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How Long Does CBD Oil Take to Work? Ask a Pharmacist

Posted by Dr. Leslie Mudd, PharmD on Jun 30th 2020

How Long Does CBD Oil Take to Work? Ask a Pharmacist

To understand how long CBD takes to work, you first need a basic understanding of what CBD is, and how different variables can impact its onset of action. In general, CBD is absorbed into the bloodstream within 20 minutes to 2 hours depending on the method of delivery.1 Other variables like the dosage, full spectrum or THC-free, consistency, and quality can also play a role in how quickly you begin to feel the benefits of CBD.

But there’s one major caveat to all of this: it really depends on your goals and expectations.

For those taking CBD for mild everyday stresses, you might find that your first dose gives you a relaxing effect that helps to manage your stress levels. However, for anyone trying CBD for a more serious issue, consistency and patience needs to be part of your wellness routine for the full potential of CBD to be realized.

If you’d like to know more about what it takes to begin seeing results, read on as we explore the variables, but first watch my short video below!

Table of Contents

How Long CBD Takes to Enter Your Bloodstream

As I mentioned above, the answer to how long CBD takes to work really depends on your own definition of the word "work." Taking CBD for mild anxiety is going to be much quicker and easier to treat than someone who is trying CBD for a more serious condition.

Simply put: the answer to this question isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. It is a step by step approach that acknowledges how the benefits of CBD, and how long it takes to achieve them, may differ from different delivery methods and the issue at hand. For example: how long it takes CBD to work will differ drastically between sublingual oils, CBD capsules, and CBD topicals. So let's get down to the nitty gritty!

Factor 1: Method of Intake

There are many different ways to consume CBD. Each of these methods has a different impact on how much, and how quickly, the CBD gets absorbed into your bloodstream. 2

This phenomenon is called bioavailability. It’s important to understand this because it will help you determine how much you’ll need to take to feel its effects; and you can also get an idea of how long it will take for your CBD to work.

As you can see in the chart above, the consumption method of CBD is the biggest determining factor in how long it may take for CBD oil to work. The quickest and most bioavailable method of CBD consumption is through inhalation. The next best is a sublingual oil or tincture, followed by ingestible CBD capsules and finally topicals.

Because CBD capsules have to travel through your digestive system, they have what’s known as a first-pass metabolism. This means that it’ll take longer to feel the effects of the CBD, or in medical terms – the bioavailability rate. (To clarify: this applies for all edible cannabis products, because all of them have to pass through your digestive system.)

On the other hand, CBD oil avoids first-pass metabolism by going straight through the capillaries under your tongue. This makes it the most effective method of delivery to avoid smoking, and it means you’ll feel it quicker.3 This is also the main reason we formulate our organic CBD oils with medium chain coconut oil. Because of its thin and viscous characteristics, it absorbs quickly when placed under the tongue.

There are other variables at play in how long it takes, too; but this should help you determine when your specific form of CBD will start working.

Factor 2: Dosage & Potency

The amount of CBD you're taking every day will affect how quickly you will begin feeling its effects. In general, the more that you're taking, the quicker you’ll feel it.

For example, if you take a high dose of CBD to improve your sleep, you’ll probably feel sleepy in about 15-30 minutes. In contrast, if you take a lower serving for general wellness, pain, or inflammation, it could take a few days of dosing to notice significant results. 4

How Much CBD Should I Take?

The bottom line is that when you’re choosing a CBD product, you should consider the type of ailment you’re trying to treat and adjust your dosage accordingly. This may also include testing different consumption methods or a different application style. It can also depend on your body mass, and if you're taking any prescription medications.5 

Everyone is different, and this is something you need to dial in for yourself. A full dropper of our 750 mg CBD oil is 25 mg, which we think is a great daily serving to start out. But some people take more, and some take less.

You should also be careful to avoid self-medicating. CBD is a powerful supplement, especially when it contains THC alongside it. So it’s best to consult with your doctor to determine the right dose for you and avoid any CBD side effects.

Factor 3: CBD Quality

We’ve said it time and time again: not all CBD products are created equal. Because this market is largely unregulated, many brands on the market do very little to maintain the quality of their products. 6

Some CBD brands use ingredients that have impurities, additives, and adulterants which will significantly effect the safety of your product. This is why you should always look for a third party lab test to know that you're getting a high quality CBD product.

We also recommend looking for a full spectrum product, which contains more cannabinoids than just CBD. Just like CBD, these other cannabinoids don’t get you high; but they do have a synergetic effect that heightens your body’s response.7

One of those cannabinoids is probably one you’ve heard a lot about, and that’s THC. In order for a product to truly be considered full spectrum, make sure it contains trace amounts of THC. The legal amount is no more than 0.3% of total dry weight.

The origin of the raw hemp plant material is another key factor that determines the quality of your product. Hemp is a powerful bioaccumulator, meaning that it soaks up all the nutrients and toxins in the soil it grows in. If the soil isn’t pre-tested for toxins, pesticides, or heavy metals, those things could end up in your CBD.

In addition, if the farmer uses synthetic fertilizers, or if the field doesn’t go through a multi-year crop rotation, there will be fewer nutrients in the soil and the hemp will contain less CBD. 8

You can avoid all of these problems by opting for an organic cannabis product that’s been certified by the USDA. As we explore in this article, the USDA has strict guidelines for organic farming and processing. This means that USDA-certified organic products will be responsibly sourced and of higher quality.9

Factor 4: Individual Biology

Although you can count on certain effects to take place, no two people respond exactly the same to CBD, even if they have the same consumption, the same delivery method, and the same body composition. One person could feel their tincture in 10 minutes; yet someone else could take the same dose and feel it in an hour. 10

There are several key considerations that fall into this category, and they all affect the amount of time it will take to feel CBD’s effects.

Body Weight

Like most cannabinoids, CBD is fat-soluble. Those who weigh more tend to have more fat cells in their body, which means that they’ll absorb and store it for longer in their body.

While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it does mean that people with more fat cells in their body will most likely need more time to adjust. It’s not all bad news, though: the higher your body mass, the longer it takes for CBD to work. 11

Metabolism

While individual metabolism does involve burning calories, it also affects how your body breaks down compounds like CBD.

Depending on your age, your lifestyle, your digestive system, and your genetic profile, your metabolism can function at different rates. This is what we call our metabolic rate – and we all have different ones! 12

If you exercise regularly and have a high metabolism, you’ll feel the effects come on faster; but you’ll also feel it wear off more quickly. On the other hand, if you have a slow metabolism, you’ll notice that it takes longer to feel your CBD coming on; and it will stay in your body for longer.

Endocannabinoid Balance

CBD is part of a unique set of compounds called cannabinoids. These compounds interact with a biological system found in nearly all mammals. It’s called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), and its cannabinoid receptors are found throughout your entire nervous system.

While we’re just beginning to understand how the ECS works, research suggests that it’s responsible for many of your biological functions like your mood, sleep, appetite, and pain response. 13

If your ECS is imbalanced, you could experience a large range of negative symptoms as a result. CBD helps alleviate these symptoms by attaching to the receptors and rebalancing your endocannabinoid system.

In general, the more your endocannabinoid system is imbalanced, the longer it will take to feel the effects.

While there’s no way to quantify how much of an imbalance you’re experiencing; you can probably gauge this yourself by assessing the severity of your symptoms.

Factor 5: Consistency

For some people, the positive effects come immediately. A lot of people will notice that they’re experiencing less stress, less tension, and better sleep after just one dose of CBD.

For others, though, it might take a few weeks to notice the powerful effects of CBD. So if you don’t feel it right away, be patient.

A lot of people give up after a few doses and brush it off as snake oil that doesn’t work. This couldn’t be further from the truth – while these people might be taking a bad-quality product, they’re also ignoring one of the key properties of CBD oil.

Regardless of what you’re feeling, the positive results come slowly. The key to getting the most benefits out of your CBD is consistency!

A consistent, daily dose will eventually restore balance your ECS; and you’ll be glad you stuck with it.

Feeling Out How CBD Works for You

When you’re new to CBD, the first thing to know is that the effects take a few days to become noticeable. That means when you begin taking CBD every day, it’s good to be mindful of how your body responds to your daily CBD dosage. To discover its full effects, we recommend trying it for a full 30 days.

Your first 30 days is an important time to better understand your body and how it responds. Here are the questions many people ask when starting, that we have answered for you below.

The many therapeutic benefits that CBD oils and tinctures have to offer are becoming more recognized, making people interested in getting started. The first 30 days can be a trial and error time in finding what works best for the individual.

After answering these questions, it won’t be long before you put a cannabis supplement to work in your everyday routine.

What Kind of CBD Should I Take?

For first time users, we always recommend starting with full spectrum CBD oil, which you take sublingually — which means a dropper of oil under your tongue for 30 to 60 seconds to let it absorb through the mucus membrane in your mouth.

Some people have trouble taking our CBD hemp oil under the tongue, and so they prefer the CBD capsules. They are also worth considering if you’re experiencing inflammation in the lower digestive tract, as the capsules get further down into the gut.

People looking for pain relief in a specific area often use a CBD lotion on the affected area, almost anywhere on the human body (avoid the eyes and mucus membranes to avoid irritation). For best results, we recommend pairing CBD lotion with sublingual oil, and using the same delivery methods at the same time everyday.

You’ll also always want to make sure whatever CBD product you are using has third party lab tests. The best companies have a QR code, and all of their company information, and testing lab information readily available to be reviewed before or after purchase. In order for CBD oil to work, you must first make sure that what you're taking is real! If you can’t view the third party test results before making your purchase, then hold off till you can do the research.

Unfortunately, many unscrupulous vendors sell fake CBD oil. 14This is actually just hemp seed oil with a fake concentration listed on the bottle. You’ll also want to stay away from any vendor that is making lofty health claims as CBD oil, and any cannabis extract for that matter, has not yet been approved by the FDA.15

What Time of Day Should I Take It?

This answer is different for everyone. The important thing is to find a time of day to best incorporate CBD into your daily routine. If you’re suffering from discomfort and inflammation during the day, maybe it’s best to take it in the morning. But if you’re using CBD because you’ve read reports that it can help you sleep, then taking it just before bedtime is your sweet spot.

How Often Should I Take CBD?

To begin, start taking CBD once per day, a full dropper of 25 milligrams, or 50 milligrams if you’re using our new extra strength CBD oils. See how you’re feeling and sleeping. For first time users, it can be good to “load dose” at first — taking larger than normal servings. That means, take a full dropper in the morning, and another full dropper before bedtime.

You have taken too much if you feel groggy in the morning, or if you experience diarrhea symptoms. 16If you feel these side effects, dial back your current daily dosage to find something that works best for you.

How often you take CBD may also play a role in a drug test or work related drug screenings. After taking it consistently for a period of weeks, the cannabinoids begin to build up within our systems, especially in body fat cells, which could cause you to test positive oFn lab tests during drug screenings. 17 If drug testing is a concern for your job, talk to your HR department before you start taking it consistently. You may also consider switching to a CBD topical.

How Long Does It Take for CBD to Work?

It takes a few days, and it’s not something that you’ll notice right away. Be mindful of any pain, anxiety, and sleep patterns as you work through your first week. Keep journal entries to track sleep and progress, and the amount of CBD you're taking. This will help you be aware of the effects of CBD on your body. Understand that health benefits from natural supplements like CBD edibles, CBD tincture and oils don’t happen overnight. It takes time for the human body to adjust after implementing several different changes into our lifestyle. It also depends on the amount of CBD you're taking to really experience the true effects of CBD products.

After One Month of CBD: How Will I Feel?

After a month, you’ll feel different. 18 But if you don’t believe us, try taking it for one month consistently, and then don’t take it for a week. Those bad feelings may return. That’s when you’ll know how CBD makes you feel, and you’ll be ready to order your CBD oil here. At Cornbread Hemp, we are passionate about producing our USDA organic hemp extract for consuming CBD in several different effective methods. And because we are lab testing every cannabis plant all along the way, you’ll never need to worry about potentially negative side effects from any harmful contaminants.

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