CBD has garnered a lot of interest as of late due to its many therapeutic properties, and this increased popularity has likely attracted a lot of newcomers who want to find out all the benefits CBD has to offer. Among beginners to CBD, one of the more common questions is how long does CBD take to work?
Simply put, there is no one definitive answer to how quickly CBD’s therapeutic effects become noticeable, as a number of factors influence how it is absorbed by the body, and the effects will vary from person to person. In this article, we discuss these factors that influence how long it takes CBD to kick in, as well as a few other concerns relating to CBD’s pharmacokinetics.
Different Methods of Ingestion
CBD can be ingested through a number of different methods, and the manner in which it enters the bloodstream has a large impact on how quickly its effects are felt. An important distinction between the methods of ingestion is whether or not CBD becomes subject to first-pass metabolism, a process through which a substance is broken down before it reaches circulation. This process decreases CBD’s bioavailability, or how much of the substance actually reaches the bloodstream.
Sublingual / Nasal
CBD can bypass first-pass metabolism if it is taken sublingually (under the tongue) or nasally. There are thin mucous membranes both under the tongue and in the nasal cavity that will absorb any chemical it comes into contact with and circulate it throughout the bloodstream. To achieve this, CBD oil can be dropped beneath the tongue or it can be sprayed into the nose. CBD’s effects will become noticeable about 15-30 minutes when taken through this method.
CBD is often ingested orally in various forms, such as in beverages, edibles, and capsules. When administered orally, CBD generally takes about 1-2 hours to take effect, but it can take up to six depending on the user’s metabolism.
Cannabinoids have a low bioavailability when ingested orally due to the first-pass metabolism, but a couple of measures can be taken to improve CBD’s effectiveness. Since cannabinoids are highly lipophilic (combines easily with fats), eating foods rich in healthy fats can affect how quickly CBD takes to work. Furthermore, emulsifying CBD in oil can help increase its bioavailability, such as in our CBD Softgel Capsules.
Topical / Transdermal
Topical or transdermal application of CBD allows for a steady amount to be absorbed over a prolonged time period. CBD products such as lotions, topical creams, and oils are ideal for targeting specific body parts that are inflamed or in pain.
Applying CBD products to the skin can take anywhere from 10 minutes to over an hour to take effect, mainly due to the varying permeability of different locations on the body. Skin on the head, neck, and trunk areas has the highest permeability, while skin on the arms and legs has the lowest. However, regardless of where CBD is applied on the skin, its effects will be felt more quickly in that specific area.
Taking CBD with a vaporizer or nebulizer has a much more immediate effect. Inhaling CBD vapor allows it to enter the bloodstream faster, where it can easily cross the blood-brain barrier and affect the central nervous system. CBD’s effects are typically felt just minutes after inhalation, and they reach a peak after about 10 minutes. However, peoples’ varying inhalation techniques will also influence how much CBD gets into their systems and how rapidly its effects manifest.
Individual Differences Affect Onset Time of CBD
While averages for CBD’s onset time can be measured and predicted, the actual amount of time it takes for CBD to work comes down to individual differences in people’s bodies, diets, lifestyles, and metabolism. People who weigh more are going to require an overall larger dose of CBD for it to be effective, and it will take longer to circulate to the brain and throughout the body compared to someone smaller.
People also have varying metabolism speeds, which will determine the rate at which substances are broken down and absorbed by the body. Natural differences in metabolism exist due to genetics, but it can also be affected by diet and nutrition. As mentioned before, a diet high in fat can help with CBD absorption, but nutritional deficiencies can alter metabolism and slow down the rate of absorption.
Quality and Type of CBD
When determining how quickly CBD will work, it is essential to pay close attention to the product itself. There are three typical categories of CBD products: full spectrum CBD, broad spectrum CBD, and CBD isolate. Full and broad spectrum CBD products are likely to work more quickly due to the presence of additional cannabinoids and terpenes that work synergistically (the entourage effect), something that CBD isolate products do not provide. One study showed that epileptic patients required four times less CBD to achieve a desired result when it was not in a purified isolate form.
Moreover, CBD products will vary in overall quality, which can also influence how rapidly its effects are felt. High quality CBD products that are organic, accurately labeled, and free of harmful additives such as herbicides and pesticides will be much more effective and work faster.
How Often Should I Take CBD?
After learning how long it takes CBD to work, another important question remains: What is the proper amount of time to wait between doses of CBD? Fortunately, there is no known danger in taking too much CBD other than some potential uncomfortable side effects. Be that as it may, you don’t want to take more CBD than necessary as high quality CBD is not inexpensive.
The most important thing you can do is listen to your body and adjust as needed. Once you take time to determine the optimal dosage for your personal needs. It will also require some trial and error in finding out what kind of dosing schedule works best for you.
In general terms, when ingested orally, the effects of CBD last between 8-20 hours. When inhaled, effects are achieved rapidly and peak about 10 minutes after inhalation, lasting for about 3-5 hours. CBD lotions and oils work best when applied to the skin 1-4 times daily as needed, and can be used in different areas as symptoms arise.
Does CBD Need to Build Up in Your System to Work?
Some drugs and other substances must build up in the body for at least a few days until the full effect of the drug is achieved. CBD does not necessarily have to reach a steady state in the body to work as some find relief the very first time it is taken.
That being said, if your endocannabinoid system is out of whack, it’s likely that it took some time to develop this deficiency. Depending on the severity of your condition, you should not expect to reverse course immediately after only one or two doses. Some find that taking a consistent daily dose for several days can help stimulate the endocannabinoid system enough to induce homeostasis and remain in balance.
If no noticeable effects are experienced after using CBD for a few days, it is likely because the dosage was too low, there was an issue with the product itself, or one of the other many factors why CBD may not be working.
How Long Will CBD Stay in Your System?
CBD is legal in most states within the U.S., but THC, the psychoactive constituent of cannabis, is not. Since full spectrum CBD products from hemp contain trace amounts of THC, some might worry about the possibility of it showing up on drug tests. The main concern with drug testing is how long does THC stay in your system. The chances of failing a drug test with CBD alone are slim, but it would still be useful to know how long it takes CBD, and cannabinoids in general, to leave your system.
As with the absorption rate, the rate at which CBD leaves your body depends on the manner in which it is ingested, as well as how much is taken. CBD’s biological half-life is 1-2 hours if inhaled, applied on the skin, or taken orally on occasion. It is approximately 3 hours when taken in capsule form, 1-10 hours when taken sublingually, and 2-5 days if taken orally on a regular basis. In addition, like any other substance, the higher the dose of CBD, the longer it will take for the body to eliminate it.
- A number of internal and external factors will influence how CBD is absorbed by the body and how quickly it is eliminated.
- Every person is different; weight, metabolism, diet and health status will influence the effectiveness of CBD’s absorption rate.
- The method of consumption is one of the highest determinants for the rate of absorption and length of time CBD will remain in your system.
- CBD does not necessarily need to build up in your system, but some may need a sustained regimen of regular use to achieve its intended purpose, depending on their needs and deficiencies.
- Each individual will need to experiment to determine their particular optimal dose and schedule for taking CBD.