I can still remember the first time I bought CBD oil in Portland. I’d purchased a couple of products—some agave sticks and some rub-in topical ointment. I was totally brand-new to CBD, and one of my first thoughts after I drank the contents of the stick was, “When is this stuff going to kick in …?”
Actually, since then I’ve learned that the answer to that question can vary from person to person, from form to form, from product to product.
Right now, maybe you are looking into CBD products to purchase and are trying to decide what to get to treat your condition. Or maybe you already have some CBD remedies, and want a better understanding of what to expect when you use them and how to dose them effectively.
Either way, my goal with this introduction is to help you get a feel for how long CBD oil takes to go into effect in the body, and assist you in figuring out which products may best suit your needs.
What Conditions Can CBD Oil Treat?
First of all, before we launch into a discussion of how long CBD oil takes to work, it is always useful to think about the effects you are trying to achieve by taking it and all potential benefits of cannabidiol oil.
People take CBD oil for all sorts of reasons, but here are a few common conditions it can be used to treat:
- Pain and inflammation, as in conditions such as fibromyalgia or arthritis.
- Anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other mental imbalances. CBD works well for these conditions because it has antipsychotic and antidepressant qualities.
- Sleep disorders like insomnia.
- Seizures, such as those associated with epilepsy.
- Nausea from conditions like IBS or migraines.
- Acne and other inflammatory skin conditions.
If you are looking for CBD oil to help counteract a seizure, that is a lot different from waiting for the oil to clear up your acne or send you off to a peaceful night of sleep.
So that is something to keep in mind. The length of time needed for results for one application may differ from the time needed for another—even if you are taking CBD oil in the same form.
Does CBD Work Right Away?
Can you expect results from CBD oil on the instant, or will you have to wait for a while?
It all depends on how you choose to take it. CBD oil can be taken in a number of different ways, including:
- Under the tongue
- Topical application
Let’s take a closer look at each of these.
#1) Ingesting CBD
By all accounts, eating CBD in a capsule or gummy or in a nectar such as agave or honey is the slowest means of delivering it to your body. Doing some research, I saw a range of different timeframes cited—everything from 10 minutes up through 2 hours.
This makes sense when you think about it. Everyone has their own unique metabolism. Some people are going to get a slower effect, and others are going to get a faster effect. It is all down to the individual digestive tract.
If you want to hasten digestion of CBD, it makes the most sense to go with a nectar product, because you can stir it into a drink. At that point, you can consume it as a liquid instead of a solid (like a gummy). Liquids tend to go down faster and with less effort than solids.
I mentioned that I have some experience with CBD in agave nectar. Actually, this form of CBD didn’t do much for me personally, so I couldn’t say with any certainty how long it takes to go into effect in my body. But I know a couple of people who swear by the same stuff.
One of them says that she takes it around 10 minutes before bed, and is subsequently out like a light. The other says that it takes anywhere from around 30-60 minutes for it to kick in, generally closer to 30 minutes.
So you can see that is quite a lot of variance from one person to another just for a single product (same form of CBD oil and same brand).
If you took your CBD capsules, gummies, or nectar 10 or 20 minutes ago and still have no result, keep waiting. You may just have a slower metabolism and need longer to feel the effect. Again, some folks say it takes up to 2 hours.
Oh—one more thing to mention about the gummies in particular is that they tend to be more expensive than other forms of CBD. For that reason as well as how long they take to work, I would probably not recommend them as your go-to source of CBD.
Key Point: Oral CBD is relatively slow to digest, but the time it takes can range anywhere from 10-20 minutes on the short side to up to 1-2 hours on the long side. Want to speed things up? Digest it in a liquid form.
#2 Vaping CBD
At the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to timing is vaping. Dabbing or vaping CBD oil allows you to experience rapid benefits. The reason for this is that it is such a direct way to pull CBD into your bloodstream. It goes right into your lungs, and from your lungs, directly into your blood.
Your blood in turn circulates throughout your body, bringing that CBD to all your tissues. That means that you get body-wide benefits right away.
What do I mean when I say “right away?” Again, there is variance from one individual to the next, but a lot less, because most people are likely to experience effects inside of 10 minutes or less.
Key Point: This is the fastest way in general to experience CBD’s benefits. When you need rapid relief, vaping is a great go-to method.
#3 Sublingual CBD
A third option for getting CBD into your body is to administer it sublingually, i.e. underneath the tongue. Doing this is a way to bypass your digestive tract and the time that your body would need to digest the CBD oil. Instead, it gets ferried into your bloodstream, where it can begin circulating.
How long will you be waiting with a sublingual dose? I have seen some people say they get results as fast as 10-20 minutes, while others say that they need to wait closer to 30-40 minutes.
Key Point: Don’t want to vape, but don’t want to wait on a slow digestive tract either?
Skip the oral CBD and go with sublingual delivery. It is slower than vaping but faster than products you have to digest.
#4 Topical CBD Application
Next up are topical balms which contain CBD oil. You do not ingest these in any way; you simply rub them into your skin. They can be used for skin conditions or for localized pain issue (like muscle or ligament pain).
How long do these take to work? Browsing online, I was unable to find anything in the way of a solid estimate—just various sites which claim that this method takes longer to deliver the CBD and its effects since the ointment or balm needs time to absorb through your skin and into your body.
From personal experience, however, I can provide some more insight. I mentioned that CBD sticks didn’t seem to do much for me, but one product from the same brand which works great for me is CBD balm.
I have frequent muscle and ligament pain from a chronic condition, and it helps with some of the localized pain. The “activation time” listed on the container is 5 to 30 minutes. That isn’t actually any longer than any other method here—and is arguably faster than ingestion.
On a logical level, this makes sense when you get to thinking about it.
Yes, the CBD oil needs to absorb through your skin, but that actually can happen pretty fast (just think how quickly water absorbs into your skin in the shower). From there, it goes right to the tissue you are targeting. It does not need to get there via body-wide circulation.
I get a noticeable effect when I rub in the CBD oil inside of 5 minutes. It might be even less than that. The drop in localized pain is pretty significant. I’m not particularly prone to the placebo effect, so I feel confident in saying that topical CBD can work quickly.
Key Point: While you will hear a lot of people say that CBD oil balms are slow to work, in my experience they can produce swift results. I will go with the 5-30 minute estimate on my own CBD balm container as the proper answer.
Summary of CBD Activation Times:
- Ingestion: 10 minutes to 2 hours
- Sublingual: 10-40 minutes
- Vaping: 10 minutes or less
- Topical: 5-30 minutes
As you can see, some people can actually get fast results from all methods of delivery!
How Long Does It Take CBD To Produce Results For Different Conditions?
A discussion about how long it takes CBD to work for a wide range of conditions is a bit beyond the scope of this post, but I can at least address a couple of the most common uses: pain and anxiety.
How Long Does It Take CBD To Treat Pain?
This is actually a very broad question in and of itself. How long it takes to treat a specific type of pain via any means (CBD or otherwise) depends in part on the physiological mechanisms underlying that pain. That also will determine the effectiveness.
For that reason, there is no one solid answer I can give. But I can say from my own experiences that the general estimates given seem to be applicable for quite a few pain conditions.
Again, with my localized pain, CBD balm can produce some relief within 5 minutes or less—so that is pretty great.
On the other hand, with my referred pain patterns, CBD doesn’t help. There’s no such thing as a miracle capsule or balm or nectar though, so I’m just happy with the results I do feel.
I suggest simply giving CBD a try using a few different delivery methods to see what helps for your pain condition. Hopefully you’ll get some fast relief like I do for my muscle and ligament pain.
How Long Does It Take CBD Oil To Treat Anxiety?
I haven’t used CBD oil for anxiety personally, but I know several people who do, and say that they get results from oral CBD products in anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour, and that it also helps them fall asleep within this timeframe. In fact, many people use CBD to replace melatonin or prescription sleep aids.
Based on that, with anxiety too, I think the general activation windows apply. Remember, you can get even faster results using a method like vaping if you want to make sure you don’t have to wait an hour to start feeling the soothing effects.
Is There a Way to Increase Absorption?
Now, all of this probably has you wondering about bioavailability. If you can increase that, in theory uptake should easier. This might have the effect of improving the speed as well as the potency of the products you use.
So can you increase the bioavailability of CBD? Going by this discussion on Reddit, that is something which researchers are still working on (check out the graph in OP’s post and be sure to read the context around it). There are some ideas in the discussion which might be worth a try, but as they require some complicated preparations, I will let you delve into that for yourself.
Does CBD Oil Have to Build Up in Your System?
I can only answer this question based off of the available data. I have seen a few sites claim that CBD oil does build up in the body, enhancing the effect over time, but I have seen others which claim the opposite—that repeated exposure results in the development of tolerance and a corresponding decline in effectiveness.
I decided to delve into this myself, and found this research text, which states, “With respect to the cannabinoids, the reported effects of repeated treatment range from tolerance to auxoesthesia (Pried 1977). Although what determines the direction of the change in drug responsiveness has not been elucidated.”
To clarify, “auxoesthesia” is simply a scientific word for an increase in sensitivity. Now, heightened sensitivity is not the same mechanism as build-up, but I suspect that some people who believe that CBD does have to “build up” in the system actually are referring to experiences of auxoesthesia.
How Long Will the CBD Be In Your System?
The reason I assert that “build up” may not be responsible for increased effects with increased usage is simply that CBD only remains in the body on average for just a few days.
I have only found one small study on this matter. The participants were taking 700 mg/day of CBD orally over a 6 week period to treat Huntington’s disease. Plasma levels were measured both during and after the dosage period.
The researchers noted, “CBD levels averaged 1.5 ng/ml one week after CBD was discontinued, and were virtually undetectable thereafter. The elimination half-life of CBD was estimated to be about 2-5 days, and there were no differences between genders for half-life or CBD levels. Additionally, no plasma delta-1-THC, the major psychoactive cannabinoid of marijuana, was detected in any subject.”
If you are taking CBD oil continuously, I suspect a build-up might be possible, but if you are taking it only at intervals, it seems likely to me that build-up would be minimal or nonexistent, depending on your dosage or timing.
In any case, more research is needed in this area to answer questions involving build-up with a higher degree of detail and certainty.
Key Point: CBD’s half-life is believed to be 2-5 days. Regular usage may or may not lead to build-up, increased sensitivity, or the development of tolerance. Further research is required.
How Long Do the Effects Last?
Once CBD does go into effect in the body, it typically will produce its soothing effects for a minimum of four hours, sometimes longer.
You now know that there is a surprising amount of variance in how long CBD oil takes to work its wonders in the body. Factors which influence the period of time you need to wait include the form of the oil, the quality of the oil, the effects you are waiting for, and your own individual metabolism and receptiveness to the product.
The best way to find the CBD product which is right for you is probably to experiment. Try out different forms (capsules, vaping, balms, etc.) and see what works best for your body and the conditions you are trying to treat. While you are at it, be sure to keep exploring the articles on our site to learn more about how CBD oil works and to discover the highest quality products.