How long does it take for CBD to work?

Author: Joy Hughes

Known for its amazing anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety effects, multiple studies have shown Cannabidiol (CBD) — a non-psychoactive cannabinoid — is a highly effective remedy for arthritis, pain management, insomnia, nausea, stress, skin acne, cancer, PTSD, digestive problems, fibromyalgia, etc.

However, from recent scientific studies, CBD is becoming more well known for its effectiveness in treating two of the most extreme forms of epilepsy: Dravet and Lennox–Gastaut syndromes. This scientific evidence has led to the first FDA approved plant-derived, synthetic-free cannabinoid-based medicine — Epidiolex — designated for the treatment of seizures that don’t respond to anti-seizure pharmaceuticals.

As the CBD market continues to grow, more and more consumers are sharing their own personal experiences with this powerful healing elixir. However, for those eager to try CBD for the first time, they may be wondering, “How long does it take for CBD to actually work?” Though there is no one clear answer to this question (as everyone reacts differently to CBD), in this article we’ll discuss the different methods to consume CBD and how long each delivery method takes to affect the body.

Young casual woman looking up in thoughts at clock on gray background

How long does it take for CBD oil (tinctures) to work?

Working out the best delivery method is much easier than you think. For starters, CBD oil, tinctures, and concentrates are perhaps the most popular ways to consume CBD. They are designed to be taken sublingually — holding a few drops or more under the tongue for about a minute or two before swallowing. Sublingual consumption allows the CBD to be absorbed through the mucous membranes and capillaries found underneath the tongue. It is through the branch of blood vessels, otherwise known as capillaries, that the CBD has a direct route into the bloodstream without entering the digestive system.

Depending on dosage and symptoms, sublingual intake is a relatively fast way to feel the effects of CBD. It takes anywhere from 10-40 minutes for the effects to kick in, and they can last anywhere from 3-4 hours. 2

If you're unsure how much CBD oil to take, try our CBD Dosage Calculator to find your recommended dosage.

Time to feel the effects: 10 min. to 40 min.

Duration of effects: 3 to 4 hours

How long does it take for CBD vaping to work?

Among many other delivery methods, vaping is thought to be the fastest way to feel the effects of CBD. Not only is vaping a convenient and discreet form of CBD consumption, it’s also widely accessible in a number of strengths, making every vape user’s experience different. When inhaling CBD, it is absorbed through the alveoli: tiny air sacs within our lungs that exchange carbon dioxide and oxygen to and from the bloodstream. Once CBD is absorbed into the lungs, it then enters directly into our bloodstream, taking effect instantaneously.

How much you vape, and how concentrated the CBD oil is, will determine how quickly and for how long you feel the effects of CBD. Some vape users claim instant relief, while others say it takes anywhere from 5-30 minutes. And while this delivery method is fast acting, the effects may not last longer than 1-3 hours, which leads to vaping more frequently. 2 3

Time to feel the effects: Instantly to 30 min.

Duration of effects: 1 to 3 hours

How long does it take for CBD dabs to work?

Dabbing CBD is another from of inhalation. This method uses butane or carbon dioxide to extract CBD from the hemp plant, which creates a highly concentrated substance known as a dab. Dabs come in a variety of forms: wax, crystals, shatter and more. Like CBD vaping, dabbing is considered one of the fastest ways to feel the effects of CBD, simply because it’s absorbed through the alveoli and enters directly into the bloodstream.

The main difference between dabbing and vaping is the way they are heated. Some suggest vaping is a safer form of inhalation, while others believe dabbing is just as safe if done correctly. Dabbing CBD takes a lot of practice and involves a number of tools and equipment, but it produces fast-acting results. For those considering dabbing, research and practice is key. Like vaping, CBD dabbing can take effect within 5-10 minutes for the majority of people, and lasting no longer than 1-3 hours at most. 4 5

Time to feel the effects: Instantly to 10 min.

Duration of effects: 1 to 3 hours

How long does it take for CBD topicals to work?

From creams and lotions, to salves and balms, there are a number of CBD topical products on the market today. With the skin being the largest organ of the body, it’s very porous, meaning it’s absorbing more than we know. CBD topicals are generously applied externally onto the skin and designed to target localized pain or skin irritations.

The absorption rate is much slower than other delivery methods such as sublingual or inhalation. However, depending on the strength of the CBD topicals, they typically last longer than any other delivery method. Topical users say they feel results within 15 minutes to an hour, with relief lasting up to 5 hours at a time. CBD topicals are great for arthritis, muscle aches, abrasions, skin disorders and cuts.2

Time to feel the effects: 15 min. to 1 hour

Duration of effects: Up to 5 hours

How long does it take for CBD edibles to work?

There are many determining factors that come into play with CBD edibles: metabolism speed, a healthy or weak digestive system, how much time has passed since you last consumed food, and the strength of the CBD edible. CBD edibles usually take the longest to affect the body. When consuming a CBD edible, it must first enter the stomach where it gets metabolized through the intestines and finally filters through the liver.

The amount of food you’ve consumed, how recent you’ve consumed that food, and the strength of the CBD edible, will all determine how quickly you will feel the effects of CBD. With a full stomach, the majority of people feel the effects of CBD edibles within an hour or longer. However, if taken on an empty stomach, it can take effect within 20 minutes. Once CBD edibles are fully digested, they can last about 2-4 hours.4

Time to feel the effects: 20 min. to 1 hour

Duration of effects: 2 to 4 hours

How long does it take for CBD pills to work?

Pills are another discreet delivery method of CBD. Much like CBD edibles, CBD pills must enter the gastrointestinal tract and go through the same metabolizing and filtering process. Again, how much and how recent you’ve eaten will determine how quickly you will feel the effects of CBD.

The lasting effects of CBD pills are typically longer than most other delivery methods, and they don’t produce any unwanted side effects such as headaches and dizziness that often come from inexperienced inhalation users. CBD pills take anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours to kick in and can last up to 3 hours depending on the strength.

Time to feel the effects: 20 min. to 2 hours

Duration of effects: Up to 3 hours

CBD is becoming more and more available and popular to the masses. As the market grows, new consumption methods are continuing to develop. Whether you’re trying CBD for the first time or you’re a native to all things CBD, it’s important to know that what works for one CBD user may not work for another. Every person’s body is different.4

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About Joy Hughes

Joy Hughes writes about health, nutrition, and all things cannabis. Having experienced the therapeutic effects of cannabinoids first hand, she's been spreading the word ever since. She currently travels the country in an RV with her husband and beloved beagle.

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