| July 14, 2019

How long does it take for CBD to work?

Iolanda Bulgaru

Iolanda is senior content strategist at Healthcare Weekly and has 30 years of experience in regulatory compliance, strategy and clinical psychology. Iolanda is senior content strategist at Healthcare Weekly and has 30 years of experience in regulatory compliance, strategy and clinical psychology.
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The use of cannabidiol, just one of several cannabinoids extracted from the cannabis plant, has vastly increased in recent years.

Many who had previously been opposed to cannabis-based products are finding themselves embracing mother nature’s natural healer.

With very few side effects and a whole host of therapeutic health benefits, it’s the perfect option for those who are looking to treat their health conditions naturally.

It’s also increasing in popularity among those in the medical community who have been failed by the pharmaceutical drugs currently available to them.

This includes those with rare cases of epilepsy, where studies have found that CBD can reduce median motor seizures by 70.6%.

Despite these promising results, with similar studies being released on other conditions every year, some people still find themselves struggling to understand CBD oil.

One of the main questions people ask is how long does CBD last? On average the effects of CBD tend to last anywhere between 2-6 hours, but this can largely depend on a variety of factors (explored in detail below).

There have been a lot of studies and anecdotal evidence that provides scientific guidelines on how long CBD dosages last and how much you should take.

In this article, we will break this information down so it can be easily digestible, and helps you finally answer the question about how long does CBD last?

Factors That Affect CBD Absorption

how-long-does-cbd-lastSo you want to know how long does CBD last?

If so, the first thing you need to remember is that there are several different factors that can affect CBD absorption and its effectiveness.

On average, research says that the effects of CBD tend to last anywhere between 2-6 hours, but this can largely depend on what methods you’re using to take the cannabinoid.

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This estimated figure is probably accurate for popular methods like vaping, where CBD directly enters your body and reacts with the endocannabinoid system quickly.

When some experts say that CBD takes between three or four days to exit your body completely, it’s reasonable to suggest that edibles and gummies, which have to go through the digestive system, will have effects that last far longer. 

Another factor to consider is that CBD is fat-soluble, meaning it is stored in fat cells.

This means that those who exercise regularly, metabolize fat faster and have a lower density of fat cells will find that effects of CBD wear off more quickly.

The frequency of usage and dosage can also have an impact on the effectiveness of CBD.

Like with most medications, CBD will have heightened benefits if you continue to use it on a longer basis.

Instead of your body expelling CBD within three or four days, moderate users may find that this remains in their body for five or six.

With repeated use over time, this number increases further, with some people able to retain the CBD compound in their body for 10 to 15 days after consuming it.

With this in mind, the strength of your dosage will also have an impact on the effectiveness of the CBD.

If you use something extremely strong, it will take quite some time to be completely eliminated from the body.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that regular consumers of large doses of CBD can have the compound in their body anywhere between three weeks to a month after they stop consuming it.

The effectiveness of cannabidiol can also be impacted by certain pharmaceutical medications, so it’s worth speaking to your doctor before taking CBD if you are on any other medications.

Methods Of Consumption & How Each Impacts How Long CBD Stays In Your System

how-long-does-cbd-lastAs the popularity of CBD continues to rise, so too do the methods you can use to consume it.

As the market worth of CBD continues to grow, having been predicted to reach 20 billion by 2024, it’s highly possible that more consumption methods will arise on the market in coming years.

 

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With that being said, the six methods we have mentioned below are some of the most popular, and have the most evidence backing up their effectiveness.

This section will also answer your question ‘how long does CBD last?’ more specifically, depending directly upon which method you choose to use.

CBD Tinctures

how-long-does-cbd-lastMarketed as a dietary supplement, CBD tinctures are made using a mixture of alcohol and water to extract compounds from the cannabis plant.

Sometimes, tincture extracts will also be created using glycerin, vinegar or oil as a solvent instead.

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While these offer the advantage of being alcohol-free for those that struggle with addiction, they do not always offer the same potency as an alcohol-water extract.

In some ways, CBD tinctures are similar to CBD oils—but contrary to popular belief, they aren’t quite the same thing.

The main difference between the two is that, because tinctures are usually made using alcohol solvents, they are a lot stronger.

For those who are health conscious, tinctures might be the safer option of the two, after a small study into CBD oil recently linked it to liver problems in mice.  

It’s worth keeping in mind that tinctures are considered to be so potent that it is not recommended to take any more than 2-3 teaspoons of the substance a day.

Tinctures are usually ingested by placing them under the tongue using a method known as sublingual administration.

Essentially, this means that the substance is placed underneath the tongue to be dissolved by the tissues in that part of the body.

How long does CBD last?

In this form, it can take effect very quickly—in less than an hour—meaning it is likely to be absorbed faster, and therefore leave your body faster, too.

Though it may not last long, however, this method works well for those looking for quick relief, and are best known for their ability to reduce pain.

CBD Vaping

how-long-does-cbd-lastVaping has gained increasing popularity throughout the US in recent years.

With the introduction of the Farm Bill in 2018, and changing opinions from the FDA, many vaping manufacturers have started to include CBD vaping cartridges to be sold to consumers.  

These manufacturers will usually provide the vape as a tincture oil, or concentrated CBD.

Regardless of the option, they will make it clear on the packaging, allowing you to have full control over the type you choose to use.

Coming in standard 30ml vaping bottles, vaping manufacturers will also provide you with the information necessary to determine how much CBD you want in your product.

These generally range from 200mg to 1500mg per bottle.

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While it is recommended that you start with a lower dose if you are new to vaping CBD, it is unlikely you will experience side effects if you start with a higher dose.

Like with most vaping products, there is no recommendation of how much of the product you should consume daily as this is extremely hard to measure.

With this method, it’s best to start slowly and monitor how you feel as you increase your dosage over time. Due to the fact that this method involves breathing CBD directly into your body, it is absorbed extremely quickly, meaning you will experience almost instant relief.

Like the previous method, however, instant relief does come with the downside that it will not last as long as some other popular methods in this list.

CBD Drinks / Alcohols

how-long-does-cbd-lastAnother recent addition to the CBD marketplace is the use of the cannabinoid in food and drinks.

Most commonly, they are used in alcoholic beverages in order to enhance taste and push the boundaries on what is acceptable in breweries.

Though most states are on board with the legislation under the farm bill 2018, many won’t allow the use of CBD in food and drinks, claiming that the bill does not cover these substances.

 

Due to the lack of openness around these products, it is very difficult to determine a daily dosage, or how much you should be ingesting to get the optimal results.

When it comes to alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, we strongly encourage you to exercise caution.

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If you are going to drink more than one beverage, be aware of the effects this is having on your body and know that you should stop if you feel yourself losing control or experiencing undesirable side effects.

Regulations around food are so restricted that it’s almost impossible to get them outside of hospitality establishments, where portion sizes are predetermined based on the chef’s experiences and the best fit for the recipe.

If you’re looking for a method that takes longer to be absorbed, providing you with the effects of CBD for longer, this one is perfect as it directly involves the digestive system.

In the digestive system, it takes between 2-5 hours for the stomach to absorb nutrients, according to one study.

It takes about 33 to 48 hours for waste products to be dispelled by your body, meaning you could potentially be feeling the effects of CBD for up to two days.

CBD Topicals

how-long-does-cbd-lastCBD-rich topicals can be found in lotion, cream, salve and balm form.

They are made this way so that they can be directly applied to the skin to provide almost immediate pain relief to the affected area.

Due to their fast acting properties, people often opt for CBD-rich topicals to treat joint pain, muscle spasms, and other external conditions.

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They are also commonly used to deal with acne and other skin conditions, which is why many topicals also include additional nutrients and natural ingredients that offer a unique concoction of moisturization properties.

They typically come in tubs that contain one to four ounces of the topical ingredients, but understanding the dosage is not always an easy task.

This is because the amount of CBD in topicals can range dramatically, from 250mg to 1500mg per tub.

These items are also often handmade and sold on marketplaces like Etsy, so it’s not always easy to determine the accuracy of the ingredients listed.

Due to the fact that humans can generally tolerate high levels of CBD this isn’t too much of a concern, and we would generally recommend listening to your own body to understand your needs.

In regards to how long the effects last, it’s generally thought that most people will experience the benefits of CBD for up to six hours.

You may still feel the effects of CBD topicals for the next few days as they work their way out of your system, however.

CBD Edibles

how-long-does-cbd-lastThe term edibles usually refers to baked goods like brownies and cupcakes, though it may also refers to brand-specific candies and other CBD infused snacks.

Due to a lack of regulation in the world of CBD in the food and drink industries, however, there is very little information about daily recommended dosages.

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Most edibles contain anything from 5mg to 100mg of CBD each, allowing you to make a decision based on how much of an impact you want to receive from the edible.

It’s recommended that you go for 31mg to 45mg of CBD per 230 pounds of weight as a guide if you want strong effects, but you can always choose something stronger if you feel it isn’t giving you the results you desire, and vice versa.

A lot of people also make CBD edible products at home, at which point you are free to make your own decisions about quantities.

Though we cannot provide specifics, we would recommend starting with a smaller dose before gradually building it up until you are satisfied with the final product over time.

Like many of our previous methods, edibles are ingested into the digestive system, meaning you will feel the effects of CBD for at least 6-8 hours before the food containing the CBD is ingested into the stomach.

You may also feel the effects for several days afterwards as the CBD works its way out of your body, which will increase with continued use.

CBD Gummies

how-long-does-cbd-last

 

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CBD gummies are a popular kind of CBD edible that is created using CBD oil derived from hemp, a cannabis plant with low THC and high CBD levels.

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Though they have been around for a while, they have recently gained popularity as an effective way to manage and treat anxiety and depression.

Like other methods we have mentioned, it is difficult for us to provide specific information regarding daily dosage as this differs depending on the product you purchase and your own needs.

Generally, the gummy bears currently on the market currently contain anywhere from 10mg of CBD to 200mg of CBD, with some boasting to contain 10mg per gummy.

Depending on the severity of your condition, you may find larger or smaller doses more effective.

Like other methods involving the digestion of food, you should receive a longer lasting effect from this method as it takes 6-8 hours for them to be digested into the stomach.

For best results, choose gummies with a high of CBD per gummy to help build the cannabinoid up in your system.

How Much CBD Should I Take?

how-long-does-cbd-lastWith CBD, the only way to know for sure how much you should take is to experiment to find what works best for you.

As a starting place, however, a lot of people tend to start with a dosage of 10mg to 20mg taken 1-2 times daily.

This should be enough to help you understand the effect a small amount of CBD has on you, allowing you to make changes to reduce or increase your dosage accordingly.

Alternatively, researching your medical condition online (or by talking to a doctor!) may help you find anecdotal evidence that gives you some idea of what you might want to start with.

Some people with depression, for example, start with dosages as small as 3mg, while those with chronic pain may start with 30mg.

If you’re looking to go for the cheapest option, reviewers of several different CBD products across different brands have said that a 30ml bottle can last anywhere between 3-6 months.

How Fast Does CBD Oil Work?

how-long-does-cbd-lastAnother common question about CBD, in addition to ‘how long does CBD last?’ is how fast it begins working in the first place.

As you’ll see from the methods section above, this can vary depending on a multitude of different factors.

In the case of vaping or smoking CBD, for example, you may begin to feel the effects in as little as 5 minutes.

For other methods, like edibles, you might be waiting more like 6-8 hours before the effects of CBD become fully apparent.

On average, however, it’s estimated that CBD oil should start working within 6-8 hours.

Factors like your weight, metabolism, and lifestyle choices can also have an impact and may also reduce or increase this time.

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How Long Does CBD Stay In Your System?

Due to the fact that CBD was largely prohibited for decades, it has been difficult to study exactly how long it stays in your system.

A majority of specialists seem to agree that it is usually out of your system within a few days, though your body may retain CBD if you are a regular user and have built up the reserves.

There are some researchers, however, who believe it could take up to a week for CBD to become completely untraceable in your urine sample.

How Do You Properly Store CBD?

how-long-does-cbd-lastIn most cases, the best way to store CBD is in an upright position in a place where the temperature is stable, without any extreme light, heat or moisture.

This could include bedroom storage or your kitchen pantry.

If you’re using a method like CBD edibles or gummies, you may want to keep your CBD in the refrigerator instead.

This protects the food from going bad, which will make you unable to utilize the CBD that has been used to create said product.

If you store CBD correctly, you should find that it lasts you for about a year without any problems, depending on how often you use it and how big a dose you take.

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Summary

So, how long does CBD last?

The truth is, this is a loaded question with a variety of different questions, and a number of variables that mean this differs for every person.

While methods like edibles and gummies may last longer because they are travelling through the digestive system, people with fast metabolisms may not benefit as much from these methods.

Equally, methods like vaping CBD may last for shorter periods of time, but they may provide relief faster and the product would last longer than in other products. 

At the end of the day, you need to experiment in order to find out what works best for you and your body. 

This will allow you to create a CBD concoction using the method and dosage that is correct for you that you are able to adjust as and when you need to.

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