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Consuming CBD may have many potential health benefits, which explains its popularity. We break down the factors that impact how long CBD stays in your system. For a patient with painful arthritis who starts smoking and/or consuming CBD edibles, what can they expect in terms of feeling relief? Is it …

How Long Does CBD Stay In Your System?

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Table of Contents

  • 5 Factors That Affect How Long CBD Stays in Your System
  • How Long Do the Effects of CBD Oil Last?

Research shows consuming cannabidiol (CBD) may have a host of potential health benefits, such as reducing anxiety, relieving pain, and promoting sleep—explaining the latest surge in CBD’s popularity. But people who use CBD—either regularly or just once in a while—might wonder how long it stays in your system.

No matter how you take CBD, it’s likely that the clinical impact can last for several days after use, says Kelly Johnson-Arbor, M.D., a triple-board certified medical toxicologist and co-medical director of National Capital Poison Center. In fact, a 2020 study in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology found people who consumed a single dose of a standardized CBD formulation had detectable levels of CBD in their urine for four to five days after ingestion [1] Spindle T, Cone E, Kuntz D, Mitchell J, Bigelow G, Flegl R, Vandrey R. Urinary Pharmacokinetic Profile of Cannabinoids Following Administration of Vaporized and Oral Cannabidiol and Vaporized CBD-Dominant Cannabis. Journal of Analytical Toxicology. 2020;44(2):109-125. .

Continue reading to discover the myriad factors that may impact how long CBD stays in your system.

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5 Factors That Affect How Long CBD Stays in Your System

According to Dr. Johnson-Arbor, how long CBD stays in your system can depend on various factors.

How and What You Eat

How much you eat, as well as what you eat, can impact how your body processes CBD, says Dr. Johnson-Arbor. After consuming a high-fat meal, higher levels of CBD are typically present in the bloodstream, making its half-life (the time it takes for half the amount of a substance to be eliminated from the body) longer than in individuals who consume CBD while fasting, she explains. In other words, if you consume CBD on an empty stomach and don’t eat immediately, CBD is more likely to leave your system sooner. Meanwhile, eating high-fat foods, such as avocados, cheese and nuts, can have the opposite effect. One 2019 study also found CBD exposure and absorption increases significantly when paired with high-fat foods [2] Birnbaum A, Karanam A, Marino S, Barkley C, Remmel R, Roslawski M, Gramling-Aden M, Leppik I. Food Effect on Pharmacokinetics of Cannabidiol Oral Capsules in Adult Patients with Refractory Epilepsy. Epilepsia. 2019;60(8):1586-1592. .

Medications Processed in the Liver and Liver Disease

Certain medical conditions may impact how long CBD stays in your system. “Since CBD is metabolized by the liver, people with liver disease or who take other medications that are metabolized by the liver may have altered metabolism of CBD,” says Dr. Johnson-Arbor. She explains that the human liver contains enzymes that help the body break down medications and other compounds, and some medications can increase or decrease the activity of these enzymes. “When this happens, medications can be metabolized either faster or slower than normal, and this can lead to unwanted adverse reactions,” she says. Since CBD is metabolized by liver enzymes, there can be a potential drug interaction with many other medications.

Frequency of Use

If you use CBD frequently, it can build up over time and stay in your system longer, largely because CBD is highly soluble in fat. “This means that it can build up in our fatty tissues for a long period of time after heavy use and can therefore remain in the system for prolonged periods of time (e.g. weeks) in heavy users,” says Dr. Johnson-Arbor.

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How Much You Use

Unsurprisingly, the more CBD you take at once, the longer it stays in your system. A 2005 study in the journal Therapeutic Drug Monitoring found taking 1.35 milligrams of CBD was only detectable in the blood for about six hours after ingestion, but higher doses were detectable for longer periods of time [3] Nadulski T, Pragst F, Weinberg G, Roser P, Schnelle M, Fronk E, Stadelmann A. Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study about the effects of cannabidiol (CBD) on the pharmacokinetics of Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) after oral application of THC versus standardized cannabis extract. Therapeutic Drug Monitoring. 2005;27(6):799-810. .

Type of CBD Administration

The way in which you consume CBD can impact how long it stays in your system. According to a 2018 review, smoking or inhaling CBD not only causes CBD to enter the bloodstream faster but also leave the body quicker. Meanwhile, the same review found CBD oil can stay in your system longer—up to two to five days. Dr. Johnson-Arbor explains that the reason smoking or inhaling drugs leads to faster clinical effects than consuming a drug orally is because orally administered drugs have to be absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract, and that takes more time. However, whenever you’re talking about how long CBD can stay in your system, it’s important to remember that it really depends on the frequency of use. “CBD (and other cannabinoids) are fat soluble, which means that they can accumulate in fat tissue after chronic use and then be released back slowly into the blood for elimination from the body,” she says. “This means that chronic users may have longer detection times than acute or one-time users (the latter is what’s generally represented in clinical studies and may not be applicable to the general population). The same is true for smoking and inhaling CBD. I don’t want people to get the wrong impression and believe that no matter how much or how frequently they use, CBD will only be detectable in their system for two to five days.”

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How Long Do the Effects of CBD Oil Last?

How long the effects of CBD last varies greatly depending on the factors discussed above. “In a study involving healthy individuals who consumed a highly purified CBD formulation, the elimination half-life in the bloodstream was 14 to 17 hours. Since it takes approximately five half-lives to completely eliminate a drug from the human body, it’s likely that CBD stays in the system for about 85 hours, or about 3.5 days” says Dr. Johnson-Arbor.

So, based on the half-life of the drug, it’s likely that detectable levels may be present for several days after use.

How quickly do the relieving effects of CBD start working, and how long do they last?

For a patient with painful arthritis who starts smoking and/or consuming CBD edibles, what can they expect in terms of feeling relief? Is it instant? Does it take multiple consumptions to start working in the system? Do the relief effects wear off when the “high” does, so to speak?

While we’re hoping for noticeable relief, I also want to set reasonable expectations. Thanks.

CBD and THC work very similarly in terms of time and often dosage, assuming you’re consuming cannabis or tincture or edibles made with them, because they’re both cannabinoids.

So assuming you smoke or vape high CBD cannabis, you’ll feel the effects more or less instantly although the full effect will take 10 minutes or so and last for 2 to 3 hours. And edibles will take 30 to 120 minutes usually, depending on what else you eat, and last for 4 to 6 hours.

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