After testing hundreds of CBD products, our experts weigh in on what taking CBD feels like. If you're curious about CBD, but unsure if it's right for you, this is your post. We'll discuss the effects you can likely expect from the different types of CBD products.
The Short Story
You know that feeling you get when you exhale a sigh of relief? When you receive some good news during a bad situation? What about when you are able to wind down in your favorite spot after a stressful day at work? Yeah, CBD is kind of like that when you get your dosing right. Calming. Relaxing. Relieving.
Find your Dose
Many people trying CBD for the first time don't feel anything and may wonder what all of the hype is about. Or, they try the wrong product for them on the first time and it's not a fit. Going into a CBD regimen, your first task is to find the right product category for you and the right dose. Everyone has a different body chemistry and there is no one-size-fits all solution. Your dose may end up being 2mg, or it may be 50mg. You might prefer oils, or you may prefer edibles. The key, with any CBD product, is to start with a small dose and work up from there. The whole idea behind CBDtop10 is to give you the tools and resources to find the best CBD oils, edibles and flower on the market today so you can feel confident in your purchase. Then, to help you figure out how to use CBD most effectively.
What is the difference in CBD product categories?
CBD oil: is generally place under your tongue (sublingual), held there for up to 20 seconds and then swallowed. Holding the oil under your tongue allows for some of the CBD to be absorbed relatively quickly through your mouth so you get some initial onset of effect. Once you swallow the oil, it will take some time to absorb, as it is processed in your gastrointestinal system. Similar to edibles, which we will discuss in a moment, CBD processed through your stomach will take a little bit to kick in. Don't rush to up your dose if you don't feel anything at first. Wait 45 minutes before increasing your dose.
CBD Edibles and Capsules: whether you chew up a gummy bear, or swallow a CBD capsule, CBD edibles are going to be processed through your gastrointestinal system. These products have a delayed effect as the edible is broken down and digested, so don't get frustrated if you don't feel anything in the first 20-30 minutes. Generally speaking, it is going to take 30-45 minutes before you feel any effect. Again, don't rush to up your dose.
CBD Flower and Vapes: are the quickest hitting effect of all. Since you are heating or combusting (not recommended, but common) the CBD is taking a direct path into your lungs and being absorbed relatively immediately. Effects can be felt in under 5 minutes in many circumstances. These CBD product categories are generally for people looking for an instant, pronounced sensation.
What do oils, edibles and flower feel like, though?
As mentioned, CBD flower and vapes are going to be the fastest onset. To draw an analogy, this is the equivalent of taking a shot versus casually sipping a beer. Because of the rapid onset of effect, our experience suggests that you're going to feel a slight head rush at first that will eventually mellow out into a fuller body and/or head effect, depending on the product in question. If you continue to consume flower or vapes, the immediate effect is compounded.
CBD edibles, on the other hand, are on the opposite end of the spectrum. You chew one up and then...nothing. Well, nothing for 30-45 minutes generally. Timing will vary for each person. Once the edible is digested, though, the idea (assuming you have the right dose) is that a calming sensation will flow through your body. Given that edibles are not hitting your bloodstream instantly, we generally find that we do not get a "head effect" from edibles. This is anecdotal, but CBD edible users should primarily feel the effects in their body. Edibles are great for those that don't mind waiting and want a clear head throughout their day.
CBD Oil is a hybrid of the two categories we just outlined, which is why we saved it for last. By holding the oil under your tongue for up to 20 seconds, you do get some initial effect with the CBD absorbed through your mouth. In our experience, that is a slight feeling in your head (less than flower or vapes) and a slight cooling feeling in the body (less pronounced than edibles once processed). One of the reasons CBD oil is so popular is that you get the best of both worlds. After the initial effect, the idea is that your body and mind slip into a sense of calming relief.
What determines the effect I will feel?
This is a loaded question and MUCH more research is needed. We note the "effect" in each of our reviews, but please note such comments are only our experiences. Scientific data, as it relates to effect, is scarce. CBD and cannabis researchers suspect that the cannabinoids (CBD, CBG, THC, etc.), terpenes (myrcene, pinene, caryophyllene, etc) and flavinoids all work in tandem, in different ratios depending on the product, to produce the "entourage effect," or simply, the effect you feel. There are a host of different compounds, in different ratios, acting together in any given CBD product. Since everyone has a different body chemistry, what you feel from one product may not be what other people feel, and vice versa.
A popular set of categorizations in CBD flower and vapes denote a product as an "indica," "sativa" or a "hybrid." Anecdotally, indicas are more of a body effect, inducing deeper relaxation and likely having sedative qualities. Sativas, again anecdotally, are thought to be calming, but energizing or inducing a higher level of focus. Hybrids, as you would expect, are somewhere in the middle. While completely subjective, and often incorrect, these categorizations are meant to give you an initial idea of the likely effect of the product you are buying.
When it comes to CBD oils and CBD edibles, it really comes down to how the product is produced. Some processing approaches specifically remove any trace THC and terpenes to arrive at oils and edibles produced from CBD isolate. (read: only CBD) This ensures you don't have THC, but often removes many of the beneficial - we believe - compounds that contribute to the entourage effect. Put simply, the effect is not as nuanced in our experience. On the other hand, oils and edibles produced from "broad spectrum" or "full spectrum" CBD maintain the various cannabinoids and terpenes that are thought to contribute to the entourage effect and are often sought out by frequent CBD users.
How long do the effects of CBD last?
The length of effect is going to vary widely depending on the type of CBD you take, the amount you take and your body chemistry - which includes the other things you've consumed prior to taking CBD. Anecdotally, at the smaller end of YOUR dosage range, you won't feel much at all. CBD can operate in the background, providing a slight sense of relief without being able to pinpoint if or why you feel different. If you consume something in the mid-range of your dosage range, we would anticipate the effect being more noticeable. That may include a fuller body relaxation, or active calming sensation, that is easy to identify. At the high range of your dose, the effect may be fairly pronounced. Again, this will depend on the type of CBD product you consume. But, in our experience, that means a noticeable change in the way your body and/or head feels, a deeper sense of relaxation and, potentially, a sedating effect.
If we average out our experiences with CBD, we expect a CBD product to give an effect for a few hours (3-4). After that, it may be acting in the background, but is hard to pinpoint. On the more extreme end of the spectrum, some of the high CBD flower we have tried, at the high end of our dosage range, has had effects lasting up to 6-8 hours.
We find value in CBD products and we hope that our readers do, as well. If you decide CBD isn't right for you, that's OK! It's not for everyone. If you are curious, go in with a mindset of exploration. Grab a sampler pack from a reliable vendor after learning how to buy CBD. Start with a small dose and work your way up. And, before you make a purchase, make sure to check out our full reviews from some of the most popular brands and products on the market: