How Quickly Does It Take For CBD To Work

You finally got your first bottle of cannabidiol (CBD) oil, you open it and you take your first dosage. You sit down and wait, waiting to feel something but 5 minutes goes by and nada… So, now you are wondering “How long does it take for CBD oil to work? And how long can I expect its effects to last?”

You’re not the only CBD user that is asking this question. That is why we decided to put together a quick-read two part guide on how long it takes for CBD to work and how long you can expect it to work for.

Let’s dive in and look at what influences how quickly CBD starts to work and other factors you need to take into account.

How You Take Your CBD Matters

The type of product and how you take it is a major factor in how quickly you can expect to feel the effects of CBD kicking in. The reason for this is something called bioavailability which refers to the rate and amount of a therapeutic agent that’s absorbed into the body before it starts to work.

Because different substances have different routes they take to enter into the blood stream, different ways of consuming your CBD will have different levels of bioavailability. So for instance, if the CBD is absorbed directly into the bloodstream via the capillaries in the lungs, it will take much less time to take effect that if it has to go through digestive system and liver first as is the case with a CBD gel cap. Similarly, with such a quick absorption rate, less CBD is needed to feel the same effects.


Bioavailability: 4% and 20%
Time of Onset: 30 - 90 min
Product Types: Gel caps & edibles

When CBD is ingested by mouth, it first has to go through the digestive system, then pass through the portal vein into the liver, from where the liver metabolizes the CBD in what is called the “first pass effect”. During this process, Cytochrome P450 (CYP450) oxidases enzymes in the liver and reduces the CBD concentration before the remainder is finally sent to the bloodstream, making it one of the least efficient methods of consumption with one of the longest onset time.


Bioavailability: 10% - 20%
Time of Onset: 20 - 40 min
Product Types: CBD oils & tinctures

Unlike ingestion, placing the CBD under the tongue allows it to directly be absorbed into the mucous membranes for higher bioavailability with a shorter onset time.


Bioavailability: Unknown
Time of Onset: 60 - 90 min (from anecdotal evidence)
Product Types: Balms, creams, transdermal patches & cosmetics

The idea behind topical CBD is that, when applied directly to the skin it can be absorbed through the surface of the skin to interact with localized cannabinoid receptors. Although this hypothesis is sound, to date, no specific studies have actually assessed the bioavailability or onset time of CBD via the skin.


Bioavailability: 2% - 56%
Time of Onset: 2 - 5 min
Product Types: CBD flower, vapes & dabs

Inhaling CBD is probably on of the most effective ways to get a dose of CBD due to the large surface area and high permeability of lung tissue, with the deeper and longer the CBD being held in the lungs, the absorption rate and bioavailability.

Final Thoughts

As mentioned, everyone will have a different CBD experience and how long it takes before you feel the effects of CBD is dependent on different factors. We suggest keeping a diary, or using our MyDosage App to track your dosage and document how you feel before, during and after ingestion. If you are interested in finding out how long you can expect the effects of your CBD product to last, read part 2 of our quick guide here.