Thanks to its potential health benefits and lack of intoxicating effects, cannabidiol (CBD) is quickly becoming a popular substance. However, CBD remains a confusing compound. One common question many people have about CBD is how long it takes to work.
Generally speaking, there are two main factors that will affect how quickly CBD takes to work for you: the chosen route of administration, and individual characteristics, such as body weight and metabolism.
Route of Administration
The biggest factor that determines how long CBD will take to work is your chosen method of administration. There are four main ways to take CBD: sublingual, oral, inhalation, and topical. Each of these administer CBD in a different way, which affects how quickly it takes for its effects to be felt.
In addition, different ways of taking CBD also affect its bioavailability—a term referring to how much of a substance you take actually gets absorbed into the blood. Compounds that are injected have 100% bioavailability because they go directly into the bloodstream. Bioavailability is an important concept to keep in mind because the higher it is, the more potent the effects of your CBD product.
How Long CBD Takes to Work
Time to Feel Effects
Average (10-30 minutes)
1 – 6
Slow (30-60 minutes)
CBD Capsules, edibles
1 – 3
Average (20 – 60 minutes)
CBD Creams, salves, ointments, patches
The most popular way to take CBD is to place a few drops of CBD oil under your tongue (sublingual). In this method, the CBD is absorbed directly into your bloodstream through tiny blood vessels called capillaries.
This method takes about 10-30 minutes to start working. It combines ease of administration, medium bioavailability, and relatively fast effects, which explains why CBD oil is the most popular method of taking CBD. The effects of sublingual CBD can last for up to six hours.
The second-most popular way to take CBD is to ingest it in the form of capsules or edibles. This method is very different because the CBD has to pass through your digestive system and go to the liver before it can be absorbed. This not only greatly reduces CBD’s bioavailability, but also increases the time it takes CBD to reach the bloodstream.
Because of this, oral CBD takes a long time to be felt—usually about one hour or more. However, it depends on how much food you’ve eaten. On an empty stomach, it’s possible to feel the effects of oral CBD after 20-30 minutes. The effects of ingested CBD typically last more than four hours.
Aside from directly injecting CBD into the bloodstream, inhalation is the fastest way to feel CBD’s effects. In this method, CBD is usually taken in the form of vape juice or e-liquid. Inhaled CBD vapour is felt almost instantaneously—anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes.
This is due to the fact that the CBD rapidly reaches into the bloodstream from tiny air sacs in your lungs called alveoli. Inhaled CBD also has relatively high bioavailability, although its effects last shorter—typically one to three hours.
The last major route of taking CBD is to apply it your skin in the form of a cream, lotion, or ointment. Topical CBD is a slow method, taking about one hour to start working. Similar to how ingested CBD needs to first go through your digestive system and the liver, topical CBD has to first to absorb through your skin before its effects can be felt. Topically-administered CBD usually lasts for longer than four hours.
Individual Biological Differences
Although your chosen route of administration is the most important factor deciding how long it will take until you can feel the effects of CBD, individual biological differences are matter as well. Firstly, everyone has a different body weight, which will affect how much CBD you need to feel its effects. In the simplest sense, larger individuals will need higher doses of CBD than smaller people.
This helps explain why many people report not feeling anything when they take CBD, only to discover that they were taking too little, did not use it for long enough, or that their product was not of high quality.
In addition, your metabolism—the body’s breakdown and build-up of biological compounds—also differs among individuals. Some people’s metabolisms may be slower or faster, which will affect how quickly CBD will be absorbed and used by your body.
The bottom line is that everyone’s biological makeup is unique, and that affects how long CBD—and any substance for that matter—will take to affect you.
Dosing and Concentration
Aside from the above, there are some other minor factors that can affect how long it takes CBD to work. One of these is the concentration and dosage of your product. As we’ve noted above, if you don’t take enough CBD then you will not feel its effects. Many CBD products are either low-quality or do not have high-enough concentrations for you to feel their effects.
Another factor is proper technique. For example, CBD oil has to be held under the tongue for 30-60 seconds to sufficiently absorb into the blood. Similarly, if you don’t vape properly, you might not get enough vapour into your lungs.
Keep This in Mind When Taking CBD
To sum up, the answer to the question “how long does CBD take to work?” will depend mostly on how you’re taking your CBD and your individual biology. Vaping CBD is the fastest method, followed by sublingual CBD oil, and finally ingested and topically-applied CBD.
To make sure that CBD works for you, you should first choose a high-quality product with available third-party test results. Then, you can start off with a small dose and increase it until you feel the desired effects.
We hope this article helped shed some light on how CBD works to support your health and well-being. If you want to learn more about CBD, check out our CBD guide.