The popularity and availability of CBD products has exploded in the past two years.
This chemical compound, also known as cannabidiol, is one of the many cannabinoids contained in the cannabis plant.
Commercially-available CBD is sourced from the hemp plant, one of the two types of cannabis. (Marijuana, of course, is the other.) Hemp-derived products cannot contain more than 0.3% psychoactive THC to be considered legal, as stipulated in the 2018 US Farm Bill – even so, most still contain a tiny amount of THC. And since THC and CBD are both found in marijuana as well, the connection can be worrisome for CBD users.
THC is used for medicinal and recreational purposes, and it makes people feel high. CBD may cause mild sedation when someone takes a very large dose, but it does not produce the same type of mind-altering effects that THC does.
Because CBD and THC come from the same genus of plant and there’s a miniscule amount of THC naturally present in cannabidiol, however, the possibility of failing a drug test is a valid concern. It’s common for people to wonder, “How long does CBD stay in your system?”
The Effects of CBD When You First Take It
CBD can affect the body and mind in several ways. Users will typically experience a calming effect and a general feeling of well-being.
Dr. Robert Flannery, CEO of Dr. Robb Farms, told Public Goods that CBD triggers the serotonin receptors in the brain and increases one of the endocannabinoids naturally produced in our bodies, anandamide. Serotonin and anandamide are widely-known for reducing anxiety and promoting calmness.
Serotonin is a naturally-produced chemical in our bodies, often referred to as the “happy chemical.” Anandamide is an endogenous compound (a compound produced within the body) that can bind to our endocannabinoid receptors. Anandamide regulates our motivation and pleasure, especially in social settings.
How Long Does CBD Stay in Your System?
The CBD compound is a fat-soluble molecule, and it can remain stored in our fat cells for up to 30 days. It’s important to remember that everyone is different, though, and various factors will contribute to how long CBD lasts in the body. Two of those factors are the type of CBD product, and how you consume it.
CBD Flower and Vaporizers
CBD inhaled by either smoking or vaping enters the lungs within seconds, resulting in a rapid onset of effects. This method of consumption also allows the substance to leave the system relatively quickly.
When you vape or smoke CBD, you will feel the effects in less than five minutes. These two forms of CBD are ideal for anxiety and panic attacks because they provide calming effects so quickly. Inhalation is also beneficial for near-immediate pain relief.
Depending on dosage, frequency of use and metabolism, you can expect the CBD to fully flush from your system within 2-5 days. Frequent or high doses, naturally, take longer.
Topicals come in a variety of forms; among them are lotions, balms, body butter, salves and transdermal patches. They are applied directly onto the part of your body that is hurting.
Unlike other methods of consuming CBD, topicals containing cannabidiol do not lead to a full-body experience. They only treat localized pain. Depending on the type of topical, it can take effect anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours after application to realize CBD’s benefits.
Most topicals stay at skin and muscle level without entering the bloodstream, meaning the CBD (and any THC it contains) will not be in your system at all. Transdermal patches are placed on one of your veins, so cannabinoids may enter the bloodstream. CBD remains in the system for approximately 2-5 days when delivered via these patches.
CBD tinctures are similar to CBD oil, aside from the fact that they’re alcohol-based. (You’ll often find CBD producers mistakenly labeling their oils as tinctures, for some reason.) Tinctures are made by steeping cannabis flowers or isolates in grain alcohol, then applying low heat to the mixture.
The end result is a potent liquid. Tinctures are always alcohol-based, and oils are always oil-based. Tinctures are meant to be taken sublingually, meaning dropped under the tongue. If you’re attempting to use a tincture sublingually, you will want to hold the liquid beneath your tongue until it’s fully dissolved. That allows your mucous membranes to absorb the maximum possible amount of CBD.
Edibles, CBD Oil and Capsules
Whether you’re swallowing CBD gummies, oil or capsules, they all undergo the same lengthy trip through the digestive system.
After ingestion, it can take CBD anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours before delivering any effects. If you dose on an empty stomach, cannabidiol tends to take effect more quickly. The amount of time that CBD oil stays in the system largely depends on the method of administration.
For example, are you swallowing the oil or administering it sublingually? Sublingual use provides higher bioavailability and will take effect much faster, since the cannabidiol is moved right into the bloodstream. If you swallow CBD oil, some will be stored in fat cells until it’s metabolized.
Typically, ingested CBD oil or edibles will be out of your system in 1-2 weeks, but it can take up to 30 days depending on the variables we’ll discuss next. If you choose sublingual use, you can expect to be CBD-free in less than one week.
How Long CBD Stays In Your System: Metabolism, Dosage and Frequency
There are many individual factors that determine how long CBD will stay each person’s system. The leading contributors are metabolism, dosage and frequency of use.
Dr. Flannery told us that a person’s body weight doesn’t really alter how long CBD will stay in the system. But metabolism does; those with fast metabolisms have smaller fat stores, so they have less storage capacity for the CBD that won’t be immediately processed by the liver. Those with slower metabolisms will retain CBD for a longer period of time.
Dosage is important, too, because the half-life of CBD determines the speed in which it is metabolized or excreted.
“The size of the dose plays a lot into how long CBD stays in our bodies,” Dr. Flannery explained. “Let’s assume an average person consumes 5 milligrams. 24 hours later, there will be 2.5 mg of CBD in that person’s system. 48 hours after the initial dose, there will be 1.25 mg still in their system. But what if instead of 5 milligrams, someone were to consume 20 mg of CBD? It would take 48 hours just to get back down to 5 mg, assuming the individual hasn’t continued dosing.”
While the type of CBD product you use factors into how long it will stay in your system, dosage plays more of a role. So does frequency of use.
Dr. Flannery explained that if someone samples CBD once, it will soon clear their system. Weekly users may add more, however, before their last dose flushes from their body. And CBD will never be fully purged from a daily consumer’s system.
Exercise and how we eat matter, too. Regular exercise is known to speed up our metabolism, and every time we eat, digest and store food, our metabolism gets a boost. This process is called the thermic effect of food.
What should you eat to help clean out the CBD? Protein helps speed up the metabolism more than fats and carbohydrates, because it takes longer for the body to burn protein and fully absorb it.
Will CBD Show Up On A Drug Test?
It’s understandable if you’re worried about how long CBD is detectable by a blood or urine test; many places of employment require random drug screenings for their employees, just as they do during the hiring process. Will CBD show up on one of these drug tests? What about the trace amounts of THC contained in hemp-derived CBD oil – will that show a positive result for marijuana?
Well, it depends on how much and how often you are dosing, the form of CBD, and perhaps most importantly, whether you’re using CBD isolate, broad spectrum CBD oil or full spectrum CBD oil. But it’s important to understand this: virtually no companies test for CBD. They’re only concerned about THC.
Dr. Flannery touched on a common theory, which claims that oral consumption (capsules, edibles, swallowing oil) is more likely to cause a positive drug test, due to CBD converting into THC in acidic environments like our stomachs. His reaction? He doesn’t believe it. “The science behind this doesn’t seem to support the hypothesis, in my opinion,” he said.
The science he referenced is follow-up research done after a study in 2016, which claimed that “simulated gastric fluid” could turn CBD into THC. Two years of further research with actual gastric fluid, though, showed that there are no enzymes in the human body which would perform that CBD-to-THC conversion.
Dr. Flannery explained the bigger issue: the THC contained in some forms of CBD might show up on a drug test.
“Unless you are consuming CBD isolate, there’s a good chance that there may be some THC in your system, even if it’s in minuscule amounts. If you are taking CBD on a regular basis, the chances of you failing a drug test are higher because the minute quantities of THC can accumulate over time.”
At-home urine drug tests do not test for cannabidiol; those drug tests only look for THC and its metabolites, THCA and THC-COOH. Urine and blood tests that are sent to a lab can check for CBD, but it’s highly unlikely that any employer would even care about CBD use.
CBD Isolate vs. Full-Spectrum vs. Broad-Spectrum
When hemp-derived products became legal in America, the law provided that CBD oil and other CBD products could not contain more than 0.3% THC. The trace amounts of THC contained in the majority of CBD products cannot get you high, but might be problematic if you are tested. Learning the difference between CBD isolate, full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD will help you decide which is best suited for you.
If you have a drug test coming up, you might want to use a CBD isolate just to be safe. Isolates have two possible benefits: some believe they are more helpful for people seeking a stronger dose of just cannabidiol, and, crucially, isolates contain no THC.
CBD isolate is an extracted product from which everything but the cannabidiol has been removed. In other words, the cannabidiol has been isolated for use in CBD products. If you want the assurance of knowing you will pass a THC drug test, CBD isolate should be the safest option since it contains no THC and has never been known to produce a false positive.
Full-spectrum CBD oil contains all of the hemp plant’s cannabinoids, with none of them removed. Those other cannabinoids, including the tiny amount of THC, are important because they work together with the plant’s flavonoids and terpenes to provide the so-called “entourage effect” – maximizing the effectiveness and performance of the cannabidiol.
That brings us to broad-spectrum CBD. It’s cannabidiol which has undergone processing to remove an “unwanted” cannabinoids. Most producers’ broad-spectrum products offer the same qualities and benefits as their full-spectrum CBD, minus the THC. This is another safe option for people expecting to be drug-tested.
If you have medical marijuana certification, you can use any form of CBD or THC as long as it’s legal in your state. Bring your medical marijuana card with you when you are going in for your drug test. Your card is proof that you’re legally allowed to have those cannabinoids in your system.
In Your System, Out of Trouble
We advise you to use CBD safely. If you think a drug test may be in your near future, err on the side of caution and stick with broad-spectrum or CBD isolate products. If you aren’t going to be tested, on the other hand, full-spectrum oil will provide the full entourage effect and be more effective.
You also want to dose properly. There are no serious side effects associated with cannabidiol use, but taking too much CBD can cause sedation. If you’re a new user, start with 2-5 milligrams and see how you feel.
If that amount doesn’t help the condition you’re treating, slowly increase the dose in small increments until you find the amount that works best for you. Everyone reacts differently to similar dosages.
CBD is a natural, holistic option compared to over-the-counter pain medications or prescription opioids. Once you find your favorite form of CBD and the proper dose, you may find that it can boost your health and wellness, making life seem at least little bit brighter.
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