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How Long Does It Take for CBD Oil to Work?

By now, you have probably heard countless anecdotal tales about the efficacy of CBD. It is already a multi-billion-dollar industry set to grow exponentially in the next few years. At present, the market is unregulated, and the FDA does not approve of the substance. And sellers are not permitted to make any health claims or add it to food or drinks. This is despite the growing body of evidence that links CBD with improvements in specific symptoms. There is also a legislative mess to consider!

With all rapidly growing markets, the significant danger is misinformation. Go to a dozen websites that discuss CBD, and you’ll get widely varying opinions on what it is and what it does. The issue of CBD duration is a prime example. Newcomers to the compound often ask: “How long does it take for CBD oil to work?”

The truth is, there is no ‘short’ answer. CBD duration depends on a myriad of physical factors, not to mention the quality of the product. There are also several ways to take CBD oil. This plays a crucial role in the absorption rate, and the length of time one waits to ‘feel’ something. In this article, we also investigate how long CBD lasts.

How to Take CBD Oil?

Aside from CBD quality, the method of consumption is all-important. It dictates the duration of CBD’s journey, and also the product’s bioavailability (rate of absorption). It stands to reason that the faster the trip, the higher the absorption rate. In theory, injecting CBD into the body is the quickest and most effective method. However, not many people will even consider it! Here are the five most common ways to take CBD oil.

Sublingual Consumption – CBD Oils and Tinctures

Beneath the tongue, you will find your sublingual gland. Users of cannabidiol are told to hold the CBD oil under the tongue for 30-90 seconds. This process ensures that the cannabinoid is absorbed directly into the bloodstream. It is a more direct method than oral consumption, which means it works faster and has higher bioavailability.

The best estimate suggests the absorption rate is 12-35%. The time taken for CBD oil to work varies according to the factors mentioned above. However, most users claim they feel the effects within 20-30 minutes, and they last for 4-6 hours. For many people, this is the best way to take CBD oil.

Ingestion – CBD Edibles

Also, known as oral consumption, ingestion is the most common method of using CBD. You can try ingesting CBD oil directly rather than holding it beneath the tongue. Other options include CBD edibles such as gummies, CBD capsules, or even CBD drinks. While it is convenient, ingesting cannabidiol stops the compound from entering the bloodstream immediately.

It makes a long journey via the digestive tract and liver before reaching the bloodstream. When the liver metabolizes CBD, it goes through the ‘first pass’ effect. It involves a family of enzymes called CYP450 oxidizing in the liver. This process reduces the level of CBD that makes it to the bloodstream.

As a result, ingestion has one of the lowest bioavailability rates at 4-20%. In most cases, oral consumption of CBD takes an hour to ‘work,’ and can last for at least four hours. An increasing number of people opt for CBD-infused food they make at home.

Topical Application – CBD Lotions & Creams

There is an array of CBD-infused lotions, creams, balms, and lotions on the market. You apply them directly to the skin. The bioavailability rate is not known, although some estimates place it at around 13-14%. As a result, it is best to apply a CBD cream liberally to the skin. Topical CBD is far better than its THC counterpart because cannabidiol’s permeability is ten times higher. The effects can take up to 90 minutes to manifest but should last several hours.

CBD Skin Patches

People have used transdermal patches for at least 40 years. The FDA approved a patch as a form of medication for motion sickness in 1979. Perhaps the most famous example of a transdermal patch is the nicotine version, introduced in 1991.

CBD oil patches work similarly. It looks a lot like a band-aid but is infused with cannabidiol. Apply the patch to a part of the body with veins, and wait for it to get to work. Your body heat activates the patch and causes it to release tiny amounts of CBD gradually. As a result, you can expect the effects to last longer than with other options.

CBD Vaporizing

The practice of heating the oil in a vape pen and inhaling the vapor is becoming very popular. When you vape or smoke CBD, the cannabinoid is sent straight to the lungs and rapidly absorbed. The bioavailability rate of inhaled CBD is high at 34-56%. Users often claim that they feel the effects within 2-5 minutes. Once again, the ‘results’ should last for a few hours. Vaporization has become a popular form of CBD consumption.

How Long Does It Take CBD Oil to Work? How It Interacts With the Body

At Natural Wellness, we are advocates of our readers’ learning! As well as comparing top CBD brands, we want visitors to understand how cannabidiol could work for them. There is no ‘magic’ involved in the effects of CBD on the body. Everything is based on scientific research.

The bodies of mammals contain an endocannabinoid system (ECS). We produce natural cannabinoids, known as ‘endocannabinoids’ designed to keep the body in a state of homeostasis (balance). These endocannabinoids affect special cannabinoid receptors, most pertinently, the CB1 and CB2 receptors.

The cannabinoids found in marijuana and hemp, such as THC and CBD, act on these receptors similarly. THC binds to the receptors, and this process helps create the famous intoxicating ‘high’ you feel. In contrast, CBD is an ‘inverse agonist’ to the receptors. It inhibits the absorption of the ‘bliss molecule,’ anandamide, which also regulates pain.

CBD’s effect on the cannabinoid receptors is indirect. It ultimately helps increase the production of anandamide and 2-AG, the two most prevalent endocannabinoids. In 2008, Ethan Russo published a study on cannabinoids in Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management. In it, he found that CBD targets alpha-3 glycine receptors. Dysfunctional glycine receptors cause pain and inflammation, but CBD’s actions appear to suppress these issues.

It also seems as if CBD interacts with 5-HT1A and TRPV1 receptors. This action could also help explain the apparent ability of cannabidiol to alleviate inflammation and pain. Once you consume CBD oil, it begins to move through the body to the bloodstream. It is at this point that any impact you feel occurs. The duration of this journey, and how long the effects last, depend on many factors.

What Impacts CBD Duration & Journey?

We will look at the different ways to take CBD oil a little later. First of all, it is essential to note that the way the cannabinoid operates varies from one individual to the next.

Body Fat Percentage

There is research that shows CBD affects our metabolism, and could even lead to weight loss. However, it is your overall body fat that impacts how the compound works. Cannabinoids like CBD and THC are stored in fat cells and gradually eliminated from the body. It is the same reason why heavier marijuana users need more abstinence time to pass a drug screening.

Over time, CBD is removed from the body via feces and urine. The compound doesn’t need to build up in the system for a positive effect. However, it may delay the time it takes for CBD to work. Also, a 240-pound person is likely to need more CBD than a 150-pound individual to feel similar effects (all else being equal).


Research shows that individuals with a lower body fat percentage also have a ‘faster’ metabolism. Your metabolic rate determines how quickly your body breaks down and synthesizes compounds. As a result, a person with a ‘fast’ metabolism should feel the effects of CBD quicker than someone with a ‘slow’ metabolic rate.

Dose Frequency & CBD Quality

Most reputable brands provide dosing recommendations. However, it is up to you to decide how much CBD you want to use and how often. For most users, taking cannabidiol once in the morning and again in the evening works well. Epilepsy patients need to consume more than individuals looking to relieve chronic pain. Begin with a smaller amount to see how it ‘affects’ you. Work your way up until you hit the ‘sweet spot.’

What’s far more critical is the quality of the product. With low-grade oil, for example, you may not feel much of an effect, no matter how much you use. In an unregulated industry, it is essential to choose brands that offer third-party lab reports. Through these certificates of analysis, you can discover how much CBD (and other cannabinoids) is in the product. From there, you can plan your dosage with more confidence.

How Long Does CBD Stay in Your System?

As you discovered above, ‘it depends’ is the only thing we can say regarding CBD duration! A study by Marilyn Huestis, published in Chemistry and Biodiversity in August 2007, tried to find out the answer. She found out that when smoked, it was possible to detect CBD in the system for 72 hours. As smoking or vaping CBD provides a faster response, inhalation remains a viable option, despite recent warnings about vaping.

Another study, this time by Nadulski et al., was published in Therapeutic Drug Monitoring in December 2005. The researchers gave a group of volunteers soft-gelatin capsules. They contained 1.35mg of CBD and 2.5mg of THC. The team found that the CBD was only detectable in the blood for six hours after ingestion. Whether the presence of THC changed things is hard to say.

In any case, drug screenings don’t look for CBD. Instead, they focus on finding THC metabolites. Use tested CBD products with less than 0.3% THC, and you are very unlikely to fail a drug test. Experts believe you would need to use at least 1,000mg of CBD oil at that THC level daily to have a chance of failing. Most people use less than 100mg. Even epilepsy patients seldom go above 600mg a day.

First-time users are also curious as to how they will know the CBD is working. As there is no intoxicating high, it isn’t easy to say. Don’t expect to feel a significant effect, or else you will experience disappointment. In the vast majority of cases, the results are subtle. If you use CBD for anxiety, for example, you may notice that you feel ‘better.’ Those who try it for chronic pain might find a gradual decrease in the severity of the pain.

How Long Does It Take for CBD to Work? Final Thoughts

We wish we could give you an exact figure. Unfortunately, there are too many variables to consider. The best that anyone can do is provide a ‘ballpark’ estimate based on the consumption method. Vaporization is realistically the fastest-acting method. Using cannabidiol sublingually probably works best if you don’t like the idea of vaping or smoking. Edibles take a while to reach the bloodstream, but the effects last a long time. Topicals are ideal for targeting a specific point.

If you have used CBD for a while, and are not happy with the results, take a close look at the brand. Are you confident that it is of premium quality? Make sure each product carries the results from a third-party lab report. Otherwise, it is possibly a case of not using enough.

When using CBD for the first time, begin with a low dose of 5-10mg. Gradually increase it every few days. You may require a far higher dosage in the end. Some users report needing 50mg+ to feel a pleasing effect. Don’t give up immediately, and take it consistently!

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Charlotte Fleet

Thank you for explaining that a CBD tincture usually needs to be held under your tongue for about 30-90 seconds. My mom was told to take some to help with her chronic pain, but she hasn’t been sure about how to take it so she hasn’t gotten it yet. Know that I know how it should be used I think she should find a good tincture that works for her.

James Eaves

Wow! What a unique one. I am going to go for topicals from now on, as I am looking for something to help me in chronic pain, and I am never in a hurry. I am using one from Premium Jane as of now, and I am very happy with the results. The best part is, it does not smell bad at all.

Jennifer Cobb

I am very fond of CBD. For me it acts very quickly, in just about 15 to 20 minutes, whether I take in the oil form or some edible form. I think this is kind of panacea for everything, and it is absolutely wonderful.

Robert Torres

If you go in for the massage thing, the ointment, and the creams, they will work faster but will last less longer. However, the oral versions start late but last even after a few days you consume them. I am taking CBD from the last two years, and this is what I have observed.

Simon Ball

Could have done with reading this some time ago – not quite the same but I didn’t know edibles took longer, and smoked too much pot thinking I was invincible to it. Until it all hit… thee types of articles are gold dust in this community.

Taylor Smith

My local cafe sells CBD coffee – when i have one of those the stuff hits me in what feels like minutes!!!

Gordan Parsons

I have been using CBD for 3 years, it has been an absolute god send for me, and i am happy to say it always work within 30 mins of me taking it (I use CBD capsules). I imagine everyone is different but for me it is fast to work and lasts a long time