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CBD Education

How Long Does CBD Take to Work? – The Real Answer

How Long Does CBD Take to Work?

With word about the benefits of CBD continuing to spread, people everywhere are shifting their mindsets towards Cannabis, and trying CBD for the first time. As with any new supplement or medication, many first-time users’ immediate reaction is, “How long does CBD take to work?”

While this is an important concern faced by so many first-time users, it often goes unanswered…leaving them to form their own assumptions.

Most make their best guess,  others ask friends or search the internet, and, for whatever reason, some just assume it should work immediately.

This lack of knowledge creates a gap in how users understand CBD and distorts their expectations about its effects.

So, what’s the answer to this question then…How long does it take CBD to work?

The Answer Varies

First off―like any other supplement or medicine―it takes time for CBD to start working.

In order to deliver its benefits, CBD first needs to be absorbed into our bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, it can then be distributed throughout the Endocannabinoid System where the cannabinoid receptors in CBD can bond with the receptors in our body.

The interaction between these receptors is the catalyst behind the many benefits of CBD.

Coming back to the topic at hand―how long does the absorption process take and when will you start feeling the benefits of CBD?

The short answer is that it varies based on several key factors―the usage method, the quality and type of CBD, and your body’s weight, metabolic rate, and composition.

The long answer will explain how each of these factors come into play and how you can use this knowledge to understand how CBD will work for you.

How You Take the CBD Matters

CBD can be used in a variety of different ways, including through injection, applied topically, consumed orally, absorbed sublingually, or inhaled through vaping.

As we discussed in our article on CBD Bioavailability, each consumption method delivers CBD to the bloodstream by a different route.

What’s important to understand is that each route will pass through various digestive functions of our body, breaking down and filtering the CBD along the way. Depending on the dosage of CBD you take, only a percentage actually reaches the bloodstream.

Your consumption method not only affects how much CBD reaches the bloodstream, it affects how quickly the CBD will get there. Less digestive functions to go through means less time that it’ll take to reach the bloodstream.

Consider the table below to understand how your consumption method will affect how quickly CBD will impact your body.

Consumption Methods Compared

Topically Orally Sublingually Inhalation Injection
Definition Dermal Absorption through the skin Consumed through the mouth Absorbed into the veins under the tongue Inhaled directly into the lungs Injected directly into the bloodstream
Usage Lotions, Salves, Patch Capsule, Edibles, Drinks Tincture, Oil Vaping, Inhaler Needle Injection
Path Diffusion through Lipids, Cell to Cell Permeation, through Hair Follicles Salivary glands, entire stomach digestive process (liver, pancreas, stomach acids, etc.) Salivary Glands to Varicose veins under tongue Lungs to Bloodstream Direct to Bloodstream
Effect Time Very Slow (approx. 25-45 minutes) Slow (approx. 20-30 minutes) Average (approx. 15-25 minutes) Fast (approx. 10-20 minutes) Immediate
Method: Topically
Definition: Dermal Absorption through the skin
Usage Examples: Lotions, Salves, Patches
Absorption Path: Diffusion through Lipids, Cell to Cell Permeation, through Hair Follicles
Effects Time: Very Slow (approx. 25-45 minutes)
Method: Orally
Definition: Consumed through the mouth
Usage Examples: Capsules, Edibles, Drinks
Absorption Path: Salivary glands, entire stomach digestive process (liver, pancreas, stomach acids, etc.)
Effects Time: Slow (approx. 20-30 minutes)
Method: Sublingually
Definition: Absorbed into the veins under the tongue
Usage Examples: Tincture, Oil, Syringe
Absorption Path:Salivary Glands to Varicose veins under tongue
Effects Time: Average (approx. 15-25 minutes)
Method: Inhalation
Definition: Inhaled directly into the lungs
Usage Examples: Vaporizer, Inhaler
Absorption Path: Lungs to Bloodstream
Effects Time: Fast (approx. 10-20 minutes)
Method: Injection
Definition: Injected directly into the bloodstream
Usage Examples: Needle Injection
Absorption Path: Direct to Bloodstream
Effects Time: Immediately

While injection offers immediate deliverability, it’s probably not preferred by most users. That being said, vaping or sublingual consumption are usually the next best options.

The Quality and Type of CBD Matters

The next factor actually comes into play before CBD enters your body―the quality and type of CBD.


Low-quality products have issues that can complicate the absorption process and slow down how quickly our body absorbs CBD. Low quality can refer to dozens of different issues, including:

  • The product contains low quality ingredients, harmful ingredients, or genetically modified ingredients
  • If the product is expired or damaged by being left in the sun or heat
  • There are ingredients that are hard for our bodies to digest
  • The product is not produced properly

Type of CBD

Understanding how the type of CBD affects absorption is more straightforward.

While there are various types of CBD that are really just names (ie. water-soluble, nano-cbd , etc.), the important factor when it comes to the absorption process is the physical size of the CBD particle.

For the purpose of understanding this factor, let’s say there’s 2 types of groups going into Disneyland―families with 5+ members and couples.

On a busy day, which group can more quickly and easily move through the congested crowds in the theme park? The couples, of course.

The same concept can be applied to CBD.

Additional extraction and manufacturing processes, such as microencapsulation, can breakdown CBD into smaller particles, resulting a higher and quicker bioavailability rate.

Each Person is Unique

Every single person is unique with different habits, behaviors, bodies, feelings, and so forth. Because of this, the answer to this article will differ from person to person.

If 2 people took the same type, dosage, and quality of CBD at the exact same time, the time for CBD to impact their bloodstreams would vary. Furthermore, if either person repeated the exact same conditions 2 months later, the results would also vary.

This is because each person’s body differs greatly from each other and the composition of each person’s body can change at any given point.

With that being said, there are again a handful of factors that come into play.

Your Body Weight and Mass – Your body weight and mass have a profound impact on how your body consumes any substance. Simply put, a larger body mass will require more of a substance to feel its effects. As a result, it will take the body longer to process the larger quantity of that substance.

Your Metabolic Rate – Your metabolic rate is the rate of your body’s metabolism, which is the process of breaking down compounds and synthesizing compounds to achieve vital functions in the body. Many factors affect your metabolism, which naturally affects how quickly your body processes CBD.

Your Body’s Composition – Your body’s composition includes the composition of various parts of the body, each of which will have an impact on how quickly your body will process CBD. For example

  • When you take certain medications, your body composition could be altered in a way that slows down or conflicts with the absorption process
  • If you’re stressed, your stomachs enzymes won’t digest as efficiently
  • If you suffer from a certain condition, it could affect the way your body processes substances

Wrapping it Up

In closing, let’s come back to the main question of this article: how long does CBD take to work?

As you’ve now realized, there isn’t a universal answer to this question.

Each person is unique, with different circumstances that affect how their body processes CBD.

If you’re new to CBD or need a good reference, start with the estimates the “Effect Time” row (shown in the “Consumption Methods Compared” table). Next, compare it to your own times and use the insights from “The Quality and Type of CBD Matters” and “Each Person is Unique” paragraphs to identify what could be impacting the rate at which your body processes CBD.

This should work well in most cases; however more extreme conditions should require a different process.

Start by determining the CBD dosage that delivers noticeable effects, then estimate the time it takes to notice those effects. From there, tweak what you can based on the insights in this article to improve your body’s ability to process CBD.

Thanks so much for reading our article. I hope that this answered your question and improved your understanding of how CBD works. Next time you hear someone ask, “How long does CBD take to work?” be sure to spread the knowledge!

Thanks again for reading! If you have any questions or comments, or need any help at all, please engage in the comments below!

Karl Villalobos

Karl obtained his MA Economics from Concordia University in Montreal and BA Economics from the University of British Columbia, with special emphasis on environmental and industrial economics. He has written on a variety of different topics including Bitcoin and finance.

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