How Long does it Take for CBD Oil to Take Effect?

With Cannabidiol oil (CBD) gaining in popularity among people who openly declare how therapeutic it is for curing sleeplessness, managing pain, or calming your strained nerves and making you feel relaxed, a lot more people now want to try it out. 

But, first-timers often have quite a few questions on how CBD actually benefits us, how much to take and how long it takes to work on them. These are common queries, but the answers aren’t as simple as you may think. 

How long does it take for CBD oil to work?

Some websites say that it takes around 20 minutes to work. Well, It’s not true.

Let me explain in detail:

One thing that is constant about CBD is that its effects are never constant for every user or ailment. It is different for different individuals.

Its effects may kick in immediately, or it may take hours to kick in. It may not even have any effect on you. Its effects on different ailment differ widely, depending on how much you consume.

Each individual has a unique combination of body weight, metabolism rate, and chemical combination within his or her physical system, which we call our constitution or simply our body. 

However, there are also a few other factors that determine if and when a certain CBD product will have an effect on you. They are:

Interestingly, all these factors are inter-related in some way or the other, although they each play a crucial role in influencing how our body reacts to CBD, how quickly this substance takes effect, how effective it is, how long it remains effective, and how long it stays in the system. 

Injections, inhalation, and sublingual administrations are generally faster methods of CBD administration than the edibles, capsules or soft gels. But then, one large dose for one person may well be a small dose for another. 

To understand the reasons and the actual durations, you need to first understand how it works in our system. 

The Endocannabinoid System

For CBD oil to have its intended benefits, like a treat or manage some symptom(s) or simply the general well-being of a person, the substance must reach your bloodstream. 

How it reaches your bloodstream depends on how you administer it. Each method of administration employs a different system in our body to reach the bloodstream [which we will explain later in this article while discussing the different time periods taken for CBD to take effect on the body].

Nevertheless, once in your bloodstream, the CBD reaches the point of intended effect through the endocannabinoid system. 

Now, what is the endocannabinoid system? This isn’t something we have learned in our biology class in school? So, where is it found? 

The Endocannabinoid System [1], or ECS in short, is a biological system that covers almost the entire body – from your brain, your nervous system, your organs, to your skin surface – it is everywhere. But, it always works in tandem with the nervous system and influences quite a few bodily functions, like sleep, mood, and immunity. 

Once in the ECS, CBD, like any other cannabinoid (both endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids) binds or reacts in certain ways with the receptors of the ECS to have the intended therapeutic effects or benefits.  

So, now the question is: 

How Long do CBD effects last?

Well, it depends on various factors, as we spoke of earlier. Let us now discuss those a little bit in detail. 


CBD Delivery or Administration Method 


#1 Intravenous Injection: To get the most of your CBD product, an intravenous injection (injected directly into the bloodstream) is the most direct route. This does ensure 100% bioavailability and takes action instantly. However, this is the least popular method of administration. 

#2 Inhalation/Vaping: This is the second-best option when it comes to speed of deliverability and action. Smoking or inhaling CBD oil products through a vape pen or vaporizer has five times higher bioavailability than oral ingestion (34–46% [2]).

This too also offers almost immediate effect (within 10 minutes). In this case, CBD is transferred through the pulmonary system (lungs). Owing to the highly permeable inner surface of the lungs, CBD reaches the bloodstream almost immediately. This may be the most effective way of administering CBD, but it poses the same risks linked with marijuana vaping. 

#3 Sublingual Administration: This is the third-best option and perhaps the safest and quite the popular method of delivering CBD into the bloodstream. This method involves using a dripper to drop small doses of CBD oil tincture under your tongue, keeping it there for around 30-60 seconds and then swallowing it.

In this case, it is the sublingual glands under the tongue that transfers the CBD into the bloodstream. This is quite effective, as CBD is absorbed into the bloodstream through these glands.

This method has 12%-35% bioavailability and takes effect within 3-5 minutes (12-20 minutes for some), which admittedly is a little longer than vaping it, in which case it is almost instantly. Some users, however, feel its effects only after 20 minutes have passed.  

#4 Ingesting edibles & capsules/soft gels: Orally delivering CBD, in the form of CBD-infused food items or capsules/soft gels, is one of the most popular methods of administering CBD.

While this allows the substance to retain its effects within the system for a longer time, it needs quite a bit of time to take effect (around 45 minutes; 20 minutes on an empty stomach) and also has one of the lowest bioavailability (maximum of 6%). The reason for it is that CBD, in this method of delivery, must go through the digestive system. The digestive takes longer to break down the CBD and most of its concentration is reduced by the liver enzymes before it reaches the bloodstream. 

#5 Topical balms, creams, lotions or oils: This is a popular method of using CBD among athletes and yoga lovers, who use it for muscular cramps, inflammation, and pain. In the form of use, CBD-infused lotions, balms, salves or patches are applied directly on the skin of the affected areas and is absorbed into the bloodstream by diffusion through lipids in the epidermal layer, via cell to cell diffusion and through the hair follicles. This process is also comparatively slow. It takes around 30 – 45 minutes to take effect. 


CBD Quality


The quality or potency of a CBD product has as much to do with how effective it is and how long it takes for it to have an effect on the body. The better the quality quicker will be the process of absorption into the bloodstream. 

When we talk about low quality CBD oil/supplement, we are talking about: 

  • Products containing low-quality ingredients, harmful components, artificially or genetically modified composition;
  • Expired product or a product that has been damaged due to exposure to heat or direct sunlight;
  • Inclusion of certain ingredients that may be difficult to digest;
  • Improper or unsafe methods of production of CBD oil.

High-quality CBD products are nano-infused (to ensure efficient absorption), organic, contain at least 20+ mg of CBD per serving, and are (definitely) tested by a third-party laboratory. 


CBD Type


Certain types of CBD products are more easily absorbed into the body, irrespective of the users’ physical constitution or lifestyle. Those are water-soluble variety and those that have undergone additional extraction processes that break down CBD molecules into smaller particles. These ensure higher absorption and, in turn, higher bioavailability. Also, full-spectrum or broad-spectrum products are more potent. 




Never think you would benefit more or faster from CBD if you consume a very large dose…unless you simply want to go to sleep right after!

With CBD, a small dose is enough to manage or cure your symptoms. It is essential for you to find out the appropriate dosage for you. For that, you can measure your starting dosage with a CBD calculator. But, keep in mind, each product contains different compositions of its ingredients. Always check for how much CBD (in mg/ml) each serving offers. The dosage depends on body weight, ailment or condition you’re trying to fight, the potency of the product and its quality. 


Purpose of Using or Intended Effect


CBD needs more time to alleviate certain conditions. While a large dose of CBD oil taken at night won’t take you more than 15 minutes to put you in a state of peaceful slumber, it needs more time to relieve you of pain, stress or inflammation. 

Again, sleep is an immediate effect – something that is the solution to a problem like insomnia. However, a user may need to keep taking CBD oil for a few days to show any significant impact on symptoms like pain or inflammation and anxiety or depression. In such cases, the effect is gradual and progressive. 

The condition or ailment that has developed due to the imbalance in the endocannabinoid system dictates how long it takes for CBD to take effect on your body. 


Individual Physical & Biochemical Factors


Body Weight & Mass: 

Users with higher body weight need higher doses to have any effect and those with less body mass needless – it’s that simple! If consistent use of CBD to treat any symptom like inflammation isn’t working, try upping the dosage. Larger the body mass, the higher CBD is required to feel its impact. 


While some people (who normally experiment with herbal medicines) can pick up even the slightest change in their body – whether it is a fever coming on or a medication starting to take effect. However, it is not easy for most, given that the modern man has too many things to keep his mind off the changes going on in his body. This means that people involuntarily perceive effects differently. 

So it is essential to keep records of our experiences while using CBD over a period of time (preferably on a daily or weekly basis). 

Metabolic Rate: 

The body’s metabolism is the process at which it breaks down anything we put into our body and lets it be absorbed into the bloodstream to reach the parts of our body for which they are intended. Metabolism rates vary from person to person depending on their health conditions and genetic predisposition. This means they would actually experience the effects at different paces and timeframe.

Body’s Composition: 

Your body’s current condition and specific chemical balance can have an immense impact on how your body reacts to and processes CBD. These variables are: 

      • Medications change your body’s chemical composition and their capability of absorbing new substances introduced to the system. 
      • Stress level also alters the chemical composition of your body, especially in the stomach that is responsible for breaking down CBD. 
      • Pre-existing conditions or ailments can also influence the time taken for your body to respond to CBD. 
      • ECS balance: The amount of time it takes cannabidiol to work varies on the chemical balance within the ECS. It varies not only from individual to individual but also from day-to-day. Every single person is unique and does not consistently metabolize substances, in the same way, all his life. Our body’s internal cannabinoids (naturally produced) vary from time to time affecting how much supplementation may be required. Many individuals have an endocannabinoid deficiency. In such cases, the cannabidiol becomes a necessary aid in mimicking the body’s natural endocannabinoid increasing overall homeostasis. 

Parting Thoughts: How long does it take for CBD to show effects?

There are quite a few external and internal factors that influence how your body will react and how swiftly it will respond to different substances. The same concept applies to CBD as well. 

However, there are still some simple ways in which you can make sure you make the most of your CBD experience. 

First, purchase products with the appropriate strength. Do your research and find the safest, the most potent, and good quality product to treat your symptoms. 

Second, find the right dosage for you. Find out more about it from the CBD calculator. 

Third, be consistent with your doses. You’ll find your body will gradually require less and less dosage with the passage of time. This is called reverse tolerance – something that you wouldn’t generally find with any other substance.

Fourth, always listen to your body. In case you feel some kind of discomfort while on CBD, we suggest you cut back on your dosage. However, if you aren’t getting the desired effect from it, try upping your dose. Keep a clear record of your dosage to track your progress.

Fifth, break down your dosing schedule through the day. This works best for pain, inflammation, anxiety, etc., without putting you to sleep immediately. Instead of taking a large dose at one go each day, distribute it in smaller doses through the day. This gives you a better and more evenly progressive result. 


Reference links: 

  1. Cannabinoid Receptors and the Endocannabinoid System: Signaling and Function in the Central Nervous System; International Journal of Molecular Sciences; March 13, 2018, Shenglong Zou and Ujendra Kumar; 
  2. Cannabidiol bioavailability after nasal and transdermal application: effect of permeation enhancers; Drug Development and Industrial Pharmacy; September 3, 2010; Paudel KS1, Hammell DC, Agu RU, Valiveti S, Stinchcomb AL;


Author Details
Senior Editor & Researcher , Greenthevoteok
Matt Hansel is a Medical Practitioner, who has been writing and researching about cannabis since 2014.  His popular quotes which we like are: \"Don\'t use CBD oil for a cure, use it as a precaution\"  \"CBD should be considered as any other vitamin supplement and your body needs it!\"