How Long Does CBD Take to Work?

With word about the benefits of CBD continuing to spread, people everywhere are shifting their mindsets towards Cannabis. They are trying CBD for the first time. As with any new supplement or medication, many first-time users’ immediate reaction is, “How long does CBD take to work?”

While this is a critical concern faced by so many first-time users, it often goes unanswered…leaving them to form their own assumptions. This lack of knowledge creates a gap in how users understand CBD and distorts their expectations about its effects.

So, what’s the answer to this question then…How long does it take CBD to work?

The Answer Varies

First off―like any other supplement or medicine―it takes time for CBD to start working.

In order to deliver its benefits, CBD first needs to be absorbed into our bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, it can then be distributed throughout the Endocannabinoid System where the cannabinoid receptors in CBD can bond with the receptors in our body.

The interaction between these receptors is the catalyst behind the many benefits of CBD.

Endocannabinoid system

Coming back to the topic at hand―how long does the absorption process take, and when will you start feeling the benefits of CBD?

The short answer is that it varies based on several key factors―the usage method, the quality and type of CBD, and your body’s weight, metabolic rate, and composition.

The long answer will explain how each of these factors comes into play and how you can use this knowledge to understand how CBD will work for you.

How You Take the CBD Matters

CBD can be used in various ways, including through injection, applied topically, consumed orally, absorbed sublingually, or inhaled through vaping or smoking.

As discussed in our article on CBD Bioavailability, each consumption method delivers CBD to the bloodstream by a different route.

What’s important to understand is that each route will pass through various digestive functions of our body, breaking down and filtering the CBD along the way. Depending on the dosage of CBD you take, only a percentage actually reaches the blood. Your consumption method not only affects how much CBD reaches the bloodstream, but it also affects how quickly the CBD will get there. Less digestive functions to go through means less time that it’ll take to reach the bloodstream stream.

Consider the table below to understand how your consumption method will affect how quickly CBD will impact your body.

Consumption Methods Compared

Topically Orally Sublingually Inhalation Injection
Definition Dermal Absorption through the skin Consumed through the mouth Absorbed into the veins under the tongue Inhaled directly into the lungs Injected directly into the bloodstream
Usage Lotions, Salves, Patch Capsule, Edibles, Drinks Tincture, Oil Vaping, Inhaler Needle Injection
Path Diffusion through Lipids, Cell to Cell Permeation, through Hair Follicles Salivary glands, entire stomach digestive process (liver, pancreas, stomach acids, etc.) Salivary Glands to Varicose veins under tongue Lungs to Bloodstream Direct to Bloodstream
Effect Time Very Slow (approx. 25-45 minutes) Slow (approx. 20-30 minutes) Average (approx. 15-25 minutes) Fast (approx. 10-20 minutes) Immediate
Method: Topically
Definition: Dermal Absorption through the skin
Usage Examples: Lotions, Salves, Patches
Absorption Path: Diffusion through Lipids, Cell to Cell Permeation, through Hair Follicles
Effects Time: Very Slow (approx. 25-45 minutes)
Method: Orally
Definition: Consumed through the mouth
Usage Examples: Capsules, Edibles, Drinks
Absorption Path: Salivary glands, entire stomach digestive process (liver, pancreas, stomach acids, etc.)
Effects Time: Slow (approx. 20-30 minutes)
Method: Sublingually
Definition: Absorbed into the veins under the tongue
Usage Examples: Tincture, Oil, Syringe
Absorption Path:Salivary Glands to Varicose veins under tongue
Effects Time: Average (approx. 15-25 minutes)
Method: Inhalation
Definition: Inhaled directly into the lungs
Usage Examples: Vaporizer, Inhaler
Absorption Path: Lungs to Bloodstream
Effects Time: Fast (approx. 10-20 minutes)
Method: Injection
Definition: Injected directly into the bloodstream
Usage Examples: Needle Injection
Absorption Path: Direct to Bloodstream
Effects Time: Immediately

While injection offers immediate deliverability, it’s probably not preferred by most users. That being said, vaping or sublingual consumption is usually the next best options.


The higher the dose, the quicker it will take to feel the effects. But your dosage depends on many factors, such as your body composition and the reason you’re taking CBD. The golden rule is to start small for the first time and/or follow the manufacturer’s instructions.


When you take CBD consistently, you’ll notice the biggest change. Over time, CBD builds up in your body. If you only take CBD occasionally, it also leaves your system faster, and you’ll experience less-than-intense results.

That’s why it may take a week or even several weeks to notice the actual effects of CBD. For best results, take CBD daily. Even if you don’t see immediate results, continue taking CBD every day for several weeks. This will benefit your ECS in the long term. 

The Quality and Type of CBD Matters

The next factor actually comes into play before CBD enters your body―the quality and type of CBD.

CBD quality


Low-quality products have issues that can complicate the absorption process and slow down how quickly our body absorbs CBD. Low quality can refer to dozens of different issues, including:

  • The product contains low-quality ingredients, harmful ingredients, or genetically modified ingredients
  • If the product is expired or damaged by being left in the sun or heat
  • Some ingredients are hard for our bodies to digest
  • The product is not produced properly

Type of CBD

Understanding how the type of CBD affects absorption is more straightforward.

While various types of CBD are really just names (i.e., water-soluble, nano-CBD, etc.). The critical factor in the absorption process is the physical size of the CBD particle.

To understand this factor, let’s say there are 2 types of groups going into Disneyland―families with 5+ members and couples.

On a busy day, which group can more quickly and easily move through the congested crowds in the theme park? The couples, of course.

The same concept can be applied to CBD.

Additional extraction and manufacturing processes, such as microencapsulation, can break down CBD into smaller particles. This results in a higher and quicker bioavailability rate.

Each Person is Unique

Every person is unique with different habits, behaviors, bodies, feelings, and so forth. Because of this, the answer to this article will differ from person to person.

If 2 people took the same type, dosage, and quality of CBD simultaneously, the time for CBD to impact their bloodstreams would vary. Furthermore, if either person repeated the exact same conditions 2 months later, the results would also vary.

This is because each person’s body differs greatly from the other, and the composition of each person’s body can change at any given point.

old cbd user

With that being said, a handful of factors come into play again.

Your Body Weight and Mass – Your body weight and mass have a profound impact on how your body consumes any substance. Simply put, a larger body mass will require more of a substance to feel its effects. As a result, it will take the body longer to process the larger quantity of that substance.

Your Metabolic Rate – Your metabolic rate is the rate of your body’s metabolism. Which is the process of breaking down compounds and synthesizing compounds to achieve vital functions in the body. Many factors affect your metabolism, which naturally affects how quickly your body processes CBD.

Your Body’s Composition – Your body’s composition includes the makeup of various parts of the body. Each will have an impact on how quickly your body will process CBD. For example,

  • When you take certain medications, your body composition could be altered in a way that slows down or conflicts with the absorption process.
  • If you’re stressed, your stomachs enzymes won’t digest as efficiently
  • If you suffer from a specific condition, it could affect the way your body processes substances.


Question: I Want Immediate Relief. What Should I Do?

Answer: While just about all consumption methods work quickly, you’ll want to choose the one that has the least waiting time. That method is inhalation. You can easily pick up a CBD vape and can take a puff whenever you feel it’s necessary.

Suppose you’re unable to inhale CBD or want to take an oral method instead. In that case, the sublingual form has the next fastest time and is my personal favorite. Make sure you hold the CBD oil under your tongue for the full minute for the best results.

Question: CBD Does Nothing For Me. What Am I Doing Wrong?

Answer: You’re likely not doing anything wrong.

First and foremost, CBD is non-psychoactive. You technically shouldn’t feel any “high” at all when taking CBD. Instead, you should feel relief from the ailments or symptoms you have.

No two CBD products are the same. Quality and consumption methods are major considerations. If the old CBD product you’ve been using isn’t working, try a new one.

CBD dosage also depends on the person. You may need to increase your dosage, even if you’re new. Be sure to consider individual factors, such as metabolic rate, body weight, and body composition.

Keep in mind, CBD doesn’t work for everyone. For example, CBD may interact with certain medications. That’s why it’s integral that you ask your doctor if CBD is right for you.

Question: Is CBD a Drug?

Answer: It depends on who you ask. I personally don’t think so because CBD is non-psychoactive. But others may disagree because CBD is found in the marijuana plant (all CBD you buy outside of a medical marijuana dispensary is extracted from hemp).

Understand that both CBD and marijuana have medical benefits. If you’re unsure about trying either, understand that the benefits usually outweigh the risks.

Question: Does CBD Really Work?

Answer: I think so, but I’ve been using CBD for over a year now and have also been using cannabis for a long time. Before I started using CBD, I understood some concepts, such as proper dosing and administration.

The studies are all over the place. While CBD has been shown to decrease anxiety, it doesn’t actually decrease anxiety long-term. I take CBD for anxiety, and I will agree that CBD gives me relief, but I still struggle with anxiety if I don’t take CBD.

Other uses are more promising. For example, this study shows that CBD helps with arthritis-related pain and inflammation. Understand that as of now, CBD is only approved to treat two forms of epilepsy, and CBD can’t treat every single condition out there.

Question: Should I Take CBD at a Certain Time of Day?

Answer: The time of day you take CBD depends on the type and severity of your condition. For example, if you struggle with pain and inflammation all day, you’ll want to take your most significant CBD dose first thing in the morning. But if you’re taking CBD for sleep, take it before you plan on going to bed.

You may want to break up your dose and take it throughout the day for some. That’s what I do. I’ve been struggling with anxiety for years, and my stress levels got even worse during the pandemic. 

I decided to try CBD after hearing a colleague say it helped her. Sure enough, it’s been the only thing that helped my anxiety! I take two doses of full-spectrum CBD, once in the morning and once at night. 

I keep the doses small, 0.5 ml or less per dose. This ensures I don’t experience anxiety throughout the day but feel relaxed in the evening. 

Question: What Type of Products is the Most Popular?

Answer: CBD edibles are incredibly common as they are easy to consume and usually taste good. CBD capsules and CBD tincture is another really popular way, as it is both easy and mess-free. Those looking for muscle pain relief or skin relief will enjoy CBD creams and other topicals. I like joint creams with menthol for the tight muscles myself. Lastly, vaping is a pretty popular way of consuming CBD. You can get some delicious flavors. You can also find vape carts with mixtures of CBD and other cannabinoids. 

Wrapping it Up

In closing, let’s come back to the main question of this article: how long does CBD take to work?

As you’ve now realized, there isn’t a universal answer to this question.

Each person is unique, with different circumstances that affect how their body processes CBD.

If you’re new to CBD or need a good reference, start with the estimates in the “Effect Time” row (shown in the “Consumption Methods Compared” table). Next, compare it to your own times and use the insights from “The Quality and Type of CBD Matters” and “Each Person is Unique” paragraphs to identify what could be impacting the rate at which your body processes CBD.

This should work well in most cases; however, more extreme conditions require a different process.

Start by determining the CBD dosage that delivers noticeable effects, then estimate its time to notice those effects. From there, tweak what you can base on this article’s insights to improve your body’s ability to process CBD.