Cannabidiol (CBD) is a popular chemical compound, capable of exerting positive effects on users over time. Yet not everybody experiences the same benefits with CBD use. One reason for this discrepancy could be that people metabolize the chemicals differently. This raises an important question: How long does CBD stay in your system?
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Factors That Influence How Long CBD Stays in Your System
Several factors determine how long CBD stays in your system. The first one is the quantity of CBD. The more CBD you take, the longer you’ll experience the benefits, with heavy doses lingering for the better part of a day.
Quality of CBD matters, too. You might take 100 mg of CBD and feel next to nothing if it’s low quality. Pure CBD stays in your system longer than products with fillers and additives. However, there should be no difference between the duration of full-spectrum CBD and that of broad-spectrum CBD.
Your frequency of use also influences how long CBD remains in your system. If you are taking CBD every day, it can cause cannabidiol to accumulate in your body. That’s why you may need to take CBD for a week to begin to feel the desired effects since small doses clear your bloodstream rapidly.
Your body type and metabolism dictate how fast CBD effects will occur and how long they will remain in your body. For instance, people with a fast metabolism can process cannabis products within minutes, while others may take hours. CBD will also leave your system quickly if you have a low body mass index and high-water content.
The food you eat before taking CBD impacts how the compound reacts in your body. If you eat CBD on an empty stomach, it’s the first thing your metabolism will break down. However, if you have a big meal beforehand, it will slow your metabolism and digestion when processing CBD.
Finally, your method of consumption when you take CBD makes a difference in how soon you will feel the effects of CBD and how long it will last. Research shows that vaping provides almost immediate benefits because the cannabidiol goes directly into your lungs and then your bloodstream. If you use a cream, lotion, or edible, your metabolism has to break down the product before you feel the effects, which may take hours.
How Long Do the Effects of CBD Oil Last?
As we mentioned above, several factors dictate how you may experience CBD. For example, a short, thin man using CBD isolate for the first time will experience pain relief for longer than a large man that uses it habitually. As a rule of thumb, CBD oil lasts for four to six hours long, though a heavy dose may last 24 hours.
You will find three popular methods of CBD consumption: sublingual, inhalation, and topical. Sublingual involves placing the CBD product under your tongue. The cannabidiol will take effect in two to four minutes since the CBD travels through the mucous membranes in the mouth and into the bloodstream, bypassing the digestive system entirely.
Inhalation allows people to ingest CBD through vaporized particles. A joint or vape pen turns the cannabidiol into fine specks that individuals can inhale. Once the CBD enters the lungs, the body absorbs it rapidly, making vaping ideal for immediate pain relief.
Topicals take the longest amount of time to work, ranging from 15 minutes to two hours. The lotion, cream, or salve has to dissolve into the skin before the metabolism can process it. The slow infusion means that topicals have the most extensive detectable window of any method of consumption.
Does CBD Show Up on a Drug Test?
According to the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill, any hemp-derived products must contain less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). That means that both CBD and minute amounts of THC are present in products like full-spectrum hemp-derived CBD.
That trace amount of THC can be a valid concern if you want to pass a drug test. On the other hand, if you use a broad-spectrum CBD, by definition, it should have no THC. However, you only have the word of the company that provides it that all THC has been removed, unless you personally have it tested.
This distinction matters because most companies test for THC, not CBD. THC, the compound responsible for psychoactive effects, is the main component of the marijuana form of cannabis but only a very minuscule part of hemp-derived CBD. While CBD and hemp products are legal in some form in most states, the same does not apply to cannabis containing more than 0.3% THC, known as marijuana.
Expect to have small amounts of THC stay in your system and show up on drug tests unless you consume broad-spectrum hemp CBD or CBD isolate. The chances of a positive drug test go up with routine ingestion of CBD containing THC. That’s because your fat cells may store the THC for a few days after ingestion.
Just because you don’t feel the effects of the THC in hemp-derived CBD doesn’t mean it’s not detectable in urine, blood, or saliva drug tests. The half-life of CBD ranges between 18 and 32 hours. The half-life refers to the point at which the CBD products have 50% of the original dose’s potency.
The Half-Life of CBD
Every drug that enters your system gradually leaves it. CBD is no exception. Your body will break down the cannabidiol in your digestive system and liver before getting rid of it through urine, hair, and sweat.
A study from Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior looked at CBD half-lives on patients with Huntington’s disease. Each person received a 700 mg dose of CBD each day for six weeks. Researchers found that potency dropped 1.5 ng/mL a week after the last dose.
So what do these results tell us about the half-life of CBD? The study found that even a substantial dose of CBD is undetectable after a week. The patients with Huntington’s disease took 700 mg of CBD per day when most people only use 100 mg of CBD or less.
How long CBD stays in the body depends on how frequently someone uses it. A person that uses CBD more regularly may have it stay in their system for three or four days, while a first-timer may only have it detectable for two days. Researchers have determined that whether a user is male or female does not influence CBD’s half-life.
Let’s use an example to illustrate how long it takes to flush CBD from your system. If you consume 100 mg of CBD that has a half-life of one day, you can expect to have the maximum concentration of CBD (100 mg) in your body after one hour.
The CBD concentration in your body will drop 50% (to 50 mg) after 24 hours. This point marks the first half-life. The CBD concentration will exponentially decline from here until it disappears.
The next half-life occurs two days after your initial dose. The concentration has shrunk to 25 mg and will drop to 12.5 mg and 6.25 mg in the subsequent daily measurements. At this point, the CBD should be undetectable.
Types of Drug Tests for CBD and THC
There are four main types of drug tests that are used to detect CBD and THC. Each type tests a different part of the body, which results in varied results.
Urine Drug Test
CBD remains in urine for 3 to 5 days. As long as you don’t use CBD for at least 5 days leading up to your test, you should be fine. Your metabolism can process and excrete hemp-derived CBD relatively quickly so that it’s no longer detectable.
THC metabolites, however, linger in urine for up to 15 days. Metabolites are a byproduct of the body metabolizing a compound and turning it into a different substance. These compounds stay in your system longer than the parent drug, which is why testers look for them to find evidence of drug use.
Urine tests are one of the most common and popular ways to screen for cannabis. There’s a good chance you’ll encounter one at your next screening.
If you have used full-spectrum CBD recently, you can help it leave your system faster through vigorous exercise and fluid consumption.
Hair Drug Test
The THC metabolites from CBD products stay in your system for up to 90 days. The compounds that pass through your bloodstream eventually become part of your hair. It takes at least 5 days before CBD and THC are detectable in your follicles.
The good news is that hair drug tests are rare. Most employers and organizations rely on saliva or urine tests because they’re faster and cheaper. There’s also the risk of prescribed medications for your hair, leading to false positives.
Saliva Drug Test
Research on how long CBD stays in saliva isn’t as robust as other areas. If you consume CBD oil, expect the dose to last in your oral fluids for up to three days. The duration may be longer depending on your method and frequency of use.
Once you consume the CBD oil, it will appear on the saliva test within minutes. Fortunately, few companies use this method to look for THC or hemp-derived CBD in the body. States that permit cannabis allow people to have up to four nanograms of CBD per milliliter in their saliva.
Blood Drug Test
Blood tests are far less prevalent than urine or saliva-based ones. One reason is that they’re not as reliable for detecting CBD or THC. THC is only detectable in the bloodstream for up to five hours, while CBD stays in your blood for up to a week.
Blood tests work better to determine if someone is currently impaired, which is why police officers might take a blood sample following a DUI charge. If you live in a state where cannabis is legal, you can have up to five nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood.
How to Detox
We’ve answered the question, “How long does CBD stay in your system?” Now, it’s time to find solutions to speed up the excretion of CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids. The process can increase how fast your body metabolizes CBD and also lower the chances of a positive test, even if you ingested CBD within 24 hours of your screening.
The first step is to stop taking any product that contains THC. That means going cold turkey. Lowering your frequency of use to zero ensures that no new CBD or THC metabolites will appear in your system before the test.
Step two is to hit the gym. Vigorous exercise speeds up your metabolism, forcing your body to sweat and break down fat cells for energy. Research suggests that 45 minutes of intense aerobic exercise can increase your metabolic rate and may accelerate CBD’s exit from the body.
Don’t forget to drink plenty of water and eat healthy, too. The body needs water to cleanse your system and expel toxins. A diet full of fats, sugars, and processed foods makes it more challenging for your metabolism to process the CBD out of your system.
Using CBD While Breastfeeding
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding not use CBD. Research on CBD’s effects on children remains in its infancy, so the FDA advises a cautious approach.
Researchers do know that CBD can pass from mother to child through breast milk. CBD is a fat-soluble compound, meaning that it gravitates towards fatty compounds as a carrier. A CBD product may also have THC, which could negatively affect the breastfed child.
The Bottom Line
One of the most frequently asked questions about CBD oil and CBD products is “How long does CBD stay in your system?” The answer depends on several factors, including how much you use, your body weight, metabolism, and consumption method.
While most drug tests look for THC and not CBD, your CBD products may contain trace amounts of THC that lead to a failed drug test. While CBD has a half-life of 18 to 32 hours, it can stay in your system for several days.
Here’s the bottom line: You’re unlikely to fail a drug test because of CBD alone in isolate form. Combining THC and CBD in full-spectrum form is a different story. If you want to eliminate the chances of a positive drug test, you can use CBD isolate or no CBD product at all.
Katie DeVoe is an in-demand educator, speaker, and thought leader in the hemp space. Over the last 12 years, she has started multiple, successful CBD businesses and been a guest speaker at numerous hemp and CBD conferences.