make sure whatever CBD product you are using has third party lab tests. The best companies have a QR code, and all of their company information, and testing lab information readily available to be reviewed before or after purchase. In order for CBD oil to work, you must first make sure that what you’re taking is real! If you can’t view the third party test results before making your purchase, then hold off until you can do more research.
Unfortunately, many unscrupulous brands sell fake CBD oil. 14 This is actually just hemp seed oil with a fake concentration listed on the bottle. You’ll also want to stay away from any brand that is making lofty health claims about its CBD oil. No medical claims regarding full spectrum CBD oil have been approved by the FDA, as of 2021. 15
What Time of Day Should I Take It?
This answer is different for everyone. The important thing is to find a time of day to best incorporate CBD into your daily routine. If you’re suffering from discomfort and inflammation during the day, maybe it’s best to take it in the morning. But if you’re using CBD because you’ve read reports that it can help you sleep, then taking it just before bedtime is your sweet spot.
How Often Should I Take CBD?
To begin, start taking CBD once per day, a full dropper of 25 milligrams, or 50 milligrams if you’re using our extra-strength CBD oils. See how you’re feeling and sleeping. For first time users, it can be good to “load dose” at first — taking larger than normal servings. That means, take a full dropper in the morning, and another full dropper before bedtime.
You will know if you have taken too much if you feel groggy in the morning, or if you experience diarrhea symptoms. 16 If you feel these side effects, dial back your current daily dosage to find something that works best for you.
How often you take CBD may also play a role in a drug test or work-related drug screenings. After taking CBD oil consistently for a period of weeks, the cannabinoids begin to build up within our systems, especially in fat cells, which could cause you to test positive during drug screenings. 17 If drug testing is a concern for your job, talk to your HR department before you start taking CBD consistently. You may also consider switching to a CBD topical, which has a far lower risk of showing up on a drug test.
How Long Does It Take For CBD Oil To Work?
It takes a few days for CBD to work, and it’s not something that you’ll notice right away. Be mindful of any pain, anxiety, and changes in sleep patterns as you work through your first week. Keep journal entries to track sleep and progress, and the amount of CBD you’re taking. This will help you be aware of the effects of CBD on your body. Understand that health benefits from natural supplements like CBD edibles, CBD tincture and oils don’t happen overnight. It takes time for the human body to adjust after implementing several different changes into our lifestyle. It also depends on the amount of CBD you’re taking to really experience the true effects of hemp derived CBD products .
After One Month of CBD: How Will I Feel?
After a month of CBD usage, you’ll likely feel different. 18 But if you don’t believe us, try taking it for one month consistently, and then don’t take it for a week. Those bad feelings may return. That’s when you’ll know how CBD makes you feel, and you’ll be ready to order your CBD oil here. At Cornbread Hemp, we are passionate about producing our Flower-Only™ full spectrum, USDA organic hemp extract for consuming CBD in several different effective methods. And because our third-party lab partner tests every batch, you’ll never need to worry about potentially negative side effects from any harmful contaminants.
About the Author
Dr. Leslie Mudd, PharmD
A board certified oncology pharmacist with 25 years experience at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center in Louisville, Kentucky, Dr. Leslie Mudd now serves as the Cornbread Hemp resident pharmacist and medical expert. Read Dr. Mudd’s full author bio here.
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All rights reserved. The statements made regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The health effects and benefits of CBD products have not been confirmed by FDA-approved research. Hemp derived CBD products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All information presented here is not meant as a substitute for or alternative to health information from licensed health care practitioners. Please consult your health care professional about potential interactions with prescription medication, or about other side effects before using any product. Taking too much CBD, and high doses of CBD may also cause undesired side effects. You should always consult with your doctor or another health care provider if you are considering making any changes to your lifestyle, diet or nutrition. Any CBD product is not intended for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, please consult your doctor for more information before choosing to use CBD.
Cornbread Hemp works with cannabis plant suppliers who guarantee an equal to or less than 0.3 percent THC content. While there are no psychoactive side effects with these trace amounts of no more than 0.3% THC, it is possible that users may fail a drug test. Cornbread Hemp does not take any responsibility in the instance a customer fails a drug test while using any form of CBD products. Check state laws before travelling with any hemp derived CBD products.