How long does it take for CBD to work?

CBD is not a one-size-fits-all substance. The amount of time it takes for CBD to get to work in your body depends on several factors. It cannot be addressed with one single answer. There are too many variables influencing the result you achieve from CBD and the time it takes for CBD to be effective.

In short, the answer is: It depends. But it depends on what? In this article, I’m going to show you the factors that influence the time it takes CBD to begin to work. Certain factors, like consumption method, you can influence. If you prefer CBD to hit you straight away should choose your product accordingly.

Some factors, like your body composition, you cannot influence. But you can work around those to some extend.

Consumption method matters – a lot

I’ve already written in detail about it each consumption method in this article here. Each method not only influences how much CBD goes into your body but also how long it takes to get there. The four main consumption methods are:

Oral ingestion

This involves any CBD product you can swallow:

  • Gummies
  • Chocolate
  • Capsules
  • Other edibles

With oral ingestion, you have to wait anywhere between 1 -2 hours before CBD is getting to work. The longer time period is due to CBD having to pass through the digestive tract first before leftover CBD can enter the bloodstream.

Even though this is a bit longer compared to other methods, the CBD will stay longer in your system (up to 12 hours). But this also makes oral ingestion ideal for people looking for CBD to be a long term supplementation product.

Sublingual ingestion

After inhalation, sublingual ingestion is the second fastest way of getting CBD into your body. The method is very popular and involves putting a few drops of CBD oil right below your tongue. Blood vessels under your tongue make sure the CBD is transported straight into your bloodstream.

With this method, the CBD doesn’t have to pass through your digestive method. It goes straight into your bloodstream. You have to wait anywhere between 15 minutes to one hour before the CBD will start being effective. While as any effect will disappear somewhere between 6 to 8 hours.

For this method to work as it’s supposed to do, you need to keep the oil under your tongue for a good few minutes. If you swallow too soon, you’ll absorb the CBD oil just like any other edible as it has to go through your digestive system.

Inhalation

Vaping of CBD liquid is a form of inhalation and is very popular among the young generation. Through this method, CBD gets into the bloodstream within seconds. But any effects will disappear after about 2 – 3 hours.

Vaping CBD also bypasses the digestive system hence the speed your body can absorb it. As soon as you take a puff, the CBD goes from your lungs straight into your bloodstream.

Due to the short duration of CBD for this consumption method, it’s not suitable for long term supplementation.

When you buy CBD products intended for vaping you shouldn’t go to the cheapest informal source. Those products often contain Vitamin E acetate which may disrupt the normal functioning of your lung.

Man sitting on the ground vaping

Topical application

If you use a cream or moisturiser of some sort which contains CBD, it doesn’t enter your bloodstream. CBD is absorbed through the surface of the skin to interact with the local endocannabinoid receptors. This method is best for a targeted application in case of inflammation and arthritis.

The time it takes for such CBD creams to work depends on your skin and the concentration of CBD in the product. But this is usually a matter of minutes. Any effect starts to subside after about 1.5 hours.

How concentrated is your CBD? Dosage matters

In a nutshell, the more higher-concentrated CBD you take, the quicker it works. Now, hold your horses with gulping down a whole bottle of CBD in one go. This statement is only true up to a certain point and you don’t want to react poorly with that high amount of CBD.

If you are just starting out taking CBD you need to find the right dose for you. This will vary depending on the reason you are taking it for. The golden rule is to start with a very low dose and work your way up. This way you can make sure your body doesn’t have an adverse reaction to CBD.

In general, 20 mg of CBD per day is a good starting point. If you are trying to treat severe pain you can double that amount to 40 mg of CBD per day. After a week you can increase the amount CBD by 5 mg.

You should also keep track of the amount of CBD you are taking and if your symptoms are getting better.

There are very few side effects to CBD and it’s generally safe to take. If you are taking other medication whilst taking CBD at the same time please do consult your doctor first.

How to calculate your CBD dosage

For gummies and capsules, it’s most of the time easy to figure out the dosage as it is often mentioned on the packaging. For CBD oil there might be an amount of CBD per drop indicated on the packaging. With this, you can calculate how much drops you need to take.

If you want to calculate the dosage for CBD oil if it isn’t mentioned on the packaging, here is how:

  1. Concentration is measured in milligrams (mg)
  2. One single drop out of the dropper is about 0.05 millilitres (mL)
  3. Therefore, a bottle containing 10 mL will contain about 200 drops
  4. If that bottle contains 1,200 mg of CBD, each drop contains about 6 mg CBD
  5. If you want to take 30 mg of CBD, you need to take 5 drops out of the dropper
CBD oil dropper and CBD oil bottle

Can you take too much CBD?

Research studies went as far as prescribing 1,500 mg of CBD per day which was tolerated by participants without any issues. This is more than one entire bottle of higher-concentrated CBD sold in shops. It shows that you can’t take too much CBD and overdose on it.

If all that CBD helps and is more effective is a different question though. As CBD is an expensive product you would have to spend a significant amount of money on it too.

How often are you taking CBD? Frequency matters

Consistency is key when it comes to CBD and how long it takes to be effective. If you decide to not take it on a daily basis, CBD will take longer to build up in your endocannabinoid system. But there is no ideal schedule or time in the day as to when to take it. That is entirely up to you.

Some people prefer to take their CBD once per day, usually in the morning with their coffee. Others take it twice per day. How often you should take CBD also depends on what you are taking it for. Are you looking for an immediate effect or are you taking CBD for long-term supplementation?

Can you build up a CBD tolerance?

If you are frequently taking CBD you’ve probably asked yourself if you’ve already built up a tolerance for CBD and if it’s still working. Frequent THC users know that over time the body builds up a tolerance for it. In that case, THC consumption needs to be paused for a few days. They need to go on a tolerance break.

CBD doesn’t work that way though and the opposite is the case. The use of CBD might actually result in “Reverse Tolerance”. CBD does not bind to any cannabinoid receptors in your endocannabinoid system. It also promotes increased activity in these receptors.

This means CBD stays intact within the body and doesn’t get metabolised beyond need. CBD increases the number of endocannabinoids produced by your body. Thus, at some point, you will need less CBD because your body already has a lot of endocannabinoids. So, over time, you will actually not need more, but less CBD. This is “Reverse Tolerance”.

Blue CBD oil bottle with oil dropper

Are you taking CBD with healthy fats? Bioavailability matters

Not all CBD that you ingest will make it all the way through into your bloodstream. The amount that makes it into your bloodstream is dependant on how you ingest the CBD and if you do it on an empty stomach in case of oral ingestion.

The amount of CBD that makes into your bloodstream and into your endocannabinoid system is also referred to as the bioavailable CBD. At what rate and how much something is absorbed into your bloodstream is referred to as bioavailability. This is an important concept. It lets you determine how much of a substance you need to take to get the desired result.

The bioavailability is highly dependant on your consumption method. Below is a table showing you each method with the corresponding bioavailability.

Consumption MethodBioavailability
Oral ingestion20% – 30%
Sublingual ingestion12% – 35%
Inhalation34% – 46%
Topical applicationNot quantified

To boost CBD’s bioavailability when you ingest it orally, you need to consume some healthy fats with it. It has been shown that healthy fats can increase the absorption rate of CBD. What you shouldn’t do at all is taking CBD on an empty stomach.

Bear in mind that above bioavailability rates are achieved in scientific settings. Studies are carried out by expert researchers. The rates that you can achieve at home will likely be lower. What you can do with the rates above is to calculate the “true” CBD that will make it into your bloodstream.

If we continue with the previous calculation, 30 mg of CBD in 5 drops will give you “true” CBD of about 4 mg to 11 mg. This is the CBD that will ultimately end up in your bloodstream.

What’s your body composition? Your physique and metabolism matters

Just because your bestie responded well to a certain dose of CBD doesn’t mean that you will do the same. When it comes to CBD, no one person reacts exactly the same way to CBD as another. Your metabolism, health and body fat are factors that influence how you react to CBD.

People who have more body fat have more fat cells. This means they can absorb and store more CBD as it is stored in those cells and released over time. That means, some people have to take a bit more CBD in the beginning to see some effect. But those same people will also see a prolonged effect of CBD as they will have more CBD stored in their body which is released over time.

Blood cells in a bloodstream

How long does it take CBD to stop working?

There is no general answer on how long CBD will last in your body. Several factors can influence this. If you live an active lifestyle, you will have a faster metabolism. Thus, your body will process CBD much quicker compared to somebody who is not active.

Consumption method is a decisive factor too. As each method is delivering CBD into your body in a different way, it also affects how long it stays there. Below table gives you an indication of how long CBD can stay in your body with each method.

Consumption MethodDuration
Oral ingestion6 to 8 hours
Sublingual ingestion4 to 6 hours
Inhalation2 to 3 hours
Topical applicationup to 6 hours

Conclusion

As you can see, there is no straight answer to how long does CBD take to work. There are just too many factors influencing this question. You really have to decide why you want to take CBD and then choose the most suitable consumption method, dosage and concentration.

Here is a summary list with the most important factors influencing how long CBD takes to be effective:

  • Consumption method
  • Dosage and concentration
  • Frequency
  • Bioavailability
  • Your body composition

If you’ve tried CBD but you haven’t seen any effects yet, it might be due to something else. Go and check out my 7 reasons why is not working for you.

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