Curious about how long does it take for CBD oil to work? Experts weigh in on what can affect CBD absorption and make the oil take longer to kick in. Some people get instant relief from CBD oil while others have to wait for months. What gives? Find out what the latest research has to say.
How Long Does It Take CBD to Work, Anyways?
W e probably don’t have to tell you that CBD is everywhere these days: people are putting it in their coffee, pouring it into their cocktails, rubbing it on their skin, and blending it into their post-workout smoothies. Researchers are learning more about CBD every day, but there’s still a lot about it that we don’t know. and that can be really confusing if you’re a CBD newbie.
One of the biggies: How long does it take for CBD oil to work? Because who hasn’t been in the situation where it seems like one person takes CBD and turns into a zen mother earth goddess right away, while you’re sitting over here waiting for something (anything!) to happen to take your morning anxiety away. (What’s that saying? A watched mug of CBD coffee never kicks in?)
Turns out, CBD isn’t one-size-fits-all. Various factors—such as the amount you take, the form you take it in, and where you got your CBD from—can all impact how long it takes to work, says Brooke Alpert, RD, the founder of Daily Habit, a line of CBD powder.
For example, if you’re putting your CBD product in a coffee that has almond milk or sugar or anything else that might need to be digested, your CBD will kick in more slowly than it would if you put a few drops directly under your tongue. “I look at it the same way I talk to people about their sugar consumption,” Alpert explains. “If you have juice or put a little bit on your tongue, it’s going to be an immediate reaction versus when it’s in fruit where you have fiber, which slows down absorption.” (Generally speaking, CBD oil added to a coffee or smoothie will probably take around 30 minutes before you start to feel anything.)
It’s worth noting that the research on taking CBD sublingually (science-speak for under your tongue) is mixed: As Well + Good has previously reported, many studies on the subject have included both CBD and THC, so it’s hard to generalize the findings to products that are just CBD-based. However, chemist Jesse Kater previously told tell Well+Good that “most of the literature supports the notion that CBD has better bioavailability when consumed sublingually versus orally.” That supports anecdotal evidence that CBD starts working almost immediately when taken under the tongue. Alpert agrees to an extent, saying that it can take anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour to kick in when taken sublingually.
Charlotte’s Web co-founder Jesse Stanley adds that CBD products often come in different strengths and thus the amount of CBD that works for your bestie may not work for you. “You might need to try a few strengths until you find what works for you,” he says. (Good to know!)
“Every day consistency is key,” he adds. “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” He encourages people to think of CBD as a dietary supplement and notes that it can take up to four to six weeks to “fully realize the benefits of CBD,” especially if you’re taking it to alleviate anxiety, pain, or for stress relief. “We are all unique in our needs and bodily systems. Some people experience rapid and very noticeable benefits while others notice benefits over time and daily use, which is common for many dietary supplements,” Stanley says.
The most important factor, Alpert says, is quality. There is so much variance among CBD products, and that can also impact how long it takes before you start feeling any effects. “This is where people are getting frustrated with CBD, because they’re like, ‘Well, I got a CBD gummy from my local bodega and I didn’t feel anything,’” Alpert says. Some things Alpert and Stanley say you should consider when shopping for any CBD product:
- The origin of the hemp: ”Hemp is a powerful phytoremediation crop, which means it cleans the soil, so you’ll want to find out that it’s grown using responsible farming practices in soil that is pre-tested for toxins or heavy metals,” Stanley says.
- Is the product full-spectrum? Both Stanley and Alpert recommend looking for full-spectrum products, which means that all the different compounds in the hemp—the foundation of every CBD product—work together to “further heighten [your] body’s response to CBD,” according to Stanley.
- Transparency: Look for third-party testing that shows you what’s in there, Alpert recommends. “All CBD is not created equally and it’s really important that whatever you’re buying actually has what it needs to have in order for it to be effective.” Reputable companies shouldn’t hide or obscure that info in any way.
The reality: Trial and error is the name of the game when it comes to finding the correct amount CBD that will actually work for you. With a little research, you’ll hopefully find the right amount for you that gives you the results you’re aiming for.
Oh hi! You look like someone who loves free workouts, discounts for cult-fave wellness brands, and exclusive Well+Good content. Sign up for Well+, our online community of wellness insiders, and unlock your rewards instantly.
How Long Does it Take for CBD Oil to Work?
SelfHacked has the strictest sourcing guidelines in the health industry and we almost exclusively link to medically peer-reviewed studies, usually on PubMed. We believe that the most accurate information is found directly in the scientific source.
We are dedicated to providing the most scientifically valid, unbiased, and comprehensive information on any given topic.
Our team comprises of trained MDs, PhDs, pharmacists, qualified scientists, and certified health and wellness specialists.
All of our content is written by scientists and people with a strong science background.
Our science team is put through the strictest vetting process in the health industry and we often reject applicants who have written articles for many of the largest health websites that are deemed trustworthy. Our science team must pass long technical science tests, difficult logical reasoning and reading comprehension tests. They are continually monitored by our internal peer-review process and if we see anyone making material science errors, we don’t let them write for us again.
Our goal is to not have a single piece of inaccurate information on this website. If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate, out-of-date, or otherwise questionable, please leave a comment or contact us at [email protected]
Note that each number in parentheses [1, 2, 3, etc.] is a clickable link to peer-reviewed scientific studies. A plus sign next to the number “[1+, 2+, etc. ]” means that the information is found within the full scientific study rather than the abstract.
One of the most common questions about CBD oil is how long it will take to work. In truth, we just don’t have enough studies to answer this question definitely. Read on to understand what the early research shows.
How Long Does it Take for CBD Oil to Work?
The most important thing to remember is that that the only approved use of CBD oil comes in the form of prescription anti-seizure medication and further research needs to be done to decipher its benefits in other conditions . But that has not stopped many people from using it for a myriad of conditions. So we just don’t have enough studies to definitely answer this question. That being said, we will give you the latest research findings on CBD oil and try to answer this question as best as we can.
If you are thinking about taking CBD oil, remember to speak with your physician about it!
Being a relatively new product, CBD oil users often struggle to figure out the best way to take it. Among many questions, people often want to know how long it will take for CBD oil to work. Will you feel the effects after a few minutes, days, or weeks?
If you don’t notice the effects after taking it for some time, you might feel frustrated and conclude that CBD oil doesn’t work.
First, you want to make sure that you’re not missing out on any important factors that affect the onset of the effects – such as the delivery form, product composition, dosing regime, and your health status.
Below is a comprehensive list of the factors that will determine how long it will take until CBD oil starts working.
- CBD oil may relieve acute conditions, such as panic attacks, in a couple of hours
- Vapes and mouth sprays are better for acute conditions
- People with chronic problems may need to wait a couple of months
- Capsules release a steady supply of CBD and may be better for chronic conditions, taken twice daily
- Your microbiome and genes can affect how quickly you will respond
- If you’ve been taking CBD oil for 4-5 months and still don’t feel anything, you may not be dosing it right or it may not work in your case
How Long It Takes for CBD Oil to Work by Product Type & Composition
The delivery method is probably the factor that most strongly influences the time until the onset of the effects.
Some forms will allow CBD to quickly pass into your blood and reach its targets. In contrast, others will release CBD much slower, but their effects will last longer.
There are two main types of oral CBD oil:
- Fast-release forms: tinctures and mouth sprays.
- Slow-release forms: capsules, tablets, edibles (such as gummies, lollipops, and cakes), and teas.
Fast-release forms are applied directly in the mouth. Although you will eventually swallow part of the liquid, you will absorb most of the CBD through the blood vessels under your tongue, along your gums, and on the inner lining of your mouth.
Thus, CBD will bypass your digestive system and be released directly into your bloodstream. As a result, the effects will start to kick in after only 15-30 minutes. They will be strongest when your blood CBD levels peak (~2-4 hours) and may last up to 6 hours [2+, 3].
Conversely, you will need to digest slow-release forms and should feel the effects 30-180 minutes after taking them. CBD has to pass from the gut into the liver before being released into your bloodstream. Liver enzymes break down part of CBD, so less will reach the blood (first-pass metabolism) [2+, 3, 4].
However, slow-release forms do have an advantage: their effects are sustained over a longer period of time. You can expect them to last up to 8 hours [2+].
It takes about half an hour for CBD oil tinctures and mouth sprays to start to work and up to three hours for capsules and edibles.
When and for how long you will feel the effects of topical forms depend on various ingredients that alter how well CBD penetrates the skin. According to users, you may start noticing the effects after 30-120 minutes [2+].
Creams, lotions, and balms act locally, while transdermal patches also deliver CBD into the bloodstream. For example, CBD oil patches effectively reduced inflammation in animal studies [5, 6].
Together with smoking medicinal cannabis, vaping CBD oil is the fastest way to absorb CBD. Vaping is, however, preferable because it irritates the lungs less and produces fewer toxic byproducts such as carbon monoxide [7, 2+].
Each inhalation will immediately release CBD into your lungs, which quickly passes into your bloodstream. You may notice the effects after only 5-15 minutes. However, blood CBD levels will start declining after 1 hour and the effects will only last 2-4 hours [2+, 3].
The effects of vaped CBD oil kick in after 5-15 minutes, but they will last for only a couple of hours.
CBD is also available in anal and vaginal suppositories. Similar to topical forms, their effects may be strongest locally – in the mucosal tissue, nerves, and muscles of the anus and vagina. Because these areas are very rich in blood vessels, part of the CBD may pass into the blood and reach other areas .
How fast you will feel the effects depends on the exact ingredients, e.g. oils and additives used. You will usually feel the local effects quickly, while it will take a couple of hours for CBD from anal suppositories to reach the bloodstream .
Product Quality & Composition
It’s important to choose high-quality CBD oil from reputable vendors. Low-quality products may have less CBD than stated on the label, meaning they will take longer to work – if at all .
In addition, be sure to check the expiry date and keep the packaging in a cool and dry place protected from direct sunlight to prevent degradation of the active compounds.
Plant-derived extracts (also called full-spectrum CBD oil) also contain other plant compounds that slow CBD absorption – a drawback if you need quick relief. However, these compounds act in synergy and enhance the effects of CBD at high doses, which may be preferable for chronic problems .
Similarly, capsules and edibles release CBD slower if they contain ingredients such as fiber .
In turn, CBD is a fat-soluble molecule and will be absorbed faster and better in combination with fats (e.g., CBD cakes with butter) .
Full-spectrum CBD oil extracts release CBD oil slower but their effects are stronger. Fiber slows CBD oil absorption while dietary fats enhance it.
How Long it Takes for CBD Oil to Work by Health Condition
Whether your condition is acute or chronic may determine how long it will take CBD to work. Users with chronic conditions often overlook this one.
As a rule of thumb, single doses may relieve acute, episodic conditions (such as panic attacks), while chronic conditions (such as arthritis) may require sustained CBD therapy.
Below is an overview of how long it took CBD oil to work in clinical trials, by health condition.
1) Anxiety (Acute & Chronic)
People with acute anxiety episodes responded quickly to oral CBD (capsules or liquid solution). It was effective after 90-160 minutes in those with anxiety caused by stress, social phobia, and heroin craving [14+, 15, 16+, 17, 18+].
In contrast, chronic anxiety needed longer-term therapies. CBD normally improved anxiety – and other symptoms – in 4-8 weeks in people with PTSD, fragile X syndrome, and autism [19, 20, 21, 22].
CBD oil may relieve acute anxiety and panic within 3 hours; those suffering from constant anxiety might need to take it for 4-8 weeks to feel the effects.
Only one clinical trial tested pure CBD for chronic pain. In this study, CBD improved pain from kidney transplants after repeated use during 1-3 weeks .
CBD-rich preparations reduced pain after 12 weeks in girls with adverse effects from the HPV vaccination, 1-7 months in children with complex movement disorders, and 1-3 months in people with migraines and cluster headaches [24+, 25+, 26+].
A mouth spray with the same amount of CBD and THC (nabiximols) was far more commonly used for chronic pain in clinical trials. It relieved rheumatoid arthritis pain after 5 weeks, multiple sclerosis and nerve pain within 4-10 weeks, and cancer pain in 2-5 weeks [27, 28+, 29, 30, 31+, 32+, 33+, 34+].
It may take up to 10 weeks for CBD oil to relieve pain. Although it can be used alone, its combination with equal amounts of THC works better. Remember THC is still illegal in the United States federally!
3) Sleep Disorders
In people with insomnia, CBD improved sleep quality after 1-2 months [35+, 36].
Similarly, CBD oil improved sleep disturbances from Parkinson’s disease, fragile X syndrome, and PTSD within 1-2 months [37+, 38+, 21, 19, 20].
CBD reduced seizure frequency and severity in people with epilepsy who took it for 4-14 weeks [39+, 40+, 41+, 42+].
In people with schizophrenia, CBD started improving the symptoms after 2-6 weeks [43, 44+, 45].
6) THC Side Effects
In regular cannabis smokers, a 10-week therapy with CBD improved adverse effects from THC use such as depression and psychosis .
After 13 weeks, CBD reduced the levels of a hormone that raises LDL cholesterol (resistin) and increased gastric inhibitory polypeptide, which stimulates insulin release in response to high blood sugar, in people with type 2 diabetes .
Initial studies say CBD oil improves seizures in 4-14 weeks, symptoms of schizophrenia in 4-6 weeks, THC side effects in 10 weeks, and hormonal profile in type 2 diabetes in 13 weeks. Remember, however, that these results are preliminary and not considered conclusive.
Dosing & Other Factors that Impact When You May Feel CBD Oil’s Effects
According to a clinical trial on 56 people, taking CBD oil twice daily increases its blood levels better than taking it just once in the morning. Thus, it may help keep CBD levels steady .
So if you use CBD more frequently, you may reach the required levels quicker [7+].
This may be especially important for people with chronic health problems who need a stable supply of CBD oil to feel its effects. Consistency is crucial, and missing doses may prevent you from reaching high-enough CBD levels.
Dosing CBD oil twice daily keeps its levels stable, which might be important for people with chronic health problems.
Factors Unique to You
You will need less CBD oil if you are lighter and you are likely to feel the effects faster. But since CBD is stored in fat, heavier people – who tend to have more body fat – may feel the effects over a longer period of time. In line with this, exercising will quickly release CBD stored in fat [49+, 50].
Being fat-soluble, CBD is absorbed through the small bowel. Your gut health – particularly, your microbiome composition – will determine how quickly and efficiently you absorb it .
Once in the bloodstream, CBD rapidly passes into deep tissues. However, health conditions can alter its distribution, e.g. a leaky blood-brain barrier [52+].
Genetics may also play a role. Genetic variants of CBD targets (such as FAAH, TRPV1, 5HT1A, or GPR55) can make you prone to responding faster or slower [53, 54, 55].
Your weight, body fat, genetics, and gut and brain health can all affect how quickly you will feel the effects of CBD oil.
What if I Still Don’t Feel Anything After Taking CBD oil?
If you don’t feel the effects of CBD oil, even after carefully considering all the above-described factors, it’s possible that you are not taking the right dose or that CBD oil just does not work for you. Speak with your doctor about any issues you might be having.
Read through this protocol to learn how to find the dosage.
CBD oil is experimental and investigational. Speak with your doctor before trying it out.
When you may feel the effects of CBD oil mainly depends on how and why you are taking it. The quality and additional ingredients in the product you’re using also weigh in.
CBD oil might relieve acute conditions, such as panic attacks, in a couple of hours. Vapes and mouth sprays are probably the best choices if you need quick relief.
People with chronic problems may need to wait a couple of months. For example, CBD oil improved sleep in 1-2 months, seizures in 4-14 weeks, and type 2 diabetes in up to 13 weeks in clinical trials.
Capsules are probably the best choice for chronic conditions. They release a steady supply of CBD, which starts to act in 1-3 hours. Capsules should be taken twice daily with dietary fats for optimal results.
Additionally, your microbiome, body fat, and genes may affect how quickly you will respond to CBD oil.
If you’ve been taking CBD oil for 4-5 months and still don’t feel anything, you’re either not taking the right formulation, dosage, or it just does not work for you.
Some people have genes that make them more likely to experience inflammation. Check out SelfDecode’s Inflammation DNA Wellness Report for genetic-based diet, lifestyle, and supplement tips that can help reduce inflammation levels. The recommendations are personalized based on YOUR DNA.
About the Author
Carlos spent 9 years in the laboratory investigating mineral transport in plants. He then started working as a freelancer, mainly in science writing, editing, and consulting. Carlos is passionate about learning the mechanisms behind biological processes and communicating science to both academic and non-academic audiences. He strongly believes that scientific literacy is crucial to maintain a healthy lifestyle and avoid falling for scams.
RATE THIS ARTICLE
The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.