How Does CBD Make You Feel (and Why)?

by Jane Meggitt

If you’ve never used CBD before, you probably have lots of questions–and among the most important is how CBD will make you feel. First, you aren’t going to get high from CBD. The amount of tetrahydrocannabinol—or THC, the psychoactive ingredient in the Cannabis sativa plant—is negligible to non-existent in commercial CBD preparations. Now that you know how you won’t feel on CBD, let’s get down to how you might feel.

No Discomfort, No Cognitive Changes

Most people use CBD for a primary purpose, such as sleep, joint pain relief, mood enhancement or to aid serious conditions such as epilepsy or nausea from chemotherapy. CBD works gradually, so its effects are likely to be mild the first time you use it for your main purpose. When used regularly, CBD should offer much of the relief you seek. You’ll notice that your knee isn’t aching anymore, or you aren’t feeling anxious. Perhaps you just feel tired and want to go to bed. While your discomfort should ease, what you won’t find are any cognitive changes associated with CBD. Your mind remains as clear as it was before you took CBD.

The Endocannabinoid System

Your body contains a digestive system, circulatory system, neurological system and others, but were you aware of the endocannabinoid system within you? This system was first discovered in the 1990s, and through its receptors in the brain, the endocannabinoid system helps regulate numerous bodily functions, including mood, pain, sleep, memory and various metabolic processes. If the endocannabinoid system isn’t functioning properly, however, certain conditions may occur, including fibromyalgia, migraines and other ailments featuring pain hypersensitivity. CBD does not bind to endocannabinoid receptors per se, but it does stimulate the endocannabinoid system. The result is less pain and inflammation, the ability to sleep and mood elevation.

How Long Does CBD Last?

How long CBD lasts depends on various factors, not the least of which is your body chemistry. How you take CBD also affects how long it will last, as it must enter your bloodstream to work. Oral CBD consumption takes the longest, as it must go through the digestive system before reaching the bloodstream. Inhalation via vaping is the fastest method, and you should notice effects within 10 to 15 minutes, and often immediately. Expect to wait up to half an hour when you take CBD orally, between 15 and 20 minutes if sublingually, and as much as 45 minutes for topical use of CBD. Quality counts, as low-quality CBD takes longer for the body to absorb than a high-quality variety.

How long the effects last also depends very much on individual metabolism and the consumption method. While vaping is the quickest delivery system, the effects don’t last as long. You may need another dose within two to three hours. When used sublingually, you may enjoy the CBD effects for up to six hours. Oral dosing also lasts up to six hours. Topical use takes longer to kick in, but this method offers six hours or more of pain relief.

Few Side Effects

Unlike prescription or over-the-counter medications used to treat some of the same conditions, CBD has few, if any, side effects. Any side effects triggered by CBD are usually mild, such as dry mouth. CBD can cause drowsiness, but that’s the point for many users. Rarely, CBD may cause diarrhea, but changing the amount of CBD used can alleviate that problem, which is usually only temporary anyway. Some drugs may interact with CBD, however, so don’t combine it with prescription or over-the-counter sleep products, antihistamines or benzodiazepines, among other drugs. If you take prescription medication, ask your doctor if it’s safe for you to use CBD oil.

Jane Meggitt’s work has appeared in dozens of publications, including USA Today, The Alternative Daily,, The Houston Chronicle and The Nest. She is a graduate of New York University.