When Will I See the Effects of CBD?

July 5, 2021

Taking CBD can help many chronic conditions, but how long does it take to work? Today’s blog post shares all about how cannabidiol works, what impacts the benefits, and how long it should take before results can be expected.

How Does CBD Work?

To understand how long it takes for CBD to work or how soon to expect results, it is essential to first understand how cannabinoids function. CBD is often thought of as a miracle fix, but science shows that the therapeutic properties of cannabinoids are due to specific biological procedures. Research regarding cannabis and the compounds found within continues to impress the community as studies reveal its complex nature and how it delivers benefits.

One of the key questions is how does CBD work? This substance is able to benefit both people’s wellbeing and health because cannabinoids are not unique to plants. In fact, humans contain their own version that is observable as a natural nerve function called the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

In short, the endocannabinoid system works to maintain homeostasis and does so utilizing three key elements: cannabinoid receptors, endocannabinoids, and metabolic enzymes. When CBD is consumed, the body processes the chemical compounds found within the cannabis plant as it would natural biological matter thanks to the endocannabinoid system. In doing so, cannabidiol is then able to influence the physiological and cognitive processes that natural endocannabinoids regulate.

While incredible, the cycle is not instantaneous and does require time to activate. This leads to the question many wonder about: how much time does it take for cannabinoids like CBD to activate, break down, and be utilized in a way that leads to change?

How Long Does It Take For CBD To Work?

CBD will work differently for each person in terms of when initial effects will be experienced. Once ingested, cannabidiol will begin its journey towards the blood stream. The compound interacts with the receptor sites in the cells, nervous system, immune system, and brain, after which point CBD can begin to take effect. The procedure can take as little as minutes to as long as months depending on the route taken to reach the receptors, as this can inhibit or stimulate the process. As such, the rate at which CBD is processed by the endocannabinoid system is impacted by a variety of factors.

What Influences How CBD Works?

Research shows that many factors will influence how and when CBD works for an individual. From the type of CBD product and the amount of active cannabidiol in the formula to how often it is applied and the person’s biology, each detail will impact the speed at which the substance is processed.

  • Ingestion method
    One variable that impacts how quickly CBD works is the method of ingestion. Cannabidiol can be taken as an oil or tincture, inhaled through methods like vaping, consumed as an edible food or drink, applied as a cream, or swallowed in a capsule. While all versions deliver a dose of CBD, the formulation and quality influences how quickly it will be digested and at what pace the endocannabinoid system will respond.

    The forms of CBD that work fastest are those applied sublingually (under the tongue) or inhaled directly as these do not require the product to be digested and metabolized before beginning to take action. Ingestion methods such as this allow the cannabidiol to enter the bloodstream without delay. Tinctures, lozenges, vaporized oils, and sprays are all quick to start working, with effects being observed after just two to five minutes for vaping or fifteen to thirty minutes for sublingual applications.

    Ingestion methods that take longer to process include edibles and beverages like coffee, chocolate, gummy supplements, tea, and sweets. The product first needs to be digested and broken down by enzymes in the liver. It then undergoes what is called the first pass effect which reduces the dosage levels before then being carried into the bloodstream where benefits begin to be experienced.  The process can take up to two hours.

    The slowest forms of CBD are topical or transdermal treatments and capsules. Like edible methods, capsules require the body to digest the substance before it can be delivered to the bloodstream. They may take from 60-180 minutes to take effect. Topicals like creams, balms, and serums are easy to use but as CBD also struggles to transfer through the skin’s water barrier it makes this method slower to deliver results and less potent overall. Benefits may be experienced within 30-120 minutes. Similarly, transdermal treatments can take up to an hour to take effect, however these are much more powerful and long lasting.
  • Dosage
    Another factor that impacts how long it takes for CBD to work is dosage. The potency taken and frequency of application will influence how quickly the substance reacts. It is believed that the more often cannabidiol is taken, the more the body is able to increase cannabinoid receptors which make the endocannabinoid system more receptive to CBD. Furthermore, as a rule of thumb, the higher the concentration the faster a person will experience benefits, however it is always best to start with a lower dose and adapt as needed.

    Dosage is also impacted by the method of ingestion, as the bioavailable CBD (or rate at which it enters the bloodstream) can be altered based on how the substance is delivered. In many cases, not all cannabidiol will be fully utilized as the product will not be able to fully permeate the skin or absorb through the intestines. As such, the full potency is not achieved. Alternatively, excess CBD may be deposited into the fat cells and stored which can potentially spread benefits over a longer time period and speed up the process in future.
  • Weight
    CBD is also influenced by an individual’s weight which in turn impacts metabolism and circulation. Often, the heavier a body, the more fat cells there are. This means a person with a higher weight can store more CBD and experience extended effects. However, there is a trade off as it may take longer for initial benefits to be observed due to the metabolic rate. A fast metabolism often leads to the effects of cannabidiol being experienced more quickly, whereas a slow metabolism will take longer to process the substance and deliver results.
  • Prescription Drugs
    Prescription drugs that are being taken alongside CBD can influence how quickly the endocannabinoid system processes the product. While CBD may often be taken alongside other medications, drug interaction can occur. Research shows that many medications including edible cannabidiol interfere with one of the important enzymes responsible for converting and excreting foreign substances. When this happens the rate at which drugs metabolize may speed up or slow down which in turn impacts when the benefits and side effects are experienced.

When Will I See Effects From CBD?

As shown, the time frame in which benefits may be observed varies per person and is dependent on many factors. Furthermore, short term and long term reactions will have varying rates at which effects can be noticed. For some, results may be rapid (within five minutes to two hours) whereas for others the impact may not be felt for several weeks or months. The key to experiencing the benefits of CBD is consistency.

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