How Long Does CBD Stay in Your System?
Various studies have shown that cannabidiol (CBD) consumption has many potential health benefits, including but not limited to reducing anxiety, relieving pain, and promoting better sleep. This recent surge in CBD’s popularity is thanks to its therapeutic effects, plus the increasing legalization and normalization of cannabis in various states and countries worldwide.
With so many new users of CBD, education is hugely important, and one of the questions many people have is how long CBD stays in your body. The main factors that affect the duration of CBD’s presence in the body are:
- The dosage
- The consumption method
- Each individual’s metabolism
Despite the potential benefits, knowing about CBD half-life is essential information for any responsible user.
What are the Different Types of CBD?
One often overlooked and confusing detail about CBD is where it comes from. You may have heard the terms full-spectrum and isolate. This is the difference between CBD which has been isolated from the other naturally occurring compounds in the cannabis plant and that which includes things like terpenes, essential oils, and very low levels of THC – the psychoactive compound that makes you feel high.
It is widely believed that full-spectrum CBD products are more holistic than isolates. This is because of the entourage effect where the different compounds combine to give users the full range of benefits that CBD is known for. You can click here to learn more about full-spectrum CBD vs. CBD isolate.
CBD products include tinctures (oil in a pipette bottle), gummies, CBD capsules, CBD flower, vape cartridges, topicals, creams, and many more. Each of these delivery methods will vary in their potency which will affect how long CBD remains in your system, in addition to some more factors.
Metabolism and Elimination of CBD
Cannabinoids refer to every chemical substance (regardless of their origin or structure) that joins with cannabinoid receptors in the body and brain. They produce more than 100 naturally occurring chemicals, the most abundant of which are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, CBD (cannabidiol), terpenes, and flavonoids. These four are the main chemicals that are considered in terms of dosage quantities for any CBD product.
Dosage and Delivery Method
CBD dosage is specific to the individual and it varies depending on your weight and use frequency. Different products also contain a wide range of dosages, so depending on your chosen delivery method, the speed at which CBD is eliminated from your body will vary.
Per serving, you can expect anything from 5mg to several hundred. A typical dose of CBD oil tincture will contain between 10 and 50mg per serving, a single gummy around 20mg, and an entire vape cartridge between 100 and 500mg.
Each of these products has a different delivery method meaning it takes a different path in the body to be metabolized or absorbed into the bloodstream. The speed at which it reaches the bloodstream denotes how quickly the effects will be felt.
Inhalation is the most direct route, followed by sublingual intake, and finally oral consumption. But to make things a little more complicated, inhalation generally involves a higher dosage per inhale. At the same time, a single tincture drop takes longer to digest but is a minimal dose.
As a rule of thumb, a higher dose will always take longer to leave the body, even if it is by a fast delivery method.
How we metabolize cannabis or CBD is determined mainly by how it is consumed. It is because the route of administration affects the pharmacokinetics of CBD. The bioavailability of CBD via inhalation is 11% to 45%, and ingested bioavailability is approximately 6%.
The difference in bioavailability is mainly due to the pathway from consumption to the bloodstream. Inhalation has a short route, passing through the lungs first and then into the bloodstream. Through ingestion, CBD only reaches the bloodstream after it has first passed through the stomach and then the liver.
CBD has high lipophilicity which means that it binds with metabolic enzymes very efficiently so we can digest it easily, but that accounts for the lower availability. It rapidly distributes in the brain, body fat, and other organs. CBD is metabolized in the liver mainly by the CYP 3A4 enzyme.
Because CBD is a fat-soluble compound, it is stored in the body’s fat cells. In other words, if you have a higher percentage of body fat, CBD will remain in your system for longer and the effects of CBD can last longer.
CBD and the Liver
While the liver plays an important role in metabolizing CBD, users should not worry about side effects. Lower doses of cannabidiol that are typically found in over-the-counter CBD products are generally well tolerated by the liver with no evidence of liver injury.
However, if you are taking other medicines, CBD can inhibit some of the liver enzymes needed for metabolism. We advise speaking with your doctor if you are consuming other medicines with CBD.
The rate at which CBD is metabolized and eliminated from the body is also dependent on the dosage and frequency of use. The correlation is quite consistent. Essentially, the higher the dosage of CBD, the longer it will remain in the body.
You may hear about the half-life of CBD. This is the measure of how long it takes for your body to process and expel a drug. One thing that is often overlooked is that typically, your body will eliminate a drug within four to five half-lives. It means that when we say that the half-life of CBD ranges from a few hours to five days, these numbers need to be multiplied by four or five to tell you the time it takes to fully leave your system.
Detecting CDB and THC in Drug Tests
Determining the duration of CBD in your system and detecting the presence of THC in different parts of your body can be crucial for many reasons. For instance, you may be a medical patient using CBD to manage a chronic condition or an athlete subject to drug testing regulations. Whatever the reason, several lab tests can be performed to provide accurate results.
The most widespread test used is the urine drug screen. Depending on the frequency and amount you use, metabolites can be detected in urine three days to two weeks after your last CBD dose. THC metabolites are detectable within 15 days for an infrequent or daily user or up to 30 days for heavy users.
Blood tests are less commonly used because of how quickly CBD and THC are removed from the bloodstream. THC is typically found in the blood plasma for up to around five hours after digestion but its metabolites, including CBD, can be present for up to a week.
The hair follicle test is another option that can detect the presence of THC and its metabolites for up to 90 days after use. This test may be preferred in situations where an individual’s drug use history needs to be determined over a longer period.
Saliva tests for CBD or THC are extremely rare for employment or legal reasons, much like hair tests. CBD and THC compounds can be detected within minutes of ingestion and can remain detectable for up to 36 hours, depending on the dosage and frequency of use.
For people who only want to consume CBD products, there is little concern for THC to appear in their bloodstream in the instance of a drug test. Even full-spectrum CBD contains so little THC—usually around 0.3%—a very high dose of between 1000 and 2000mg of CBD will be required for THC to show up in a standard test.
What Affects How Long CBD Stays in Your System?
Dosage, Frequency, and Delivery Method
As we touched on earlier, CBD dosage is specific to each individual. The amount you need depends on your weight and how often you use it. Also depending on what product you choose, the speed at which CBD leaves your system will vary. You could be getting anywhere from 5mg to several hundred milligrams per serving.
People who take a higher dose regularly may create an effective build-up of CBD in their system. There is a school of thought around stimulating the endocannabinoid system with a daily dose or by micro-dosing.
Remember that a higher dose will always take longer to leave your body, even when using a fast delivery method, particularly for those with a higher body fat percentage.
Method of Consumption
When you inhale CBD, the effects are largely independent of your physical attributes. Generally speaking, CBD will remain present in your bloodstream for between X and X days.
Ingestion is different though because of the process of digestion. Depending on what you eat and how much you eat, your body will process CBD differently. A 2019 study found a strong correlation between CBD absorption and exposure and high-fat foods like avocados, cheese, and nuts. Eating these foods will increase the duration of CBD in the system. Conversely, consuming CBD on an empty stomach will yield effects that wear off more quickly because it is metabolized faster.
One way to increase the speed of digestion is to take CBD oil sublingually – by applying drops underneath the tongue. This way CBD bypasses the stomach and enters the bloodstream more directly because it combines with saliva which is derived directly from blood.
Because CBD is metabolized in the liver, an individual’s liver health and whether they are taking other medication will affect how long CBD is present in the body. The enzymes in the liver that metabolize CBD could be enhanced or diminished by taking certain medications.
First and foremost, the delivery method of CBD—whether through inhalation, sublingual administration, or oral ingestion—can significantly impact the onset and duration of its effects. Inhalation and sublingual methods tend to have a quicker onset but shorter duration, while oral ingestion may have a delayed onset but potentially longer-lasting effects.
Individual metabolization also plays a crucial role in determining how long CBD stays in the system. Each person’s metabolism is unique, and factors such as age, weight, and overall health can influence how quickly CBD is processed and eliminated from the body. Additionally, CBD can bind to fat cells, potentially prolonging its presence in the system, especially in individuals with higher body fat percentages.
Furthermore, it is generally agreed that a higher dose of CBD needs more time to be metabolized and eliminated, meaning that it takes longer to be expelled from the body.
Individuals must understand these factors and their unique circumstances when using CBD products. If drug testing or other time-sensitive concerns are at play, it’s advisable to consider lower doses or alternative delivery methods that may expedite the elimination of CBD from the system.