For pain or anxiety, how long should it take CBD to work?

For pain or anxiety, how long should it take CBD to work?

Bought a high-quality CBD and you’re not feeling it — literally?

Don’t leave the bottle abandoned in a kitchen drawer. Scientific research and guidance from experts suggest you could still see benefits if you keep taking it daily and (this probably sounds counterintuitive) resist the urge to take an ever-higher dose.

More isn’t always better

We’re trained to think that a higher dose will yield greater results. And in many cases that’s true. But not with CBD.

As a 2019 study demonstrated, there’s likely a “sweet spot” with CBD dosage. Effects increase to a point, then begin to decrease. This effect was observed first in animals, then in a double-blind study on men. Compared to placebo, 300 mg of CBD significantly reduced anxiety during a stressful event. But doubling the dose to 600 mg yielded the same results as the half dose (150 mg). At both the higher and lower dosage, there was no significant difference from the placebo.

So how do you find your dose?

In the absence of established dosing recommendations for CBD, it’s best to start with a dose as low as 10 to 20 mg and work your way up.

A 2020 study showed that a 15 mg dose of hemp-derived CBD taken daily for six weeks “improved HDL cholesterol, tended to support psychometric measures of perceived sleep, stress response, and perceived life pleasure and was well tolerated with no clinically relevant safety concerns.”

As with other supplements, body weight, metabolism and sensitivity will all factor into the dose that’s best for you. Since the dose response is “bell shaped” (effects first increase, then decrease as you take more) you’ll probably want to nudge the dose back when more CBD seems less effective.

In the short term — effects might be felt in minutes to hours

The form you take will determine how quickly you notice the effects. According to Medical News Today, CBD taken by mouth as oil, a capsule or other edible, will take between 30 minutes to 2 hours to set in. A dose taken sublingually (under the tongue) will partially bypass the digestive system, entering the bloodstream faster. And smoking or vaping will typically take effect within minutes.

But one big benefit of CBD is that it can promote calm without the psychoactive effects — so it might not feel like anything much at all. As indicated by the 2020 study cited above, it can take more than a month to really see cumulative effects.

For cumulative effects — get ready to watch the calendar change

Physician Bonni Goldstein, author of the book Cannabis Is Medicine, suggests taking CBD for a minimum of two weeks, and up to four without expecting results.

"The studies show that for CBD to get to a steady-state level in your bloodstream, it takes about two to six days," Goldstein told Mind Body Green. "So taking one dose and ruling it out at that point is not scientifically valid.”

Some think it may take even longer to experience the full benefits of a daily CBD regimen, especially when it comes to longstanding cycles of anxiety, pain or stress. Jesse Stanley of the CBD company Charlotte’s Web told Well + Good it can take four to six weeks for effects to accumulate.

“We are all unique in our needs and bodily systems,” he said. “Some people experience rapid and very noticeable benefits while others notice benefits over time and daily use, which is common for many dietary supplements.” He added: “Every day consistency is key.”

Slow change has its benefits

The body’s endocannabinoid system is a whole-body system, and it takes time to change. Moreover, CBD’s mode of effect is not totally understood. It’s possible that it helps us maintain homeostasis. So while CBD may take longer than other pills to work, the flip side is that it’s typically well tolerated, with few side effects.