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The Best Time to Take CBD So It Works

Janet Miller

Janet Miller

Last updated: October 29, 2019


Choosing the best time to take CBD is an important factor in making sure the extract delivers its effects. People take the hemp extract in 2019 for a variety of reasons: from insomnia to anxiety and work stress relief. They also take CBD via different consumption methods like oil drops, vape oil, and edibles.

As the reasons and consumption methods among users vary, there is also no one best time to take CBD. It depends on what the user hopes to achieve by taking the extract. This guide will first check off the consumption methods and the reasons why people take cannabidiol products, then figure out the best time to take it.

Best Time for CBD According to Consumption Method

Cannabidiol is a very versatile compound and can come in many forms. Makers take the unadulterated CBD oil that comes from extracting it from the hemp plant, and they sell it on its own or blended into many consumable products, like drinks, gummies, lozenges, oral sprays, etc.

Each of these methods delivers the compound to the body differently. Some CBD products can take effect in a few minutes, while others may take a few hours to work.

CBD Oils and Tinctures

Absorption time: between 15-40 minutes
Duration of effects: 1-2 hours
Bioavailability: 15-20%

The end-product of extracting cannabidiol from plant material is oil. The oil, which goes through various filtration processes, is often how people first consume CBD. Makers often sell the CBD oil itself, which people then take sublingually (placed under the tongue).

Taking the compound sublingually via CBD oil drops, a 2018 study in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research found, is the most common way people take the supplement. They also add drops of the CBD oil to beverages, meals or other consumable products, although using the extract as an additive reduces bioavailability (how much of the substance enters the bloodstream).

When absorbed under the tongue, the CBD oil enters the sublingual gland which takes it directly into the bloodstream. Most makers recommend holding the CBD drops for around 30 seconds before swallowing to ensure better absorption.

Recommended time to take CBD oil drops: Twice a day, morning and afternoon, or when needed

CBD Smoking or Vaping

Absorption Time: 3-10 minutes after dose
Duration of effects: 1 hour
Bioavailability: between 60-80%

People use CBD hemp extract to improve their health, so the odds of them smoking it are low and altogether not recommended. Rates of cannabidiol bioavailability when smoked are among the highest. When compared to other methods of consumption, some studies have shown a BA of between 30% and 80% when smoking CBD.

While the absorption rate is high, it goes down just as fast, with peak levels of the substance lasting for only an hour. Vaping CBD oil is another popular form of consumption. There are many factors, however, that determine how effective CBD vaping, and then inhaling the aerosol can be for users. Things like the duration of the draw, the temperature of the atomizer, and the quality of the CBD oil in the tank all play a role in the BA of cannabidiol.

Still, vaping the CBD oil delivers the substance directly into the bloodstream, by-passing other organs, and keeping much of the compound in the body. As the effects of CBD come on faster with vaping, users can inhale the supplement whenever they need it.

Recommended time to vape CBD oil: throughout the day, whenever needed

CBD Capsules and Edibles

Absorption time: 60-120 min after taking
Duration of effects: 3-4 hours
Bioavailability: 20-30%

Cannabidiol taken via capsules, edibles (gummies, lozenges) and other consumable products like beverages are popular, but there is less bioavailability than with the other methods of consumption. Anything that passes through the human digestive system takes time to digest, and the process itself reduces the presence of cannabidiol in the blood.

Taking the substance products orally – as opposed to sublingually, which is different – results in the compound going through the liver, which breaks down the CBD extract, changing its chemistry; the process is known as first-pass metabolism.

The upside to taking hemp extract products orally is that the effects last much longer than with other means of consumption around 8-20 hours longer. Studies have also shown an increase in CBD concentration when capsules are taken after a meal, so users can set their daily schedules to take the supplement around mealtimes.

Recommended time to take CBD orally: in the morning, afternoon and evening, after meals during day

CBD Topical Creams and Gels

Absorption time: 5-10 minutes
Duration of effects: 24hrs
Bioavailability: 1%-8%

CBD oil can be blended into topical creams and gels for a variety of purposes. The primary purpose being pain-relief for inflamed joints, hands and limbs, or anyone with arthritis. These CBD creams and gels are widely available, although their effectiveness is still in question.

There have been studies on animals showing the effectiveness of the extract in treating pain-related inflammation for arthritis, using a topical, CBD-infused cream. While the CBD cream showed signs of being useful, there are still no human tests that have shown it to be an adequate pain-relief balm.

While a CBD cream infused with cannabidiol could prove to be a safe treatment for aches and pains, the rest of the body won’t receive much of the extract. Cannabidiol is highly lipophilic, meaning it absorbs quickly into fat cells and other lipids, which are common in skin and different epidural layers.

Recommended time to apply CBD cream: use whenever needed during day

Why Are You Taking CBD?

There are two main reasons people decide to take CBD:

To self-medicate for a specific ailment or condition
To improve general health and well-being

A survey of cannabidiol-users found that a majority of people (> 60%) use it to treat a specific medical condition, often over one. The top three conditions that people reported were the following:

  • Chronic pain
  • Joint pain/arthritis
  • Anxiety/depression

These chronic health issues also point to how people view the compound as a safe, non-intoxicating, and non-habit forming a supplement to other medications. Of course, this does not mean that people without these conditions should not take hemp extract.

CBD: Pre or Post-Workout?

People who are relatively healthy and lead active lives in 2019 are also drawn by the potential health benefits a daily cannabidiol regimen can have. For example, as the compound has anti-inflammatory properties, some people take it pre or post-workout.

They either take drops or rub some CBD-infused cream into their problem areas or anywhere they need relief. Whether this helps with recovery or muscle pain is based only on anecdotal evidence of people saying they noticed an improvement using the hemp extract.

For athletes and other high-performance athletes, hemp extract could be a promising alternative to other drugs like painkillers or sedatives that can lead to dependencies. The World Anti-Doping Agency has even delisted the supplement from their banned substances list so athletes can use CBD without repercussions.

Taking the Right Amount

The amount of cannabidiol a person should be taking is always a significant concern. People are unsure of whether they are receiving enough or if they are not taking enough. The correct dosage of CBD depends on a lot of things like:

  • Body size, weight, and height
  • The condition/reason behind taking it
  • Method of consumption

For someone who has never tried any cannabis product (whether with THC or CBD), starting at the lowest possible level is the best way to measure the drug’s effects on their body. The reason is that the substance has shown itself to be effective even in small doses.

The study looking at the drug’s anti-inflammatory effects on lab rats found that:

The 6.2 mg/day dose optimally reduced swelling and increasing the CBD dose (62.3 mg/day) did not yield additional improvement.

The CBD dose in this study came via a transdermal cream intended to ease pain-related inflammation. People who take hemp extract for reasons other than joint pain might need other dose-sizes and different ingestion methods.

The correct dosage of CBD depends on why a person wants to take it. Then, they should find the most effective way to apply the dose, whether topically, sublingually, orally, or through inhalation.

The Entourage Effect

Commercial hemp products in 2019 can contain more than one cannabinoid. There are 100+ cannabinoids present in the hemp and cannabis plants, all of which have a specific property (THC, for example, is the only one that is intoxicating).

The thinking goes that the more cannabinoids present in an oil or cream, the higher the therapeutic effects will be, as each of them enhances the other’s potency. This chain reaction is also known as the Entourage Effect.

Only, not all CBD products are made the same. Individual makers or producers will use different extraction or filtration methods that can affect the final product. The final CBD product is classified as follows:

  • Full-spectrum: refers to the presence of other active cannabinoids in a hemp extract product other than CBD (cannabidiol); other cannabinoids include CBN (cannabinol), CBA (cannabidiolic acid), CBG (cannabigerol), and CBC (cannabichromene).
  • Isolates: these contain only CBD, as it has been isolated from all the other cannabinoid compounds.
  • Full-spectrum CBD products are usually believed to be the best at providing the most relief, although isolates also have their advocates. With full-spectrum CBD, cannabidiol users are guaranteed all the possible effects of not just cannabinoids, but terpenes and flavonoids in the plant material, which also have their positive side. Isolate-users, on the other hand, are guaranteed a product that is 100% THC-free but has none of the other compounds that make full-spectrum hemp extract so useful.

    Conclusion: The Best Time of Day to Take CBD Oil: Time Is of the Essence

    The best time to take CBD oil depends on why you are taking it. The many ways to consume cannabidiol have something to do with it, as the absorption time and the duration of the effects are different for each.

    People with chronic joint or muscle pain would benefit more from cream than, say, vaping CBD oil. People who take the supplement for work stress or anxiety-relief would benefit more from CBD inhalation than a cream or an edible.

    In 2019, for someone who does not want to vape or inhale the extract, edibles, drops or tinctures are a good alternative. Each method has its pros and cons that can appeal to users for different reasons. Figuring out why you want to take the supplement should be the first thing to consider when thinking about the best time to take CBD oil.


Janet Miller

Janet Miller

Janet is a medical specialist with 10 years of experience as a physician and writing passion. She aims to help people and expand humans mindset. Chat with Janet on Twitter @Janet_Miller_MD or via our contact page.


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