In case you’re wondering what is CBD, exactly?, here’s a quick refresher: CBD is a naturally occurring compound present in the flowers and leaves of cannabis plants. There's no THC in it, which means it can’t get you high, no matter how much you take.
The reason CBD is so compelling to consumers is due to a laundry list of promising purported health benefits, from reduced muscle pain and anxiety to help with nausea, insomnia, and inflammation. We're still waiting for clearance from the FDA (and more robust research on the proven perks of the ingredient), but in the meantime, many Americans are eager to test out the positive potential of CBD.
Topical forms of CBD
For ingestible products, like tinctures, capsules, gummies, and the like, the results are different. When kept under the tongue, tinctures typically absorb within 30 seconds and effects are felt within 15 minutes. When ingesting CBD (i.e., swallowing it or consuming a food that contains CBD), you can expect to feel the effects within about 45 minutes to two hours.
If you’ve got aches, inflammation, or other issues that you’re hoping to soothe with CBD stat, be very careful not to overdose without waiting the appropriate period of time. “Ingesting CBD is typically associated with more attentiveness, less anxiety, and less inflammatory-related pain,” explains Shcharansky. “While higher doses—over 200 milligrams—have been associated with drowsiness.”
CBD topical products, like balm, ointments, and lotions, should take effect pretty immediately. Once you apply these products to your body, you should start feeling relief within about 15 minutes.
Inhalation is often seen as an effective method of delivery for CBD because of how quickly it’s absorbed in the body. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Studies show that when CBD compounds are metabolized by the liver, it undergoes what is called the “first pass effect,” where enzymes in the liver reduce CBD concentration before the remainder is finally sent to the bloodstream and circulated throughout the body.
The method of consumption plays a critical role in how long it will take to feel the effects of CBD. CBD is available in many different forms, and each has an influence on the onset time, among other factors.
Bottom line: Ingesting CBD via a tincture or a CBD oil-infused edible will result in a longer onset (up to two hours) and possibly weaker effects.
Bottom line: Applying CBD oil topically isn’t likely to have a profound effect, but it may help address mild discomfort in specific areas of your body.
It’s very important to remember, that what dose works for one person might not work for the next.
So, be patient and experiment while listening to your body, and you are likely to get the benefits you are looking for.
Vaping or smoking CBD flower, however is usually felt within minutes, and gives more of an uplifted feeling, but also doesn’t last as long. The effects of smoking CBD are usually felt for an hour or two.
Tips for making sure you get the most out of your CBD experience:
It’s important to experiment to find out the right dosage needed, which is also why it’s important to be patient and give it time – sometimes it can take us long as 30 days for CBD to build up in the system and deliver the life changing results you are looking for.
You can read more about dosing in our guide: How much CBD oil should I take
For more “extreme” issues such as depression, anxiety, and chronic pain you might need as high as a 60mg daily dose.
If a person has been taking CBD for an extended period of time and not getting the results they are looking for, chances are they are not taking a high enough dose. The general recommendation for dosing, is to start low (5mg per day) and go slow – gradually working up the dose every five to seven days.