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Beginner’s 101

How does CBD oil work?

CBD oil has gained increased popularity in recent years. Today, it is not uncommon to see people pour CBD into their cocktails, put it in their coffee, or blend it into their smoothies. Although more research on CBD is ongoing, there’s still a lot that people don’t know about this amazing product.

A major question that people ask is: How long does CBD take to work? And there are good reasons for this. No one wants to take something that will take longer to work or won’t work at all when seeking relief. The amount of time CBD oil takes to kick in will depend on various factors, including the strength of the product, way of consumption, individual biology, and dosage (we’ll discuss this in detail in the article).

Knowing how CBD works and how your biopsy responds to it is paramount. For one, it helps the user take it correctly to feel the effects much quicker. Secondly, it helps them determine whether they are taking the right product. Read along to learn how CBD interacts with the body and how long it will take to feel its impact on the body.

How does CBD oil work?

Cannabidiol (CBD) works within the body by interacting with the brain through various mechanisms. CBD oil interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system (CB1 and CB2 receptors), facilitating the transmission of signals from the brain through the nervous system and immune system.

The connection between CBD and the human endocannabinoid system is the primary reason why CBD works in our bodies. The therapeutic effects of CBD are due to its ability to balance hormone function and enhance brain function. That explains why CBD oil may assist in managing a wide range of health issues with little to no side effects.

When CBD interacts with the ECS, it changes the signals being sent to cannabinoid receptors. CB1 and CB2 receptors are responsible for allowing our bodies to experience different things, including mood, pain, sleep, appetite, etc.

infographic explaining the endocannabinoid system and how CBD influences it

Factors that impact CBD oil absorption

As earlier mentioned, various factors affect CBD oil absorption and effectiveness. However, on average, it will take about 2-6 hours to feel the effects of CBD, although this is mainly dependent on the method of CBD consumption.

To feel the effects of CBD, it has to make it into your bloodstream and, ultimately, the endocannabinoid system. When CBD oil is ingested, it is first processed by the gut, liver, and other digestive organs, broken down into usable and non-usable substances.

The non-usable CBD components go to waste, and the usable CBD is absorbed into the bloodstream. The usable substance is what is known as bioavailable CBD.

That being the case, CBD bioavailability refers to the rate at which CBD is absorbed into the blood. In other words, it is a measure of CBD available for absorption in a product. To that end, here are the factors that determine how fast you feel the effects of CBD oil.

The method of consumption

CBD consumption method is the primary thing that will determine how long it takes for CBD oil to work. CBD comes in many different forms, with each having a different onset time and effects.

Vaping cannabidiol

Vaping CBD oil is one of the quickest ways to feel the effects of CBD. Although there are different types of vapes available, including tank-style, pen-style, the idea is still the same – it involves heating CBD extract to become vapor that is inhaled.

Vape CBD oil goes directly into the bloodstream through the lungs, leading to a quick and instant effect. Vaping CBD may be ideal for you if you have an acute condition and need an immediate effect.

To avoid the potential side effects of vaporized CBD oil, those new to vaping are advised to start with a lower dose. Of course, there’s no recommended amount of CBD oil you should consume in a day. Starting slowly and monitoring how you feel will help determine the correct dosage for you.

Sublingual CBD oil drops/ CBD tincture

Sublingual involves administering CBD oil drops under the tongue and holding it there for one to two minutes. Through this method, CBD oil is absorbed directly into the bloodstream. Unlike taking CBD oil orally (where it will take longer to feel the effects), CBD tinctures give instant results.

Some researchers believe that taking CBD oil sublingually could be the best method of consuming CBD. For one, it gives the highest level of bioavailability than all the other consumption methods out there.

That means, taking CBD oil sublingually allows more of its content to enter the bloodstream. It will take about 5-10 minutes to feel the effects of CBD oil when placed under the tongue, and the effects will last for 4-6 hours.

Before you decide to take CBD oil sublingually, you need to consider why you are taking it in the first place. If you take CBD oil to lower anxiety, boost mood, or pain relief, then putting it under the tongue will work for you. On the other hand, a sublingual application might not be practical if you want to lower inflammation.

Another thing worth noting is that sublingual CBD oil will have longer-lasting effects than other methods of consuming CBD. As such, you may opt for other methods if you don’t want long-lasting effects and potent.

infographic explaining how long CBD stays in your system with a graph

Ingestion

Another common method to consume CBD oil is by administering it into the mouth and swallowing it. Unlike taking CBD oil sublingually, ingesting oil will send CBD into the digestive tract and then to the liver (where it is broken down) before it is absorbed into the bloodstream.

As such, ingesting CBD is a less effective way of consuming CBD oil, and it will take longer before feeling the effects. Besides, some studies suggest that when CBD compounds go through metabolization in the liver, they may lose CBD concentration.

The same happens with CBD gummies. That means, if you add CBD oil drops to your favorite recipe, it will have to go through a lengthy process before you feel the effects, and the concentration will significantly reduce.

Ideally, it might take up to two hours to feel the effects of CBD if you ingest it via CBD oil-infused edible or tincture. The impact will also be weaker than if you took it sublingually.

Topical application

It is not yet clear how long it will take for a CBD topical to work. However, some available studies suggest that cannabinoids can take longer to pass through the skin, sometimes taking up to five hours to feel the effect.

Despite that, some people have claimed that they feel the effects much quicker after using CBD topicals, although there is no scientific evidence to support this. CBD users can overcome the low topical CBD absorption by applying it liberally on the skin.

However, based on the low cannabinoid absorption on the skin, topical CBD application might be ideal for mild discomfort in specific body parts.

When it comes to dosage, there’s no standard amount of CBD to apply to the skin. The correct amount of topical CBD to apply to the skin will depend on why you use it. Some conditions like muscle spasms might require a higher dosage than when using it to get rid of a headache.

Although it takes longer to feel the effects of topical CBD, the effects usually last much longer. Some users claim to feel the therapeutic effects of topical CBD for up to five hours.

CBD drinks and alcohol

There’s a growing trend of adding CBD in drinks and alcohol. Adding cannabinoids to alcohol will not only deliver the therapeutic properties of CBD but also reduce the effects of alcohol in the blood.

One study involving mice found that CBD-induced alcoholic drinks can help protect the liver against alcohol-infused damage.

Back to our question: How long does it take to feel the effects of CBD mixed with alcohol? Well, it will take a few hours before CBD mixed with alcohol can be absorbed into the bloodstream and ultimately feel the effects. The effects will last about 24 hours or even longer, depending on the dosage and body composition of the user.

Again there is no standard dosage for CBD alcohol; it depends on why you are taking it. New users should start low (about 30ml per alcohol) and increase the amount slowly as they get used to it.

How long does CBD oil last

Dosage and potency will also determine how quickly you feel the effects of CBD oil and how long CBD oil lasts in your system. Ideally, the more CBD oil you take, the quicker you feel its impact and vice versa.

Besides, finding the ideal dosage will also impact how long CBD will stay in your system. Hemp-derived CBD oil will not cause a “high” effect, so you should not worry much when taking it.

However, it is best to start small and increase gradually until you find the ideal dosage for you. Some of the things to consider when determining your ideal dosage include:

  • Body mass
  • Method of consumption
  • Any prescription medications
  • Possible side effects

Sometimes you may need to consult your doctor to help determine the ideal CBD dosage for you.

How long does CBD oil stay in your system

Regardless of the method of CBD consumption and dosage, no two people will respond the same to CBD. For example, one person could feel the effects of CBD oil sublingual in 5 minutes while another will take 15 minutes to feel the effects. More specifically, individual body biology will determine how long it takes for CBD oil to work and how long the effects will last.

CBD works in our bodies by interacting with the endocannabinoid system. ECS regulates many body functions like pain response, sleep, mood, and appetite. Some studies suggest that CBD could help people with imbalanced ECS. In other words, people with a more imbalanced endocannabinoid system will take longer to feel the effects of CBD than those with a balanced ECS.

Metabolism

The individual body metabolism determines how the body breaks down compounds, including CBD. Various factors will determine how a person’s metabolism functions, including age, digestive system, lifestyle, and genetic profile. This forms the metabolic rate and varies from one person to another.

For instance, people who exercise regularly have a high metabolism. They will feel CBD effects more quickly, although the effects will leave them more quickly. On the contrary, people with a lower metabolism will take longer to feel the effects of CBD, but the effects will stay longer in their bodies.

Bodyweight

Bodyweight will also determine the rate of CBD absorption. CBD is fat-soluble. As such, people with more fat cells are likely to absorb and store CBD for longer in their bodies. In other words, people with more bodyweight will take longer to feel the effects of CBD oil.

Frequency of use

As with dosage, frequency of use will determine how long it takes for CBD oil to work. Some people feel the effects of CBD quickly, while others take much longer. So before you give up taking CBD oil, you must confirm whether you are using a quality CBD product and taking it consistently.

Like many other medications, results from CBD use come slowly. Consistently taking CBD oil is key to getting the most out of it. Once you identify your ideal dosage, stick to it for better results.

Quality of CBD

CBD products are created differently. Since the cannabis industry is highly unregulated, it is not uncommon to come across brands that produce low-quality CBD products. Some products may contain impurities or additives that significantly impact the quality of the products. To determine whether a CBD product is good or not, one needs to check the third-party lab results alongside the USDA organic seal.

Another critical thing to check when buying CBD products is the amount of THC available. Full-spectrum CBD products contain all cannabinoids, including THC, which is known to have a psychoactive effect. The legal THC content is 0.3%.

Where hemp is sourced will also determine the quality of a CBD product. As with other plants, hemp will absorb nutrients and toxins in the soil where it is grown. Some hemp may contain heavy metals and pesticides that may end up in CBD, which will affect how CBD works.

The best thing is to buy organic CBD products certified by the USDA to ensure that they are safe and of higher quality.

How to get a good CBD experience?

Based on my experience, these tips may help you get the most out of your CBD oil:

  • Try different delivery methods: There is no one fits all approach for CBD delivery methods. Just because tinctures work well for some people doesn’t mean that they will work for you too. Experiment with different methods to determine what works best for you. Sometimes combining various delivery methods might work for you. You can give tinctures, capsules,or even suppositories a try.
  • Figure out the correct strength for you: Finding the correct dosage and strength will take some time and experimenting. It’s best to start small and increase gradually as you feel the effects.
  • Frequent use: For maximum results, be consistent with your dosing. Try not to miss out on a dose as it will affect CBD efficacy.
  • Spread out the dosing schedule: Instead of taking one large dose, consider spreading a small dose three or four times a day.
  • Listen to your body: Pay close attention to how you are feeling after taking CBD oil. If you are not getting the desired results, it might be best to review your dosage or the delivery method.

CBD oil works differently for different people. What might work for you might not work for the other. You need to be patient and listen to yourself as you experiment to ensure you get the results you are looking for.

Summary

Currently, it’s hard to say how long it takes for CBD oil to work. CBD is available in various forms, with each form working differently. However, some studies suggest that CBD may help manage many conditions, including anxiety, pain, and sleep disorders.

We hope that more research will be done in the near future to determine exactly how long it takes for CBD to work and how long it stays in the system. For now, it’s best to continue experimenting to see what works best for you and what doesn’t.

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Feyza Olson

Feyza Olson is Content Manager at Endoca. Her passion for natural products and holistic health inspires her in creating wellness content on cannabis and cannabinoids, for both newcomers to the CBD world and experts. She loves continuing to learn about wellness and health from a holistic perspective and sharing her findings.

Hemp leaves on a light green background

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