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CBD newbs often have the same first-time experience with CBD: sitting around staring at the clock for 15 minutes, then 30 minutes, then an hour, waiting for it to “kick in.” Spoiler alert: it doesn’t really work like that.

How quickly CBD starts working depends primarily on the method of consumption, along with a number of other factors like personal physiology and quality of CBD. But because CBD is not psychoactive, it’s not always easy to tell if it’s working (see our full guide describing what CBD feels like to get an idea of what to expect).

So we wrote this brief guide to let you know how long it takes CBD oil to work by each consumption method. Here’s a chart summarizing everything before we get started.

Consumption methodHow long it takes to workProductsNotes
InhalationInstantlyVape oil, CBD flowerFastest-hitting method. Most common method for experienced CBD users
Oral ingestion30 minutes to an hourEdibles, beverages, CBD oilsTakes longer to work but the effects last longer.
Sublingual ingestion5-30 minutesTinctureNext-fastest method behind inhalation.
Topical applicationInstantlyLotion, balm, soapPopular with athletes. Used for skin problems, joint, and muscle pain. Works best if reapplied continuously over time.
IntravenousInstantlyN/AVery rare.


How Long Does It Take for CBD Oil to Work?

CBD starts working in as little as a few minutes, or as long as an hour . The exact time depends on the method of consumption, person-specific factors, quality of CBD, and type of CBD.

The precise combination of all these factors determines the true answer — so we have prepared the following cheat-sheet.

Time It Takes CBD to Work by Method of Consumption

CBD is absorbed in a completely different way when you consume a CBD edible or beverage than when you inhale CBD vape oil. Inhalation is the quickest-absorbed method, followed by sublingual (under the tongue), and then oral ingestion. Read on for a detailed breakdown of each method.

1. Inhalation

The quickest way to get CBD into your bloodstream is by inhaling CBD vapor or smoke. When you inhale, the cannabinoids enter through your lungs so the effects are experienced instantly. But this means that the effects will wear off quicker as well.

2. Sublingual Ingestion (Under the Tongue)

When you ingest a CBD tincture sublingually the cannabinoids are absorbed through the veins beneath your tongue. The effects of sublingual ingestion can be felt in as little as 5 minutes, and 20 minutes at the most. You just have to hold the drops underneath your tongue for 30-60 seconds.

3. Oral Ingestion

Oral ingestion with CBD edibles, capsules, pills, or oil takes longer to kick in, since the cannabinoids are absorbed over a long period in the digestive tract. It can take 30 minutes to an hour for you to feel the effects of orally ingested CBD, but the effects last much longer than other types of ingestion. This makes oral ingestion ideal for daily treatment, while individuals who need instant relief may prefer inhalation or sublingual ingestion.

4. Topical

People use CBD topically for localized joint, muscle, bone, and skin problems. The CBD is absorbed through the skin, and is most commonly used for arthritis and joint inflammation. The effects of topical CBD should kick in within a few minutes, though for best results you need to use topical CBD repeatedly over a long period of time.

5. Intravenous

Consuming CBD intravenously is extremely uncommon, and reserved only for the most severely ill medical patients. The effects of CBD injections will be felt almost instantly, since the CBD is put directly into the bloodstream.

3 Factors That Influence CBD Absorption

It’s not JUST about the method of consumption, though. Your own personal physiology, along with the type and quality of CBD will play a critical role in how fast CBD is absorbed.

1. Personal Variation

Personal variation influences how fast CBD is absorbed for the same reason that one of your friends can drink 20 beers and stay standing while another drinks 3 and gets belligerent. Each person’s unique physique and biochemistry will influence how long it takes for CBD oil to work. There are three most important physiological factors to keep in mind.

a) Metabolic Rate

Your metabolic rate is the speed at which your body breaks down compounds. The faster your metabolism, the quicker your will feel the effects of CBD.

b) Body Weight

Overall body weight is very important in determining how quickly CBD will work. More body weight means it will take longer for your body to process the CBD.

c) Medical Conditions

If you have certain medical conditions or are on any medication, this may conflict with how your body processes CBD.

2. Quality of CBD

Simply put, the purer the CBD, the higher its bioavailability and the quicker it will work. Some CBD products are cut with additives that are difficult for the body to digest and may inhibit the absorption of CBD. Other quality issues that can delay or reduce absorption:

  • Expiration
  • Sun damage
  • Improper production

3. Type of CBD

There are numerous different types of CBD: raw, water-soluble, and refined or “gold.” The variation in release time between these different types is small, but refined CBD is slightly more easily absorbed into the body, so they work slightly quicker.

FAQs on How Quickly CBD Oil Works

How Does CBD Work?

In short, human bodies are meant to work with cannabinoids. CBD activates or inhibits parts of the natural human endocannabinoid system, which responds to stress, physical pain, anxiety, and more. Introducing certain cannabinoids, then, can reduce pain and inflammation, and relieve stress.

How Long Do the Effects of CBD Last? Can you Feel the Effects of CBD?

On average, the effects of CBD last between 5 and 6 hours, if ingested orally. If you inhale CBD, then the effects will last closer to 2-3 hours. Since CBD does not have any psychoactive properties, you will not get high or feel any kind of euphoria (see our full guide on what the effects of CBD feel like).

How Long Does CBD Oil Stay In Your System?

CBD only stays in your system for a few days: 2-5 days for moderate doses, or up to a week for heavier doses. Read more about how long CBD oil stays in your system here.

How Much CBD Should I Use?

New CBD users are typically recommended to start with only 5-10mg. For daily use, a good rule of thumb is 1-5mg of CBD for each ten pounds of body weight you have. This puts the average dosage range between 20 and 60 mg of CBD for most adults.