How long does it take CBD to work, anyways?


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We probably don’t have to tell you that CBD is everywhere these days: people are putting it in their coffee, pouring it into their cocktails, rubbing it on their skin, and blending it into their post-workout smoothies. Researchers are learning more about CBD every day, but there’s still a lot about it that we don’t know… and that can be really confusing if you’re a CBD newbie.

One of the biggies: How long does it take for CBD oil to work? Because who hasn’t been in the situation where it seems like one person takes CBD and turns into a zen mother earth goddess right away, while you’re sitting over here waiting for something (anything!) to happen to take your morning anxiety away. (What’s that saying? A watched mug of CBD coffee never kicks in?)

Turns out, CBD isn’t one-size-fits-all. Various factors—such as the amount you take, the form you take it in, and where you got your CBD from—can all impact how long it takes to work, says Brooke Alpert, RD, the founder of Daily Habit, a line of CBD powder.

For example, if you’re putting your CBD product in a coffee that has almond milk or sugar or anything else that might need to be digested, your CBD will kick in more slowly than it would if you put a few drops directly under your tongue. “I look at it the same way I talk to people about their sugar consumption,” Alpert explains. “If you have juice or put a little bit on your tongue, it’s going to be an immediate reaction versus when it’s in fruit where you have fiber, which slows down absorption.” (Generally speaking, CBD oil added to a coffee or smoothie will probably take around 30 minutes before you start to feel anything.)

It’s worth noting that the research on taking CBD sublingually (science-speak for under your tongue) is mixed: As Well + Good has previously reported, many studies on the subject have included both CBD and THC, so it’s hard to generalize the findings to products that are just CBD-based. However, chemist Jesse Kater previously told tell Well+Good that “most of the literature supports the notion that CBD has better bioavailability when consumed sublingually versus orally.” That supports anecdotal evidence that CBD starts working almost immediately when taken under the tongue. Alpert agrees to an extent, saying that it can take anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour to kick in when taken sublingually.

Charlotte’s Web co-founder Jesse Stanley adds that CBD products often come in different strengths and thus the amount of CBD that works for your bestie may not work for you. “You might need to try a few strengths until you find what works for you,” he says. (Good to know!)

“Every day consistency is key,” he adds. “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” He encourages people to think of CBD as a dietary supplement and notes that it can take up to four to six weeks to “fully realize the benefits of CBD,” especially if you’re taking it to alleviate anxiety, pain, or for stress relief. “We are all unique in our needs and bodily systems. Some people experience rapid and very noticeable benefits while others notice benefits over time and daily use, which is common for many dietary supplements,” Stanley says.

The most important factor, Alpert says, is quality. There is so much variance among CBD products, and that can also impact how long it takes before you start feeling any effects. “This is where people are getting frustrated with CBD, because they’re like, ‘Well, I got a CBD gummy from my local bodega and I didn’t feel anything,’” Alpert says. Some things Alpert and Stanley say you should consider when shopping for any CBD product:

  • The origin of the hemp: ”Hemp is a powerful phytoremediation crop, which means it cleans the soil, so you’ll want to find out that it’s grown using responsible farming practices in soil that is pre-tested for toxins or heavy metals,” Stanley says.
  • Is the product full-spectrum? Both Stanley and Alpert recommend looking for full-spectrum products, which means that all the different compounds in the hemp—the foundation of every CBD product—work together to “further heighten [your] body’s response to CBD,” according to Stanley.
  • Transparency: Look for third-party testing that shows you what’s in there, Alpert recommends. “All CBD is not created equally and it’s really important that whatever you’re buying actually has what it needs to have in order for it to be effective.” Reputable companies shouldn’t hide or obscure that info in any way.

The reality: Trial and error is the name of the game when it comes to finding that ~magical~ amount CBD that will actually work for you. With a little research, you’ll hopefully find the right amount for you that gives you the results you’re aiming for.

Check out some of the best CBD products of 2019, according to cannabis experts. And here’s why you should be a bit skeptical about CBD-laced food products hitting the market.

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