by Sugar Team September 06, 2022 6 min read
One of the biggest fears that most people have about cannabidiol (CBD) is how long it will stay in their system. For those that have never tried it, the idea of ingesting something that comes from the cannabis plant can be a bit daunting.
Will it make me high? Will the effects last for a long time? What if I don't like it?
First, it should be noted loud and clear that CBD will not make you high. The psychoactive compound in cannabis that gets people high is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
While some CBD products do contain a trace amount of THC (less than 0.3%), it is not nearly enough to produce any psychoactive effects. You would need to consume absurd amounts of CBD oil for it to even begin to affect you in that way.
What it does do is provide a host of potential health benefits without any of the downsides associated with THC. These benefits include reducing inflammation, relieving pain, and helping to improve anxiety and sleep disorders.
CBD cigarettes can also be a stand-in for normal tobacco that comes with a whole host of health issues, and help you quit smoking.
So, how long does CBD stay in your system? Unfortunately, this is not an easy question to answer. It depends on a variety of factors including, most importantly, your method of use. There is a huge difference between drops, edibles, and CBD cigarettes in terms of effectiveness and how long they will remain in your system.
Luckily, there have been some comprehensive studies on this topic. The methodology that they use is a chemical’s half-life – or how long it takes for half of it to be eliminated. After five half-lives, a drug is (on average) 94-97% eliminated from the human body.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t leave us with a very specific answer for how long CBD stays in your body, given the various methods you can use to ingest it.
More commonly known as sprays and oils, these products can have a half-life between 1.4 and 10.9 hours. Because it needs five of these to be eliminated from your system, that leaves a range of 7-55 hours – not exactly a specific timeline!
Still, this means it is likely completely out of your system within a few days, even if you are on the high end.
For edibles and gummies, the timeline can be much longer. One half-life is between 2-5 days, meaning it could take as many as 25 days for it to be eliminated. That is because of the way it is absorbed into the body, through the gastrointestinal tract, instead of some of the other methods.
The key to this figure is that it refers to chronic oral consumption, meaning if you just pop one gummy on occasion, you likely aren’t looking at three weeks to get it out of your system. Unfortunately, there’s no clear way of knowing exactly how long it will take.
One of the reasons that CBD cigarettes (or hempettes, as they are sometimes called) have become so popular is because the effects are experienced much more rapidly. By inhaling the smoke, the chemical directly enters your bloodstream, allowing the user to experience the effects almost instantly.
Because of this, it also is expelled from your body more quickly than if it is ingested. The half-life of CBD when it is smoked is 31 hours, meaning you’re likely looking at a week before it is eliminated from your body.
Variables that can affect it
It’s not just the method of consumption that can change these results, though. There are several other factors (and likely more that have not yet been discovered) that can dramatically change how long CBD stays in your body.
The frequency of your CBD use is going to play a role in how long it takes to leave your system. The more you use, the longer it will take to be eliminated. This isn’t surprising – think about how long alcohol or nicotine stays in your system if you are a heavy drinker or smoker. It takes quite some time for those substances to work their way out.
Repetitive use can also lead to a buildup of CBD in your system. This is because the human body isn’t great at eliminating it and will, over time, store more of it. If you are using CBD for therapeutic purposes, this may be something you want to avoid as it can lead to reduced effectiveness.
Your body composition will also dictate how quickly CBD leaves your system. Those with a higher percentage of body fat will take longer to eliminate CBD than those who are leaner.
This is again because cannabidiol is stored in fat cells and released slowly over time. If you are trying to use CBD to lose weight, this may be something to keep in mind.
According to Dr. Kelly Johnson-Arbor, who spoke with Forbes earlier this year, higher levels of CBD are found in the bloodstream after consuming a high-fat meal. A study from 2019 on a similar topic found that CBD absorption correlated with the fat content of a meal.
So, if you want CBD to stay in your system for a longer period, it might be beneficial to take it with a fatty meal. Or, if you are looking to clear it quickly from your system, a lower-fat meal might be best.
CBD can also interact with other medications that you might be taking. One study found that it can inhibit some liver enzymes like CYP3A4 that are responsible for metabolizing many drugs.
This means that if you’re taking other medication, CBD could potentially increase the amount of time it takes for those drugs to be eliminated from your body, or lessen their effectiveness. That is why it is always important to speak with a doctor before starting any CBD regimen, especially if you are taking other medication.
On the same note, poor liver function or liver disease can also affect the time it takes CBD to leave your system. The liver is responsible for metabolizing many drugs and chemicals, so if it is not functioning properly, CBD will likely stay in your system for a longer period.
As we touched on above, most CBD products do include a trace amount of THC. While it is not enough to get you high – don't try to take extra CBD to accomplish this – it could lead to some other considerations for regular users.
You will never fail a drug test because of CBD, but it is at least possible if you are using a product that contains THC. The vast majority of CBD products contain less than 0.3% THC, but if you are consuming large quantities of it, there is a small chance that it could build up in your system and lead to a false positive on a drug test for marijuana.
While this is unlikely, it is still something to consider if you are subject to regular drug testing. If this is a concern for you, make sure to purchase CBD products that are THC-free, or constantly monitor your consumption to make sure you won't have any issues.
In many places, operating a motor vehicle with a certain amount of THC in your system is illegal. Even though CBD by itself will not get you high, if you are using a product that contains THC you could potentially fail a roadside sobriety test.
Some people experience drowsiness or lack of focus when using a CBD product, which can lead to dangerous driving conditions.
While this is not a common reaction, if you are going to be driving it is important to be aware of how your body reacts to the CBD product you are using. Start by taking it in a safe environment, like your home, and see how it affects you before getting behind the wheel.
Nursing mothers should always be cognizant of what is entering their bodies. The CDC suggests that breastfeeding mothers "should be advised not to use marijuana or marijuana-containing products in any form, including those containing CBD, while breastfeeding."
This is because the data is as yet insufficient to determine whether it can have a harmful effect on an infant.
While CBD is generally regarded as a safe product, it is always best to consult with a medical professional before using any new substance, especially if you are breastfeeding.
If you are breastfeeding and considering using CBD, it is important to speak with your doctor first. If you are already using it, consider reducing your intake.
Put simply, there's no easy answer to how long CBD stays in your body. It depends on:
The method of use
Your body composition
How much you take
Generally though, if you are using a spray or oil it will be gone in a few days if you are smoking it will be gone in about a week, and if you are ingesting it regularly it may take up to 25 days.
Remember that if you are just starting, it is recommended that you start with a low dose and slowly increase it until you reach the desired effect. Though it is regarded as safe, CBD is a relatively new compound, and we are still learning a lot about its effects on the human body.
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