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How Long Does It Take for CBD to Work?

There are many mysteries when it comes to CBD. Today we want to tackle one of the core questions for anyone using cannabidiol as medicine: when does it kick in? How long does it take for CBD to work?

As with many facets of this versatile plant medicine … it depends. Here are some factors that impact when you’ll feel results: 

  • How much you’re taking (in milligrams)
  • Your weight and your body-fat percentage
  • Your body’s reaction to CBD (via your endocannabinoid system)
  • Delivery: How you’re taking CBD (oil, tincture, vaporizer, edible, gummy, capsule)

Everyone’s body is different, but we’ve aggregated the general reaction from most CBD patients to give you an idea of how long it will take to see results. Please keep in mind, however, that sometimes the effects of CBD are so subtle that you don’t notice anything. For example, you would be aware of feelings of extreme stress, but you wouldn’t often reflect in a calm state and think “I don’t feel any stress!”

Similarly, you’ll be aware of pain, but it can be difficult to notice an exact moment when pain goes away. CBD is subtle, and that’s part of what makes it so brilliant — you can go about your life seamlessly, without pain, inflammation and mood troubles holding you back. 

We’ve created three categories of CBD delivery based on speed of symptom relief, broken down into quick relief, slow release and a combination of the two. The speed you’ll want to choose depends entirely on your symptoms.

How Quickly Do You Need Symptom Relief? 

Right Now: Vaporize It (0-30 minutes)

 If you’re seeking immediate relief from sporadic symptoms, such as a migraine or a panic attack, you’ll likely want to choose a vaporizer to deliver your CBD medicine.

The process of vaporization allows the CBD molecules to disperse into the capillaries of the lungs, allowing for immediate bioavailability (read: your body can absorb and use the medicine easily and quickly).

This also bypasses the digestive tract, which can be a slow process that does not deliver 100 percent of the milligrams of CBD to your bloodstream. Some sources say that vaporizing is up to four times as effective as ingesting.

When it comes to vaporization (using a vape pen or similar delivery method), many users report instantaneous effects, with the slowest response being 15 to 30 minutes before feeling relief. Again, this will depend on how many milligrams of CBD you’re taking, but by and large, vaporizing seems to be the fastest delivery. 

Instances in which you’d want to vaporize:

  • You’re comfortable with the inhale method or have smoked before
  • You need immediate relief from strong symptoms
  • Your CBD practice is less of a daily wellness routine and more of an urgent need to address sporadic symptoms
  • You have a daily CBD routine but prefer vaporization as your primary delivery method
  • You have trouble falling asleep, but have no problem staying asleep
  • You have panic attacks and need a quick way to calm down when they come on

For an Extended Period: Ingest It (30 to 60 minutes or more)

For a slow, sustained, all-day or all-night release, you’ll want to opt for something ingested. The process of digestion is slow, allowing for a slower release of CBD as it breaks down in the gastrointestinal tract before releasing to the bloodstream. 

Slow release can be useful in situations such as night waking. If you have no trouble falling asleep, but you have trouble staying asleep, you don’t want a quick hit of CBD to help you nod off; you want something slow and sustained to keep you snoozing.

Keep in mind that digested CBD could potentially be less bioavailable. As mentioned before, vaporizing could be the most bioavailable form (though more clinical trials will need to be run before we have a definitive answer); with digestion, you may not absorb as many milligrams of CBD as you take.

Examples of ingested CBD include gummies, chocolates, tea, sodas and waters, coffee, capsules, pills, candy, baked goods, chips and snacks, cereal and granola. The variety of delivery within this category makes it versatile and easy to incorporate into a daily wellness routine for a patient of any age, regardless of physical limitations.

Those who have trouble swallowing pills can try something chewable; those who have trouble chewing can drink something; those who simply want to seamlessly blend CBD into their meals have plenty of options. 

Instances in which you’d want to ingest:

  • You’re most comfortable with eating something, drinking something or swallowing a pill
  • You’re giving CBD to a child and a gummy is the easiest delivery method
  • You have trouble smoking or have a history of lung and esophageal problems
  • You’re using CBD as a daily wellness addition to maintain homeostasis
  • You have chronic inflammation that you’d like to control throughout the day
  • You have chronic pain that you’d like to control throughout the day
  • You have other pervasive, long-lasting symptoms that you’d like to control throughout the day
  • You have trouble staying asleep at night (night waking)

Both: Put It Under Your Tongue (combination of immediate and slow relief)

In what may be the perfect combination of the two aforementioned methods, a sublingual (under-the-tongue) delivery of an oil or tincture offers a great balance between quick effects and slow, sustained release of medicine. 

Here’s how it works: the oil or tincture is placed under the tongue and held for roughly 90 seconds, allowing the medicine to absorb into the tiny capillaries of the mouth, thus going directly into the bloodstream. The patient then swishes the remaining oil and swallows the rest of the product, allowing trace amounts of CBD to be digested in the gastrointestinal tract.

The combined result makes a sublingual oil among the favorite deliveries, particularly for those who need quick relief but aren’t able to vaporize or aren’t comfortable with vaporizing. 

Instances in which you’d want to deliver sublingually: 

  • You have a barrier when it comes to vaporizing (discomfort, lung problems, etc.)
  • You need quick effects
  • You have insomnia: trouble falling and staying asleep
  • You have intense, chronic symptoms that require immediate relief as well as sustained management
  • You’re comfortable holding oil in your mouth for over a minute