Posted on by OC Pharm CBD

By Dr. Jim Sears 
Posted by OC Pharm CBD 


This is one of the most common questions we get at OC Pharm CBD.  

The answer really depends on how you are taking it, what you are taking it for, and whether or not you’re on any medications or other remedies.  Some people have reported feeling the effects within just a few minutes, while others say it took several weeks or more for it to start working.  I’ll explain why that happens later.

The delivery method is probably the biggest factor in how long it takes to work.  Some forms will allow CBD to quickly pass into your blood and reach its targets, while others will release CBD much slower, but the effects will last longer.  There are 3 main ways that people take CBD: Oral, topical, and inhaled.  


There are two mains types of oral CBD oil:

-       Fast-release forms: tinctures and mouth sprays.

-       Slow-release forms: capsules, gummies, candies.

Fast-release forms are applied directly in the mouth.  Although you will eventually swallow part of the liquid, you will absorb most of the CBD through the blood vessels under your tongue, along your gums and the inner lining of your mouth.  The CBD will bypass your digestive system and be released directly into your bloodstream and the effects will start to kick in after only 15-30 minutes.  The peak effect will be about 2-4 hours and will last up to 6 hours.  

Slow-release forms:  These need to be digested and can take 30-180 minutes for the effect to start.  The CBD has to pass from the gut into the liver before being released into your bloodstream.  The liver will break down some of the CBD, so less of it will reach the blood.  The slow-release forms do have an advantage as their effects tend to last longer, up to 8 hours.  


Creams, lotions and balms act locally, and the time it takes to penetrate the skin can be variable.  Most users report noticing the effects after 30-120 minutes.  


Inhalation is the fastest way to get CBD into your system, with effects noticed within 5-15 minutes.  This method won’t last as long though, with blood CBD levels starting to decline after about an hour, and effects only lasting 2-3 hours.  

Why do some people report taking several weeks for them to start experiencing relief?

When the CBD reaches the target tissues it then needs to interact with the various receptors in those tissues and this is the part that can take either just a few minutes to hours, but It can also take many days to weeks.  Your concentration of the various receptors in your different tissues can be quite variable.  Many prescription medications will affect the number and availability of those receptors.  It’s important to remember that many of the pharmaceuticals that treat these same problems can also take a few weeks to start working.  One patient with chronic back pain from a car crash said that after about a week on CBD, she started to feel some relief, but another 2 weeks later the effect was even better.  On the other hand, my wife recently injured her ankle (thought it was broken but x-rays eventually normal) and was in a lot of pain.  Laid-out on the couch all weekend, she wanted some pain relievers, but I suggested trying CBD first.  “My foot is BROKEN! I need REAL pain meds”, was her reply.  Of course, doctors are not allowed to prescribe the good stuff to family members, so she tried the CBD.  An hour later, she was feeling much better!

Onset of action based on malady: 

What you are trying to treat with the CBD can also affect how quickly you notice relief.   Anecdotally, I’ve seen fast results in some, and slower results in others.  As they do more and more clinical trials, we are getting more useable data to know how fast it can work.  Here are summaries of some of the studies available:  


People with acute anxiety episodes caused by stress and social phobia (like public speaking) found relief in 90-180 minutes.  Chronic anxiety in people with PTSD and autism needed longer for the symptoms to subside – around 4-8 weeks.  


In a study of people with chronic pain due to kidney transplant, CBD improved the pain after using it for 1-3 weeks.  Studies in patients with migraine headaches and cluster headaches showed that it could take up to 1-3 months for relief.  That may sound like a long time, but since CBD has a much better safety profile than the strong pharmaceuticals, I think it’s worth giving it a chance as a long-term solution.  

Sleep problems:

Studies in people with insomnia or sleep disturbances due to PTSD found improved sleep quality in 1-2 months.  

Bottom line:  

You might see results quickly with CBD, but if you don’t, I recommend sticking with it for at least a few weeks.  It will be worth it to find a solution to your problems with something that really doesn’t have any significant side-effects or risk of overdose.