how fast cbd oil work for pain

How Long Does it Take For CBD To Work?

How long does it take for CBD oil to work, and how long does it last? CBD offers a wide range of health benefits, from blocking pain to alleviating anxiety.

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CBD (cannabidiol) offers some of its benefits immediately (about 15 to 45 minutes after taking it) — other benefits require much more time, such as several days or weeks.

In this article, we’ll break down all the factors that affect how long it takes for CBD oil to work for various conditions.

You’ll learn how CBD is absorbed, how to make CBD act faster, and what you should expect while using CBD for some of the more challenging symptoms like chronic pain.

Table of Contents

CBD Absorption: How The Type of CBD Product Affects The Onset

Onset is a term used to describe the amount of time it takes for a compound to take effect.

Most oral supplements require at least 30 minutes to work because they need to be absorbed through the digestive tract first. Inhalation is faster because the active ingredient travels directly into the bloodstream through the lungs.

This is due to the difference in bioavailability between these different forms of administration.

In layman’s terms, bioavailability is the term used to describe how efficiently a substance is absorbed when it enters the body.

The higher the bioavailability, the faster a substance will be absorbed, and the more prominent the effects will be.

Substances with a low bioavailability will take longer and feel weaker.

Let’s compare the main forms of administration, going from the fastest onset to the slowest:

  • Inhalation (vaping and smoking CBD)
  • Sublingual (CBD oil absorbed under the tongue)
  • Oralconsumption (CBD eaten as an oil, capsule, gummy, or other edible)
  • Topical (fast onset but only applies to the skin and muscles)

1. CBD Inhalation: Fast Onset Time

There are a few ways to inhale CBD — the most common are CBD vapes and smokable hemp flowers (including hemp cigarettes, dry herb vapes, and pre-rolls).

Inhalation is the most bioavailable form of CBD on this list. It hits the fastest (within about 5 minutes), feels the strongest, but doesn’t last as long as other forms of administration.

The general timeline for inhaled CBD is as follows:

  • Onset time — first effects felt within 5 minutes
  • Peak effects — maximum effects reached around 20 minutes
  • Total duration — 2 or 3 hours in total

When CBD is inhaled as vapor or smoke, it’s absorbed through the alveoli in the lungs. This makes for almost immediate onset of effects because the CBD is absorbed directly into the bloodstream (no digestion or first-pass metabolism).

You can expect noticeable effects within five to 15 minutes of taking a hit of CBD from a vape. However, although the onset of effects is fast, the longevity isn’t, wearing off after only an hour and a half.

CBD vape pens are fantastic if you require immediate pain relief, but if you’re looking for something to keep you going all day, keep in mind you’ll be hitting the vape every one to two hours.

It’s recommended to combine vapeable CBD with another form for the best balance between fast-acting effects and sustained relief.

2. Sublingual CBD (CBD Oil Under the Tongue): Moderate Onset Time

CBD oil has relatively high bioavailability when used sublingually. This means holding the oil under your tongue for a minute or two before swallowing it. The CBD absorbs directly into the bloodstream through a network of tiny capillaries close to the surface.

Using this method, you can feel the effects of CBD far more quickly than gummies, capsules, and other edibles.

The general timeline for sublingual CBD is as follows:

  • Onset time — first effects felt within 20 minutes
  • Peak effects — maximum effects reached around 1 hour
  • Total duration — 3 to 5 hours in total

2. CBD Edibles (Gummies & Capsules): Slow Onset Time

Oral CBD, such as gummies and capsules that come in pill-form and softgels are similar in terms of bioavailability. This is because both formats must pass through the digestive tract to be absorbed.

Edibles and capsules don’t have a quick onset as the sublingually absorbed CBD oil. However, the effects may last longer.

The general timeline for oral CBD is as follows:

  • Onset time — first effects felt between 1 and 1.5 hours
  • Peak effects — maximum effects reached around 2 hours
  • Total duration — 5 to 8 hours in total

4. CBD Topicals: Fast Local Onset

CBD topicals are completely different from the other consumption formats on this list.

They aren’t ingested, sublingually absorbed, or inhaled. Instead, they are applied to the skin, where they can be dermally absorbed (absorbed through the skin).

Topical CBD takes just a few minutes to start exerting its effects, but it will only affect the area it’s applied to directly. When using topicals for the skin, the effects are very quick (around 10 minutes or less), but the deeper the source of the issue, the longer it takes to work.

For example, if using topicals to alleviate joint pain from osteoarthritis (which originates from inside the joint), you may have to wait 30 minutes to an hour to feel the effects. Joint pain from rheumatoid arthritis is felt more quickly (20–45 minutes) because the source of the pain is closer to the surface of the skin.

The longevity of effects will also depend on the specific product and the skin condition. It’s difficult to provide a specific timeframe because it depends on the other ingredients in the formula. Waxy topicals tend to last longer (3 or 6 hours), while more cream-based topicals fade out slower (between 2 and 3 hours).

The general timeline for topical CBD is as follows:

  • Onset time — first effects felt between 20 and 60 minutes
  • Peak effects — maximum effects reached around 30 to 90 minutes
  • Total duration — 2 to 6 hours in total

CBD Onset Time For Specific Conditions

The time it takes for CBD oil to work can depend on the condition it’s used for. CBD has the potential to reduce pain, inflammation, and mental health problems. The onset times for these different treatments can vary.

It’s also important to note that everyone reacts differently to CBD and other cannabinoids. The time it takes for CBD to work for one person can change dramatically to another, so take these onset times with a pinch of salt. You may notice effects sooner or later than these timeframes.

In general, we can break down the onset time for CBD into two categories:

  1. Acute Effects — this refers to the immediate effects of CBD from a single dose. This includes effects like pain relief, anxiety relief, or sedative effects.
  2. Chronic Effects — this refers to the effects of CBD that develop over repeated doses. These effects happen gradually as CBD promotes healing over several days, weeks, or months.

How Long Does it Take for CBD Oil to Work for Joint Pain?

The acute effects of CBD usually kick in immediately, depending on the type of CBD you’re using. For oils, expect results in about 15 or 20 minutes (sublingual administration).

The long-term effects should start to kick in after around five days of use. These effects involve a gradual reduction in pain, improvement in joint mobility, and reduction in swelling.

Different types of joint pain and the severity of the condition can both affect the amount of time it takes CBD to work.

In general, you can expect faster acute effects from CBD for rheumatoid arthritis (1–2 hours) but slower healing of the joint (2 weeks of consistent use or longer).

For osteoarthritis, it’s the opposite — acute effects take longer, but you’ll notice a general improvement in the condition much sooner (one or two weeks).

How Long Does it Take for CBD Oil to Work for Sleep?

The effects of CBD on sleep are very fast — one dose is enough for most people to feel the improvements.

However, CBD works differently for everyone. Some people report that CBD helps induce sleep dramatically from one dose, while others report having to use CBD for a few days before noticing many benefits.

You can expect to notice sleepiness within one to two hours of consuming CBD oil before bed.

The effective dose of CBD for sleep sits between 3 and 8 mg per 100 pounds of body weight. If the CBD isn’t taking effect, a higher dose may be needed. You can expect to notice the sleep-inducing effects to kick in around an hour after CBD oil is applied sublingually.

When using CBD oil for sleep, it’s important to get relaxed and consume the oil one to two hours before you plan on sleeping. This allows your body to relax fully and prepare for sleep. Practicing relaxation before bed alongside taking CBD is key for seeing results.

How Long Does it Take for CBD Oil to Work for Anxiety?

The fast-acting anti-anxiety effects of CBD can be noticed in as little as five minutes after the first dose when inhaled and about 60 minutes if using CBD orally.

CBD vape pens are the best option for acute anxiety — such as social anxiety or panic attacks — because the effects appear almost instantly (within about 5 minutes).

Sublingually absorbed CBD oils and tinctures are perfect for treating anxiety on a daily or recurring basis. Over the course of several days, weeks, or months, you should start to notice the intensity of your anxiety symptoms decreasing as well.

How Long Does it Take for CBD Oil to Work for Skin Irritation?

The best way to treat skin irritation using CBD is by using topicals. Creams, balms, and roll-ons may help reduce swelling, ease irritation, and reduce localized pain.

You should notice skin irritation start to reside within 20 minutes to one hour after the topical is applied to the skin.

However, CBD topicals may not work for all skin conditions, and for some, an oral method of consumption is required alongside the topical to fight the irritation from two angles.

How Long Does it Take For CBD Oil To Work For Pain

CBD works differently for chronic pain (long-term, persistent pain) than it does for acute pain (pain that occurred suddenly due to injury).

For acute pain, the benefits are felt immediately from one dose. You just have to wait the standard amount of time for the form of administration you’re using (fast onset for vapes, slower onset for oils and edibles).

Chronic pain can take longer to benefit from CBD. You may notice some immediate improvement right away, but the more significant, long-lasting pain relief can take several days or weeks of consistent use.

CBD can take longer for chronic pain because it needs to heal the underlying cause of the pain — such as chronic inflammation, scar tissue, or muscle tension.

Onset Times For CBD Extracts

There are three main types of CBD extract — full-spectrum, isolate, and broad-spectrum.

Each one differs in the make-up of their cannabinoid profiles. Some extracts contain CBD only, some contain a full cannabinoid profile similar to the raw plant, and others contain a full cannabinoid profile minus any THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).

All of these other compounds (especially the cannabinoids and terpenes) can affect the amount of time it takes for CBD to work.

1. CBD Isolate: Slower Onset

CBD isolate is a pure extract of CBD — nothing else. No other cannabinoids, terpenes, or any other hemp derivatives.

An isolate has a slightly different onset experience than other extract types because of this lack of other ingredients.

Some of the other compounds in broad-spectrum or full-spectrum products improve the bioavailability of CBD and therefore have a faster effect. This is down to something called the entourage effect [1].

2. Broad-Spectrum CBD: Moderate Onset

Broad-spectrum CBD contains cannabidiol as well as all of the other naturally-occurring cannabinoids and terpenes found in hemp except for THC.

Broad-spectrum extracts are great for people that want to benefit from the entourage effect to some degree but don’t want to consume any THC due to sensitivity or drug screening issues.

Broad-spectrum CBD is considered to have a faster onset time than CBD isolate but slower than full-spectrum. The difference here is very subtle — most people won’t be able to tell the difference.

However, there is a relatively big jump in terms of potency when you move from CBD isolate to broad-spectrum, followed by another jump to full-spectrum products.

3. Full-Spectrum CBD: Faster Onset

Full-spectrum extracts that contain high concentrations of terpenes are going to have the fastest onset of effects overall. Many of the terpenes in cannabis work to improve absorption of other active ingredients — providing faster and longer-lasting benefits.

This type of CBD extract contains THC — but only in trace amounts.

This amount of THC is not enough to get “high” from, but the trace amount may show up on drug screening for regular users.

Bottom Line: How Long Does it Take for CBD Oil to Work?

The time it takes for CBD to work is affected by a variety of factors. The type of CBD used and the consumption format used will affect how long it takes to work. Inhalation is the fastest, followed by sublingual consumption with CBD oil and edibles or other oral forms of CBD taking the longest.

The condition you’re aiming to support, and the severity of symptoms can affect the amount of time you need to wait for CBD to take effect as well. More severe or chronic conditions take the longest, with milder or more acute symptoms requiring less time to clear up.

How Long Does It Take For CBD Oil To Work?

CBD oil has drawn a lot of attention over the last few years as the new kid on the block in the health and wellness space.

With a whole host of potential uses and a growing user base, it seems there is an ever-growing list of questions about how CBD oil works and the ways in which it interacts with our bodies.

One question we often get asked is: how long does it take for CBD Oil to work?

Let’s take a closer look.

What Is CBD Oil?

First of all, let’s make sure we’re clear about what CBD oil is and, more importantly, what it isn’t.

CBD is short for cannabidiol, one of over a hundred cannabinoid compounds found inside the Cannabis Sativa plant, which is also known as the hemp plant.

CBD oil is produced by processing the flowers, stalks and leaves of the hemp plant and combining the extract with a carrier oil such as MCT oil or hemp seed oil.

Because it comes from Cannabis, many people often assume that it will produce the same “high” that users get from recreational cannabis use, but that’s not the case.

The psychoactive compound responsible for the high we associate with cannabis is called THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) which is present in very high quantities in the cannabis recreational users smoke.

The hemp used to create CBD products is naturally low in this THC, and by the time the plant has been refined and processed there are only very small trace amounts of the compound left.

This leaves us with a fantastic non-psychoactive supplement that is filled with CBD and hundreds of other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids that is incredibly useful for supporting a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

Though research is still ongoing on the subject of CBD and its full effects on the body, the WHO concluded that it was safe to use, is well tolerated by the majority of people and has very few mild, if any, side effects.

How Long Does It Take For CBD Oil To Work?

While many people report being able to feel the effects of CBD quite quickly – sometimes in a matter of hours – realistically the best way to get the maximum benefit and allow the compounds to have a benefit is to take CBD consistently for at least 8-12 weeks.

However, there are lots of factors that can affect the time it takes for CBD to work and how effective it is.

For example, someone who uses CBD oil regularly may feel that it takes less time for it to work than someone who has never used CBD before.

It’s tough to give a definitive answer because there are so many things that can impact the time it takes for CBD to work.

What Can Impact The Time It Takes CBD To Work?

The time it takes CBD to work can be affected by a number of factors including your expectations, your age, the CBD dosage, your metabolism, your body weight, the quality of the CBD, and much more.

CBD interacts with the body through the endocannabinoid system (ECS) which is a molecular system of receptors and transmitters that is intertwined with our central and peripheral nervous systems.

These nervous systems are responsible for balancing and regulating the body through a process known as homeostasis.

The ECS was only discovered in 1992, so there is still a lot to learn about how it functions and the ways in which it can affect our bodies.

What is clear is that our bodies need and use cannabinoids, and we can support them by using CBD as a supplement in a similar way to the way we take a multivitamin to ensure it has everything it needs to function at its best.

Let’s take a closer look at 4 of the biggest factors that can affect the time it takes for CBD to work.

How You Take It

The time it takes CBD to start working in your body can vary depending on your method of consumption.

This is because of something known as bioavailability, which refers to the amount of CBD that enters the bloodstream and is able to have an active effect on the body.

The bioavailability for some of the most common ways of taking CBD are:

  • Water Soluble CBD: 99% (if using liposomal water-soluble CBD, this is much less)
  • Topical CBD:

One of the fastest ways to get CBD into your system is by inhalation, with something like a CBD vape, where the CBD can be absorbed into the bloodstream by the lungs.

However, vaping only has a bioavailability of around 30%, so there’s still a lot of the CBD going to waste. As a health and wellbeing company, we’re also advocates of other methods as smoking is unhealthy and is not something we would recommend as there are healthier and more effective ways to consume CBD.

Taking CBD oil drops sublingually (under your tongue) usually only has a bioavailability of around 12%, but the CBD is absorbed straight into the bloodstream so it can get to work incredibly quickly.

We’d always recommend starting with CBD oil if you’re trying CBD for the first time.

Liquids, like our Hatcha hemp powder, and CBD edibles, like capsules and gummies, will take longer to be absorbed into the bloodstream as they have to travel through the digestive system, so it will take longer for any effects to be felt.

Capsules and gummies both have a very low bioavailability, meaning that most of the active CBD is destroyed in the body, so despite their popularity, we wouldn’t advise using these.

By contrast, water-soluble CBD like our Absorb range has a nearly perfect bioavailability, meaning almost all of the active CBD can be absorbed into the bloodstream and used appropriately by the body.

It’s worth noting that our water-soluble technology is very different to the “liposomal” formulations most other brands use – which despite their claims, is not an effective way of taking CBD at all. Download our buyers guide for a more thorough understanding of why this is the case.

There is also topical CBD, which typically falls somewhere in the middle in terms of bioavailability.

Things like CBD creams and CBD patches are a great way to take advantage of topical application, but CBD bath bombs are virtually useless so we’d recommend staying away from those at all costs.

The Dosage & Potency

The dosage and potency of your CBD will also play an important role in the time it takes for you to feel any effects.

The potency of CBD products on the market can vary greatly depending on who you’re purchasing from, but our range of CBD oils is anywhere between 250mg and 2000mg of active CBD content.

The amount of CBD in your system will be greater if you’re using the same dose from a higher strength oil, so it’s important to factor this in when you’re deciding which CBD oil is right for you.

The dosage of the CBD oil will also play a role – with someone who is taking CBD 3 times per day being more likely to feel the effects than someone taking it once per day.

It’s also likely that someone who has been taking CBD oil for a sustained period of time will see better results than someone who only uses CBD oil from time to time.

It’s not uncommon for us to hear of people who stopped taking their daily doses of CBD only to notice issues they’d forgotten they’d had starting to reappear, so if you want to try CBD be sure to stick to a routine for at least a few weeks to give it the best chance of working for you.

The advice we give to our customers is to start with a medium strength CBD oil, as this leaves you the option of increasing or decreasing the strength depending on your experience.

CBD oil is incredibly safe for human consumption, and the chances of taking too much is incredibly low, but please be sure to always follow the manufacturer’s dosage instructions on your CBD oil for your own safety.

The Quality Of The CBD

The quality of the product you’re using also plays a huge role in how long it takes for your CBD oil to work, and even whether or not it’s safe for consumption.

Cannabis plants are fantastic at absorbing the compounds and nutrients from the soil in which they’re grown.

While this means that CBD oils made from organically grown plants are bursting with nourishing ingredients, it also means that those grown and used by dishonest sellers could contain toxic contaminants such as pesticides, heavy metals and solvents.

This will not only have a negative impact on the flavour but could also pose a serious health risk to anyone using the oils.

Any worthwhile CBD manufacturer should be able to provide lab test results that show that their products are free from these contaminants, so be sure to only buy from these suppliers.

We’d always recommend opting for a full-spectrum CBD instead of a broad-spectrum or CBD isolate as this will allow you to benefit from the entourage effect.

You should also be sure that the product you’re buying actually contains CBD.

Believe it or not, there are hundreds of “CBD products” on the market that are being sold as “Hemp Oil” which people think is another name for CBD Oil.

These are usually nothing more than bottles of hemp seed oil, which means they contain no active CBD.

To be sure you’re getting the right thing, make sure the oil lists the quantity of CBD in milligrams (mg) on the packaging. If the packaging has anything along the lines of “3000mg Hemp Oil” it means it doesn’t contain any CBD.

Your Metabolism & Physiology

The final factor in how long it takes for CBD oil to work is your body’s metabolism and physiology.

Everyone is different, so the ways in which CBD works and the time it takes can vary greatly from person to person.

Things like your age, genetic profile, lifestyle and digestive health can all play a factor in the speed at which CBD is processed by your body.

Someone with a higher metabolism is likely able to process CBD faster than someone with a slower metabolism, meaning it will reach the bloodstream in less time, and be ready for use by the body much more quickly.

Sadly there’s no definitive advice we can give in this respect, as everyone truly is different, so it’s crucial to be mindful of the impact CBD is having on your body when you begin to take it so that you can find out what works best for you.

How Long Does CBD Stay In Your System?

The effects of CBD usually last anywhere between 2 and 6 hours, depending on how it was taken and the way your body processes it.

Even after these effects are no longer felt it’s still possible for CBD to remain in your system, with it staying in most people’s systems for somewhere between two to five days.

This is why using CBD oil for an extended period of time is much more effective than simply using it from time to time, as it allows you to build up a base level of CBD that’s ready for your body to use whenever it needs it.

How Much CBD Should I Take?

As is the case when taking any new supplement, we would recommend starting out with a low dose of a medium strength CBD product to allow you to build up the CBD in your system and monitor how your body responds.

If you’re not experiencing any immediate improvements or benefits then it’s possible to up your dosage steadily, but it’s worth waiting at least a couple of weeks before trying this.

Side effects with CBD oil are incredibly rare and are usually very mild if they do occur, so it is safe to experiment a little with the strength you choose or the amount you take.

As is the case with most things, you can build up a tolerance to CBD, so if you’ve been using CBD for a while and are no longer feeling any benefits then it could be that you need to up your dosage or move to a stronger CBD product, or give your body a break from CBD for a while and restart after your body has had the chance to recalibrate.

The Bottom Line

The time it takes for CBD to work can vary greatly depending on a number of factors, but most people will typically feel the effects anywhere between 30 minutes and 2 hours after use.

Although it’s impossible to account for all of the biological variations, provided you choose a high-quality CBD product, with good bioavailability, from a reliable manufacturer, and take the correct doses as instructed for an extended period of time, then it’s likely you’ll start to feel the true power the cannabis plant has to offer.

If you have any more questions about CBD, or you’re unsure if CBD is the right choice then we run a free health advice service with me, Nick, a registered Osteopath with over 15 years of experience in natural health.

It’s completely free, so you can get the answers you’re looking for by getting in touch here.