How Does Hemp-derived CBD Work?

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An increasing number of people are turning towards hemp-derived CBD for its potential wellness and therapeutic benefits, it’s essential to understand the science behind how CBD works within the body.

In this article, we have provided a comprehensive overview of how CBD works, and how long it takes to work. We will also look into the factors that influence its absorption and effectiveness.

What is CBD?

CBD is one of over 100 cannabinoids found in the Cannabis sativa plant, which includes both hemp and marijuana. Unlike its cousin THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD is not psychoactive, meaning it doesn’t produce the “high” commonly associated with cannabis use.

Instead, CBD is known for its wellness and therapeutic benefits, which include providing relief from conditions such as stress, anxiety, chronic pain, and sleep disorders.

How does CBD work?

CBD works by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), a complex cell-signaling system that plays a crucial role in regulating various functions, including mood, sleep, appetite, and immune response.

The ECS consists of endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes.

1. Endocannabinoids: These are natural compounds produced by our bodies that closely resemble cannabinoids, such as CBD. They act as messengers, relaying information to the ECS about changes in our internal environment.

2. Receptors: Think of receptors as locks on the surface of our cells. There are two primary types – CB1 receptors, mostly found in the brain and central nervous system, and CB2 receptors, scattered throughout the peripheral organs and tissues, particularly those linked to the immune system.

3. Enzymes: Enzymes are the cleanup crew. They break down endocannabinoids once their message, ensuring the ECS maintains a delicate balance.

When you take CBD, it metabolizes and influences the CB receptors (especially CB1 and CB2), which increases the activity of endocannabinoids in the body by preventing the enzymes that break them down, letting them stay in the system for longer. This leads to more endocannabinoid activity and in turn better wellbeing.

CBD also interacts with non-cannabinoid receptors, such as serotonin receptors, often called the “feel-good” neurotransmitter, responsible for influencing mood, anxiety levels, and overall emotional well-being (1).

By modulating serotonin receptor activity, CBD can contribute to a sense of balance and emotional stability.

CBD’s reach also extends to vanilloid receptors, associated with pain perception and inflammation. When activated, vanilloid receptors can desensitize nerve endings, alleviating chronic pain and inflammation (2). 

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How long does CBD take to work?

The time it takes for CBD to produce noticeable effects varies based on factors like the method of consumption, dosage, and individual differences.

Generally, effects from sublingual administration or inhalation of CBD can be felt within minutes, while oral ingestion can take longer, possibly up to an hour or more. 

Nevertheless, CBD takes time to work and many people only notice its effects after a few weeks of consistent use.

So it’s crucial to start with a low CBD dosage and allow your body to adjust to this new compound. Patience is key, as the effects of CBD can be subtle and take time to manifest.

Learn more: CBD dosage guide

How does your body absorb CBD?

CBD comes in various product forms and the method of consumption significantly affects how your body absorbs this compound, such as:

Sublingual administration (oils, tinctures):

Putting CBD oil under the tongue is a quicker way to absorb it. The tissues under our tongue are thin and full of tiny blood vessels.

When we place CBD there, it can absorb directly into our bloodstream, bypassing the digestive process. This sublingual method often leads to faster effects, where changes are noticeable within minutes.

Oral ingestion (capsules, gummies, edibles):

When you take CBD orally, whether in the form of gummies, capsules, or edibles, it embarks on a journey through your digestive system. Once swallowed, it travels to the stomach and then to the liver, where enzymes break the CBD down.

While this method is convenient and discreet, it comes with a delayed onset of effects, typically taking one to two hours to notice its effects, and it lasts up to 4 to 8 hours.

Inhalation (smoking, vaping):

Inhalation of CBD flowers, either through smoking or vaporization, offers a faster route to experiencing the effects of CBD.

When you inhale CBD, it enters the lungs, where it is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream. By bypassing the digestive system and liver, inhalation provides a quicker onset of effects, often within minutes but it only lasts for a couple of hours.

Topical application (creams, roll-ons):

For localized relief, CBD-infused creams, roll-ons, and lotions can be applied directly to the skin. While topical application doesn’t result in CBD entering the bloodstream, it interacts with cannabinoid receptors in the skin, muscles, and joints.

This method is popular for addressing specific areas of discomfort, such as sore muscles or inflamed joints, offering targeted relief without affecting the entire body.

Final thoughts

Understanding how CBD works involves unraveling the intricacies of the endocannabinoid system and the compound’s interaction with various receptors in the body.

While research is ongoing, people often report positive experiences with hemp-derived CBD.

However, as with any wellness product, individuals should consult with healthcare professionals and be aware of local regulations to ensure safe and responsible usage.


The information provided in this article is meant for general use only and may not always suit everyone’s individual needs. Your health and wellness are personal, so you should consult a medical professional for personalized advice before making any decisions based on our content.

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