Education Mar 04, 2020

How Long Does It Take for CBD Oil to Work?

by Taylor Hogan

How Long Does It Take for CBD Oil to Work: person with CBD oil

So you've made the decision to start taking CBD. After taking a few drops of CBD oil or drinking some CBD coffee, you might start to wonder how long it will take for the CBD to work and how long the effects of CBD will last.

While many factors can influence how quickly your body absorbs CBD, it will generally take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours for CBD to work properly, which we’ll examine in greater detail below. Of course, this will depend primarily on factors like your method of CBD consumption, your body chemistry, the CBD serving size, and your frequency of use.

Let's begin by taking a closer look at CBD and the many factors that will influence how long it takes for CBD oil to work. Then we’ll explore how long the effects of CBD may last.

How CBD interacts with your body

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid found in the hemp plant that works with your body's endocannabinoid system. The effects of CBD are non-psychoactive, so we can use CBD for a variety of reasons and consume it in multiple forms.

From CBD oil products to CBD lotions and tinctures, often the CBD we consume is extracted from the hemp plant. The 2018 Farm Bill ensures that any CBD product derived from the hemp plant won’t contain more than 0.3% THC.

To understand how long it takes for CBD oil specifically to work, we need to take a closer look at how CBD interacts with our brain and body.

Once you've consumed a recommended serving of CBD, it will begin interacting with your endocannabinoid system (ECS). For this to occur, special receptors in the ECS have to accept CBD and allow it to interact with your body. They’re called your CB1 and CB2 receptors.

While THC may bind to these receptors and create the feeling of being high, CBD has an inverse effect when it binds to these receptors. When cannabidiol is introduced to your ECS, it inhibits the production of a neurotransmitter known as anandamide, a natural cannabinoid your body produces in order to regulate pain.

Though the relationship between CBD and our body is complicated, it's easier to understand which factors will influence how long it takes for CBD to work and how long the effects of CBD will last.

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Factors that influence CBD

There are a lot of things that influence how long it takes for CBD to work. From your method of consumption to your body weight and metabolism, we've broken down these primary factors in greater detail below.

The method of consumption

There are five predominant ways to consume CBD that will influence how long it takes for CBD to work in your body. These include ingestion, topical application, sublingual consumption, vaping, and transdermal.


A common CBD delivery method is to ingest as CBD oil. (Other ingestion methods include a CBD capsule or CBD edible like gummies.) With this method of consumption, CBD enters your digestive system and eventually reaches the liver. There, enzymes will break down the CBD before reaching the bloodstream. When CBD is broken down by the liver, you lose some of the concentration before the remaining CBD is sent to your bloodstream. Because the process of digestion and absorption takes time, it could be up to two hours before the effects of CBD set in.

Topical application

Topicals made with CBD include lotions, balms, rubs and creams. Your skin absorbs topical products upon application and CBD begins interacting with cannabis receptors. Because our skin can't absorb CBD as easily, it's best to either increase the amount of CBD topical you use or instead find a topical that contains a higher concentration of CBD. The effects of CBD topicals will often peak within 90 minutes of application.

Sublingual consumption

Sublingual CBD consumption is a fancy way of classifying CBD products that are absorbed under your tongue. CBD tinctures, sprays, lozenges, and more can be held and absorbed in your mouth, and work more effectively by bypassing the digestive system. This allows CBD to enter your bloodstream without being metabolized. The effects of sublingual CBD ingestion can be felt faster than edible products, so choose this route if you’re looking for quicker results.


Vaping CBD is the process of inhaling vaporized CBD oil contained in a cartridge or pen designed for that purpose. When you inhale CBD, it enters your bloodstream through the lungs. While little data exists to suggest how long it takes to feel the effects, since CBD gets to the bloodstream fairly quickly and from there can be distributed throughout the body, you should feel the effects within 2-5 minutes.


People have been using transdermal skin patches in some form for decades. Because our cells are made of lipids and CBD is a lipid, we can diffuse CBD through our cells until it eventually reaches our blood vessels. Though this option is discreet and effective, it’s still somewhat slow because CBD needs to pass through the many protective layers of our skin. Transdermal patches tend to be slower, taking around 45 minutes to set in but lasting for upwards of 96 hours.

Your body

The way CBD interacts with your body is also dependent upon factors that change from person to person. These include your body weight and metabolism.

Body weight

How much body fat you have will directly influence the amount of CBD you need to consume in order to receive the benefits of CBD. Those who weigh more will need a higher dosage of CBD oil in order to feel the effects, and body fat will also dictate how long CBD stays in your system. While CBD doesn't have to build up in your body for it to work effectively, it does get stored in fat cells and will remain in your body even after the effects of CBD decline.


Your body's metabolism determines how quickly you break down and synthesize compounds, and this includes CBD. Those with a faster metabolism will feel the effects of CBD oil sooner because their body will process CBD in a highly efficient manner. Those that have a slower metabolism, on the other hand, will wait a bit longer to feel the effects of CBD. Because everyone's metabolism is different, there's no specific amount of time in which CBD will take effect. Trial and error will help you better understand how your body's metabolism works with CBD.

How much you consume


Finding the optimal dosing schedule that's right for you is an important part of the consumption process. Do you want to enjoy a CBD oil tincture every day? Are you using a CBD topical every now and then in your skin care routine? The answer to these questions will depend on the type of CBD product you use, the concentration of CBD in the product, and the frequency with which you use CBD. Consuming CBD more frequently may increase the cannabinoid receptors in your body, thus making your endocannabinoid system more receptive to CBD.

CBD dosage

Finding the ideal CBD dosage is an important part of the consumption process and will directly impact how long it takes for CBD to work as well as how long it will stay in your system. High-quality CBD derived from the hemp plant is not intended to produce a high, so you don't need to be conservative with your dosing. That being said, it's best to start with a lower dose and gradually increase it over time until you've found the ideal effects. Taking a higher dosage will also change how long CBD remains in your system, as will the concentration of the CBD oil you’re using.

How long will CBD last?

how long does it take for cbd oil to work: Populum CBD tincture box leaning against orange

The amount of time CBD remains in your system is heavily dependent upon the factors above. In general, CBD will remain in your system for 2-5 days or longer, though this doesn't necessarily correlate with any detectable effects of CBD.

Depending on your consumption method, the effects of CBD will last for 2-4 hours. Of the many consumption options that exist, CBD topicals will last the longest simply because it takes the skin longer to absorb CBD. However, absorbing it through the tongue, such as with a CBD tincture, will tend to work the fastest.

If CBD doesn’t seem to be working for you, be sure to check both the dosage and quality, particularly that you’re using full spectrum CBD oil.

How will CBD oil work for you?

To understand how CBD will interact with your body, it pays to start small and work your way up. If it’s your first time or you’re new to CBD, follow a process of trial and error to determine which CBD product meets your needs, always making sure you’re purchasing something that’s high quality. From there, you can fine-tune your dosage until you're receiving the desired effects.

Be patient as you find out how much CBD oil works for you. Check out our handy guide to help you determine the right quantity and concentration of CBD oil to use.

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