How Long For CBD Oil To Take Effect

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Some people get instant relief from CBD oil while others have to wait for months. What gives? Find out what the latest research has to say. Wondering how long CBD’s effects will last? Read on to learn what you can expect from CBD.

How Long Does it Take for CBD Oil to Work?

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Note that each number in parentheses [1, 2, 3, etc.] is a clickable link to peer-reviewed scientific studies. A plus sign next to the number “[1+, 2+, etc. ]” means that the information is found within the full scientific study rather than the abstract.

One of the most common questions about CBD oil is how long it will take to work. In truth, we just don’t have enough studies to answer this question definitely. Read on to understand what the early research shows.

How Long Does it Take for CBD Oil to Work?

The most important thing to remember is that that the only approved use of CBD oil comes in the form of prescription anti-seizure medication and further research needs to be done to decipher its benefits in other conditions [1]. But that has not stopped many people from using it for a myriad of conditions. So we just don’t have enough studies to definitely answer this question. That being said, we will give you the latest research findings on CBD oil and try to answer this question as best as we can.

If you are thinking about taking CBD oil, remember to speak with your physician about it!

Being a relatively new product, CBD oil users often struggle to figure out the best way to take it. Among many questions, people often want to know how long it will take for CBD oil to work. Will you feel the effects after a few minutes, days, or weeks?

If you don’t notice the effects after taking it for some time, you might feel frustrated and conclude that CBD oil doesn’t work.

First, you want to make sure that you’re not missing out on any important factors that affect the onset of the effects – such as the delivery form, product composition, dosing regime, and your health status.

Below is a comprehensive list of the factors that will determine how long it will take until CBD oil starts working.

Snapshot

  • CBD oil may relieve acute conditions, such as panic attacks, in a couple of hours
  • Vapes and mouth sprays are better for acute conditions
  • People with chronic problems may need to wait a couple of months
  • Capsules release a steady supply of CBD and may be better for chronic conditions, taken twice daily
  • Your microbiome and genes can affect how quickly you will respond
  • If you’ve been taking CBD oil for 4-5 months and still don’t feel anything, you may not be dosing it right or it may not work in your case

How Long It Takes for CBD Oil to Work by Product Type & Composition

Delivery Method

The delivery method is probably the factor that most strongly influences the time until the onset of the effects.

Some forms will allow CBD to quickly pass into your blood and reach its targets. In contrast, others will release CBD much slower, but their effects will last longer.

Oral

There are two main types of oral CBD oil:

  • Fast-release forms: tinctures and mouth sprays.
  • Slow-release forms: capsules, tablets, edibles (such as gummies, lollipops, and cakes), and teas.

Fast-release forms are applied directly in the mouth. Although you will eventually swallow part of the liquid, you will absorb most of the CBD through the blood vessels under your tongue, along your gums, and on the inner lining of your mouth.

Thus, CBD will bypass your digestive system and be released directly into your bloodstream. As a result, the effects will start to kick in after only 15-30 minutes. They will be strongest when your blood CBD levels peak (~2-4 hours) and may last up to 6 hours [2+, 3].

Conversely, you will need to digest slow-release forms and should feel the effects 30-180 minutes after taking them. CBD has to pass from the gut into the liver before being released into your bloodstream. Liver enzymes break down part of CBD, so less will reach the blood (first-pass metabolism) [2+, 3, 4].

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However, slow-release forms do have an advantage: their effects are sustained over a longer period of time. You can expect them to last up to 8 hours [2+].

It takes about half an hour for CBD oil tinctures and mouth sprays to start to work and up to three hours for capsules and edibles.

Topical

When and for how long you will feel the effects of topical forms depend on various ingredients that alter how well CBD penetrates the skin. According to users, you may start noticing the effects after 30-120 minutes [2+].

Creams, lotions, and balms act locally, while transdermal patches also deliver CBD into the bloodstream. For example, CBD oil patches effectively reduced inflammation in animal studies [5, 6].

Vapes

Together with smoking medicinal cannabis, vaping CBD oil is the fastest way to absorb CBD. Vaping is, however, preferable because it irritates the lungs less and produces fewer toxic byproducts such as carbon monoxide [7, 2+].

Each inhalation will immediately release CBD into your lungs, which quickly passes into your bloodstream. You may notice the effects after only 5-15 minutes. However, blood CBD levels will start declining after 1 hour and the effects will only last 2-4 hours [2+, 3].

The effects of vaped CBD oil kick in after 5-15 minutes, but they will last for only a couple of hours.

Other Forms

CBD is also available in anal and vaginal suppositories. Similar to topical forms, their effects may be strongest locally – in the mucosal tissue, nerves, and muscles of the anus and vagina. Because these areas are very rich in blood vessels, part of the CBD may pass into the blood and reach other areas [8].

How fast you will feel the effects depends on the exact ingredients, e.g. oils and additives used. You will usually feel the local effects quickly, while it will take a couple of hours for CBD from anal suppositories to reach the bloodstream [9].

Product Quality & Composition

It’s important to choose high-quality CBD oil from reputable vendors. Low-quality products may have less CBD than stated on the label, meaning they will take longer to work – if at all [10].

In addition, be sure to check the expiry date and keep the packaging in a cool and dry place protected from direct sunlight to prevent degradation of the active compounds.

Plant-derived extracts (also called full-spectrum CBD oil) also contain other plant compounds that slow CBD absorption – a drawback if you need quick relief. However, these compounds act in synergy and enhance the effects of CBD at high doses, which may be preferable for chronic problems [11].

Similarly, capsules and edibles release CBD slower if they contain ingredients such as fiber [12].

In turn, CBD is a fat-soluble molecule and will be absorbed faster and better in combination with fats (e.g., CBD cakes with butter) [13].

Full-spectrum CBD oil extracts release CBD oil slower but their effects are stronger. Fiber slows CBD oil absorption while dietary fats enhance it.

How Long it Takes for CBD Oil to Work by Health Condition

Whether your condition is acute or chronic may determine how long it will take CBD to work. Users with chronic conditions often overlook this one.

As a rule of thumb, single doses may relieve acute, episodic conditions (such as panic attacks), while chronic conditions (such as arthritis) may require sustained CBD therapy.

Below is an overview of how long it took CBD oil to work in clinical trials, by health condition.

1) Anxiety (Acute & Chronic)

People with acute anxiety episodes responded quickly to oral CBD (capsules or liquid solution). It was effective after 90-160 minutes in those with anxiety caused by stress, social phobia, and heroin craving [14+, 15, 16+, 17, 18+].

In contrast, chronic anxiety needed longer-term therapies. CBD normally improved anxiety – and other symptoms – in 4-8 weeks in people with PTSD, fragile X syndrome, and autism [19, 20, 21, 22].

CBD oil may relieve acute anxiety and panic within 3 hours; those suffering from constant anxiety might need to take it for 4-8 weeks to feel the effects.

2) Pain

Only one clinical trial tested pure CBD for chronic pain. In this study, CBD improved pain from kidney transplants after repeated use during 1-3 weeks [23].

CBD-rich preparations reduced pain after 12 weeks in girls with adverse effects from the HPV vaccination, 1-7 months in children with complex movement disorders, and 1-3 months in people with migraines and cluster headaches [24+, 25+, 26+].

A mouth spray with the same amount of CBD and THC (nabiximols) was far more commonly used for chronic pain in clinical trials. It relieved rheumatoid arthritis pain after 5 weeks, multiple sclerosis and nerve pain within 4-10 weeks, and cancer pain in 2-5 weeks [27, 28+, 29, 30, 31+, 32+, 33+, 34+].

It may take up to 10 weeks for CBD oil to relieve pain. Although it can be used alone, its combination with equal amounts of THC works better. Remember THC is still illegal in the United States federally!

3) Sleep Disorders

In people with insomnia, CBD improved sleep quality after 1-2 months [35+, 36].

Similarly, CBD oil improved sleep disturbances from Parkinson’s disease, fragile X syndrome, and PTSD within 1-2 months [37+, 38+, 21, 19, 20].

4) Seizures

CBD reduced seizure frequency and severity in people with epilepsy who took it for 4-14 weeks [39+, 40+, 41+, 42+].

5) Schizophrenia

In people with schizophrenia, CBD started improving the symptoms after 2-6 weeks [43, 44+, 45].

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6) THC Side Effects

In regular cannabis smokers, a 10-week therapy with CBD improved adverse effects from THC use such as depression and psychosis [46].

7) Diabetes

After 13 weeks, CBD reduced the levels of a hormone that raises LDL cholesterol (resistin) and increased gastric inhibitory polypeptide, which stimulates insulin release in response to high blood sugar, in people with type 2 diabetes [47].

Initial studies say CBD oil improves seizures in 4-14 weeks, symptoms of schizophrenia in 4-6 weeks, THC side effects in 10 weeks, and hormonal profile in type 2 diabetes in 13 weeks. Remember, however, that these results are preliminary and not considered conclusive.

Dosing & Other Factors that Impact When You May Feel CBD Oil’s Effects

Dosing Regimen

According to a clinical trial on 56 people, taking CBD oil twice daily increases its blood levels better than taking it just once in the morning. Thus, it may help keep CBD levels steady [48].

So if you use CBD more frequently, you may reach the required levels quicker [7+].

This may be especially important for people with chronic health problems who need a stable supply of CBD oil to feel its effects. Consistency is crucial, and missing doses may prevent you from reaching high-enough CBD levels.

Dosing CBD oil twice daily keeps its levels stable, which might be important for people with chronic health problems.

Factors Unique to You

You will need less CBD oil if you are lighter and you are likely to feel the effects faster. But since CBD is stored in fat, heavier people – who tend to have more body fat – may feel the effects over a longer period of time. In line with this, exercising will quickly release CBD stored in fat [49+, 50].

Being fat-soluble, CBD is absorbed through the small bowel. Your gut health – particularly, your microbiome composition – will determine how quickly and efficiently you absorb it [51].

Once in the bloodstream, CBD rapidly passes into deep tissues. However, health conditions can alter its distribution, e.g. a leaky blood-brain barrier [52+].

Genetics may also play a role. Genetic variants of CBD targets (such as FAAH, TRPV1, 5HT1A, or GPR55) can make you prone to responding faster or slower [53, 54, 55].

Your weight, body fat, genetics, and gut and brain health can all affect how quickly you will feel the effects of CBD oil.

What if I Still Don’t Feel Anything After Taking CBD oil?

If you don’t feel the effects of CBD oil, even after carefully considering all the above-described factors, it’s possible that you are not taking the right dose or that CBD oil just does not work for you. Speak with your doctor about any issues you might be having.

Read through this protocol to learn how to find the dosage.

Takeaway

CBD oil is experimental and investigational. Speak with your doctor before trying it out.

When you may feel the effects of CBD oil mainly depends on how and why you are taking it. The quality and additional ingredients in the product you’re using also weigh in.

CBD oil might relieve acute conditions, such as panic attacks, in a couple of hours. Vapes and mouth sprays are probably the best choices if you need quick relief.

People with chronic problems may need to wait a couple of months. For example, CBD oil improved sleep in 1-2 months, seizures in 4-14 weeks, and type 2 diabetes in up to 13 weeks in clinical trials.

Capsules are probably the best choice for chronic conditions. They release a steady supply of CBD, which starts to act in 1-3 hours. Capsules should be taken twice daily with dietary fats for optimal results.

Additionally, your microbiome, body fat, and genes may affect how quickly you will respond to CBD oil.

If you’ve been taking CBD oil for 4-5 months and still don’t feel anything, you’re either not taking the right formulation, dosage, or it just does not work for you.

Some people have genes that make them more likely to experience inflammation. Check out SelfDecode’s Inflammation DNA Wellness Report for genetic-based diet, lifestyle, and supplement tips that can help reduce inflammation levels. The recommendations are personalized based on YOUR DNA.

About the Author

Carlos Tello

Carlos spent 9 years in the laboratory investigating mineral transport in plants. He then started working as a freelancer, mainly in science writing, editing, and consulting. Carlos is passionate about learning the mechanisms behind biological processes and communicating science to both academic and non-academic audiences. He strongly believes that scientific literacy is crucial to maintain a healthy lifestyle and avoid falling for scams.

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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.

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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.

Ingestion

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 ).

Inhalation

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 ).

Sublingual

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

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 ).

Topical

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.

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