How Long Does CBD Take to Work?

by Chloe Palmer

CBD is becoming increasingly popular, with many praising its purported benefits. It’s common to take the compound to relieve certain symptoms, such as stress or sleeping issues, and because of this, those interested are wondering just how quickly it takes for CBD oil to work. We’re here to provide clarity on the matter.

What is CBD?

In order to understand how long it takes for CBD to work, it's first of all important to understand what CBD is and how it affects those who take it. CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of over a hundred cannabinoid chemical compounds that interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in our bodies.

Different types of cannabinoids impact different receptors in the body, with CBD interacting mainly with non-cannabinoid receptors and pathways. This means it does not get you high — instead, you'll experience effects based on which receptor CBD binds to within your body, which is why its performance is so individual. The interactions between CBD and these receptors may aid things such as stress, sleep,  inflammation or anxiety, for example.

How long does it take for CBD oil to work?

In order for CBD to work, it needs to be able to reach the relevant receptors, which is usually done via absorption into the bloodstream. CBD oil is the most common method of consumption, which can take between 15 to 60 minutes to absorb. However, different factors such as weight and genetics can affect this, so it's generally believed that the range would be somewhere between 20 minutes to two hours.

That said, because CBD can impact a multitude of receptors, certain goals you're trying to achieve from consuming it can take more or less time than others. Trying to combat  symptoms of anxiety might be slower and more complicated than, for example, alleviating momentary stress.

What's more, while the short-term effects of CBD may be felt quickly, it is still recommended to consistently take it for at least eight to twelve days to enjoy its more lasting benefits.

What impacts how quickly it takes CBD oil to work?

When it comes to CBD, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. This applies both to the effects it has, but also for your consumption. In order to figure out how long it would take CBD to work, you need to consider some of these elements:

Method of consumption

There are plenty of ways to take CBD, which impacts how quickly it is absorbed into your bloodstream — if at all. Some of the most common methods include:

Ingestion

CBD edibles are becoming more and more common, with delicious drinks, gummies and capsules being favourites. This method, however, means the compound has to progress through the gut and be processed by it before it is absorbed into the bloodstream, which can take between 1.5 to 3 hours. It also means the bioavailability — in simple terms, how much of the CBD you consumed is going to be absorbed — is quite low but edibles are longer lasting than other methods.

Inhalation - 90 minutes to four hours

Vaping or smoking CBD is a highly efficient and speedy delivery method. The lungs contain tissue that allows for quick absorption into the bloodstream — as fast as three minutes after inhalation. It's also incredibly powerful, with bioavailability of up to 70% — so tread carefully when it comes to quantities. Note here that CBD flowers are illegal in the UK, so you’d have to find another method of inhalation.

Sublingual

Placing CBD oil under the tongue and allowing it to absorb through the small capillaries and mucous membrane is another foolproof way to experience the compound’s effects. With a bioavailability of 20-30%, while slower than inhalation, this way is quicker than edibles — the impact will start 15-60 minutes after taking it, and will usually peak after around two hours. Sublingual consumption might not be for everyone, though, as the taste of CBD is quite earthy. If this bothers you, give one of our flavoured oils in wild mint or orange blossom a go.

Transdermal

Our skin has an oil layer that CBD cannot penetrate, so, in order for the compound to be absorbed into the bloodstream through our skin, it needs to be carried by other ingredients. Transdermal CBD patches, for example, allow for this process. The main benefit is that with this delivery method, the CBD doesn't go through the gut, which may degrade it. While more research is required regarding definitive bioavailability and working times, it is usually expected that transdermal application should give quick and strong results.

Topical

For some purposes, it isn't necessary for CBD to be absorbed into the blood at all. Topical products such as creams, lotions and shampoos are designed to grant relief to a specific, local area of the body where they are applied. Though its bioavailability is near 0% — it does not get absorbed into the bloodstream — you can expect it to work locally up to an hour after administering it.

Dosage & Potency

Dosage and potency are two sides of the same coin — the first asks how much CBD you take, and the latter refers to how much CBD is present within the product you're consuming. At the end of the day, the important question is the quantity of the compound that enters your body. As a rule of thumb, the more you ingest, the quicker the effect will be. Smaller amounts may take a few days of consistent use to be noticeable, while larger quantities can work within minutes.

Most people start with 10-20mg — our drinks, for example, contain 15mg each — and increase the dose from there until they find their sweet spot. This also depends on the effects you're looking to achieve, your body mass, and consumption method.

Metabolism & Physiology

Your personal metabolism and physiology will also affect how quickly CBD works on your body. If your metabolism is high, you're probably going to process CBD faster and therefore experience its benefits earlier than someone with slower metabolism. Body mass is another element that can impact this. These factors are extremely difficult to predict, however, so responsible trial and error is the only way to go.

Quality

The quality of the CBD product you're consuming can seriously impact its effects as well as how long it takes to work. This is determined by two elements: firstly, how the hemp plant (from which CBD is extracted) was grown, and secondly, what is added to the compound after extraction.

Hemp is highly permeable, so it’s great at soaking up nutrients from the soil. This means that, if you're not getting your CBD from a trusted provider, you're risking being exposed to contaminants that can potentially be toxic, from pesticides to heavy metals.

Even if the compound was extracted from properly grown and nourishing plants, other substances can be added to the oil that will degrade its quality. Look for products that don't have any unnecessary additives, and you'll be sure to get the best quality effect and speed of impact out of your CBD. It's also important to seek products that specifically contain CBD — while hemp oil is produced from the same plant, it does not contain any of the same compound.

Consistency

You may very well start to feel some of the benefits of CBD after your first use. Usually, however, the real long-lasting positive effects can only be experienced if it is consumed consistently. For many, it takes more than one use to sense any improvement at all. By taking a consistent dose of CBD every day, you might feel its effects quicker and more sustainably.

How long does CBD stay in your system for?

While the effects of CBD generally last a few hours — two to six on average, depending on factors such as your consumption method and personal metabolism — it remains in your system far longer than you'll feel it. CBD can be traced in your body between two to five days after consumption. Because it is legal in the UK, it is actually a serious benefit of the compound: with consistent use, you'll allow yourself to build up a base level of CBD, which will improve the way it works. This, of course, is as long as your preferred CBD contains no THC.

How often should I take CBD and when?

Because CBD is used for various different concerns, there isn't a silver bullet answer to the question of how often or when you should take it. Consistent use is key, so it is usually recommended to use it daily, even if it's a small dose. That said, many prefer to take it multiple times a day.

Regarding time of use, this depends heavily on the reasons for consuming it. If you're seeking to improve your sleep, you should take it before bed, while those who take it to focus may wish to experiment with a morning dose.

Summary

The bottom line is, there is not an all-encompassing, general answer that will determine how quickly CBD takes to work, because its effects, qualities and methods of consumption diverge from person to person. As a rule of thumb, allow between 15 minutes and two hours for the benefits to start kicking in. In order to maximise the effects you experience, ensure you are using a good quality product consistently.

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