There's an important difference between long and short term effects of CBD.
It's buried in the research.
Let's get the shovels out since the long term effects maybe the real star.
Yes, there can very fast effects from CBD across a range of issues, and if your anxious, unable to sleep, or coming out of your skin, that's all that matters.
We're going to dig deeper though into long term changes that occur from CBD via neurogenesis.
That's a fancy word for building new brain connections.
It's also the new darling in mental health research.
It turns out that SSRIs (most common antidepressants) may have their primary effect via this pathway.
Until they don't (due to normalization and tolerance).
That's why they take a few weeks to kick in (actually increase anxiety and depression initially).
The point is that there is definitely research to support both the dosage and duration of use.
We'll cover these topics along the way:
- How long does it take CBD to work (short term)
- How long does it take CBD to work (long term)
- Best dosage for long term neurogenesis
- How long does CBD last in your system
- Is CBD safe for long term use
- Can you take CBD daily
- What's the best CBD for long term use
Let's get started.
How long does it take CBD to work (short term)
Let's start with immediate effects.
We'll take anxiety as an example since it's probably the most popular reason people use CBD and we've studied it extensively (see CBD and anxiety research here).
We'll assume CBD isolate oil since that's generally the only way to get higher doses.
If you just swallow the CBD, the effects generally start in about 10-15 minutes.
It has to pass through the digestive system and liver to the bloodstream.
This is comparable to a Tylenol (see CBD versus Tylenol) or other common medications in terms of how long it takes.
There's a trick though that we can use with the oils.
If you place the oil under your tongue up to 60 seconds (as long as you can if you really need relief), it can increase the amounts that reach the bloodstream by 4 times!
There's a gland there called the sublingual gland that will allow partial absorption directly into the bloodstream.
In this case, the effects can be felt in a matter of minutes.
We covered this in our How to maximize the effects of CBD article.
Another way to look at this is that you're reducing the cost of CBD by 75%.
This is important considering the cost of CBD (see CBD price comparison).
So...once CBD has reached your bloodstream, how long does it last?
Peak CBD in the bloodstream is usually 4-6 hours. It then trails off from there.
This times nicely with meals which also keeps the liver busy so more CBD can reach the bloodstream.
That's the short term timing. For the immediate needs (anxious, can't sleep, etc).
Let's get to the really exciting piece.
How long does it take CBD to work (long term)
We go deep in the hopes that we can shed light on how CBD really works in your body.
Almost all the various issues have something in common….neurogenesis.
This is a fancy word for describing the building and repair of brain connections and structure.
There are various ways to boost neurogenesis such as exercise and mindful meditation (see Exercise and mindful meditation for neurogenesis) but CBD's big trick may lie here as well.
Preclinical studies have shown CBD to induce synaptic plasticity and facilitate hippocampal neurogenesis,29,30 with some evidence suggesting that the pro neurogenic action of CBD via the hippocampus may underlie its anxiolytic effects
Basically, this process of neurogenesis and brain rewiring may like at the heart of its anti-anxiety effects.
Okay...so the real question is how long does this long term neurogenesis effect take with CBD?
Research is pointing to starting at about 2 weeks and taking up to 2 months depending on the state of your system.
Why state of your system?
Everyone has different situations with various levels of the good, the bad, and the ugly.
- Strong stress response system - (basically the endocannabinoid system - anandamide is a key player there)
- Strong BDNF (brain fertilizer) pathways
- Good diet, exercise, and sleep
- Genes that absorb and process key nutrients well
- Hormone balances (see CBD and perimenopause)
- Gut health - strong barrier and healthy probiotic (see CBD and gut barrier)
- The opposite of the above
- Chronic stress
- Early exposure to infection, trauma, and brain injuries
- Drugs (legal and illegal - thanks benzos)
Let's pick up on the benzos there (see CBD versus benzos) since it's about to be the new epidemic now that opioids are slowing down
Benzos (like Ativan and Xanax) cause a burst of GABA in the brain (our brain's "brake pedal").
This has a calming and sleep-promoting effect almost instantly.
The problem is that the brain doesn't like this irregular burst of GABA and will counter longer term by reducing GABA receptor sensitivity and even numbers.
After about 6 weeks, genes get turned off at the DNA level to stop making the proteins which make up the GABA receptor!
That's why drugs are so hard to come off...the withdrawal effect is brutal (see CBD and withdrawals or CBD and tolerance).
The process of rescuing this GABA pathway function requires neurogenesis!
It's not just benzos that can wreak havoc on GABA pathways but chronic stress, immune system over-response (due to early even in utero infection), genetics, etc.
Now fill in the blank for GABA (serotonin, dopamine, glutamate, acetylcholine, etc).
All incredibly important for feeling good and vital.
So, back to CBD. Why 2 weeks to 2 months for longer-term effects.
SSRI's start to work in about 2 weeks. Researchers show this because the underlying neurogenesis takes that long.
After all...we're building new brain!
The research on receptor normalization mainly from addiction points to 6 to 8 weeks to recover.
That's our range for how long it takes CBD to work:
Short term, you can feel better in about 15 minutes (faster if under the tongue)
Long term, the effects can take 2-8 weeks depending on how much assault your system is under
Of course, you can do things to speed this process along.
- Mindful Meditation
- B6 vitamins
- Good fats (your brain runs on fat by the way)
- Hormone balance (estrogen is needed for neurogenesis in women - see CBD and estrogen)
- A healthy gut (see CBD and the gut and berberine)
As for CBD, we covered can you take CBD long term here.
There also research on the best dosage for this long term effect.
Best dosage for long term neurogenesis
We actually have some guidance here as well which is very important since dosage with CBD is still the wild west.
A test dosage is usually around 25-30 mg to see how your body feels. This is a low amount.
Sleep studies are pointing to around 160 mg.
The neurogenesis piece above though peaks at about 300 mg.
Short term effects may continue (anxiety, anti-psychotic, etc) till 600-800 mg in studies but the neurogenesis starts to go down after 300 mg.
Other pathways start to get triggered with higher amounts beyond the 300 mg.
You can break this up (3 x 100 mg with each meal) or take at one time.
Always pay attention to your body's response as you may not need that much due to weight, underlying genetics, environment, etc.
When we take CBD, how long do the effects last?
How long does CBD last in your system
We'll reference the research in our Does CBD affect bloodwork review:
- The peak level for CBD in the blood in about 4-6 hours.
- The half-life is about 31 hours.
- The elimination period was generally 3-5 days
Interestingly, there have been studies where the effects of a single dose can have positive effects for days!
We focus on CBD isolate with zero THC so that there's no risk of failing a drug test or the negatives associated with THC.
What about long term safety?
Is CBD safe for long term use
We covered the broad strokes in our Can you take CBD long term review.
Studies have looked at long term CBD use for many different issues.
For example, 135 days for epilepsy:
Moreover, neurological and physiological examinations were performed, which neither showed signs of CBD toxicity nor severe side effects. The study also illustrated that CBD was well tolerated
There's a good review of many long term studies on CBD at that link.
What about daily use?
Can you take CBD daily
We did a full review on this as well at our Should you take CBD daily article.
There's no documented benefit to taking breaks with CBD, especially for long term neurogenesis effects.
The body doesn't build tolerance to CBD which is so critical!
Check out CBD and tolerance to understand why this is.
Many drugs (both legal and illegal) will build tolerance which is the body's push back against their effects.
This is why it's so hard (if not dangerous) to come off of them.
For example, stopping benzos cold turkey after long term use can cause seizures!
That's because the body has been boosting glutamate (See CBD and glutamate) pathways and suppressing GABA pathways for a period of time.
When the benzo's GABA pop disappears, the system is completely imbalance, and seizures can occur.
That's the 6-8 weeks we mentioned above to normalize these pathways.
Whether it's the use of benzos or SSRIs (for serotonin) or chronic stress or adolescent trauma, we have to rewire the connections in the brain.
This is also the basis behind psilocybin (see psilocybin review) which will probably replace antidepressants in the next few years (if science has anything to do with it).
Many people take breaks from other drugs to allow their system to re-normalize from this tolerance.
That's not an issue with CBD.
There is no documented reason to take breaks in CBD use that we can find in studies.
Finally, a practical question.
What's the best CBD for long term use
We have very strict requirements for CBD since we're putting it in our body:
- Organically grown in the US at an FDA registered farm
- CO2 processed
- 3rd party tested
- No THC (THC does build up tolerance)
- No Solvents
- No Heavy metals
- No Pesticides
- No Mold
We actually test IndigoNaturals twice since our family takes it daily and long term.
Also, the 100's of NIH studies we reference across the site are on CBD isolate.
Not full spectrum. There's almost no research on full-spectrum that everyone's pushing.
Also, 40-60% of the population has allergy or histamine issues.
This goes up as we get older and for women (due to dropping progesterone).
Many people have bad reactions to full-spectrum only to find those go away with CBD isolate.
It's the cleanest way to get the benefits of CBD.
Be well and take care of each other.
Always work with a doctor or naturopath with any supplement!
The information provided here is not intended to treat an illness or substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified healthcare provider.