CBD, or cannabidiol, affects everyone differently. Independent variables such as dosage, body weight, and metabolism can influence your experience with the compound. Then there is the matter of how you consume CBD. The fastest method is intravenously, but since using a needle every day is not practical, inhalation via a vaporizer is the next best way. However, the full answer to the title question is much more complicated to explain.
Over the last few years, CBD has become the world’s trendiest health supplement. It is linked with improved mood, alleviation of pain, and reductions in the seizures associated with epilepsy. It is an exciting compound because it has an increasing body of scientific evidence to back up claims regarding its benefits.
However, you should not assume that a few milligrams of CBD will eliminate pain in a matter of minutes. Several factors influence the efficacy of the non-intoxicating cannabinoid; we analyze them below.
How Does CBD Work?
CBD must be absorbed into the bloodstream before being distributed through our endocannabinoid system (ECS). It is here that the cannabinoid interacts with the body’s receptors. This interaction is the driving force behind many of CBD’s perceived benefits.
This means that how CBD is absorbed is VERY important. Effective forms of CBD consumption not only get to the bloodstream faster, but they maintain substantial levels of the compound throughout the body. In other words, they offer high bioavailability. Additionally, the best ways to consume CBD involve bypassing the digestive system and metabolic process in the liver.
Factors That Impact CBD Absorption
The CBD form you use plays a huge role in how quickly it absorbs into your system. We look into consumption methods in greater detail a little later on. However, first, let’s look at four other important factors influencing how quickly CBD gets to work.
Not all CBD products are created equally. We see sellers championing cannabidiol extracted from organic hemp, which is the bare minimum one would expect! Low-grade cannabidiol not only contains a smaller amount of CBD but also may include ingredients that reduce bioavailability.
Low-grade cannabidiol not only contains a smaller amount of CBD but also may include ingredients that reduce bioavailability.
The biggest issue to consider when judging the absorption time for CBD is the size of the particle in which it’s delivered. High-quality CBD sellers may invest in manufacturing processes such as microencapsulation, which breaks CBD into tiny particles. The result is faster absorption and higher efficacy.
The human body is remarkable, and our physiology can differ from person to person. This uniqueness comes into play when using CBD. If two individuals take the same CBD type, dose, and quality simultaneously, it may impact each person differently.
Also, if these two people tried the same experiment three months later, not only would the results differ between the two people again, they could also differ from their past results! Consequently, using CBD can sometimes require trial and error.
Currently, the only CBD-based medication approved by the FDA is the anti-epileptic, Epidiolex, which is prescribed to treat two rare forms of childhood epilepsy, namely Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. While there are official guidelines relating to the appropriate dosage for Epidiolex, no other CBD-based products are FDA-approved. Consequently, there are no official guidelines related to their dosage. If you are unsure about what dose to begin with, speak with your doctor. They will be able to recommend an appropriate dose for you by taking factors such as your body weight into account.
The rate of your body’s metabolism, known as the metabolic rate, involves breaking down and synthesizing compounds to help the body function properly. If you have a fast metabolism, it helps the body absorb CBD quicker.
However, if you metabolize any drug too quickly, you might not benefit from the prescribed dose. Therefore, you’ll need more CBD to have a similar effect as someone with a slower metabolism. You’ll also find that the effects of the cannabinoid wear off relatively quickly.
Things that impact our metabolism include age, genetics, digestive system health, and lifestyle.
Individuals with certain medical conditions may not process substances as well as healthier people. This is particularly the case when it comes to liver function. The liver is crucial in removing CBD from circulation and ensuring it is ready for export from the body. As a result, having impaired liver function dictates CBD’s effectiveness and how long it stays in the system.
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology in 2019 analyzed the effect of cannabidiol on people with moderate to severe liver impairment. The researchers found that such individuals had greater blood CBD concentrations and lengthier clearance times after using 200mg of the cannabinoid compared to healthy control volunteers.
According to this study, CBD reaches the general circulation and remains there longer in people with liver impairment than without.
There is a reason why CBD companies make sure they use a carrier such as MCT oil in their products. Fatty foods significantly impact cannabidiol absorption.
A study published in Epilepsia in 2019 gave adults who had been prescribed CBD for seizures a dose of 99% pure cannabidiol capsules on two occasions. The first saw the volunteers take the compound on an empty stomach. The second involved using CBD after consuming a high-fat breakfast containing 840-860 calories, approximately 600 of which came from fat.
As CBD is fat-soluble, including a healthy fat source in your meal, such as fish high in omega-3 or avocado, can help absorption.
The researchers found that the maximum level of CBD in the blood was 14 times higher when consumed with the fatty breakfast than without. Overall, using CBD with food increased the amount of the cannabinoid in the body fourfold compared to using it in a fasted state.
As CBD is fat-soluble, including a healthy fat source in your meal, such as fish high in omega-3 or avocado, can further help absorption.
You can increase the absorption rate of CBD and reduce the time taken to feel an effect by boosting the dosage. In general, the more you consume, the faster you’ll feel it. A study published in Frontiers in Pharmacology in 2018 found that increasing the CBD dose in an oral spray from 10mg to 20mg tripled absorption.
Yet, the researchers also found that the effects seem to have a ceiling in doses between 400mg and 800mg. This may be because tissues become saturated and can’t absorb any more CBD.
Method of CBD Consumption
The length of time it takes for CBD to work depends mostly on how you consume it. The cannabinoid only works when your body absorbs it. As a result, the CBD must make its way from the entry point into the bloodstream, where it can interact with cannabinoid receptors.
The method of consumption dictates the speed and level of absorption into your bloodstream. In general, the faster it gets to the bloodstream, the higher the bioavailability level.
This involves injecting CBD directly into the veins. Most people won’t have access to this method. Additionally, it is not a desirable method because not many people want to stab themselves with a needle every day. Sadly, it is unavoidable for patients with certain conditions. When you inject CBD, its bioavailability rate is 100%, and it works almost immediately.
Vaping & Smoking
Both methods involve inhaling CBD vapor directly into the lungs. The market is flooded with vaporizers that can heat CBD oil in seconds. Once you inhale the vapor, CBD and other cannabinoids reach your bloodstream via the alveoli in the lungs.
Overall, the vaporized CBD is absorbed into your bloodstream within a minute or so, although it could be a few minutes before you experience the full effects. As well as being the fastest non-intravenous method, inhalation also offers the highest level of bioavailability.
Vaping is a rapid method because the CBD can reach the bloodstream within a minute or so.
A 2009 study by Huestis, published in Chemistry & Biodiversity, found that vaping cannabinoids has a bioavailability rate of 56%. Other data places it between 34% and 46%.
Although not as popular as its THC equivalent, CBD flower is also available. You can purchase dozens of special marijuana strains high in CBD and low in THC. There are also hemp flower options too. A study published in Pharmaceuticals in 2020 found that smoking CBD resulted in peak plasma levels occurring within three minutes of inhalation.
However, combusting plant material can result in the release of carcinogenic substances. While a 2005 study suggested that cannabis smoke wasn’t causally linked to tobacco-related cancers, it was implicated in respiratory dysfunction.
If you don’t want to vape your CBD, sublingual consumption is the next best option. It involves placing drops of CBD oil beneath the tongue. Generally, it’s recommended to hold the oil there for up to 60 seconds for the best absorption.
The mucous membranes have a porous layer covering minuscule blood vessels, allowing the oil to absorb into your bloodstream faster. It can work in five minutes, although most users report experiencing effects in 15-25 minutes.
Several factors influence the absorption rate, which is why a 2012 study by Schoedel and Harrison, published in Current Pharmaceutical Design, placed the bioavailability rate anywhere between 12% and 35%.
As the name suggests, this involves consuming CBD through the mouth in a capsule, edible, or a CBD beverage. This method has a longer path to the bloodstream. It involves the salivary glands and the full stomach digestive process, which requires a journey through the liver, pancreas, and stomach.
It is relatively slow and can take up to 30 minutes to take effect. This taxing journey results in the loss of a lot of CBD. Huestis’ aforementioned 2009 study found that the bioavailability rate of orally consumed cannabinoids was between 4% and 20%.
Final Thoughts on Answering “How Long Does It Take for CBD Oil to Work?”
As you have discovered, there isn’t one answer that tells you how long CBD takes to work. How well CBD affects you depends on the product’s quality, not to mention your body composition, physical size, and physical condition.
Next, you have to look at the form of consumption. Aside from taking CBD intravenously, vaping the cannabinoid is the next fastest option and is also the best in terms of bioavailability.