As a Plant-based Medicine consultant, I often find myself recommending cannabidiol or CBD to my patients for a variety of reasons, whether it is General Health or addressing a specific physical or emotional complaint. The most common question that I get is how long does CBD take to work? The answer is a little bit complicated. It depends on many factors.
For some people the onset of effects can be quite rapid and occur within minutes, and others can take up to two weeks to achieve maximum benefit from their CBD use. For some people, there is a need to prime their system in order to increase the effectiveness of cannabis products. We still need more research in order to be able to give specific answers to these questions.
About the Endocannabinoid System – ECS
To begin, our body has an Endocannabinoid System (ECS) that was discovered in the early 1990’s which is responsible for many processes in the human body. Simply stated, our ECS has 2 identified receptors, CB1 and CB2 respectively, and our bodies produce what are known as Endogenous Cannabinoids that activate these receptor sites. In a very basic sense, the CB1 receptor deals with psychoactivity (intoxication) and neurological issues and is activated by THC, while the CB2 receptor is more focused on immune system functioning and is activated by CBD.
When this system is operating correctly it is responsible for homeostasis, or balance, in our bodies at a cellular level. The process of homeostasis keeps our bodies in a state of optimal health.
Cannabis is an amazing plant, and it contains what are called phytocannabinoids, or plant-based cannabinoids which directly activate the receptor sites in our ECS and mimic the effects of our endogenous cannabinoids. Industrial Hemp tends to have very low amounts of THC present, while cannabis-derived CBD may have higher levels of THC present.
How we ingest this plant really does matter when it comes to the onset of the medicinal benefits. There are also physiological factors of body weight and metabolism to consider, as well as the quality of the CBD products being consumed.
So, How Long Does CBD Take to Work and How to Ingest CBD
There are many ways to ingest CBD, and the most common method is the use of a tincture where a person uses a dropper to place the oil in their mouth. This method is called Sublingual Administration, and it is important to leave the oil in your mouth for approximately 30 to 60 seconds until it is absorbed. The effects of using a tincture like this can occur between 10 and 20 minutes after ingestion, and can last up to several hours after taking a dose.
The term Edibles refers to consuming CBD products by way of the stomach. This pathway tends to take up to two hours to achieve maximum effects, but tends to yield a longer lasting result for most patients. Gummies, capsules, and Infused foods are some examples of this method of ingestion.
CBD Vape Oil & CBD Flower
Inhalation refers to smoking CBD dominant flower or vaping of CBD oil extract. Inhalation is one of the fastest ways to administer CBD, as its effects are felt within 3 minutes. Though the effects may not last as long as sublingual Administration or the use of edibles. This form is useful for my patients who experience anxiety attacks or that need to bump up their blood levels of CBD during the daytime.
CBD Cream & CBD Salve
With the use of Topical CBD products we can Target specific areas of the Body for high concentrations of CBD. With the oils present in most of the products, the transdermal penetration begins to happen quickly (within 15 minutes), but can take up to 90 minutes to reach full effect. Our skin and organs contain CB2 receptors that can be triggered in specific locations using this method. The duration of these effects can last for up to several hours.
How Much CBD to Take
In calculating the dosage of CBD to be used, several important factors need to be considered. Body weight and metabolism are important in that CBD, like THC is a fat stored molecule. People with larger body mass and weight, or a slower metabolic rate, may take longer to experience the effects of CBD. These factors also determine how long CBD remains in our system. I teach my patients to take personal responsibility and to journal their use of CBD and their experience with it. In my opinion journaling is the best way to really calculate the amount that we need on a consistent basis.
The best advice that I can give you, is to pay attention and be patient when using CBD. Our bodies are unique in their response to CBD, and we do not all need the same amount. To avoid overuse and unnecessary expense, I recommend that my patients start with a target dose of 25 mg per day broken into morning and night time doses. As we pay attention and see how the CBD affects our bodies, we can then adjust the dosage upward or downward based on this information.
Stay healthy and happy!
Dr. Lonny Weiss