Here’s How Long It Takes to Feel the Effects of CBD
Plus the preferred method for feeling it fastest.
CBD oil is the top trendy ingredient on the market right now. It’s so popular, in fact, that revenue from products made with CBD are projected to grow to $20 billion by 2024.
In case you’re wondering what is CBD, exactly?, here’s a quick refresher: CBD is a naturally occurring compound present in the flowers and leaves of cannabis plants. There’s no THC in it, which means it can’t get you high, no matter how much you take.
The reason CBD is so compelling to consumers is due to a laundry list of promising purported health benefits, from reduced muscle pain and anxiety to help with nausea, insomnia, and inflammation. We’re still waiting for clearance from the FDA (and more robust research on the proven perks of the ingredient), but in the meantime, many Americans are eager to test out the positive potential of CBD.
If you’re wondering whether it’s time to jump on the CBD bandwagon, you’re not alone. But as with any new food, drink, or supplement that promises health benefits, it’s best to start slow—and smart.
One question we often hear regarding trying CBD for the first time is how long it will take to have an effect on your body. According to Boris Shcharansky, the chief operating officer at Papa & Barkley, the length of time depends largely on the dosing method. Here’s a simple breakdown.
Topical forms of CBD
CBD topical products, like balm, ointments, and lotions, should take effect pretty immediately. Once you apply these products to your body, you should start feeling relief within about 15 minutes.
Ingestible forms of CBD
For ingestible products, like tinctures, capsules, gummies, and the like, the results are different. When kept under the tongue, tinctures typically absorb within 30 seconds and effects are felt within 15 minutes. When ingesting CBD (i.e., swallowing it or consuming a food that contains CBD), you can expect to feel the effects within about 45 minutes to two hours.
Don’t overdo it without waiting
If you’ve got aches, inflammation, or other issues that you’re hoping to soothe with CBD stat, be very careful not to overdose without waiting the appropriate period of time. “Ingesting CBD is typically associated with more attentiveness, less anxiety, and less inflammatory-related pain,” explains Shcharansky. “While higher doses—over 200 milligrams—have been associated with drowsiness.”
In other words, dosing should be determined on an individual basis, and consumers should be wary of high doses early on. If you’re curious what the right dosage of CBD is for you, read our guide here.
For those who are hoping to feel the effects of CBD as quickly as possible, Shcharansky recommends taking a tincture sublingually, meaning dropping it under your tongue, waiting a few seconds, and then swallowing.
“But the benefits of CBD are less about immediate effects and more about cumulative benefits,” he explains. “If you take CBD daily, you’ll continuously reduce your inflammation, which over time, should reduce your pain and keeps flare-ups at bay.”
If you’re wondering if it’s time to jump on the CBD bandwagon, you’re not alone. One question we often hear regarding trying CBD oil for the first time is how long it will take to feel CBD oil effects. Here’s a simple breakdown.
How Long Does It Take CBD to Work, Anyways?
One of the biggies: How long does it take for CBD oil to work? Because who hasn’t been in the situation where it seems like one person takes CBD and turns into a zen mother earth goddess right away, while you’re sitting over here waiting for something (anything!) to happen to take your morning anxiety away. (What’s that saying? A watched mug of CBD coffee never kicks in?)
Turns out, CBD isn’t one-size-fits-all. Various factors—such as the amount you take, the form you take it in, and where you got your CBD from—can all impact how long it takes to work, says Brooke Alpert, RD, the founder of Daily Habit, a line of CBD powder.
For example, if you’re putting your CBD product in a coffee that has almond milk or sugar or anything else that might need to be digested, your CBD will kick in more slowly than it would if you put a few drops directly under your tongue. “I look at it the same way I talk to people about their sugar consumption,” Alpert explains. “If you have juice or put a little bit on your tongue, it’s going to be an immediate reaction versus when it’s in fruit where you have fiber, which slows down absorption.” (Generally speaking, CBD oil added to a coffee or smoothie will probably take around 30 minutes before you start to feel anything.)
It’s worth noting that the research on taking CBD sublingually (science-speak for under your tongue) is mixed: As Well + Good has previously reported, many studies on the subject have included both CBD and THC, so it’s hard to generalize the findings to products that are just CBD-based. However, chemist Jesse Kater previously told tell Well+Good that “most of the literature supports the notion that CBD has better bioavailability when consumed sublingually versus orally.” That supports anecdotal evidence that CBD starts working almost immediately when taken under the tongue. Alpert agrees to an extent, saying that it can take anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour to kick in when taken sublingually.
Charlotte’s Web co-founder Jesse Stanley adds that CBD products often come in different strengths and thus the amount of CBD that works for your bestie may not work for you. “You might need to try a few strengths until you find what works for you,” he says. (Good to know!)
“Every day consistency is key,” he adds. “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” He encourages people to think of CBD as a dietary supplement and notes that it can take up to four to six weeks to “fully realize the benefits of CBD,” especially if you’re taking it to alleviate anxiety, pain, or for stress relief. “We are all unique in our needs and bodily systems. Some people experience rapid and very noticeable benefits while others notice benefits over time and daily use, which is common for many dietary supplements,” Stanley says.
The most important factor, Alpert says, is quality. There is so much variance among CBD products, and that can also impact how long it takes before you start feeling any effects. “This is where people are getting frustrated with CBD, because they’re like, ‘Well, I got a CBD gummy from my local bodega and I didn’t feel anything,’” Alpert says. Some things Alpert and Stanley say you should consider when shopping for any CBD product:
- The origin of the hemp: ”Hemp is a powerful phytoremediation crop, which means it cleans the soil, so you’ll want to find out that it’s grown using responsible farming practices in soil that is pre-tested for toxins or heavy metals,” Stanley says.
- Is the product full-spectrum? Both Stanley and Alpert recommend looking for full-spectrum products, which means that all the different compounds in the hemp—the foundation of every CBD product—work together to “further heighten [your] body’s response to CBD,” according to Stanley.
- Transparency: Look for third-party testing that shows you what’s in there, Alpert recommends. “All CBD is not created equally and it’s really important that whatever you’re buying actually has what it needs to have in order for it to be effective.” Reputable companies shouldn’t hide or obscure that info in any way.
The reality: Trial and error is the name of the game when it comes to finding the correct amount CBD that will actually work for you. With a little research, you’ll hopefully find the right amount for you that gives you the results you’re aiming for.
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Curious about how long does it take for CBD oil to work? Experts weigh in on what can affect CBD absorption and make the oil take longer to kick in.