How Long Does It Take CBD to Work?

CBD, Cannabidiol, is a chemical compound naturally found in the Cannabis sativa plant. Some varieties of Cannabis are processed into marijuana – the most popular drug across the planet.

Marijuana gains its psychoactivity through one of its chemical constituents: THC. THC is a different kind of cannabinoid to CBD. Varieties of C.sativa with a THC concentration greater than 0.3% are referred to as marijuana. [1]

C.sativa plants with a THC concentration smaller than 0.3% are recognized as hemp. Below 0.3%, THC is insufficient to produce intoxicating effects on the body.

Thus, hemp lacks the ability to produce the feeling of a ‘high’, unlike marijuana. [2]

CBD has quickly gained massive popularity in the pharmaceutical industry for its robust antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-epilepsy, and pain-relieving properties.

They have allowed it to emerge as one of the top contenders of the phytochemical drug industry. [3]

There’s a diverse range of CBD products currently being sold in the market. They are either available in the form of topical application or oral supplements.

This article will give a general overview of the time frame that can be expected for CBD to produce its effects in a particular disease.

The article will be using clinical trials and animal studies as evidence for the time frames it gives.

But first, let’s take a brief look at how CBD interacts with the body.

How Does CBD Work?

CBD closely resembles some of the hormones produced in the body known as endocannabinoids. This allows CBD to interact with the endocannabinoid signaling system in the body. [4]

The endocannabinoid system has many roles to play in humans with the most important being regulation of homeostasis i.e. house-keeping of the body.

It regulates body temperature, heart rate, cognition, memory, movement, hormone secretion, release of pro-inflammatory responses and pain sensations. [5]

The endocannabinoid system carries environmental signals to the brain via nerves. The brain produces a response, which is carried out by effector muscles. The system uses cannabinoid messengers and specific receptors.

Anandamide and 2-AG are the two most abundant endocannabinoids found naturally in humans. [6],[7]

They allow information to be passed along the pathways connecting to the brain. The endocannabinoids bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors. [8]

CBD can bind to these receptors as well. It exerts its effects by controlling the signals reaching the brain as well as those that are released by the brain to produce certain changes in the body.

For example, when CBD binds: the brain can order the immune system to stop releasing pro-inflammatory responses and can thus, allow the inflammation to slowly fade away.

The endocannabinoid system can control a wide range of processes as, its CB1 and CB2 receptors are found throughout the body. [9] Including in the eyes, skin, muscles, white blood cells and brain. [10]

CBD can thus affect many different parts of the body altogether and this allows its therapeutic value to multiply.

Note: Hemp and CBD are not the same. Always check the ingredients of the product before purchasing.

How Long Does CBD Take to Show its Beneficial Effects?

First off, it is important to acknowledge that the time it takes for CBD to produce its effects in a particular disease can vary considerably from person to person.

This is simply because everyone’s body is slightly different so, in some, it may take longer to process the CBD and allow it to produce its effects.

Will Depend on the Dose and the Method of CBD Consumption

The time frame for producing benefits will depend on how the CBD is being taken and how much CBD is being taken.

It is essential that before consuming CBD you understand what dosage is suitable for you.

We advise you to start with low doses (5 – 10 mg/kg) and then slowly increase it if you are experiencing positive results. [11]

The maximum recommended dosage changes from disease to disease so, consult a doctor to find out more.

The method of intake will affect how long it takes for the CBD to produce its effects. This is because some methods allow CBD to enter the bloodstream quicker than others.

The quicker CBD enters the bloodstream, the sooner it can circulate around the body and thus, it will be able to activate more endocannabinoid receptors.

This will allow the brain to receive a higher number of signals in a shorter span of time and thus, it can activate the anti-inflammatory effects sooner.

Oral CBD supplements have poor water solubility and are vulnerable to first-pass metabolism. [12] This is a process by which, the stomach or liver destroys the CBD before it can be absorbed into the blood.

As a result, only 6% of the total CBD ingested enters the bloodstream and is available to produce active effects. [13]

In addition, it takes longer for the CBD to enter the bloodstream through this method of intake as it has to go through the entire digestive tract first.

Thus, when CBD is being taken for the pain it is not preferable to take oral supplements as they cannot provide quick effective relief.

CBD tinctures are generally used for pain. The CBD solution is dropped under the tongue from where it can instantly be absorbed into the bloodstream. [14]

Topical application of CBD can produce its effects quickly but, the effects will remain localized to the area of application.

Topical CBD application is suitable for skin diseases and can help to reduce joint pain in arthritis.

The product must be applied directly onto damaged areas of the skin for quick and strong effects.


The CBD therapeutic industry achieved a major milestone in 2018 when the first-ever CBD oral supplement was approved for the treatment of a disease.

The supplement was called Epidiolex which, is now used in the treatment of 2 childhood epilepsies: Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. [15]

Many large clinical trials involving CBD and epileptic patients were needed for this feat to be achieved.

The US FDA has highlighted 3 studies in particular in its prescribing information document accompanying Epidiolex.

These studies give a good indication of the time it took in clinical trials for Epidiolex to produce significant benefits. [16]

It is important to reiterate that the time it takes for Epidiolex to produce its benefits will vary from person to person.

The first and second study focused on the time frame for Epidiolex in Lennox-Gastaut syndrome patients.

They found that for both 10 and 20 mg/kg/day of CBD, within 4 weeks of starting the treatment, a reduction in seizure frequency could be seen.

After 4 weeks, the effects remained consistent for the entire 14-week treatment period. The fall in seizure frequency after 4 weeks of treatment was greater for the 20 mg/kg/day dose.

The third study, for Dravet syndrome patients, elucidated identical results. Clinically significant effects were seen 4-weeks after the Epidiolex treatment began.

The participants involved in these studies were taking at least 2 other anti-epileptic drugs in addition to Epidiolex.

It would be dangerous to stop their treatment course during the time of these trials. Epidiolex can not necessarily replace traditional anti-epileptic drugs.

Your doctor will take a better call of which drugs you should be taking alongside Epidiolex.

What does this Mean? Clinical trials finQd 4 weeks to be the absolute minimum for Epidiolex to produce significant benefits on the frequency of seizures in Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome patients.

Breast Cancer and Leukemia

CBD possesses robust anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. These can help slow down tumor growth, promote cell death, inhibit cancers from spreading in the body and cut-off blood supply to tumors.

CBD provides all that you would want from an anti-cancer agent. CBD can help alleviate the symptoms of cancer and prolong survival time.

CBD for cancer is still an ongoing area of research. Two clinical trials, one for breast cancer and the other for leukemia, have allowed for considerable development in the field.

A 4-year clinical trial involving 119 patients monitored the effects of CBD on breast cancer. By the end of the trial, an astonishing 92% of the patients showed evidence for slowed tumor growth and impaired metastasis. [17]

Most importantly, there were no side effects from the CBD treatment.

Leukemia can be treated by stem cell transplants. [18]

There is a considerable risk of rejection as, the donated stem cells can attack the patient’s own healthy cells. This can allow cancer to re-appear.

The anti-inflammatory effects of CBD can be used to stop the consequences of rejection and CBD can

potentially aid in transforming the transplant into a successful attempt. [19]

A clinical trial with 48 leukemia patients investigated the benefits of CBD for the transplant.

The CBD treatment began 7 days before the transplant and continued till 30 days post it. The participants were given 300 mg/day of CBD in the form of oral supplements.

CBD reduced the likelihood of patients developing more severe forms of this cancer and lower relapse rate.

Additionally, CBD was safe to be used alongside conventional treatment drugs. [20]

What does this Mean? Clinical trials have found CBD to show potent anti-cancer effects. The CBD product must be taken daily in large doses to sustain the benefits and potentially prolong survival time in cancer patients.

Help Alleviate the Side Effects of Chemotherapy

Cis-platin is widely used in the chemotherapy of lung and ovarian cancers. [21]

However, cis-platin is not selective in only targeting cancerous cells as a third of patients taking this drug experience harmful effects on kidney function. [22]

When CBD was given alongside cis-platin to mice, inflammation of the kidneys was reduced, and their function was less impaired. [23]

CBD dosages of 2.5 to 10 mg/kg were adequate to reduce the side effects of cis-platin, even 12 hours after it was consumed.

Animal study results suggest that for CBD to be effective against cis-platin it should be taken 1.5 hours before ingesting cis-platin.

In the 1.5 hours, the maximal concentration of CBD can be achieved in the blood. CBD will be fully prepared to fight against cis-platin by the time it comes to the chemotherapy.

Nausea and vomiting are the most common side effects of chemotherapy. Mice studies have shown CBD to help reduce the instances of these undesirable side effects.

Nausea and vomiting were induced in the mice using lithium chloride. One study found that taking CBD 30 minutes before lithium chloride helped reduce the side effects. [24]

A different study found that taking CBD 10 minutes before lithium chloride helped increase the time for the first episode of vomiting in comparison to when CBD was not taken at all. [25]

You must pay special attention to the dose of CBD you are taking. Many studies have revealed that only small doses can help reduce nausea and vomiting; whilst, large doses can, in fact, worsen the side effects.

What does this Mean? For CBD to help alleviate the side effects of cis-platin, it should be taken 1.5 hours before the round of chemotherapy. To help reduce the instances of vomiting and nausea, CBD should be taken up to 30 mins before the round of chemotherapy.


CBD has excellent potential for reducing inflammation and pain in arthritis patients as, it shows high effectiveness, has a good safety profile and does not seem to produce any side effects. [26]

You can expect CBD to provide pain relief in joints within a few minutes after application. But, for longer-term effects and an overall improvement in inflammation, CBD must be taken daily.

A recent study revealed that topical application of CBD could reduce inflammation in rats with arthritis. [27] There were no reported side effects.

CBD gels (0.6, 3.1, 6.2 or 62.3 mg/day) were applied for 4 consecutive days after arthritis induction. The gel was rubbed on the skin for 30 seconds.

Pain is weighed on a scale, which goes from 0-10. [28] The pain score in rats treated with 6.2 and 62.3 mg/day went from an average of 4 to 1.5 within 4 days of treatment.

A different study found that 6.2 and 62 mg/day doses allowed for significant improvement in knee joint pain within just 4 days. In addition, the arthritis model mice had less heat intolerance within just 3 days after CBD treatment began.

The arthritis model mice had much higher inflammation levels to normal healthy mice. With respect to the same doses, it took only 7 days for the inflammation levels in the arthritis mice to fall back down to the normal level.

Self-initiated use of CBD topical products by arthritis patients has only produced positive results.

There is a lack of high-quality clinical trials in this area. In the future, with greater scientific evidence in hand, CBD can become an approved treatment for arthritis.

What does this Mean? Topical application of CBD can provide relief from joint pain within a few minutes. This makes it a strong contender to traditional counter-pain ointments. The longer-term effects of CBD on inflammation levels in arthritis patients can begin appearing 7 days after the start of the CBD-treatment.

Dermatological Diseases

The benefits of CBD will start from day 1. However, it may take several days to a few weeks for the individual to feel and visually see the effects. [29]

CBD products are not commonly used for common skin and hair diseases. Rather its cousin, hemp oil, is more preferred.

Newer scientific studies are investigating CBD for rarer skin conditions. One of these is epidermolysis bullosa.

Epidermolysis bullosa is a skin disease that causes easy blistering of the skin and makes the skin very fragile. Treatments focus on caring for the blisters and preventing new ones.[30]

The blisters cause itching and pain. CBD can suppress inflammation and thus, soothe itching and redness.

A very recent (May 2018) study published in Pediatric Dermatology followed 3 families who chose to use topical CBD products on their young children battling with this disease. [31]

The first case study was of a 6-month-old boy. His parents applied a spray CBD product to the affected areas 2 to 3 times daily.

At the start of the treatment, he presented with multiple blisters all over the body. After 6 months of treatment, he had very minimal blisters. In a sense, CBD had completely cured all the present blisters and prevented new ones.

In the second patient, a 3-years old girl, it took 8 months for her to have very minimal blisters.

Further, into the CBD treatment, she’d be able to walk further and further. The number of blisters on the bottom of her feet had reduced significantly, and she was in less pain.

What does this Mean? CBD has allowed young patients to be almost completely free of blisters by 6 to 8 months after the start of the treatment. The benefits of CBD for common, mild to moderate skin conditions begin from day 1 but, they may not necessarily be seen till around 3 weeks later.

Anxiety and Sleep

The objective of this clinical study was to find out whether CBD can help improve sleep quality and reduce anxiety. [32]

Participants were given either 25, 50 or 75 mg/kg/day depending on the severity of their condition.

Within the first month, anxiety decreased in 80% of the patients and sleep improved in 67% of the patients.

The trial continued monitoring the participants and found the effects of CBD to sustain with time.

Multiple Sclerosis

It is extremely important to note that CBD on its own has not been found to help reduce spasms in multiple sclerosis patients.

Only when CBD was co-administered alongside THC did it produce advantageous effects.[33]

You might be wondering what THC is and why it is so important. THC is the psychoactive chemical constituent of Cannabis responsible for inducing the feeling of a ‘high’ upon smoking marijuana.

However, when THC is consumed in carefully regulated quantities, it can strongly help reduce spasms in multiple sclerosis patients.

Additionally, CBD cancels out the negative effects of THC e.g. memory loss and anxiety and further enhance the therapeutic gains. [34]

This knowledge was gained through multiple clinical trials and they all led to the production of Sativex. [35],[36]

Sativex is an oral spray with 1:1 ratio of THC to CBD currently being sold in the market to treat muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis patients. [37]

In a particular 2008 trial, 50% of the 1615 participants showed improvements in spasticity within just 4 weeks. [38]

When patients who had been taking Sativex for a year, abruptly stopped doing so, the symptoms of multiple sclerosis increased within 7 to 10 days. [39]

What does this Mean? You may see the effects of Sativex after a month of starting the course. To sustain the effects of CBD, Sativex must be taken daily.

Muscle Spasms Post-Exercise

Think back to a time when you did a strenuous high-intensity exercise routine. You would have felt very sore throughout the day.

You may also have experienced muscle spasms, especially whilst sleeping.

CBD can help reduce the frequency of muscle spasms post-high intensity work-outs by exerting anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects.

Athletes generally find it more beneficial to consume CBD after exercise and not before. By the time they go to sleep, they are feeling much less sore and thus, CBD must have shown its effects.

You may be under the impression that if you consume CBD before exercising, it will prevent muscle spasms later.

But, according to some research, only when the muscles are stressed and over-used, CBD can relieve them and return them to a normal state.


The effects of CBD will vary from person to person. The dosage and method of consumption will also influence how long it takes for CBD to produce its beneficial effects.

In cases of localized pain, applying CBD directly onto the affected area can produce essentially instant results.

For more complicated diseases like, cancer, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis, continual daily use of CBD will be needed to significantly reduce the symptoms in due time.

This could take a few months to a year.

The more severe the disease, the longer it will take to produce significant effects.

CBD can not necessarily cure the condition but, it can help manage the symptoms and allow for a better quality of life.

The information given in this article is based on clinical trials where many variables are controlled. In real-life this is generally not the case.

So, do not be put off a CBD product if it does not show good effects in the time you had expected.

One thing is for sure, that CBD will produce beneficial effects, no matter how long it takes. According to current research, CBD is one of the most promising alternative medications for the illnesses listed above.