How long does it take CBD oil to work?
In recent years, cannabidiol (CBD) oil has skyrocketed in popularity. Knowledge about how it works in the human body, however, has accelerated at a snail’s pace. If you’ve ever wondered, “How long does it take for CBD oil to work?” or “How long will the effects of CBD oil last?” you’re not alone.
In this article, we’ll answer these questions and cover how different consumption methods will alter your CBD experience.
How does CBD interact with the body?
CBD interacts with the brain and body through a number of mechanisms. Upon ingestion, CBD interacts with a wide range of proteins in the body and central nervous system. A key part of this interaction takes place within the endocannabinoid system (ECS) — specifically the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors.
When cannabidiol is introduced to the endocannabinoid system, it inhibits the absorption of anandamide, a natural cannabinoid molecule that regulates pain. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
CBD also interacts with other receptor proteins not directly related to the ECS, such as the serotonin receptor 5-HT1A and vanilloid receptor TRPV1. Any potential anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties of CBD could stem from the activation of these additional biological pathways.
Bottom line: The relationship between CBD and the human body is complicated. The method of consumption, the quality of the CBD product, and individual body chemistry all determine how this cannabinoid moves through your body and how long it takes to leave your system.
The method of consumption matters
The method of consumption plays a critical role in how long it will take to feel the effects of CBD. CBD is available in many different forms, and each has an influence on the onset time, among other factors.
The most common method for CBD consumption involves administering a couple of drops directly into the mouth. Swallowing the oil will prevent the CBD from immediately entering your bloodstream, sending it instead through the digestive tract and eventually on to the liver, where it is broken down before finally reaching the bloodstream.
Studies show that when CBD compounds are metabolized by the liver, it undergoes what is called the “first pass effect,” where enzymes in the liver reduce CBD concentration before the remainder is finally sent to the bloodstream and circulated throughout the body.
When ingesting CBD edibles, the same principle applies. Let’s say, for example, you’re taking CBD gummies or adding a few drops of CBD oil into your favorite recipe. It will ultimately go through the same lengthy process and reduce the total CBD concentration in your bloodstream. With ingestion, it could be one to two hours before the effects of CBD finally set in.
Bottom line: Ingesting CBD via a tincture or a CBD oil-infused edible will result in a longer onset (up to two hours) and possibly weaker effects.
You can consume CBD oil sublingually by placing a few drops of CBD under your tongue and rubbing it into the tissue there with your tongue or finger for at least 30 seconds to a minute before swallowing. This will allow the mucous membranes in your mouth to absorb the CBD, partially bypassing the digestive system and liver, for much quicker entry into the bloodstream. Effects may be felt within seconds. Just like when you ingest THC edibles though, you’ll get a second onset of effects a couple of hours later when the CBD that wasn’t absorbed sublingually makes it through your digestive system.
Administering a couple of drops of CBD oil directly under the tongue is the quickest and easiest way to reap the potential benefits. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Bottom line: Expect to feel the effects of sublingual administration within 30 minutes. Any effects you feel should last an hour or more but be bolstered at about two hours.
Whether you’re smoking a high-CBD strain, puffing on a hemp flower pre-roll, or taking a draw from a CBD vape pen, inhalation is often seen as an effective method of delivery for CBD because of how quickly it’s absorbed in the body. When you smoke CBD flower or vape CBD oil, cannabinoids go directly to your lungs where they rapidly enter your bloodstream and circulate throughout your body. CBD reaches peak concentrations within three minutes after consumption, meaning the effects can be felt shortly after use.
Inhalation is often seen as an effective method of delivery for CBD because of how quickly it’s absorbed in the body. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Bottom line: Smoking CBD flower or vaping CBD oil is one of the fastest ways to experience the effects of CBD. Any effects you feel will set in almost immediately and last roughly an hour or slightly longer.
When it comes to easy, effective CBD dosing, transdermal patches have a lot going for them. Based on the same principles as nicotine or birth control patches, CBD patches deliver a long-lasting dose very efficiently. The cannabinoid readily diffuses into our skin, through our skin cells, and into the bloodstream, especially when it’s helped along by permeation enhancers. Patches can help with localized skin and muscle issues but they are right up there with smoking when it comes to getting as much of the CBD you consume into your bloodstream as possible. It’s also a discreet option that delivers a steady dose over hours.
CBD patches deliver a long-lasting dose very efficiently. Photo by: Shutterstock
Bottom line: Using a transdermal CBD patch is an efficient, effective way to enjoy the cannabinoid’s effects, which set in within an hour and last for several hours, depending on the patch’s formulation.
When you apply topical CBD products directly to your skin, the CBD is absorbed and slowly interacts with localized cannabinoid receptors. In some cases, CBD-infused topicals should be applied liberally to overcome the low cannabinoid absorption rate of the skin. With topical application, any CBD effects you feel will peak after about 90 minutes. This method of administration is often used for chronic pain in specific areas.
Topical CBD is applied directly to and can be absorbed through the surface of the skin. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Bottom line: Applying CBD oil topically isn’t likely to have a profound effect, but it may help address mild discomfort in specific areas of your body.
The way CBD interacts with and leaves your body depends on several factors that vary from person to person.
Body fat influences the amount of CBD you need to feel an effect. The larger the body mass, the more CBD required to feel potential effects. Bodyweight and mass also affect how long CBD will remain in your system. Like THC, CBD is stored in fat cells and gradually eliminated from the body through urine and feces.
The metabolic rate of the individual also has some sway over how long CBD stays in the system. The body’s metabolism determines the time needed to break down and synthesize compounds, which affects how long it takes the body to process and metabolize the cannabinoid.
Your body’s metabolism affects how long it takes to process and metabolize cannabinoids. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Frequency of use
It’s not just your body that influences how long it takes CBD to work, but also the quality of the CBD product and how often it’s used. Once you acquire CBD oil, the next step is to find the optimal dosing regimen, including frequency of use. The answers will depend largely on the type of product, amount of CBD inside it, and the specific ailment you are targeting. Most reputable manufacturers will provide instructions on how to properly use the product, but experimentation may be required to find the optimal dose for you and your specific needs.
Settling on the ideal CBD dosage is an important part of the treatment process, and will also impact how long CBD stays in your system. Hemp-derived CBD products are not intended to give the user a stoned buzz or intoxicated feeling, so there’s no need to be conservative with the dosage amount. Still, it’s recommended to start with a lower dosage and gradually increase it until the ideal effects are discovered.
If you’re brand new to CBD, start with a few puffs of a smokeable product, 1 milliliter of oil or tincture, or 10 milligrams of CBD if you’re consuming an edible product. Wait to see how you respond before consuming more.
How long does it take CBD to get out of your system?
We’ve covered the factors that determine how long it takes for CBD to work, but what about how long it takes to get CBD out of your system? Again, it depends on many of the aforementioned factors that determine the effectiveness of the cannabinoid itself.
CBD can be detected up to 72 hours after smoking. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
A 2018 review of existing CBD studies found that the estimated half-life of CBD was two to five days for those who took a daily oral dose. Other delivery methods delivered varied half-lives. Since you may feel the effects of CBD immediately after inhalation, this method is appealing for those seeking immediate, potential pain relief. The same study found that the half-life of smoked CBD was 31 hours.
How CBD affects drug test results
Some people may be apprehensive to try CBD over concerns that it could cause them to fail a drug test. It’s highly unlikely that CBD would show up on most drug screenings, as most tests specifically look for the presence of THC and THC metabolites. But even hemp-derived CBD can contain trace amounts of THC, so there’s technically a chance — albeit extremely slim — of receiving a false-positive test result from taking an unusually large dose of CBD oil (estimates range from 1,000 to 2,000 milligrams per day).
For those worried about THC showing up in their system, look for broad-spectrum oil or products that contain pure CBD isolate. Broad-spectrum oil, as opposed to full-spectrum oil, is refined to exclude the trace amounts of THC that may have been present in the hemp plant. Products with CBD isolate contain no THC or other plant-based cannabinoids. To find high-quality CBD, search for products that come with a certificate of analysis from a third-party testing lab to ensure that the information listed on the product label is accurate. Be careful not to confuse hemp seed oil or hemp oil, which seldom contain any CBD at all, with CBD oil. These products will provide a hearty dose of omega-3 fatty acids, but they won’t provide any potential pain-relieving or anti-anxiety effects.
Frequently asked questions
How long does it take for CBD oil to work orally?
Consuming CBD oil via sublingual administration will deliver any effects within 30 minutes. CBD edibles have the longest onset time, and it may take two hours to feel any effects.
How soon does CBD oil work for anxiety?
It depends on how you consume it. For the quickest potential anxiety relief, smoke high-CBD hemp flower, vape a CBD oil vape, or administer CBD sublingually, taking care to rub it in.
Does CBD oil actually do anything?
That depends on the person, the quality of the CBD oil, and the consumption method. If you’ve used a CBD product in the past and it did nothing, check whether it came from a licensed brand or retailer that performs third-party lab tests. If this is the case, the dosage might be at play. Unlike THC and most other cannabis products, CBD is non-intoxicating and you can experiment with large increases in your dose with little risk. If you take any prescription medication, be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist before trying CBD in any form.
How long does it take for CBD oil to work for pain relief?
If you’re using a topical product for potential localized pain relief, it could take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour to feel a difference. Again, buy products from licensed brands and retailers that perform third-party lab tests to ensure you’re getting a legitimate product.
How Long Does It Take for CBD Oil to Work?
Cannabis is a complex plant — and so is its relationship with our bodies.
On top of modulating the endocannabinoid system (ECS), CBD has over 65 molecular targets, affecting a wide range of physiological and mental processes (1–2).
This makes it difficult to gauge precisely how long it will take for CBD oil to work for each individual. Every person is different and has unique body chemistry. People also have varying diets, lifestyles, and struggle with different health concerns.
CBD comes in many forms; each of them affects the absorption rate of the cannabinoid, determining the time CBD oil needs to kick in.
After years of research and advocating for the health benefits of CBD — and using it ourselves — we’ve created a concise guide to the effects of CBD oil: what they are, how long it takes for them to work, and how long they stay with the user.
We’ve also prepared a FAQ section with more detailed questions about this subject.
Factors that Impact CBD Oil Absorption
It may take anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours for CBD oil to work. The ultimate time depends on how you consume your CBD, your goals regarding the effects, and the serving size.
The most common forms of CBD include:
- CBD oil – products such as oil drops, tinctures, or sprays, provide relatively fast absorption and long duration of effects. They also offer precise dosing. CBD oil is taken under the tongue, where it gets absorbed through tiny blood vessels.
- CBD vape pen – vaporization offers the fastest absorption rate; the effects of CBD oil are felt almost immediately after the last puff from your vape pen
- Topical CBD – this form relates to a broad range of products, including CBD creams, lotions, gels, balms, bath bombs, and more. The absorption rate varies depending on the product’s formula, but it can take anywhere between 20 minutes and 2 hours until you can experience the effects. Topicals are used for localized relief and skin moisturization.
- Oral CBD products – taking a CBD-infused capsule, gummy bear, or sucking a honey straw straight from the tube is a fun way to enjoy the effects and benefits of CBD. However, since the CBD needs to pass through the digestive system, the effects are delayed by up to 2 hours.
Other important factors determining the time it will take for CBD oil to work include the potency of your product, the serving size, and what you want to alleviate with CBD.
In the next section, we elaborate on the efficacy of different CBD consumption methods.
How Fast Does CBD Work?
It’s advisable to consult a holistic doctor experienced in cannabis use before introducing CBD products to your routine. A consultation with a CBD-friendly professional should help you establish the right dosage and choose the most suitable consumption method for your needs.
Here’s how long it takes for CBD products to work depending on their form — and how long they last.
How Long Does It Take for Oral CBD Products to Work?
Taking CBD capsules have become popular due to their ease of use, convenience, and hassle-free dosage. Each CBD capsule offers a fixed amount of CBD, so there’s not much guesswork involved unlike with CBD oil. Before the CBD enters the bloodstream, it needs to pass through the digestive tract and the liver. From there, it can reach the endocannabinoid system and produce its effects. Due to the “first-pass” metabolism in the liver, the effects of oral CBD have a delayed onset. In the best-case scenario, you may start feeling the effects in as little as 20 minutes, but most people have to wait about 60 minutes to start feeling the effects of CBD capsules. The same pattern applies to edibles such as CBD gummies and honey sticks. As the liver releases CBD gradually into your system, the effects may stick around for up to 10 hours.
How Long Does it Take for Sublingual CBD to Work?
Sublingual CBD products range from CBD oils to tinctures and sprays. They are taken under the tongue for up to 60 seconds before swallowing; doing so allows the CBD to avoid the first-pass metabolism and absorb directly into the bloodstream. Sublingual CBD is considered the second-best form to take CBD if you want the effects to work fast. Typically, it takes around 15–20 minutes to feel the effects of CBD; they usually last for 4–6 hours.
How Long Does It Take for CBD Vape to Work?
Vaporization — inhaling CBD-rich vapor from a vape pen — offers the highest bioavailability of all consumption methods, meaning that you’re getting the most out of your CBD product. That’s because vaping delivers CBD and other compounds of your CBD liquid through the lungs, where they diffuse right into the bloodstream, bypassing the digestive system. The effects are often felt within a minute or two after inhalation, lasting generally for 3–4 hours.
How Long Does It Take for CBD Cream to Work?
Topicals like CBD cream offer many benefits. Studies suggest that the skin has its own endocannabinoid system. When you apply CBD topically, it penetrates the skin barrier, reaching the epidermis layer where CB2 receptors are located. From there, it can produce its soothing and antioxidant effects. In other words, CBD may protect the skin against the damage that causes wrinkles, pigmentation, and other signs of passing time.
The topical method needs more time to take effect than vaporization or sublingual use. People typically report first signs of relief after one hour, but the benefits are longer lasting (up to 8 hours).
What Are the Effects and Benefits of CBD Oil?
As said above, CBD is known to interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is a vast regulatory network responsible for the body’s ability to maintain homeostasis. This fancy term refers to the balance between all bodily functions; the ECS produces its own chemical messengers (endocannabinoids) that bind to cannabinoid receptors in order to restore that balance whenever it falls out of whack.
CBD and other cannabis compounds have a similar structure to endocannabinoids. They can either bind to the cannabinoid receptors or modulate their activity by signaling the endocannabinoid system to exert certain actions on the body and brain.
A dysfunctional endocannabinoid system can result in a condition known as Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CECD), which has been recently suggested by researchers as the underlying cause of many chronic ailments.
CBD signals the ECS to produce and maintain higher concentrations of its natural cannabinoids. On top of that, CBD works on several receptor-based and receptor-independent pathways, affecting other systems in the body.
This multifaceted mechanism of action is the reason why CBD has so many health benefits, including (3):
- Better stress management
- Enhanced focus
- Revitalized skin
- Healthy rest
- Reduced physical discomfort
- The overall sense of balance
- Better post-workout regeneration
- Elevated mood
- Improved alertness
Unlike its cousin THC, CBD is a non-intoxicant, meaning it won’t get you high. Instead, CBD will block the activity of THC on the CB1 receptors in the brain, resulting in a milder psychoactive effect when these two compounds are taken together.
CBD is found in hemp and selectively-bred high-CBD marijuana strains. Hemp-derived CBD is currently the only federally legal form. CBD from marijuana can be found in states that have legalized its recreational use or, at least, offer some sort of medical marijuana program for patients.
Numerous health agencies, including The World Health Organization (WHO), have classified CBD as a safe and well-tolerated substance without the potential for abuse. According to studies, CBD is as likely to be abused as a placebo (4).
CBD Effects FAQ
We’ve put together the most frequently asked questions about the time it takes for CBD oil to work. Here we explain everything from dosing CBD to establishing the best routine for your supplementation.
1. How Much CBD Oil Should You Take to Feel the Effects?
Determining the best CBD dosage for yourself is easier said than done.
There are no official dosage guidelines in place, nor is there a specific dose that would produce desired effects for everyone.
Everybody is different and reacts differently to CBD oil; the only way to find out how much CBD you need to feel its benefits is to experiment with different dosages.
If you want to take CBD for a general health boost, a dose of 5–10 mg a day should do the trick. Bigger people will need more CBD in their routine, as well as those who have been recommended higher doses by their physician. Others prefer microdosing, which means taking 1–2 mg of CBD every few hours, for biohacking purposes.
The effects of CBD may be felt instantly, but in order to evaluate its full potential, it’s best to give it about 2 weeks so it can consistently work with your endocannabinoid system.
Once you’ve found the effective dose — a.k.a. your recommended serving size, you can lock in at that dosage and stick to it, as people don’t build a tolerance to CBD.
2. Where Should You Start With Dosing CBD?
CBD isn’t a magical pill; it’s an effective tool for improving one’s quality of life, but it’s not a quick fix to all your health problems. There’s no need to rush with large doses unless your doctor has recommended doing so. The best thing you can do is start really low — up to 5 milligrams for a single serving — and gradually work your way up to the effective dose.
3. How Long Do the Effects of CBD Oil Last?
The duration of the effects of CBD oil largely depends on your metabolism. Although the trace amounts of CBD will stay in your system for 2–5 days, these amounts won’t produce any real effects.
Depending on how you consume CBD, its effects will stick around with you for anywhere between 2–10 hours. Here’s how it looks like for each of the common CBD formats:
- CBD oil – up to 6 hours
- CBD vape pens – up to 4 hours
- CBD capsules and edibles – up to 10 hours
- CBD topicals – 8–10 hours
4. Should You Take CBD Oil with Food Or on an Empty Stomach?
Some companies recommend taking their CBD oils on an empty stomach, using the argument that doing so will reduce the time needed for the effects of CBD oil to work. While you can’t argue with that, this approach reduces its overall potency. Since CBD is fat-soluble (it dissolves in fats), any amount that you swallow needs to pass through the digestive system. When you take CBD with hearty food, it will increase its bioavailability, allowing more CBD to enter the body.
When vaping CBD or taking tinctures, you can avoid taking CBD oil with food because the CBD doesn’t have to pass through the liver to start working.
5. What Time During the Day Should I Take CBD for the Best Results?
There is no such thing as “the best time of the day” for taking CBD oil.
Choosing the ideal time to use it depends on how it fits into your work schedule.
For example, when you have a day off, take your dose of CBD oil and monitor how long the effects will stay for you. Write down your CBD goals first, and once you’ve done it, keep track of the effects in a journal or log — this will help you establish the best times during the day to take CBD.
If you find the effects of CBD invigorating, it may be a good idea to use it in the morning or in the afternoon to enhance your productivity. However, if you take large amounts of CBD oil, then you may feel drowsy after each dose. If this is your story, take CBD in the evening to promote healthy rest.
Regardless of the preferred time of the day, make sure that your supplementation is consistent.
A Final Note on How Long It Takes for CBD Oil to Work
The effects of CBD oil may take anywhere from 1 minute to 2 hours to work. Although many factors impact the onset and duration — including your age, overall health, lifestyle habits, and diet — the consumption method appears to be the key player.
The golden mean between the onset of effects, their duration, and bioavailability is the sublingual use. Taking CBD oil in the tongue will likely produce its effects within 15–20 minutes after swallowing it, lasting for up to 6 hours and delivering more CBD to your system than oral forms.
If you don’t mind a slight delay but are looking for longer-lasting effects, consider adding CBD capsules or edibles to your routine.
For the fastest relief, it’s best to vaporize CBD. Doing so will produce the effects within minutes after inhalation at the cost of some duration.
Topical products, in turn, are the preferred method to target localized problems and nourish the skin.
No matter which method you chose, remember to consult your doctor about your CBD supplementation; always start at the low end, and don’t treat CBD as an overnight cure. If your endocannabinoid system is compromised, CBD may need more time to fix the cannabinoid deficiencies in your body.
How long does it take for you to feel the effects of CBD oil? What is your preferred consumption method? Let us know in the comment section!
How Long Does It Take for CBD Oil to Work?
Have you ever felt like your CBD was taking too long to kick in? What did you do? Some people in this situation claim that CBD doesn’t work for them. Others re-dose and end up taking too much.
Even though you can’t overdose on CBD and it won’t get you high, there really can be too much of a good thing. If you overindulge, you might experience some unpleasant side effects like diarrhea, fatigue, and changes in your appetite.
So, before you jump to conclusions, and assuming there’s something wrong with your CBD or taking another dose, let’s set some expectations about how long it takes for CBD oil to work.
What Affects Your Response Time to CBD?
How CBD affects us and how long it takes to feel the effects vary based on the individual. We’ve identified a handful of circumstances that can influence the body’s response to CBD. We’ll discuss each of them briefly but focus primarily on how you consume CBD— the delivery method.
The way that you consume CBD tends to have the most dramatic effect on its effectiveness timeline.
If you’re new to CBD, it’s recommended that you start with a small dose. This helps you ease into the experience and get a feel for what effect CBD has on your body. However, if you’re too conservative with your dose, you might not feel anything at all.
Higher concentration CBD products tend to produce more dramatic results. Again, beginners should start with either low concentrations, or stick with a low dose if you’re consuming a higher concentration CBD product. We offer three potency levels. With Royal CBD products, you can easily step-up your dosage over time.
Individual Biological Factors
Your gender, weight, health, metabolism, and experience levels can all influence how you respond to CBD and how long it takes for it to work.
Method of Consumption
While things like dosages and concentration influence how dramatically you experience CBD, your method of consumption will dictate how long it takes before you feel anything.
Knowing what to expect here is especially beneficial because it will help you determine if you should take another dose or wait longer for CBD to be metabolized. We’ll give you some rough guidelines, so you’ll be prepared the next time you consume CBD.
There are four ways to consume CBD, and each has a different rate of absorption:
- Inhalation: This method is the fastest, and you’ll typically feel the effects within moments. Smoking or vaporizing CBD causes it to go straight to your bloodstream through the lungs.The inhalation method can be controversial.
- Topical: Applying CBD to the skin or a localized area can produce immediate effects for some situations. If you’re using CBD to help with something like stress, then a topical application could take longer and not have the desired result.
- Sublingual Application: This method involves applying a tincture or spray directly under the tongue. Many feel the effects almost right away, but it could take anywhere from 15-60 minutes.
- This method is one of the most preferred ways to take CBD for both the speed and effect. The reason is that there is a vast network of capillaries (tiny blood vessels) under your tongue that helps the compounds get absorbed quickly into your bloodstream.
Though oral administration takes the longest to work, it’s also known for being the longest lasting. Taking CBD orally could extend the effects for a total of six hours, while a sublingual administration may last only about four hours.
Over the years, we’ve amassed some helpful tips that can improve your experience with CBD.
- If you don’t feel anything right away, wait the appropriate amount of time before re-dosing. Knowing how long it takes for CBD oil to work based on different consumption methods is helpful. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be able to decide if you should have another dose or wait until what you’ve already consumed to kick in.
- Be patient with CBD, especially if you’re seeking a long-term solution. CBD affects the endocannabinoid system, helping to bring homeostasis (balance) back to your body. The effects aren’t always immediate, and instead can be cumulative.
- Make sure you’re careful when sourcing CBD. Because CBD doesn’t require lab testing before being sold, you won’t know for certain what you’re getting unless you buy from a company that gets its products tested—like ours. Royal CBD follows a rigorous third-party testing policy.
CBD labs test for a variety of items, including the presence of THC, the cannabinoid concentration and profile, the presence of pesticides and foreign materials, and more. Implementing consistent lab testing is our way of upholding our commitment to producing the highest-quality CBD products on our market.
A Few Final Notes
As a disclaimer, we should add that we are not making health claims about CBD treating any conditions. These guidelines are meant to give you a general idea of how long you can expect it to take before you start feeling any effect from CBD, such as a calming effect or reduction in stress.
The timeframes presented in this article are a reflection of both anecdotal evidence and biological standards about the absorption of chemicals and substances when consumed in different ways. Your results and experiences may differ, but at the very least, you’ll have a frame of reference for how long CBD oil takes to work based on the factors we outlined in this article.