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How Long Does it Take for CBD Oil to Work?

Written by Carlos Tello, PhD (Molecular Biology) | Reviewed by Ana Aleksic, MSc (Pharmacy) | Last updated:
Medically reviewed by
Jonathan Ritter, PharmD, PhD (Pharmacology), Puya Yazdi, MD | Written by Carlos Tello, PhD (Molecular Biology) | Reviewed by Ana Aleksic, MSc (Pharmacy) | Last updated:

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CBD Oil How Long To Work
One of the most common questions about CBD oil is how long it will take to work. In truth, we just don’t have enough studies to answer this question definitely. Read on to understand what the early research shows.

How Long Does it Take for CBD Oil to Work?

The most important thing to remember is that that the only approved use of CBD oil comes in the form of prescription anti-seizure medication and further research needs to be done to decipher its benefits in other conditions [1]. But that has not stopped many people from using it for a myriad of conditions. So we just don’t have enough studies to definitely answer this question. That being said, we will give you the latest research findings on CBD oil and try to answer this question as best as we can.

If you are thinking about taking CBD oil, remember to speak with your physician about it!

Being a relatively new product, CBD oil users often struggle to figure out the best way to take it. Among many questions, people often want to know how long it will take for CBD oil to work. Will you feel the effects after a few minutes, days, or weeks?

If you don’t notice the effects after taking it for some time, you might feel frustrated and conclude that CBD oil doesn’t work.

First, you want to make sure that you’re not missing out on any important factors that affect the onset of the effects – such as the delivery form, product composition, dosing regime, and your health status.

Below is a comprehensive list of the factors that will determine how long it will take until CBD oil starts working.

Snapshot

  • CBD oil may relieve acute conditions, such as panic attacks, in a couple of hours
  • Vapes and mouth sprays are better for acute conditions
  • People with chronic problems may need to wait a couple of months
  • Capsules release a steady supply of CBD and may be better for chronic conditions, taken twice daily
  • Your microbiome and genes can affect how quickly you will respond
  • If you’ve been taking CBD oil for 4-5 months and still don’t feel anything, you may not be dosing it right or it may not work in your case

How Long It Takes for CBD Oil to Work by Product Type & Composition

Delivery Method

The delivery method is probably the factor that most strongly influences the time until the onset of the effects.

Some forms will allow CBD to quickly pass into your blood and reach its targets. In contrast, others will release CBD much slower, but their effects will last longer.

Oral

There are two main types of oral CBD oil:

  • Fast-release forms: tinctures and mouth sprays.
  • Slow-release forms: capsules, tablets, edibles (such as gummies, lollipops, and cakes), and teas.

Fast-release forms are applied directly in the mouth. Although you will eventually swallow part of the liquid, you will absorb most of the CBD through the blood vessels under your tongue, along your gums, and on the inner lining of your mouth.

Thus, CBD will bypass your digestive system and be released directly into your bloodstream. As a result, the effects will start to kick in after only 15-30 minutes. They will be strongest when your blood CBD levels peak (~2-4 hours) and may last up to 6 hours [2+, 3].

Conversely, you will need to digest slow-release forms and should feel the effects 30-180 minutes after taking them. CBD has to pass from the gut into the liver before being released into your bloodstream. Liver enzymes break down part of CBD, so less will reach the blood (first-pass metabolism) [2+, 3, 4].

However, slow-release forms do have an advantage: their effects are sustained over a longer period of time. You can expect them to last up to 8 hours [2+].

It takes about half an hour for CBD oil tinctures and mouth sprays to start to work and up to three hours for capsules and edibles.

Topical

When and for how long you will feel the effects of topical forms depend on various ingredients that alter how well CBD penetrates the skin. According to users, you may start noticing the effects after 30-120 minutes [2+].

Creams, lotions, and balms act locally, while transdermal patches also deliver CBD into the bloodstream. For example, CBD oil patches effectively reduced inflammation in animal studies [5, 6].

The effects of CBD oil creams and lotions take effect after about half an hour to two hours.

Vapes

Together with smoking medicinal cannabis, vaping CBD oil is the fastest way to absorb CBD. Vaping is, however, preferable because it irritates the lungs less and produces fewer toxic byproducts such as carbon monoxide [7, 2+].

Each inhalation will immediately release CBD into your lungs, which quickly passes into your bloodstream. You may notice the effects after only 5-15 minutes. However, blood CBD levels will start declining after 1 hour and the effects will only last 2-4 hours [2+, 3].

The effects of vaped CBD oil kick in after 5-15 minutes, but they will last for only a couple of hours.

Other Forms

CBD is also available in anal and vaginal suppositories. Similar to topical forms, their effects may be strongest locally – in the mucosal tissue, nerves, and muscles of the anus and vagina. Because these areas are very rich in blood vessels, part of the CBD may pass into the blood and reach other areas [8].

How fast you will feel the effects depends on the exact ingredients, e.g. oils and additives used. You will usually feel the local effects quickly, while it will take a couple of hours for CBD from anal suppositories to reach the bloodstream [9].

CBD oil suppositories mostly act locally and quickly.

Product Quality & Composition

It’s important to choose high-quality CBD oil from reputable vendors. Low-quality products may have less CBD than stated on the label, meaning they will take longer to work – if at all [10].

In addition, be sure to check the expiry date and keep the packaging in a cool and dry place protected from direct sunlight to prevent degradation of the active compounds.

Plant-derived extracts (also called full-spectrum CBD oil) also contain other plant compounds that slow CBD absorption – a drawback if you need quick relief. However, these compounds act in synergy and enhance the effects of CBD at high doses, which may be preferable for chronic problems [11].

Similarly, capsules and edibles release CBD slower if they contain ingredients such as fiber [12].

In turn, CBD is a fat-soluble molecule and will be absorbed faster and better in combination with fats (e.g., CBD cakes with butter) [13].

Full-spectrum CBD oil extracts release CBD oil slower but their effects are stronger. Fiber slows CBD oil absorption while dietary fats enhance it.

How Long it Takes for CBD Oil to Work by Health Condition

Whether your condition is acute or chronic may determine how long it will take CBD to work. Users with chronic conditions often overlook this one.

As a rule of thumb, single doses may relieve acute, episodic conditions (such as panic attacks), while chronic conditions (such as arthritis) may require sustained CBD therapy.

Below is an overview of how long it took CBD oil to work in clinical trials, by health condition.

1) Anxiety (Acute & Chronic)

People with acute anxiety episodes responded quickly to oral CBD (capsules or liquid solution). It was effective after 90-160 minutes in those with anxiety caused by stress, social phobia, and heroin craving [14+, 15, 16+, 17, 18+].

In contrast, chronic anxiety needed longer-term therapies. CBD normally improved anxiety – and other symptoms – in 4-8 weeks in people with PTSD, fragile X syndrome, and autism [19, 20, 21, 22].

CBD oil may relieve acute anxiety and panic within 3 hours; those suffering from constant anxiety might need to take it for 4-8 weeks to feel the effects.

2) Pain

Only one clinical trial tested pure CBD for chronic pain. In this study, CBD improved pain from kidney transplants after repeated use during 1-3 weeks [23].

CBD-rich preparations reduced pain after 12 weeks in girls with adverse effects from the HPV vaccination, 1-7 months in children with complex movement disorders, and 1-3 months in people with migraines and cluster headaches [24+, 25+, 26+].

A mouth spray with the same amount of CBD and THC (nabiximols) was far more commonly used for chronic pain in clinical trials. It relieved rheumatoid arthritis pain after 5 weeks, multiple sclerosis and nerve pain within 4-10 weeks, and cancer pain in 2-5 weeks [27, 28+, 29, 30, 31+, 32+, 33+, 34+].

It may take up to 10 weeks for CBD oil to relieve pain. Although it can be used alone, its combination with equal amounts of THC works better. Remember THC is still illegal in the United States federally!

3) Sleep Disorders

In people with insomnia, CBD improved sleep quality after 1-2 months [35+, 36].

Similarly, CBD oil improved sleep disturbances from Parkinson’s disease, fragile X syndrome, and PTSD within 1-2 months [37+, 38+, 21, 19, 20].

CBD oil improved sleep after one to two months of regular use.

4) Seizures

CBD reduced seizure frequency and severity in people with epilepsy who took it for 4-14 weeks [39+, 40+, 41+, 42+].

5) Schizophrenia

In people with schizophrenia, CBD started improving the symptoms after 2-6 weeks [43, 44+, 45].

6) THC Side Effects

In regular cannabis smokers, a 10-week therapy with CBD improved adverse effects from THC use such as depression and psychosis [46].

7) Diabetes

After 13 weeks, CBD reduced the levels of a hormone that raises LDL cholesterol (resistin) and increased gastric inhibitory polypeptide, which stimulates insulin release in response to high blood sugar, in people with type 2 diabetes [47].

Initial studies say CBD oil improves seizures in 4-14 weeks, symptoms of schizophrenia in 4-6 weeks, THC side effects in 10 weeks, and hormonal profile in type 2 diabetes in 13 weeks. Remember, however, that these results are preliminary and not considered conclusive.

Dosing & Other Factors that Impact When You May Feel CBD Oil’s Effects

Dosing Regimen

According to a clinical trial on 56 people, taking CBD oil twice daily increases its blood levels better than taking it just once in the morning. Thus, it may help keep CBD levels steady [48].

So if you use CBD more frequently, you may reach the required levels quicker [7+].

This may be especially important for people with chronic health problems who need a stable supply of CBD oil to feel its effects. Consistency is crucial, and missing doses may prevent you from reaching high-enough CBD levels.

Dosing CBD oil twice daily keeps its levels stable, which might be important for people with chronic health problems.

Factors Unique to You

You will need less CBD oil if you are lighter and you are likely to feel the effects faster. But since CBD is stored in fat, heavier people – who tend to have more body fat – may feel the effects over a longer period of time. In line with this, exercising will quickly release CBD stored in fat [49+, 50].

Being fat-soluble, CBD is absorbed through the small bowel. Your gut health – particularly, your microbiome composition – will determine how quickly and efficiently you absorb it [51].

Once in the bloodstream, CBD rapidly passes into deep tissues. However, health conditions can alter its distribution, e.g. a leaky blood-brain barrier [52+].

Genetics may also play a role. Genetic variants of CBD targets (such as FAAH, TRPV1, 5HT1A, or GPR55) can make you prone to responding faster or slower [53, 54, 55].

Your weight, body fat, genetics, and gut and brain health can all affect how quickly you will feel the effects of CBD oil.

What if I Still Don’t Feel Anything After Taking CBD oil?

If you don’t feel the effects of CBD oil, even after carefully considering all the above-described factors, it’s possible that you are not taking the right dose or that CBD oil just does not work for you. Speak with your doctor about any issues you might be having.

Read through this protocol to learn how to find the dosage.

Takeaway

CBD oil is experimental and investigational. Speak with your doctor before trying it out.

When you may feel the effects of CBD oil mainly depends on how and why you are taking it. The quality and additional ingredients in the product you’re using also weigh in.

CBD oil might relieve acute conditions, such as panic attacks, in a couple of hours. Vapes and mouth sprays are probably the best choices if you need quick relief.

People with chronic problems may need to wait a couple of months. For example, CBD oil improved sleep in 1-2 months, seizures in 4-14 weeks, and type 2 diabetes in up to 13 weeks in clinical trials.

Capsules are probably the best choice for chronic conditions. They release a steady supply of CBD, which starts to act in 1-3 hours. Capsules should be taken twice daily with dietary fats for optimal results.

Additionally, your microbiome, body fat, and genes may affect how quickly you will respond to CBD oil.

If you’ve been taking CBD oil for 4-5 months and still don’t feel anything, you’re either not taking the right formulation, dosage, or it just does not work for you.

Buy

Vendors sell CBD oil on Amazon, but many of them do not fulfill quality standards. Some don’t even specify the CBD content in their products, while others sell hemp oil with little or no CBD. Most of these vendors are not to be trusted.

We recommend the following brand, which specifies quality procedures and CBD content in their products:

This section contains sponsored links, which means that we may receive a small percentage of profit from your purchase, while the price remains the same to you. The proceeds from your purchase support our research and work. Thanks for your support.

About the Author

Carlos Tello

PhD (Molecular Biology)
Carlos received his PhD and MS from the Universidad de Sevilla.
Carlos spent 9 years in the laboratory investigating mineral transport in plants. He then started working as a freelancer, mainly in science writing, editing, and consulting. Carlos is passionate about learning the mechanisms behind biological processes and communicating science to both academic and non-academic audiences. He strongly believes that scientific literacy is crucial to maintain a healthy lifestyle and avoid falling for scams.

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