Understanding CBD: How Long Does CBD Last?

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We’re not talking about CBD’s shelf life here. But if you’re curious, most CBD tinctures will last at least a year after they are opened. Other CBD products, like CBD gummies and CBD pet chews, will vary. Just check the best before date on the package to be sure. 

Getting back on track…

What we’re actually talking about here is the effects of CBD and how long it will last. In this article, we’ll explore this question by talking about how CBD works in your system, a word or two about some science related to this topic and investigate how varying delivery methods may affect the longevity of effects, along with unique personal considerations.

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Getting to Know CBD and Your Body

In order to understand better how long CBD lasts, it’s important to get an idea of what it’s doing in your system to begin with. 

CBD is a cannabinoid. Cannabinoids are compounds extracted from the hemp plant that mimic other compounds that your body produces naturally and, so far, we know that over a hundred different kinds of cannabinoids exist. The similar compounds that your body makes are called endocannabinoids. 

If you’re thinking, “Wow, those names are super similar!” you’re not wrong. 

“Endo” as a prefix means inner or inside. And the discovery of endocannabinoids came after researchers found cannabinoids in hemp, thus the not-so-surprising naming system.

Endocannabinoids were an important discovery though because they made medical researchers aware of something called the endocannabinoid system (ECS) which functions as a huge network in your body and interacts with things such as your central nervous system and organs. 

Another part of the ECS includes receptors, which endocannabinoids bind to in order to produce different functions and effects. There are two main receptors that we’ve discovered so far, CB1 receptors and CB2 receptors. 

And lastly, there are special enzymes which break down endocannabinoids and help the body dispose of them.

a diagram of cbd1 and cbd 2 in the body

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CBD, as a cannabinoid, functions a lot like the endocannabinoids that your body produces. It binds specifically to CB2 receptors and after it does its thing will be broken down by the enzymes in your body.

Now, let’s take a look at how long that process might take and what factors affect it.

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What does science say about how long CBD stays in your system?

The best bit of investigative science we have relating to this topic is a 1991 case study that was published in Pharmacology Biochemistry & Behavior. 

It took a look at blood samples from 14 Huntington's disease patients who were under clinical observation, receiving CBD orally at a level of 700 mg/day. That’s a really high dose and we don’t recommend that you take this much yourself. Remember, these folks were under the care of healthcare professionals and participating in a study. 

The important part, for us, is in the researcher’s findings. They reported that even though the patients received that high amount, CBD levels averaged 1.5 mg/ml one week after CBD was discontinued, and were virtually undetectable thereafter.

In this way, the enzymes in the ECS seem quite capable of breaking down CBD and removing it from the body. 

What real world factors should you personally consider?

There are a few major factors to consider when thinking about how long you’ll continue to feel the beneficial effects of CBD. Let’s cover those now.

Delivery Method – How you take CBD will determine how quickly it enters your system, which will also affect its exit. CBD tinctures, taken sublingually (under the tongue) will be the fastest. Ingesting CBD, like with CBD gummies, will take a little longer as entry via the digestive system is a little slower. And lastly, CBD topicals like creams will provide targeted relief to specific areas but may require the longest time. 

a woman using a dropper to put cbd oil under her tongue

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Frequency – If you’re a daily user of CBD products, you’re probably going to feel the effects more consistently and for a longer period of time. Because the enzymes in your ECS are constantly working to break down the CBD, if you’re only an occasional user, the effects won’t be as long-lived.

Serving Size – Understanding CBD concentration levels and potency is important. The amount that you are taking on a daily basis will also affect how long it lasts. Quite simply, the more that goes into your body, the longer it will typically last. Having said that, it’s important to not overdo it and listen to your body. Follow packaging directions to find what’s recommended as a starting point and how to increase serving sizes appropriately. More is not always better. 

Individual Considerations – There are also personal, individual considerations when it comes to how long CBD will last in your system. Two major points here are body weight, specifically weight from fat, and your metabolism. For those of us carrying a bit more weight, we may need more CBD to feel the effects to begin with, but our favorite cannabinoid may also stick around longer. And for those lucky enough to have a speedy metabolism, you might find the effects wearing off more quickly. 

In the end…

Each individual is going to respond to CBD differently and this includes how long it lasts in your system. If you’re new to using CBD products, keeping track of your frequency of use, serving sizes and delivery methods in relation to how you’re feeling and for how long will help you develop a personally tailored answer to this question. 

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