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  • by Nicola Boulton September 28, 2022 5 min read

    How Long Does It Take to Absorb CBD?

    There is no specific answer to this question; numerous parameters determine the time taken for CBD to manifest in the body. The factors range from the user’s body weight, metabolism, CBD concentration, and mode of consumption among others. Herein, we discuss how the mentioned factors influence the duration taken for CBD to manifest in the body.

    Absorption is a description of the rate and the extent to which compounds such as CBD are channeled into the bloodstream. Most drugs undergo a complex process before they get absorbed in the body. While some get infused transdermally, others enter the bloodstream through the fast-pass process. Notably, CBD contains numerous cannabinoids that enter the body through receptors, lung tissues and through the skin layers. In the current article, we explore how CBD interacts with the body and the various inhibitors that impact its absorption.

    Factors Affecting Absorption

    Several factors determine the time CBD takes to be absorbed into the body. For instance, the metabolism rates of the body, the individual’s psychological characteristics, and the manner of CBD administration are the major determinants of the absorption process. This is because each person behaves differently to similar CBD treatments.

    Does the Method of Administration Matter?

    Basically, two important factors are considered under the administration of CBD. They include bioavailability and inter or intra- variability.

    Inter-variability is the variation of the drug effects between two people. Equal doses of a similar drug may be harmful to one individual but effective to the other in terms of tolerance, and safety of the drug. Major contributors to the variability comprise age, disease, gender, and weight.

    Intra-variability is the variation of the drug effects within an individual while consuming the same quantity of a similar drug. This implies that there might be changes in the medicine’s effects to the same person. Intra-variability is a function of multiple aspects including, but not limited the food or drink used with the drug, the time of consumption, and individual reaction at the time of consumption.

    Below are the popular methods of administration with information on how long it takes and their mechanisms.

    Absorption Through the Lungs (Inhalation)

    During inhalation, the substances are absorbed via the lungs. The rate of detection of CBD after inhalation is slower when compared to THC; the latter takes a few minutes to manifest although its influence lasts for about ten minutes.

    CBD Smoking

    Among the most preferable methods of administering cannabis is smoking. However, there is little information on CBD’s bioavailability. According to Heussler et al (2019), CBD’s bioavailability is on averagely 31% with a minimum value of eleven percent. Still, this bioavailability is relatively higher than most methods of CBD consumption.

    Inhaling CBD through Vaporizing

    The volatile CBD is channeled into the body via the lungs. Vaping has a bioavailability higher than smoking, although the difference is quite small.

    Oral Absorption Routes

    According to Peters et al. (2018), orally administered cannabis is referred to as edibles. During oral administration, the cannabis is swallowed via the buccal cavity then channeled through the digestive canal then absorbed into the ileum.  From the small intestine, CBD goes to the liver and then to the central circulation of blood.

    Since oral CBD takes longer to break down, its absorption is longer compared to inhalation; oral CBD takes about thirty to sixty minutes to absorb.

    According to Millar et al (2018), the bioavailability of CBD through oral absorption ranges between ten to twenty percent. The slower absorption delays CBD’s effects in the body.

    Absorption Through Oromucosal and Sublingual

    Cannabis products are generally consumed sublingually, as tinctures or sprays. The application of tinctures is mainly through a dropper. Sublingual administration involves placing CBD under the tongue and allowing it to settle for about a minute before swallowing. Oromucosal simply refers to the mouth and the mucosa which is mainly a skin layer that is the source of mucus. Mucosal also includes the cheeks and the gums.

    The absorption through the oromucosal and sublingual are not the same as oral absorption although both occur when the drug is inserted in the mouth because they have different locations during absorption.

    Sublingual and oromucosal more of absorption takes place directly via the oral cavity as the oral absorption takes place at a later time in the digestive canal. The two methods greatly have an impact on the time the effects will begin to be felt. The oromucosal and the sublingual mode of administration lead to the drug being channeled directly into the blood circulation, unlike oral absorption which requires the drug to be digested first before its absorption.

    Sublingual and oromucosal modes of CBD administration generally lead to faster absorption of the drug, which is usually within seconds or minutes. Scientists say that oromucosal and sublingual CBD absorption is faster and more efficient when compared to oral intake of CBD. Oromucosal and sublingual are said to have the same bioavailability during CBD intake.

    Skin Absorption

    Skin absorption of CBD can either be tropical or transdermally. According to Huestis et al (2007), transdermal administration of CBD, skips the first-pass metabolism which is effective for individuals who dislike oral CBD intake. Notably, CBD compounds are fat-loving (lipophilic) and have a minimal likeness to water. Substances that penetrate the skin are moderately lipophilic than CBD. Through this method, the bioavailability of CBD is therefore expected to be slightly lower due to the lack of water that facilitates absorption. Some factors such as variations in temperature, application of voltage pulses, or ultrasound may boost skin absorption. Also dissolving CBD into compounds that are penetrator enhancers can facilitate absorption.

    The topical drugs are mainly used for local effects. Under topical application, the medicine’s penetration ability is low; they are believed to treat any condition found in the body internally. They are majorly applied on areas such as the eye, and nose, or in the form of creams to heal allergies and other localized infections like eczema or fever.


    CBD comes in multiple forms; tinctures, edibles, vapes and CBD oil.  The cannabis derivative has different influences in the body. The influence is determined by the amount of CBD in a product, the body’s metabolism, user’s age and body composition. Similarly, the methods of administration determine the time taken for CBD to manifest in the body. vaping manifests fastest and in suitable for immediate pain relief. In contrast, CBD oil takes the longest to manifest due to the lengthy digestion process. Therefore, one should select a method of consumption based on their desired effects for CBD.


    Heussler, H., Cohen, J., Silove, N., Tich, N., Bonn-Miller, M. O., Du, W., ...& Sebree, T. (2019). A phase 1/2, open-label assessment of the safety, tolerability, and efficacy of transdermal cannabidiol (ZYN002) for the treatment of pediatric fragile X syndrome. Journal of neurodevelopmental disorders, 11(1), 1-9.

    Huestis, M. A. (2007). Human cannabinoid pharmacokinetics. Chemistry & biodiversity, 4(8), 1770.

    Millar, S. A., Stone, N. L., Yates, A. S., & O'Sullivan, S. E. (2018). A systematic review on the pharmacokinetics of cannabidiol in humans. Frontiers in pharmacology, 9, 1365

    Peters, J., & Chien, J. (2018). Contemporary routes of cannabis consumption: a primer for clinicians. Journal of Osteopathic Medicine, 118(2), 67-70.

    Nicola Boulton
    Nicola Boulton

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