How Long Does It Take for CBD Oil to Work?

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The time required by CBD oil effects to work depends on numerous factors, such as your age, overall health, and your go-to CBD consumption method. Learn how to choose the most efficient delivery way of cannabidiol.

CBD has a complex relationship with our bodies.

In addition to modulating the Endocannabinoid System, CBD operates on more than 60 molecular pathways, affecting the majority of biological functions.

Given this, we can’t precisely tell how long it will take for CBD to work for each and any individual. Each of us has unique body chemistry, lives a different lifestyle, and struggles with different health concerns.

On top of that, there are plenty of ways to take CBD and each of them offers different bioavailability level. In other words, the consumption method can affect the time in which CBD kicks in as much as the above factors.

After years of advocating for the medical use of cannabidiol and using the compound ourselves, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide on estimating the onset and longevity of CBD effects.

We’ll also briefly go over the benefits of CBD and where to start with dosing to achieve optimal results

What Are the Effects & Benefits of CBD Oil?

At low doses (1 mg to 20 mg), CBD can help relieve anxiety and stave off stress while keeping your head clear and sharpening your focus. Studies show that people who use CBD do better in face recognition tasks than their non-using counterparts.

At higher doses (20+ mg), CBD will most likely make you feel relaxed and sleepy.

CBD and THC share some common benefits. While the research on cannabinoids is still in its infancy, we already know that these two compounds can strengthen each other’s therapeutic properties.

CBD and THC are known to:

  • Alleviate stress and improve mood (1)
  • Relieve chronic pain and acute pain (2)
  • Combat skin conditions (3)
  • Improve sleep (4)
  • Ease nausea and prevents vomiting (5)
  • Reduces inflammation (6)

However, unlike THC, CBD won’t make you feel high because it has no intoxicating properties.

Better yet, cannabidiol is capable of blocking the activity of THC on the CB1 receptors in the brain. As a result, cannabidiol can counter the anxiety induced by high doses of THC in novice cannabis users.

CBD can be found in hemp and in selectively-bred CBD-rich marijuana strains.

If you want to benefit from cannabis and avoid adverse reactions caused by THC, we suggest that you use hemp-derived CBD products. Hemp plants contain less than 0.3% THC, which isn’t enough to produce psychoactive effects.

While those CBD-rich marijuana strains won’t make you feel overwhelmed with its THC content, plants with higher levels of THC are only legal in states with medical or recreational (or both) marijuana laws.

Here’s a quick rundown of the physiological and mental benefits of CBD:

The Benefits of CBD Oil
The Body The Brain
Reduced inflammation Reduced anxiety
Stress and tension relief Improved sleep
Relaxation Cognitive improvement
Sedation Potential anti-psychotic
Acute and chronic pain relief Improved alertness
Effective seizure treatment Elevated mood
Bolstered immune function

How Long Does It Take for CBD Oil Effects to Work?

The short answer: anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours.

The long answer: it depends on how you consume your CBD, the serving size, and the symptom you want to combat.

The most popular consumption methods involve vaping CBD oil, using it sublingually, eating CBD-infused edibles, or applying CBD products topically.

  • Vaporized CBD has the fastest absorption rate; the effects of CBD oil kick in almost immediately after the last puff from your vape pen.
  • Sublingual products, such as oil drops, tinctures, or sprays, score the second place, providing relief within several minutes.
  • The topical application acts relatively slow. It can take anywhere between 20 minutes and 2 hours until you start to feel the effects of CBD. On the other hand, topical CBD products provide uniform absorption, ensuring that the skin is well nourished and moisturized.
  • Eating a delicious CBD-infused cookie or gummy comes with the slowest onset time. Since edible products have to pass through the digestive system and liver, it takes up to an hour before CBD shows its effects.

Of course, the potency, the serving size, and what you want to alleviate with CBD is at play, too.

Now, let’s elaborate on the above consumption methods to help you choose the right treatment for your needs.

Which CBD Consumption Method Brings the Fastest Relief?

Since everybody is different, your unique chemistry will determine how long you’ll need to wait for the effects of CBD.

You should also include such factors as your age, sex, weight, and whether you’re currently on any medications that could interfere with CBD.

It’s advisable to consult your doctor before using any CBD products. A CBD-friendly professional will help you establish the right strategy and choose the dosage along with a consumption method.

Speaking of which, it’s high time we went over to the most common ways to use cannabidiol.

1. Vaporization

Inhaling CBD vape oil, isolate, or concentrates is hands down the fastest way to feel the effects of CBD.

That’s because vaping delivers cannabidiol and other compounds to your lungs where they diffuse directly into the bloodstream, bypassing the digestive system.

You can expect the effects of CBD to work within a minute or two after inhalation. They generally last for a few hours, but whenever you feel their time is running out, you can vape CBD throughout the day.

If you’re new to cannabinoids, keep your daily intake limit at less than 10 milligrams.

2. Sublingual Ingestion

So, you’re saying that vaping isn’t your thing.

How about trying sublingual CBD products for a change?

It’s the second fastest way to experience the benefits of CBD. All you have to do is take a CBD tincture under your tongue by using a dropper or a spray, hold it there for 30-60 seconds, and swallow.

Again, the tincture will bypass your digestive system, but since it has to be absorbed by the mucous membranes, you’ll have to wait longer for cannabidiol to kick in.

Typically, it takes anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes to feel the effects of CBD.

3. Topical Application

Using CBD topically comes with many benefits. Studies suggest that CBD has anti-inflammatory properties when applied to the skin; moreover, CBD may also work as a skin protectant due to its antioxidant properties.

In simple words, it means that CBD may protect your skin against the damage that leads to wrinkles, pigmentation, and other signs of aging.

CBD can be used to make such topical products as balms, lotions, oils, and salves. When you apply CBD on the skin, it works by attaching to CB2 receptors and activating the endocannabinoid system without reaching the bloodstream.

That’s the main reason why topical CBD products have the lowest bioavailability of all methods – human skin absorbs cannabinoids at a low rate.

Given the above, the topical method is also slower to take effect than vaporization and sublingual ingestion. People typically feel relief after more than one hour, but the benefits are longer-lasting, up to 8 hours.

4. CBD Edibles & Capsules

Eating CBD like gummies or chocolate bars, or in its encapsulated form, is one of the most convenient ways to take this cannabinoid.

And while CBD edibles have higher bioavailability than topicals, they have to pass through the digestive system and liver to get absorbed into the bloodstream.

In the best case scenario, you may start feeling the effects of CBD in as little as 20 minutes, depending on your weight, metabolism, or whether you’re taking cannabidiol on an empty stomach.

However, most people have to wait about 60 minutes to start feeling the effects of CBD edibles or capsules.

Keep in mind that ingesting CBD after a large meal can extend this period.

How Much CBD Is Enough to Feel the Effects?

Figuring out the best CBD dosage for yourself is a hard nut to crack.

There’s no universal dosage guideline, nor is there a fixed dose that would work for everyone.

Everybody reacts to CBD differently and the only way to find out how much CBD you need to feel its effects is to go through some trial-and-error.

If you want to reduce mild anxiety or temporary aches, a dose of 2-3 mg a day should do the trick.

However, those suffering from chronic conditions will have to give their bodies some time to adapt. In some cases, the effects of CBD start to work after several weeks of consistent treatment.

Where to Start With Dosing CBD

CBD is not a magical pill, so using it as a quick fix is basically pointless.

There’s no need to rush with dosing cannabidiol. In fact, the best thing you can do is start really low — around 2 to 3 milligrams for a single serving — and work your way up to the effective serving size.

Once you feel relieved of your symptoms, it’s the so-called sweet spot, a.k.a. your recommended serving size.

As mentioned, using CBD oil for serious health issues requires a longer period of adaptation and we suggest that you see your doctor for exact recommendations.

How Long Do the Effects of CBD Oil Last?

The duration of the ad hoc effects of CBD oil is mostly affected by your metabolism.

Although trace amounts of CBD will stay in your system for three o four days, these amounts won’t necessarily produce any therapeutic effects.

Depending on how you consume CBD, its effects will stay with you for anywhere between two and eight hours. Topicals are known to be the longest-lasting products, followed by edibles and capsules.

Should I Use CBD Oil With Food Or on an Empty Stomach?

Some manufacturers recommend taking their CBD products on an empty stomach which — in their opinion — will reduce the time needed for CBD to produce its effects.

Of course, we can’t argue with that, but on the other hand, doing so will decrease its overall strength.

That’s why we recommend taking CBD oil with food; this way, you will increase its bioavailability, allowing more CBD to reach the bloodstream.

You can avoid taking CBD oil with food when using CBD vape oil or tinctures because the CBD doesn’t have to pass through the digestive system to start acting.

What Is the Best Time to Take CBD Oil During the Day?

There’s no recommended time of the day to use CBD oil, as long as you keep your CBD servings consistent.

Choosing the ideal time to use CBD oil boils down to incorporating it into your work schedule.

Try it this way:

When you have a day off your duties, take your serving of CBD oil and monitor how long the effects last for you — this will help you figure out the best times during the day to use cannabidiol.

If you find the effects of CBD stimulating, it may be wise to use it in the mornings or in the afternoon to boost your focus and energy levels if the crisis hits you.

However, if you take CBD oil in large amounts, you may feel drowsy after using it. If that’s your story, incorporate the oil into your evening routine to promote healthy sleep habits.

But above all, make sure your CBD supplementation is consistent.

Summarizing the Duration of CBD Oil Effects

The effects of CBD oil can take anywhere from 1 minute to 2 hours to act.

Although many factors are at play, including your age, lifestyle, overall health, and what you want to treat with CBD, the consumption method is of the paramount importance.

Vaporization is the fastest delivery method; you can feel the effects of CBD within one minute after inhalation.

Sublingual products will also provide fast relief, but they must get absorbed by mucous glands in order to reach the bloodstream. That being said, you can expect the sublingual CBD to work within 20-40 minutes after swallowing it.

The topical application ensures uniform absorption. It does, however, have one serious drawback — extremely low bioavailability. When applying CBD externally, the effects should come after, at least, an hour.

Finally, edibles and capsules have the slowest onset time of all methods. Since they have to pass through the digestive system to start circulating in the bloodstream, CBD may kick in within 40 minutes to one hour after ingestion. The effects of CBD edibles are much longer lasting; they can stay with you for up to 6 hours.

Whichever method you choose, remember to consult your CBD supplementation with a doctor, always start at low doses, and don’t treat cannabidiol as a miracle cure for any disease.

If you’re suffering from chronic conditions, give it some time to fix the endocannabinoid deficiency in your body.

Just don’t be one of those “I used CBD oil once and it didn’t work” people.


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  2. Russo E. B. (2008). Cannabinoids in the Management of Difficult to Treat Pain. Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management, 4(1), 245-59.
  3. Biro, T., Toth, I. B., Hasko, G., Paus, R. & Pacher, P. (2009). The Endocannabinoid System of the Skin in Health and Disease: Novel Perspectives and Therapeutic Opportunities. Trends in Pharmacological Science, 30(8), 411-420.
  4. Babson, K. A., Sottile, J., Morabito, D. (2017). Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Sleep: a Review of the Literature, 19(4), 23.
  5. Parker, L. A., Rock, E. M., Limebeer, C. L. (2011). Regulations of Nausea and Vomiting by Cannabinoids. British Journal of Pharmacology, 163(7), 1411-1422.
  6. Nagarkatti, P., Pandey, R., Rieder, S. A., Hegde, V. L. & Nagarkatti, M. (2010). Cannabinoids as Novel Anti-inflammatory Drugs. Future Medicinal Chemistry, 1(7), 1333-49.

James Reed

James is our in-house cannabis expert and foodie. He earned a Bachelor of Health Sciences with a focus on pharmacology several years ago and has since been working as a writer and editor for cannabis-related blogs and e-commerce brands. In his spare time, he enjoys exploring the landscape around his Crescent City home with his dog Gus.

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About James Reed

James Reed is the founder and editor-in-chief at iSum. He’s a big advocate of marijuana and spent most of his time writing about these topics, sharing what he learned over the years.

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