Legal to consume in the UK, provided it’s sourced from hemp, cannabidiol – aka CBD – is among the many natural occurring cannabinoids found in cannabis plants.
Gaining popularity as both a food supplement and a natural product, specifics about CBD are in high demand. From its effects on the body to its interactions with other medications, people want to know everything they can about:
- CBD dosage
- the best method of consumption
- topical applications
- CBD oil health benefits
But ultimately, most people want to know one thing: how long does it take for CBD oil to work?
We’ll explore what is known about how CBD works, factors that can influence how long it takes to work, and give you some tips on how to get the most out of your CBD products.
Should I Be Taking CBD?
Before jumping into the mechanics of CBD (cannabidiol), it’s worth considering if the supplement is right for you.
CBD is one of over 100 cannabinoids found in hemp and marijuana plants, but unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol which is found in abundance in marijuana), CBD is non-intoxicating, meaning it won’t make you feel ‘high’ or cause significant cognitive impairment.
The choice to take CBD is a personal one and should be considered only when you feel comfortable with the supplement and the emerging evidence supporting its purported wellness benefits.
There are many reasons to take CBD in addition to or in lieu of other wellness supplements, including but not limited to:
- preference for natural, plant-based wellness supplements
- reluctance to take prescription medications with adverse side effects
- seeking general wellness support with fewer potential side effects
The decision to take CBD isn’t a fix-all for wellness, but it may be a helpful supplement to support your overall health and wellbeing if you are finding that other wellness supplements or pharmaceutical medications don’t (or can’t) meet your needs.
What Affects CBD Onset Time?
Once you’ve decided to start taking CBD, your next question is likely, “How long does CBD take to kick in?” The answer to this question isn’t entirely straightforward as numerous factors can affect CBD onset time, including:
- the form of CBD you’re taking (e.g. oil vs gummies vs vape)
- how much CBD you’re taking
- your unique physiology
- dosing schedule
- the quality of the CBD product you’re taking CBD
- the type of CBD you are taking
Let’s break down each of these factors to help you understand how they might influence how long it takes for CBD to work.
Form of CBD
The form of CBD you take will likely be the most significant factor in determining how long it takes for you to feel the effects of CBD. This is because different forms of CBD are metabolized differently by your body.
CBD oil tinctures are designed to be absorbed sublingually (under your tongue), which allows them to bypass the digestive system and enter the bloodstream more rapidly.
Sublingual CBD takes about 15-30 minutes to start saturating the bloodstream, with peak concentration taking around 90 minutes. Typically, CBD will stay present in the bloodstream for 4-6 hours when taken orally, though CBD metabolites can remain in the system for up to a week.
CBD gummies or CBD capsules, on the other hand, must be digested before they can enter the bloodstream and take effect. This means that it will take longer for your body to become saturated with cannabidiol, increasing any onset time for effects.
Furthermore, once CBD edibles are digested, they then need to be metabolized in the liver, which further delays any potential onset of effects. All told, it can take anywhere from 1-2 hours for CBD to kick in when taken in edible form. Peak saturation usually occurs 4-5 hours after ingestion. Depending on the product’s strength, CBD can remain in your system for 6-8 hours after eating a CBD edible.
CBD vape liquids are absorbed through the lungs and generally offer the fastest onset time regardless of other factors. This is because when CBD is inhaled, it bypasses the digestive system and liver metabolism, going straight into the bloodstream.
You can expect to feel the effects of CBD within 5-10 minutes when vaping, and these effects will likely peak around 30-60 minutes. However, because CBD is metabolized so quickly when inhaled, its effects will only last for 1-3 hours.
And CBD topical products such as lotions, balms, and creams can take as little as 5 minutes and as long as an hour for peak saturation into the skin and muscle tissue, with varying degrees of peak absorption based on the amount of CBD in the product.
How Much CBD You’re Taking
Some people think taking more CBD in a dose will speed up the onset of effects, but this isn’t always the case. In fact, taking too high of a dose can actually increase how long it takes for the effects of CBD to be felt, as your body will take longer to process and metabolize the supplement.
This has to do with how CBD is broken down and metabolized by the liver. When taken in large doses, CBD undergoes what’s called ‘first-pass metabolism’ in which the liver partially breaks it down before it ever reaches the bloodstream. This process can delay the effects of CBD as your body needs to work to metabolize the supplement.
On the other hand, taking smaller doses doesn’t necessarily mean that the effects of CBD will be felt more quickly. This is because it takes time for your body to build up a saturation of cannabidiol in the system, regardless of dose size.
Your Unique Physiology
How long it takes for you to feel the effects of CBD may also depend on your unique physiology. This includes factors like:
- Your body weight
- Your metabolism
- The condition you’re treating
- How your body responds to CBD
- Your previous experience with cannabis
For example, people who weigh more may need to take higher doses of CBD to feel the same effects at the same rate as someone who weighs less. This is because there is more body mass for the compound to disperse throughout.
Additionally, people with faster metabolisms may find that they process CBD quicker than those with slower metabolisms. This also means that CBD may be flushed from the system more quickly in people with faster metabolisms.
Additionally, your response to CBD may be related to your previous experience with cannabis. If you’re a first-time user, you may find that it takes longer for the effects of CBD to be felt as your body is not used to processing cannabinoids.
Conversely, if you have experience with cannabis, you may find that the effects of CBD are felt more quickly as your endocannabinoid system (ECS) is already used to processing CBD and related hemp plant compounds.
When you take CBD can have an important impact on its onset time. Things like taking it with or without food, before or after experiencing conditions that cause you to take CBD, or at different times of day can all impact its effects.
In general, taking CBD on an empty stomach will cause it to be absorbed (and therefore kick in) more quickly as there is nothing else for it to compete with in the digestive process. However, this may not be ideal for everyone, as taking CBD on an empty stomach can sometimes cause nausea or other gastrointestinal issues.
Additionally, taking CBD with food can help to increase its bioavailability as it will be dispersed throughout the body more evenly. This means that you may need to take a slightly higher dose when taking CBD with food to feel the effects at the same rate as you would if you took it on an empty stomach.
The same goes for taking CBD before or after other activities that may impact its effects. Intense duress in the body can cause stress hormones to block enzymes that help cannabinoid receptors to do their job. So if you wait to take CBD till you are feeling your worst, it may actually increase the time it takes to kick in.
Additionally, because a common side effect of CBD is slight fatigue, taking it during the night-time may make you feel its effects more quickly as your body will already be in a relaxed state as opposed to in the daytime when it is more active.
Of course, how long it takes for CBD to work also depends on the quality of the product you’re using. This is because different products contain different levels of cannabidiol and other hemp plant compounds. High-quality CBD products are those that:
- are made using CO2 extraction methods
- are third-party lab tested to ensure potency and purity
- use organic hemp plants
- incorporate carrier oils for increased bioavailability (coconut oil, hemp seed oil, MCT oil)
By avoiding CBD products that don’t meet these criteria, you can help ensure that the product you’re using is of a high enough quality to provide the wellness benefits you seek in an effective and timely manner.
The Type of CBD
Different types of CBD products can be created from hemp cannabis plant extracts. Each type of CBD has its own advantages and disadvantages in terms of onset time.
CBD isolate is the most common type of CBD on the market as it is the purest form of cannabidiol. Because it contains no other hemp plant compounds and is often blended with other carrier oils, it has a fast onset time as it is quickly and easily absorbed into the bloodstream.
Full-spectrum CBD products tend to be the most popular due to their high concentration of CBD, phytocannabinoids, and naturally occurring hemp terpenes. But, because they contain these other compounds, they generally have a slower onset time as the body needs to process all of the cannabinoids present.
Broad-spectrum CBD products are similar to full-spectrum in that they contain a range of other hemp plant compounds. However, they differ in that they have had the THC and other non-essential hemp compounds removed. As a result, onset times for broad-spectrum formulas can sometimes be faster than full-spectrum or CBD isolate, but this isn’t always the case.
How Can I Make CBD Kick In Faster?
While you may not be able to change your physiology to affect how quickly CBD works, there are a few things you can do to potentially make it kick in faster.
First, as mentioned above, take CBD on an empty stomach for the quickest absorption. If this isn’t possible or causes you digestive discomfort, try taking it with a small amount of healthy fat such as coconut oil, avocado, or a handful of nuts.
Additionally, try using a CBD product designed for maximum absorption, such as a water-soluble CBD or a liposomal (fat cells) CBD. These products often have slightly higher bioavailability rates due to their unique delivery methods, meaning they may work faster than other CBD products.
You can also consider using a topical CBD product if your wellness needs are only skin deep. Topical application allows CBD to absorb through the pores and hair follicles, providing more immediate onset without waiting for the CBD to travel through your digestive system first.
While there is no one definitive answer to the question of how long it takes for CBD oil to work, in general, you can expect it to take anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours. To get CBD wellness support when you need it most, be sure to try lots of different products and dosing methods to find the combination that works best for you. By understanding how long it takes for CBD oil to work, you can be sure to get the support you need effectively and promptly.
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