Whether you’re smoking a high-CBD strain, puffing on a hemp flower pre-roll, or taking a draw from a CBD vape pen, inhalation is often seen as an effective method of delivery for CBD because of how quickly it’s absorbed in the body. When you smoke CBD flower or vape CBD oil, cannabinoids go directly to your lungs where they rapidly enter your bloodstream and circulate throughout your body. CBD reaches peak concentrations within three minutes after consumption, meaning the effects can be felt shortly after use.
Inhalation is often seen as an effective method of delivery for CBD because of how quickly it’s absorbed in the body. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Consuming CBD oil via sublingual administration will deliver any effects within 30 minutes. CBD edibles have the longest onset time, and it may take two hours to feel any effects.
Bottom line: Smoking CBD flower or vaping CBD oil is one of the fastest ways to experience the effects of CBD. Any effects you feel will set in almost immediately and last roughly an hour or slightly longer.
In this article, we’ll answer these questions and cover how different consumption methods will alter your CBD experience.
Two other common reasons people take CBD are to manage anxiety and sleep issues, two things we know can contribute to pain, Boehnke says. If you're dealing those kinds of issues in addition to pain, any reduction in pain you feel could be an indirect effect of it helping you manage anxiety or sleep. (But those are still unlikely to be affected by a topical formulation.)
Both THC and CBD act on a system of receptors in your body called cannabinoid receptors. You have cannabinoid receptors throughout your body and, so far, researchers have identified two major types: CB1 (found primarily in the central nervous system, including parts of the brain and spinal cord) and CB2 (found mainly in immune system tissues). Interestingly, both have been found in skin. Researchers have also found that while THC can bind to and activate both types of receptors, CBD seems to modulate and somewhat block the effects of CB1 and CB2 receptors. So, any effect that CBD has on CB receptors may actually be more related to regulating and even counteracting some of the actions of THC and other cannabinoids in the brain.
If you’re ingesting something that only has CBD in it and no THC, you won’t have significant effects in the brain. This is why CBD is often referred to as being “non-psychoactive,” although that’s clearly a bit of an oversimplification because it does do something to the central nervous system.
So…is CBD cream just an expensive placebo?
The first thing to be aware of is the amount of CBD that a product claims to contain. Because the studies we have about CBD and pain all looked at systemic administration rather than truly local, we don’t really know what the correct dose would be when applied locally. It’s tempting to go for the highest amount you can find, but it’s really up to you since we don’t even know where to start.
The most common medical reason for which people report using CBD is to manage chronic pain, followed closely by managing arthritis or joint pain. But does it actually work?
The only thing that comes close is a Phase 2 clinical trial using a proprietary CBD transdermal gel (meaning it’s meant to go through the skin into the bloodstream) in 320 patients with knee osteoarthritis over 12 weeks, which has not been peer-reviewed to date. Unfortunately, in almost all of the study’s measures of pain, those who received CBD didn’t have statistically different scores from those who got placebo. But “they found some reductions in pain and improvements in physical function,” Boehnke says.
Personally, I always keep a few jars of it at my desk to help with the shoulder and neck muscle tension inherent in a job consisting mainly of typing and holding a phone next to my face. But it turns out that the research behind these claims is pretty sparse, to say the least. Here’s what you need to know before you give topical CBD a try.
For some people, results are immediate. A lot of people will notice better sleep the first night they take CBD. For others it might take two weeks to a month to even notice anything. So it’s important to be patient when starting to take CBD. A lot of people give up too soon, or don’t do enough experimenting to figure out what dose is appropriate.
It’s very important to remember, that what dose works for one person might not work for the next.
How long does it take to feel the effects of CBD oil?
If a person has been taking CBD for an extended period of time and not getting the results they are looking for, chances are they are not taking a high enough dose. The general recommendation for dosing, is to start low (5mg per day) and go slow – gradually working up the dose every five to seven days.
Vaping or smoking CBD flower, however is usually felt within minutes, and gives more of an uplifted feeling, but also doesn’t last as long. The effects of smoking CBD are usually felt for an hour or two.
For more “extreme” issues such as depression, anxiety, and chronic pain you might need as high as a 60mg daily dose.