How long does it take CBD to work?
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- How does CBD interact with the body?
- The method of consumption matters
- Dosage matters
- How long does it take CBD to get out of your system?
So, you’ve heard about cannabidiol (CBD) oil possibly working wonders for chronic pain relief, anxiety, and many other conditions. You finally sit down, unscrew the cap from the CBD oil bottle, and prepare to set out on a soothing journey guided by this non-intoxicating cannabinoid. After taking a few drops of CBD oil or applying a CBD-infused topical to the skin, you might start to ponder the following questions:
- How long does it take for CBD to work?
- How long will the effects of CBD oil last?
More clinical research is required to answer these questions with unwavering confidence, but we can still look at how CBD interacts with the body to come up with well-educated estimates.
How does CBD interact with the body?
CBD interacts with the brain and body through a number of different mechanisms, creating a complex relationship that still merits further research before we can fully understand how this cannabinoid might relieve certain ailments.
Upon entering the system CBD interacts with a wide range of proteins in the body and central nervous system. A key part of this interaction takes place within the endocannabinoid system (ECS), specifically the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors. Unlike THC, which is the intoxicating cannabinoid that binds to these receptors and creates the stoned effect, CBD actually has an inverse effect. When cannabidiol is introduced to the ECS, it inhibits the absorption of anandamide, a natural cannabinoid that regulates pain.
When cannabidiol is introduced to the endocannabinoid system, it inhibits the absorption of anandamide, a natural cannabinoid molecule that regulates pain. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
CBD also interacts with other receptor proteins not directly related to the ECS, such as the serotonin receptor 5-HT1A and vanilloid receptor TRPV1. The widely perceived anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties of CBD could stem from the activation of these additional biological pathways.
The relationship between CBD and the human body is rather complicated, but it’s a bit easier to understand how this cannabinoid moves through the body, as well as how long it takes CBD to leave your system. Even this answer, however, is contingent on several factors, including the method of consumption, the quality of the CBD product, and the person consuming CBD.
The method of consumption matters
Method of consumption plays a critical role in how long it will take to feel the effects of CBD. CBD is available in many different forms, and each has an influence on the onset time, among other factors.
The most common method for CBD consumption involves administering a couple of drops directly into the mouth. It is the quickest and easiest way to reap the potential benefits of this cannabinoid. But quickly swallowing the oil also prevents CBD from immediately entering the bloodstream, sending it instead through the digestive tract and eventually on to the liver, where it is broken down before finally reaching the bloodstream.
Studies show that when CBD compounds are metabolized by the liver, it undergoes what is called the “first pass effect,” where enzymes in the liver reduce CBD concentration before the remainder is finally sent to the bloodstream to be circulated throughout the body.
Administering a couple of drops of CBD oil directly into the mouth is the quickest and easiest way to reap the benefits Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
For ingestion of CBD edibles, the same principle applies. Let’s say, for example, you’re taking CBD gummies or adding a few drops of CBD oil into your favorite recipe. It will ultimately go through the same lengthy process and reduce the total CBD concentration found in your blood stream. With ingestion, it could be one to two hours before the effects of CBD finally set in.
CBD oil can be consumed sublingually by placing a few drops of CBD under the tongue before swallowing. By using this method, CBD is absorbed by the mucous membranes located in the mouth, bypassing the digestive system and liver. Compared with ingestion, this process allows the consumer to skip over the initial metabolization process, where CBD molecules are broken down in the liver, allowing it to enter the bloodstream more quickly.
Whether you’re smoking a high-CBD strain or taking a draw from a CBD vape pen, inhalation is often seen as an effective method of delivery for CBD because of how quickly it’s absorbed in the body. When CBD is smoked or vaped, cannabinoids are sent directly to the lungs, where they are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and put into circulation throughout the body. It reaches peak concentrations within three minutes after consumption, meaning the effects can be felt shortly after use.
Topical CBD is applied directly to the skin and can be absorbed through the surface of the skin to interact with localized cannabinoid receptors. In some cases, CBD-infused topicals should be applied liberally to overcome the low cannabinoid absorption rate of the skin. When CBD is applied topically, the effect peaks at about 90 minutes. This method of administration is often used for chronic pain in specific areas.
Topical CBD is applied directly to and can be absorbed through the surface of the skin. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
The way CBD operates throughout the body – and is inevitably excreted from the body – also depends on several factors that vary from person to person.
The amount of body fat influences the amount of CBD needed to be effective. Someone with a larger body mass will require more CBD in order to feel the effects. Body weight and mass also affect how long CBD remains in the system. Like THC, CBD is stored in fat cells and gradually eliminated from the body through urine and feces. Does CBD have to build up in your system to work effectively? No, but it does get stored in the fat cells and can remain in the body well after the effects of CBD diminish.
The metabolic rate of the individual also has some sway over how long CBD stays in the system. The body’s metabolism determines how long it takes to break down and synthesize compounds, which affects how long it takes the body to process and metabolize the cannabinoid.
The body’s metabolism affects how long it takes to process and metabolize cannabinoids. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Frequency of use
It’s not just the human body that influences how long it takes CBD to work, but also the quality of the CBD product and how often it’s used. Once the CBD oil is acquired, the next step is to find the optimal dosing regimen, including frequency of use. Perhaps you’ve wondered to yourself:
- Should I take CBD oil in the morning or at night?
- What’s the right time of day to take CBD?
The answers will depend largely on the type of product, amount of CBD inside it, and the specific ailment you are targeting. Most reputable manufacturers will provide instructions on how to properly utilize the product, but experimentation may be required to find the optimal dose for you and your specific needs.
Settling on the ideal CBD dosage is an important part of the treatment process, and will also impact how long CBD stays in your system.
Hemp-derived CBD products are not intended to give the user a stoned buzz or intoxicated feeling, so there’s no need to be conservative with the dosage amount. Still, it’s recommended to start with a lower dosage and gradually increase it until the ideal effects are discovered.
How long does it take CBD to get out of your system?
We’ve covered the factors that determine how long it takes for CBD to work, but what about how long it takes to get CBD out of your system? Again, it depends on many of the aforementioned factors that determine the effectiveness of the cannabinoid itself.
A 2007 study states that CBD can be detected up to 72 hours after smoking. Since the effects of CBD may be felt directly after inhalation, this method is appealing for those seeking immediate pain relief. In another study, volunteers were given soft-gelatin capsules of cannabis extract containing 2.5 milligrams of THC and 1.35 milligrams of CBD. The research team found that CBD was only detectable in the blood for up to six hours after ingestion.
CBD can be detected up to 72 hours after smoking. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Some people may be apprehensive to try CBD over concerns that it could cause them to fail a drug test. It’s highly unlikely that CBD would show up on most drug screenings, as most tests specifically look for the presence of THC and THC metabolites. But even hemp-derived CBD can contain trace amounts of THC, so there’s technically a chance, albeit extremely slim, of receiving a false positive test result from taking an unusually large dose (estimates range from 1,000 to 2,000 milligrams per day) of CBD oil.
For those worried about THC showing up in their system, look for broad-spectrum oil or products that contain pure CBD isolate. Broad-spectrum oil, as opposed to full spectrum oil, is refined to exclude the trace amounts of THC that may have been present in the hemp plant. Products with CBD isolate contain no THC or other plant-based cannabinoids. To find high-quality CBD, search for products that come with a certificate of analysis from a third-party testing lab to ensure that the information listed on the product label is accurate. Also, be on the lookout for products that claim to be hemp seed oil or hemp oil, which seldom contains any CBD at all.
How long does it take CBD to work? Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents How does CBD interact with the body? The method of consumption matters
How to Take Your CBD
Finding Your Optimal Serving Sizes and Formats
So you’ve decided to join the growing revolution of people using cannabidiol (CBD) for relief and support with anxiety, arthritis, pain, menopause symptoms, insomnia and other health issues. Now comes the truly hard decision: tinctures, topicals, vaporizers, edibles… Which is best for you? And how much should you take?
If you’re overwhelmed by the wide variety of CBD products, you are not alone. Each method delivers CBD to your body in a different way, which affects what it can be used for and how often you’ll want to take it. Adding to that confusion is the fact that each of our bodies responds differently to CBD, meaning there is no one-size-fits-all recommendation. That’s why we’ve put together a guide to help you design a cannabinoid treatment plan that fits your individual health goals — whether you’re choosing your first CBD product, or just optimizing your current routine.
Clarify Your Goals
With more than 65 different targets throughout your body, CBD has a staggering variety of therapeutic properties. Focusing on just one or two or those properties will help you find the best product and dosage quicker.
Ask yourself what you want CBD to improve. Do you want emotional support? Do you have a lot of arthritic pain? Are you just curious to see if life is somehow “better” with it?
Many people benefit from tracking their progress. You could use a score to rate your symptoms or try journaling about your current experience. Creating a baseline record will help you judge the effectiveness of your CBD treatment.
Where Does the CBD Need to Reach?
In order for this little molecule to be effective, it must get to where it’s needed. For most health goals, figuring out the location of CBD’s target will be straightforward.
If your target is located anywhere close to your skin or a mucous membrane (ie vagina), you could first try a localized product like a topical or suppository. This delivers the highest concentration of CBD exactly where you want it.
Otherwise, CBD needs to travel through your bloodstream to reach its target — whether that’s to your brain, immune system, or other locations. Vaporizers and oral products are best for this purpose.
What’s Your Time Frame?
How long CBD works in your body is a balance between how you ingest it and how quickly your body eliminates it. Some methods deliver a sharp, quick peak of CBD, while others offer a slow, steadier concentration.
If you’re looking for immediate, short-term relief, then inhaled products like a vaporizer might be ideal. On the other hand, if you want to maintain steady levels of CBD throughout the day, then an oral product would be more appropriate.
Many people benefit from a combination of delivery methods. Here are some examples of how people use CBD products:
1-3X daily oral supplement + vape pen as needed
1-3X daily oral supplement + topical as needed
Oral supplement a few hours before bedtime (lower doses can energize while higher doses encourage sleep)
Topical vulva spray as desired
Vaginal suppository as needed
Everybody’s Different: Finding Your Dose
How well each method works varies from person to person, and is influenced by many factors (covered in more detail below) so dosing is a highly individual process.
It’s always recommended to start with a very low dose to make sure you don’t react poorly to any of the product’s ingredients. Try one or two drops of an oral formulation, or a tiny puff off a vaporizer… this will be well below the recommended serving size listed on the product.
Then, wait until after the CBD has peaked and is leaving your system before trying a slightly higher dose. Wait at least an hour for vaporizers, and 6+ hours for an oral formula. You can take more sooner, but any effects you feel will be the cumulative result of both doses.
Even if you know how much CBD is in each serving, that value only represents the maximum amount that could be entering your body — most of that CBD will never reach your bloodstream or its targets.
But there are tricks that can help increase the amount of CBD your body absorbs.
- Before increasing how much you vape, experiment with different inhalation techniques.
- If you’re taking an oral formulation, try holding it under your tongue or swishing it around your mouth before swallowing.
For more tips and considerations, read about each ingestion method below.
CBD Sources & Quality
Once you find your optimal CBD method and dosage, be aware that it may change if you switch products. Some manufacturers are less trustworthy than others, so different CBD sources may have different effects.
What’s the best type of CBD to use? Scientists recently discovered that broad-spectrum CBD extracts (from cannabis or hemp plants) are much more effective than so-called “pure” CBD isolates. Researchers think broad-spectrum extracts work better because they contain a variety of molecules that are similar in size and shape to CBD — that all work synergistically together.
CBD: Can You Take Too Much?
If you’re worried about taking too much, just know that clinical trials have prescribed CBD doses up to 1,200 mg daily for months without observing any serious side effects . That’s more CBD than an entire bottle of Foria Basics , or 60+ suggested servings per day!
That said, we recommend speaking with a trusted medical professional before embarking on your CBD journey .
Although CBD is generally considered safe, it could lower your blood pressure. CBD can also interfere with your body’s ability to process certain pharmaceutical drugs. Both CBD and grapefruits inhibit cytochrome p450 , so take extra precautions if you are on a medication that comes with a warning not to consume with grapefruit . Topical or inhaled products could help minimize this interaction.
Ways to take CBD
Oral – Swallowed
Pathway to targets: When CBD is ingested, it passes through the digestive tract, where it’s absorbed into the bloodstream and travels throughout your body.
Time-frame: This is the slowest route for CBD to reach its targets, but also the longest period of time that it’s active. Peak bloodstream levels are reported anywhere between 1-6 hours. Best for long-term supplementation.
- Food. Food affects your body’s ability to absorb CBD, and more cannabinoids are absorbed on a full stomach . CBD is fat-soluble, and consuming with a healthy dose of fats can increase the amount of CBD that reaches your bloodstream 3-fold — which is why Foria Basics contains MCT coconut oil.
- Pay attention to THC. Swallowed products are first metabolized by your liver before circulating through your body (first-pass metabolism). If your CBD product contains THC (i.e it’s a “full-spectrum CBD”), it could be converted to 11-hydroxy-THC , which is a strong intoxicant. Many people find that CBD helps counterbalance the “high” associated with THC, but if you are sensitive to THC, look for CBD from a hemp source.
- Prescription drug interactions. As mentioned earlier, CBD could interfere with the processing of certain drugs by cytochrome p450. Because cytochrome p450 is most concentrated in the liver, ingested CBD is more likely than inhaled CBD to cause drug interactions.
- Time in your mouth. Everything above applies to CBD that is swallowed immediately. However, while it sits in your mouth, it can be absorbed directly into your bloodstream. See below.
Oral – Sublingual or “Buccal”
Pathway to targets: CBD can be absorbed directly into your bloodstream from capillary-rich areas underneath the tongue, along the gums and cheek. From here, it avoids first-pass metabolism and is sent throughout your body.
Time-frame: This route gets CBD into your bloodstream faster than swallowing. Under the tongue (sublingual) is generally quicker than against the cheek (buccal). However, because most of the CBD will eventually be swallowed, peak bloodstream levels range from 0.5 – 5 hours.
- Food. When evaluating an oral spray, researchers discovered that the total amount of absorbed CBD increases 5-fold if the person has recently eaten . Chewing helps increase blood flow to your mouth, which could help increase absorption.
- Increase surface contact. It’s often suggested to keep CBD oil in your mouth for 1.5 minutes or more before swallowing. During this time, increase absorption by vigorously swishing the oil around your mouth and even between your teeth — this increases the surface contact between the oil and your capillaries. (If you’ve tried oil-pulling as a tooth-and-gums cleanser, this will be familiar.)
Types: Vape pens, dabs, high-CBD cannabis
Pathway to targets: When CBD is inhaled, it passes to the lungs where it rapidly passes into the bloodstream. Inhalation avoids first-pass metabolism.
Time-frame: This is the quickest way to get CBD circulating through your system, but it also is effective for the shortest period of time. Peak bloodstream levels are within 10 minutes.
- Inhalation technique. Based on studies with THC, inhalation can get anywhere from 2-56% of this molecule into your bloodstream based on your inhalation technique. Try this: use the vaporizer for the first half of your inhalation, then finish your inhalation with a deep breath of fresh air — get those molecules deep in there! (This technique will also minimize irritation if the vapor is a bit too hot, by mixing in cooler air.) On exhale, any vapor that you can see is lost, so instead of exhaling fully, start a partial exhale until you see vapor — then inhale all the way back in and repeat a few times until you see less vapor on the exhale.
- Vapor Pen Hardware. Avoid cheap, disposable vape pens, and watch out for any that list “propylene glycol” in the ingredients. Look for higher-quality vape pens with ceramic heating elements, for a cleaner vapor.
Types: Creams, oils, lotions
Pathway to targets: Topical CBD diffuses across your skin and reaches local targets, like muscles, inflammatory cells, and pain-perceiving nerves. Very little, if any, enters the bloodstream — unless it is designed for transdermal activity.
Time-frame: Varies, depending on the target.
- Often paired. Topicals are great for on-the-spot treatment and arousal. But for long-term health goals, people often get the best results when they pair topicals with oral or inhaled CBD products.
Vaginal & Anal
Types: Suppositories, lubes, creams in applicators
Pathway to targets: CBD applied to the mucosal tissue of the vagina and anus have the strongest effect locally at muscles, inflammatory cells, and pain-perceiving nerves — similar to the way topicals work. However, because these areas are rich in capillaries, some CBD could be absorbed into the bloodstream.
Time-frame: For local targets like sexual pleasure or menstrual cramps, Foria’s Relief Suppositories with CBD and Awaken Arousal Oil with CBD are active within minutes (and possibly up to an hour) after application. Absorption into the bloodstream is highly variable and has only been studied rectally. Any molecules entering the bloodstream through the rectum should peak within 2-8 hours .
- Vaginal differences. Absorption across the vaginal wall will vary with your age, vaginal pH, and where you are on your menstrual cycle.
- Anal placement. Whether or not rectal suppositories deliver CBD into the bloodstream is highly variable between individuals. If the suppository also contains THC in a general cannabinoid formula, placement of the suppository into the lower rectum (closer to the sphincter) can help avoid first-pass metabolism and the risk of a more “stoned” feeling.
Everything we’ve been discussing — the pharmacokinetics of cannabidiol — is a complicated subject that scientists are still actively piecing together. There are no established guidelines for the best way to use CBD to achieve your health goals. Prepare for a truly unique experience that deserves patient and loving experimentation. We wish you success on your journey!
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If you’re overwhelmed by the wide variety of CBD products, you are not alone. Each method delivers CBD to your body in a different way, which affects what it can be used for and how often you’ll want to take it. That’s why we’ve put together a guide to help you design a CBD treatment plan that fits your health goals.