How Long Does CBD Last?
Because the discovery of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is so recent, we’re still finding out how CBD interacts with our bodies. And since everyone is unique, there are actually a surprisingly large number of factors that go into the answer.
If using CBD helps you get through your day, then having the effects wear off at the wrong time can be a problem. And since many of our customers use CBD to help cope with pain, anxiety, or a host of other chronic issues, a lull in their CBD could be a complete disaster.
Why Is it SO Important to Know How Long the Effects Will Last?
Imagine that you’re using CBD to deal with arthritis and you have a long day of errands ahead of you. You want to administer the correct dosage to make sure that you’re pain-free and that your joints work properly for the many small tasks ahead of you. You pick up prescriptions, have coffee with a friend, and run to grab some groceries before heading home. Sounds like a pretty smooth day, right?
As the grocery clerk hands you your change, your fingers fumble and you notice the dull, burning sensation creeping into your joints. Maybe in this instance someone helps you get your groceries to your car and you still have the dexterity and focus to drive home. IF you’re so lucky, how long does it take you to get home? Do you have to drive aggressively on the freeway? Will you be capable of carrying your purchases inside?
It’s important to know how long the effects of your products will last so that you can plan accordingly. This information helps you decide whether or not you need to keep your CBD edibles on you at all times. Maybe you just need one dose in the morning and one in the evening. Maybe you need a puff off your CBD vape pen once every few hours.
For many people, it’s a question of whether or not they’ll live pain-free and able to maintain their independence. For some, it helps them get up, go to work, and pay their bills. So while it may seem like a simple question, for those living with chronic conditions it’s serious.
Know Your Dosages
While it’s not quite accurate to compare CBD to prescription medications, the theory about how to dose each of them is similar. To get the desired effect from said substance you need to take a certain amount. And just like prescription meds, there are several key factors that determine the correct dosage.
To determine what works best for you, you’ll need to do some detective work. At first, it’s going to be a lot of trial-and-error, but taking TOO much is rarely an issue. According to a 2011 study performed by the journal Current Drug Safety, it would take 20,000mg of CBD in your system before it became toxic. Considering that most products have on average anywhere from 5mg-50mg of CBD per serving, you’re safe.
You may want to start with pre-measured doses in the form of capsules. This way you know PRECISELY how much you’re putting into your body. I’d recommend keeping notes for the first few weeks on your experience with your doses. Write down what amount you took, how long it took for the effects to kick in, and how long the effects lasted. Once you’ve figured out what amount works best for you, it’ll be easier to experiment with other products.
Just like with prescription medications, factors like weight and age can affect how much you’ll need to consume. Tuck, a website dedicated to sleep science, health, and wellness, discusses the use of CBD to treat sleeping issues. They’ve put together a chart detailing the recommended dosage of CBD for mild to strong effects, and it’s organized by weight. If you’re curious about their recommendations, check it out!
Be as detailed in your notes as possible. Perhaps you’ve noticed some benefits that you weren’t expecting. Make a note of it! Did you forget to take your CBD one day? Describe how it felt to be without it! Sometimes when you live with chronic issues, it’s easy for pain and discomfort to feel normal. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Do the detective work—figure out what works for you, and improve your quality of life as soon as possible. You deserve it!
CBD Quality Is Paramount
One last thing to take into consideration is the quality of CBD that you’re consuming. Better quality CBD will be more effective and the effects will last longer too. And that’s kind of the whole point. But with the legal restrictions around CBD waning, the CBD market is a bit like the wild west. Manufacturing regulations will naturally catch up, but at the moment there aren’t a lot of them in place.
If you think you’ve found a great deal with a low-cost CBD product, maybe do some research first. There are several different extraction methods and some are more effective than others. Less expensive options can involve the use of toxic solvents to extract CBD from industrial hemp. You want CBD that has been extracted and manufactured in the cleanest, healthiest way so that it has the highest amount of cannabinoids possible.
I could spend all day talking about CBD quality control (and at some point, I probably will in another article), but as a general rule when selecting CBD products, you should pay attention to a few key factors. According to Ministry of Hemp, some good ways to identify high-quality CBD are—
- Research their manufacturing process. Hint: ethanol and/or supercritical CO2 extractions are what you want to see.
- Try to use CBD extracted from hemp that was grown in the U.S.
- Look for terms like “whole-plant” and “full-spectrum.”
- Check for third-party lab results.
How You Take Your CBD Matters
There are several different ways to get CBD into your system. Each method takes a different amount of time to kick in and the effects last for different lengths of time, too. If you’ve already done the research we discussed above, then you’ll know the dosage that’s most effective for you and roughly how often you need to use it.
Once you have that information you can start experimenting with the many available methods of CBD delivery. There are more and more options created everyday, but today let’s stick to the four classics: edibles, vapes, oils, and topicals.
Since you actually have to EAT edibles, the biggest variable is your digestive system. Factors like whether or not your stomach was full, your metabolism, and the strength of the edible play a roll in when the effects kick in AND how long they’ll last.
Generally, the effects set in 30-90 minutes after consumption. And because it can take six to eight hours for food to process through your digestive system, the effects CAN last for that long. However, because everyone has a different metabolism, the results can vary.
Many users who take CBD for anxiety keep a vape pen handy at all times. When you puff on a CBD vape, your lungs send the cannabinoid straight into your bloodstream. Vaping effects are usually felt within a few minutes, but they also don’t last nearly as long as edibles or oils. Some say the effects only stick around for an hour, others say two to three hours.
Sometimes called tinctures, you take CBD oil by placing a few drops under your tongue and holding it there for roughly 60 seconds. This is known as sublingual ingestion and has the benefit of bypassing the digestive tract, just like vape. This means the effects will kick in faster, usually within 20-30 minutes, and the effects stick around anywhere from four to six hours.
The world of topicals is...magical. If you’re unfamiliar with them, know that CBD topicals come in many forms. There are CBD muscle rubs, lotions, and salves; there’s even CBD lube and massage oil (Bless you, Foria).
Since topicals have to be absorbed through the skin, it can take longer for the effects to kick in. Once they do, however, expect to experience them for five or more hours. The effects are highly localized, so apply them where you need their magic the most.
Something important to remember is that I’m NOT a doctor. I would never recommend someone to forego their prescribed medications in favor of CBD without first consulting with their health care provider. Admittedly, there are very few negative side-effects from taking CBD and not many people ever experience them. I mean, even changing up your vitamin regimen can have some unexpected effects. Still, it’s better to consult with your doctor before adjusting ANY medications whether they’re prescribed, over-the-counter, or holistic.
Listen to Your Body
You may have noticed by now that the reviews of CBD vary wildly. Some people experience anti-anxiety effects, anti-inflammatory effects, and in some miraculous cases, patients have experienced anti-seizure effects. But regardless of WHY you’re taking CBD, make sure to listen to your body and do whatever helps you feel the happiest and healthiest.
I hope this gave you some tips and tricks for figuring out the most effective way to use your CBD products. Whether you just need their effects for the next hour or the next six hours, knowing that they’ll be effective will give you peace of mind.
Let us know in the comments about your personal experiences with CBD dosages and how long their effects have lasted. Who knows, your information might help someone truly in need!
Hannah Walker is a mostly-retired University English instructor who spends her time freelance copywriting. When not doing that, she’s writing articles related to CBD, skincare, and/or media. With an MA in English-Creative Writing she’s probably working on a creative piece at this very moment. See more about Hannah’s work on her website or on Instagram.