EducationHow long do CBD edibles take to kick in?

How long do CBD edibles take to kick in?

11 min read

Editorial Team

How long do CBD edibles take to kick in?


What are CBD edibles? 

The term 'CBD edibles' refers to any food item that has been infused with cannabidiol (CBD), a naturally occurring cannabinoid produced by the cannabis sativa L. genus. Edibles provide a simple and discreet, yet effective, way to introduce the benefits of CBD into your daily diet in a balanced and interesting way. 

CBD edibles come in a wide variety of flavours, shapes, and CBD dosage strengths, making them suitable for pretty much everyone. These edibles, most often offered in the form of chocolate bars, cookies, gummies, energy bars, and even infused soft drinks, tea, and coffee, are widely available and legally sold 'over the counter' here in the UK, thanks to changes in regulations regarding the sale and consumption of CBD products in 2018.

The main difference between taking a CBD dose through edibles compared to other methods, such as vaporization, is that it takes longer for the effects to kick in. This is because when CBD is consumed through edibles, it must first pass through the digestive system before entering the bloodstream and reaching the brain.

But how long do CBD edibles take to kick in, exactly?

That's the question we are here to answer, along with providing all the relevant information to give you a general understanding of CBD edibles and how they work in the body.

The science behind CBD edibles

When most people hear the word 'cannabis', they automatically assume that any products derived from the plant will get them high. However, CBD is a non-intoxicating compound, meaning it won't produce any mind-altering effects like its sister cannabinoid THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) does.

Inside every single of one us, there is what is known as the "endocannabinoid system (ECS)". This is the largest regulatory system in the body and plays a crucial role in maintaining overall balance and homeostasis. This system is made up of receptors, enzymes, and endocannabinoids that work together to regulate various psychological and physiological functions such as mood, pain sensation, appetite, sleep, inflammation, and immune response.

Now, you might have noticed the term 'endocannabinoids' – these are cannabinoids that are naturally produced by our bodies. 

But what about plant-derived cannabinoids like CBD? 

Well, thanks to the remarkably similar structure they share with our endocannabinoids, they can also interact with our ECS and modulate its functions, which is why CBD edibles have the potential to provide various therapeutic benefits.

CBD has been shown to have a weak affinity to both CB1 and CB2 receptors, which are the receptors in our ECS. However, instead of directly binding to these receptors like THC does, CBD works by enhancing the effects of our body's own endocannabinoids. Recent research has also shown that CBD administration can boost levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter involved in mood and stress regulation, as well as influence the vanilloid receptor, responsible for pain sensation. It has also been shown to bind to GABA receptors, which may account for its anxiolytic properties.

These receptor interactions provide a range of potential therapeutic benefits for conditions like chronic pain, inflammation, anxiety, and depression. But as with any medication or supplement, it's important to understand how long it takes for these effects to kick in when taking CBD edibles, how to dose them correctly, and the potential side effects that may occur.

How long do CBD edibles take to kick in?

As mentioned earlier, when consuming CBD in edible form, it must first pass through the digestive system before entering the bloodstream and reaching the brain. This process can take anywhere from around 30 minutes to two hours, depending on a surprisingly wide range of factors, including:

  • Your metabolism
  • Your weight and body composition
  • The type of food you eat with the edibles (fatty foods can slow down digestion)
  • How much food you have eaten that day
  • The strength of the CBD contained within the edible
  • Your general health and any pre-existing conditions

So, as you can see, it's not an exact science. Some people may feel the effects of CBD edibles within half an hour, while for others it may take up to two hours or even longer.

And on top of this, there is the "first pass" effect to consider. Essentially, when CBD (and other substances) are consumed orally, they pass through the liver before entering the bloodstream. Here, enzymes in the liver break down and metabolize some of the CBD before it can enter circulation. This means that not all of the CBD you eat will actually reach your ECS, resulting in a lower bioavailability and potentially reducing the overall effects.

However, it's worth noting that while CBD edibles may take longer to kick in compared to other methods such as vaporization or sublingual tinctures, they can also have a longer-lasting effect.  

Understanding CBD absorption rates

Not all CBD products are created equally, at least when it comes to the time it will take for the effects to be noticeable. As mentioned, edibles have a slower onset due to the digestive process and first-pass effect. But other factors also play a role, such as the type of CBD used (full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or isolate), how it was extracted and processed, and even the quality and purity of the product itself.

CBD edibles may also have a lower absorption rate compared to other CBD products options. The CBD administration route with the fastest absorption rate, and so the quickest onset of effects, is inhalation through a vaporiser. This method allows CBD to enter the lungs and directly into the bloodstream in less than a minute.

Sublingual CBD oil or tincture application (putting drops under the tongue and allowing them to absorb) is also a popular method, with faster absorption rates compared to edibles. The area beneath your tongue and gums, called the oral mucosal membrane, facilitates rapid absorption of certain compounds into the bloodstream. By placing a few drops of CBD oil under your tongue and holding it there for around two minutes before swallowing, you allow ample time for absorption to occur. This direct entry into the bloodstream results in a faster onset of action and quicker relief from symptoms. Moreover, this method enables CBD to bypass the liver, which cuts out the 'first pass' effect.

How long will the effects of CBD edibles last?

While CBD edibles do not provide the fastest onset of effects, and a certain percentage of the CBD will be broken down before it can reach the blood stream, they do tend to provide longer-lasting relief. This will vary somewhat depending on the individual factors discussed above, and the strength of the edibles, but as a general rule of thumb you can expect the effects of CBD edibles to be noticeable for anywhere between three and five hours after they are first felt.

This makes CBD edibles a great option for those looking for sustained relief from symptoms, rather than a quick fix. However, it's important to keep in mind that everyone responds differently to CBD, so it may take some experimentation to find the right dosage and method of administration for you.

Do CBD edibles come with any risks or side effects?

CBD has been shown, through an ever-growing and already extensive body of clinic studies and peer reviewed research, to have a very favourable safety profile. This is one of the reasons why CBD has been approved for sale without the need for a prescription here in the UK (and in many other countries).

However, as with any medication or supplement, there are potential risks and side effects to be aware of when taking CBD edibles. These include:

  • Dry mouth (cottonmouth)
  • Light-headedness or dizziness
  • Low blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Fatigue or drowsiness
  • Nausea or upset stomach
  • Diarrhoea

If you do happen to experience any of these unwanted side effects, it is recommended to stop taking the CBD product immediately and speak to a medical professional if the symptoms continue. Alcohol may also increase the side effects of CBD, so it is best to avoid drinking alcohol while taking CBD in any form to reduce the chance of experiencing negative effects. . 

CBD can also interact with certain medications, so if you are taking any prescription drugs, you should always consult a doctor before introducing it into your treatment plan. If you are finding if difficult to find a doctor that is registered to prescribe medical cannabis, Releaf is here to help. Our specialist consultants, nurses, and doctors are trained and experienced in offering expert advice on the use of CBD and other cannabinoids to help treat a wide range of medical conditions.

What size CBD edible dose should I take?

The best advice for people just starting out with any form of CBD product, edible or otherwise, is to start low and go slow. This means starting with a small dose and gradually increasing it over the course of a few days until you feel the relief of symptoms or desired effects. This is important because everyone's body chemistry is different, and what works for one person may not work for another.

It's also essential to carefully read the label of your CBD edible products and follow any recommended serving sizes or dosages. Some edibles may come with a heavier overall dosage size but are intended to be broken up into smaller portions, so it's crucial to pay attention to serving sizes to avoid taking too much at once.

With that said, and with the safety profile of CBD in mind, it's worth mentioning that it is virtually impossible to 'overdose' on CBD. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared that

"CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential."

However, taking too much CBD can lead to unwanted side effects, as mentioned previously, so it's always best to start low and gradually increase your dosage until you find what works for you.


The rise of CBD as a health and wellness supplement over the past five or so years has been nothing short of monumental. Truly, we are living in the midst of the medical cannabis revolution, and CBD is leading that charge.

And with good reason too – this powerful compound derived from the cannabis plant has shown incredible potential in helping to manage a variety of medical conditions, all without the psychotropic effects commonly associated with recreational cannabis use.

If you are looking to add CBD to a current treatment plan, it's always best to first seek the guidance and advice of a doctor that is registered on the General Medical Council (GMC) in the UK to prescribe medical cannabis. With its favourable safety profile and variety of administration methods, CBD edibles can provide a convenient and effective way to incorporate CBD into your daily routine for sustained relief from symptoms. Just remember to start low and go slow, read labels carefully, and listen to your body's response as you explore the world of CBD edibles.

Releaf understands that finding a doctor who is registered to prescribe medical cannabis can be difficult. That's why we offer online consultations with our specialist doctors, as well as a unique medical cannabis card for extra protection and access to the treatment you need. If you're interested in learning more about our services or getting access to medical cannabis treatment, get in touch and one of our team members will be happy to help.

It is important to seek medical advice before starting any new treatments. The patient advisors at Releaf are available to provide expert advice and support. Alternatively, click here to book a consultation with one of our specialist doctors.

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Editorial Team

Article written by the Releaf Editorial Team, a group of seasoned experts in cannabis healthcare, dedicated to enhancing awareness and accessibility in the field through their wealth of knowledge and experience.

Our articles are written by experts and reviewed by medical professionals or compliance specialists. Adhering to stringent sourcing guidelines, we reference peer-reviewed studies and scholarly research. View our editorial policy.

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