how fast does cbd salve workDecember 15, 2021
Why does the body have receptors for compounds in cannabis? Well, it doesn’t exactly. Cannabinoids like THC and CBD are similar enough to compounds that your body naturally makes, called endocannabinoids, that they can interact with this system. Normally, the endocannabinoid system is thought to play a role in a variety of functions in the body, helping to regulate things like parts of the immune system, the release of hormones, metabolism, and memory.
Another study published in 2016 in the European Journal of Pain also looked at arthritis in rats but did so with a topical formulation of CBD. After the rats received an injection into one knee joint to model arthritis, they received a gel that contained either 10 percent CBD (in four different total amounts) or 1 percent CBD (the control) on four consecutive days. The gel was massaged into the rats’ shaved backs for 30 seconds each time.
It’s totally possible (and actually pretty likely) that any effect you get from a commercially available topical CBD product is a placebo effect or related to some other aspect of the product. But there are a few things going on here that are more complex than they seem.
What is CBD?
More recent research suggests that many of CBD’s effects may occur outside of CB receptors, Jordan Tishler, M.D., medical cannabis expert at InhaleMD in Boston, tells SELF. In fact, according to a recent review published in Molecules, CBD may have effects on some serotonin receptors (known to play a role in depression and anxiety), adenosine receptors (one of the neurological targets for caffeine), and even TRPV-1 receptors (more commonly associated with taste and the sensation of spiciness).
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meant to go through the skin into the bloodstream) in 320 patients with knee osteoarthritis over 12 weeks, which has not been peer-reviewed to date.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.
Then the researchers measured the inflammation in each rat’s knee joint, the level of CBD that made it into their bloodstream, and their pain-related behaviors. They found that the rats that were given the two highest doses of CBD showed significantly lower levels of inflammation and lower pain behavior scores compared to those that got the control. The two lower doses didn’t show much of an effect.
“It might be that cannabidiol by itself is helpful for pain, but at this point we don’t know that,” Cooper says.
First off, we don’t know much about the correct dose of CBD needed for a pain-relieving effect. The doses in the rat studies that were effective were pretty large (for a rat, obviously). And the human participants in the Phase 2 clinical trial we mentioned received 250 mg of synthetic CBD topically per day—as much as many consumer topical CBD products contain in a single jar.
When the National Academies of Sciences, Medicine, and Engineering evaluated decades of cannabis research, they concluded that "in adults with chronic pain, patients who were treated with cannabis or cannabinoids are more likely to experience a clinically significant reduction in pain symptoms."
Here’s what the research says about using CBD for pain.
“It actually is a very promiscuous compound,” Kevin Boehnke, Ph.D., research fellow in the department of anesthesiology and the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center at the University of Michigan, tells SELF. “It will bind to receptors in multiple different pathways,” which makes it difficult to know how it might cause noticeable effects.
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.
But if you’re reading this, you are probably not a rat, which means these results aren’t directly applicable to your life. Although we know that rats do share much of our physiology—including CB1 and CB2 receptors—these studies don’t really tell us if humans would have the same results with CBD.
The studies we do have about CBD for pain are all animal studies. For example, in a 2017 study published in Pain, researchers gave rats an injection into one of their knee joints to model osteoarthritis. Rats then either received doses of CBD or saline directly into an artery in the knee joint. Results showed that, after receiving CBD, rats showed less inflammation in the joint area and fewer pain-related behaviors (like shaking or withdrawing the affected paw or not being able to bear weight in that paw) compared to those that received saline.
So…is CBD cream just an expensive placebo?
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.
Cannabidiol, commonly referred to as CBD, is a cannabinoid, a type of compound found in cannabis (marijuana). Unlike the more well-known cannabinoid THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD does not produce a high.
“There’s really no substitute for doing proper human studies, which are difficult, expensive, and ethically complicated,” Dr. Tishler says. And we simply don’t have them for CBD and pain.
All of this points to how hard it is to study the specific effects of CBD on its own—which might be why it’s tempting to claim that it’s the cure for everything without a whole lot of research to actually back up all of those claims.
“Cannabidiol is a super messy drug,” Ziva Cooper, Ph.D., research director of the UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative in the Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior and the department of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences, tells SELF. “It has lots and lots of targets and it’s not clear how much of its effects on each target contribute to the potential pain relieving effects.”
Settling on the ideal CBD dosage is an important part of the treatment process, and will also impact how long CBD stays in your system. Hemp-derived CBD products are not intended to give the user a stoned buzz or intoxicated feeling, so there’s no need to be conservative with the dosage amount. Still, it’s recommended to start with a lower dosage and gradually increase it until the ideal effects are discovered.
CBD patches deliver a long-lasting dose very efficiently. Photo by: Shutterstock.
If you’re brand new to CBD, start with a few puffs of a smokeable product, 1 milliliter of oil or tincture, or 10 milligrams of CBD if you’re consuming an edible product. Wait to see how you respond before consuming more.
Bottom line: Ingesting CBD via a tincture or a CBD oil-infused edible will result in a longer onset (up to two hours) and possibly weaker effects.
Bottom line: The relationship between CBD and the human body is complicated. The method of consumption, the quality of the CBD product, and individual body chemistry all determine how this cannabinoid moves through your body and how long it takes to leave your system.
How long does it take CBD to get out of your system?
For those worried about THC showing up in their system, look for broad-spectrum oil or products that contain pure CBD isolate. Broad-spectrum oil, as opposed to full-spectrum oil, is refined to exclude the trace amounts of THC that may have been present in the hemp plant. Products with CBD isolate contain no THC or other plant-based cannabinoids. To find high-quality CBD, search for products that come with a certificate of analysis from a third-party testing lab to ensure that the information listed on the product label is accurate. Be careful not to confuse hemp seed oil or hemp oil, which seldom contain any CBD at all, with CBD oil. These products will provide a hearty dose of omega-3 fatty acids, but they won’t provide any potential pain-relieving or anti-anxiety effects.
CBD can be detected up to 72 hours after smoking. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps.
Bottom line: Using a transdermal CBD patch is an efficient, effective way to enjoy the cannabinoid’s effects, which set in within an hour and last for several hours, depending on the patch’s formulation.
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.
Your body’s metabolism affects how long it takes to process and metabolize cannabinoids. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps.
In recent years, cannabidiol (CBD) oil has skyrocketed in popularity. Knowledge about how it works in the human body, however, has accelerated at a snail’s pace. If you’ve ever wondered, “How long does it take for CBD oil to work?” or “How long will the effects of CBD oil last?” you’re not alone.
Bottom line: Applying CBD oil topically isn’t likely to have a profound effect, but it may help address mild discomfort in specific areas of your body.
The method of consumption plays a critical role in how long it will take to feel the effects of CBD. CBD is available in many different forms, and each has an influence on the onset time, among other factors.
The way CBD interacts with and leaves your body depends on several factors that vary from person to person.
In this article, we’ll answer these questions and cover how different consumption methods will alter your CBD experience.
Administering a couple of drops of CBD oil directly under the tongue is the quickest and easiest way to reap the potential benefits. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps.
When ingesting CBD edibles, the same principle applies. Let’s say, for example, you’re taking CBD gummies or adding a few drops of CBD oil into your favorite recipe. It will ultimately go through the same lengthy process and reduce the total CBD concentration in your bloodstream. With ingestion, it could be one to two hours before the effects of CBD finally set in.
The metabolic rate of the individual also has some sway over how long CBD stays in the system. The body’s metabolism determines the time needed to break down and synthesize compounds, which affects how long it takes the body to process and metabolize the cannabinoid.
Bottom line: Expect to feel the effects of sublingual administration within 30 minutes. Any effects you feel should last an hour or more but be bolstered at about two hours.
Some people may be apprehensive to try CBD over concerns that it could cause them to fail a drug test. It’s highly unlikely that CBD would show up on most drug screenings, as most tests specifically look for the presence of THC and THC metabolites. But even hemp-derived CBD can contain trace amounts of THC, so there’s technically a chance — albeit extremely slim — of receiving a false-positive test result from taking an unusually large dose of CBD oil (estimates range from 1,000 to 2,000 milligrams per day).
The most common method for CBD consumption involves administering a couple of drops directly into the mouth. Swallowing the oil will prevent the CBD from immediately entering your bloodstream, sending it instead through the digestive tract and eventually on to the liver, where it is broken down before finally reaching the bloodstream.
CBD interacts with the brain and body through a number of mechanisms. Upon ingestion, CBD interacts with a wide range of proteins in the body and central nervous system. A key part of this interaction takes place within the endocannabinoid system (ECS) — specifically the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors.
You can consume CBD oil sublingually by placing a few drops of CBD under your tongue and rubbing it into the tissue there with your tongue or finger for at least 30 seconds to a minute before swallowing. This will allow the mucous membranes in your mouth to absorb the CBD, partially bypassing the digestive system and liver, for much quicker entry into the bloodstream. Effects may be felt within seconds. Just like when you ingest THC edibles though, you’ll get a second onset of effects a couple of hours later when the CBD that wasn’t absorbed sublingually makes it through your digestive system.
When you apply topical CBD products directly to your skin, the CBD is absorbed and slowly interacts with localized cannabinoid receptors. In some cases, CBD-infused topicals should be applied liberally to overcome the low cannabinoid absorption rate of the skin. With topical application, any CBD effects you feel will peak after about 90 minutes. This method of administration is often used for chronic pain in specific areas.
It depends on how you consume it. For the quickest potential anxiety relief, smoke high-CBD hemp flower, vape a CBD oil vape, or administer CBD sublingually, taking care to rub it in.
Topical CBD is applied directly to and can be absorbed through the surface of the skin. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps.
It’s not just your body that influences how long it takes CBD to work, but also the quality of the CBD product and how often it’s used. Once you acquire CBD oil, the next step is to find the optimal dosing regimen, including frequency of use. The answers will depend largely on the type of product, amount of CBD inside it, and the specific ailment you are targeting. Most reputable manufacturers will provide instructions on how to properly use the product, but experimentation may be required to find the optimal dose for you and your specific needs.
A 2018 review of existing CBD studies found that the estimated half-life of CBD was two to five days for those who took a daily oral dose. Other delivery methods delivered varied half-lives. Since you may feel the effects of CBD immediately after inhalation, this method is appealing for those seeking immediate, potential pain relief. The same study found that the half-life of smoked CBD was 31 hours.
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.
That depends on the person, the quality of the CBD oil, and the consumption method. If you’ve used a CBD product in the past and it did nothing, check whether it came from a licensed brand or retailer that performs third-party lab tests. If this is the case, the dosage might be at play. Unlike THC and most other cannabis products, CBD is non-intoxicating and you can experiment with large increases in your dose with little risk. If you take any prescription medication, be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist before trying CBD in any form.
Consumers aren’t waiting for clinical trials. But they need to remember, says Hurd, that slathering on creams can be risky, considering how the skin absorbs everything. Even topical CBD can react with oral medications.
By the time you feel any annoying itch or prick of pain, CB1 and CB2 receptors on your skin cells have already fired off signals to help dampen those unpleasant vibes. These receptors — part of the body’s endocannabinoid system — spend their workdays responding to chemical messages that help our skin nurture a healthy balance. CBD cream bypasses the CB1 and CB2 receptors and heads straight for a neurotransmitter middleman that blocks signals for pain and itch by working through agents called anandamide and 2-AG.
So far, though, most larger scientific studies on CBD have been limited to animals. A handful of small human trials are now underway to evaluate the extent of cannabidiol's pain relief potential. Even without clinical trials, many people already use legal CBD to counteract the intense discomfort brought on by chemotherapy, and to ease pain in arthritic joints. Texas-based dermatologist Jennifer Clay Cather, who cares for people with complicated skin problems, says most of her patients come from oncology. She also owns a research company that develops CBD skin products. “We need large, evidence-based trials testing different conditions, and also testing the reproducibility of the molecule,” Cather says.
Researchers have confirmed that CBD works against pain and inflammation , and they’re still finding new ways that it works in the body . They're also working to nail down the proper dose of topical CBD needed for pain relief. For example, the dose that brings relief to achy joints may be insufficient to effectively treat nerve damage in feet. While rubbing topical CBD onto the skin seems to work, researchers still need to figure out how much skin coverage is most effective. Some skin creams also contain menthols, which carry their own pain relief and anti-inflammatory properties, possibly masking any effect from the CBD itself.
Opioid pain relief can cause nausea, constipation and addiction. Standard anti-inflammatory meds carry the risk of stomach issues, including bleeding. The limited options prompt many folks to try creams and lotions containing cannabidiol (CBD).
Skin in the Game.
Consumers need to be educated, as well, says Cather. She works to develop a trusting relationship with her patients, so that they’ll feel comfortable talking about using CBD. She also urges her patients to find companies that document what’s actually in the bottle or jar. Asking the company about their quality control, such as how often they document ingredients, can help also vet the product.
Hurd suggests telling your doctor if you are using CBD creams because what’s absorbed into your skin will get into your bloodstream. “These are sometimes things people don’t appreciate when they are putting cream ‘only on my knee,’” says Hurd. “We also have a lot of seniors using CBD creams for arthritic pain and we need to know sooner rather than later whether this chemical cream used by so many people can indeed be effective.”
Pain is a big driver behind opioid addiction. Many people who began treating chronic pain with prescription opioids have switched to heroin when other drugs became difficult to get. A lot of people have died as a result, says Yasmin Hurd , an addiction specialist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. “We have so many people in our society now experimenting with CBD to manage pain,” she says. “They are going to their clinicians and asking them for CBD.”
CBD is one of the hundreds of biologically active ingredients produced in Cannabis sativa plants. Unlike THC, its psychoactive cousin that makes people feel high, CBD can ease pain without the euphoria or fear of addiction. The cannabinoid has similar effects whether absorbed through the skin or ingested by mouth.
Sidestepping the CB1 and CB2 receptors means that CBD can mute pain without the high sensation delivered by THC. Not only does CBD have very little interest in switching on CB1, cannabidiol can actually mute any signals sent to that receptor. Researchers looking for safer pain treatments want to take advantage of this action because it means that CBD won’t spark addiction.
Our knees ache, our backs hurt, our feet throb. Pain is one thing everybody wants gone. Unfortunately for chronic pain sufferers, many treatments come with unwanted side effects.
With successful clinical trials, the future could even bring CBD pain relief with medications containing THC, or perhaps pairing CBD with opioids. But for now, says Hurd, “we are still at the beginning of really understanding these roles for CBD in pain.”