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How Long Does CBD Stay in Your System?

Let’s get this straight. Any chemical compound that’s introduced to the body, has a half-life, an active duration, and a duration for which it stays in your blood or is detectable.

These are all separate time limits for every chemical compound. And cannabidiol (CBD) is not different. To understand how long CBD stays in your system, you must understand these first.

Half-Life: A medication’s half-life is how long it takes for its total blood concentration to be halved. In other words, the time it takes for half of its dose to be metabolized and flushed out of the system. This is usually when the effects start to fade and it’s usually time for the next dose.

Duration of Action: The duration of action is the length of time for which the drug is effective. It depends on its half-life, the time it takes to reach the target cells, and time for which it retains its potency in the body. A medication generally fades away from the system after around 4 – 5 half-lives. But it doesn’t mean it’ll not be detectable in a drug test, i.e. if a test looks for it.

Duration of Detectability: This is how long a medication remains in the system. It may not be effective, but it can be detected in a test. Sometimes, the residual amount may remain in your body without even being detected. This can later enhance the potency of the next dose.

How Long DOES CBD Stay in Your System?

Like most other substances or drugs, the time taken for CBD to remain in your system depends on several factors, including the way it is consumed, the time it is consumed, and the variables it encounters during its movement through the body.

CBD can stay in your body for up to 5 days after consuming it. Even if you don’t feel its effects, the residual amount in the bloodstream enhances the potency of the next dose. While in most cases, CBD is known to be egested out of the body within 2 to 5 days, for some, it can even stay for weeks.

Where’s the Proof?

  • In a 2014 study, published in Epilepsy Currents, scientists found evidence that a single, moderate, oral dose of CBD can remain effective up to 1 – 2 days. This would suggest the substance remains in the body for several days more.

However, estimates often vary depending on the dosage, bodyweight of the subjects, and the subjects’ capacity to metabolize the substance.

  • According to a 2014 study, published in the Epilepsia, CBD’s half-life is around 18-32 hours. That’s to say if you use 100 ml of CBD oil, then after around 18 to 32 hours, your system will contain only 50 ml CBD, depending on the variables, of course.
  • According to a WHO report, CBD can remain in your bodyfor as long as 3 – 4 days. But this was for sublingual administration. So, it may be expected that edibles would remain in your system longer than that. As for vaping liquids, it may be expected that they would get flushed out of your body faster.
  • In a 1991 clinical trial, published in the Pharmacology, Biochemistry & Behavior, researchers gave a daily dose of 700 mg of CBD to 14 Huntington’s disease patients over six weeks. To determine how long CBD stays in their bodies, they used capillary column gas chromatography and ion trap mass spectroscopy. One week after the CBD course, they found the “CBD levels averaged 1.5 ng/ml”, and was “virtually undetectable” thereafter. The elimination half-life of CBD was estimated to be about 2-5 days” irrespective of the subject’s gender or CBD dosage.
  • A 2005 randomized, double-blind, controlled study, published in Therapeutic Drug Monitoring, subjects were given cannabis extracts, containing 2.5 mg THC and 1.35 mg CBD. Their findings revealed that CBD is detectable in the blood only up to 9 hours after oral administration.

From these studies, we may infer that CBD wouldn’t stay in your system for more than a week or two. While this may indicate the period for which it is detectable in the blood, it’s uncertain exactly how long it is detectable in urine.

  • But this is what was tested in a 2016 study,published in the Journal of Pain Research. Participants were given different CBD-rich cannabis products, like oils, capsules, and flowers. It was seen that 2 hours later, urine samples from all 15 subjects tested positive for CBD. One of these participants, who was followed up on, showed no detectable levels of CBD in his urine after 24 hours.

Factors That Control How Long CBD Stays In The System

To determine how long CBD stays in your system, you must consider these factors:

  1. Your Physiology: Everyone comes with unique physiological attributes. That’s why CBD – and for that matter- any chemical compound – would affect them differently.

The quality and duration of their effects, as well as the time for which they remain in the system depend on the user’s body weight, water content, and metabolism. A person, whose BMR is high, won’t be able to retain CBD as long as a person with low BMR would.

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[Fun fact: While a fat person would require a higher dosage, he would also retain it longer.]

If you take CBD on an empty stomach, the effects will kick in faster, but will also leave you faster. Certain foods, which contain fats, help enhance CBD’s bioavailability and increase its overall CBD concentration in your body. So, if you’re opting for edibles, it’s best to have it with fatty foods.

  1. Dosage Frequency: CBD tends to build up in the body with repeated use. That’s why it’s always best to try it for about a week to see if it works on an individual. It’s also observed that one needs a little less CBD with each dose. A single dose or occasional use clears out CBD from your system much faster.
  2. CBD Dosage: The higher the dose, the longer will it stay in your system: That’s sort of obvious! Potent doses of any compound have higher availability, higher efficacy, and a longer stay in the system.
  3. Delivery Method: CBD’s effects and availability in the body are both dependent on how it’s administered. Smoking or vaping CBD is faster on the uptake and faster to leave your body as well. The opposite applies to edibles. Other delivery methods figure somewhere in the middle.
  4. Food: Earlier, we mentioned about fatty foods and eating on an empty stomach. Well, besides those the quantity of food consumed also matters. If a lot of food is consumed, then the metabolization of CBD slows down to allow for food to be metabolized.

How the human body processes CBD depends on how it’s consumed. In the case of edibles and capsules, CBD will undergo the first-pass effect through the digestive system, where it is broken down by the liver enzymes (CYP450). So, this should mean the effects will last longer, and so will its stay in the system. However, the user must take higher doses for that, as it loses its concentration and potency due to the first-pass effect.

To illustrate this with an example, let’s say an average-bodied person (with an average BMR) takes about 900ml of CBD. If his liver’s CBD metabolism capacity is 60mg/hour, your blood’s CBD content will get completely exhausted after 15 hours. However, we must take the other considerations into account as well.

In cases of sublingual consumption and inhalation, the process is pretty fast as it moves directly into the bloodstream from the sublingual glands (under the tongue) and lung alveoli respectively. This means their onset of effects will be faster. This also means that they will not linger in your system for too long.

In all of the above instances, the delivery is systemic, i.e. it enters the bloodstream and reaches every part of your body, including the brain, to have its effect on the target area. Alternatively, if you have a localized joint, muscle, or skin issue, transdermal or topical use is the most potent, as it does not have to enter the systemic channels at all. It interacts with the receptors in the skin to have its effects. This means that the question of the CBD being detected in your blood, urine, etc. does not arise.

Will Detectable CBD Show Up On A Drug Test?

CBD typically doesn’t show up on a drug test. However, if your CBD product contains high levels of THC, it’ll raise a red flag.

Drug tests DO look for THC, though, as it is a psychotropic substance and the main active ingredient of marijuana – the one that gives you a “high”. For instance, if you consume medical cannabis you will fail a drug test.

However, if you take too high doses of certain types of CBD products, you may end up with an increased overall THC-content in your system, which will be detected in a test – even if the product contained “permissible” THC levels.

So, if drug tests are part of your life, be wary of what kind of CBD product you buy. Different products use different blends of CBD extracts. Besides, some brands aren’t mindful of the composition of their cannabis extracts. Those are possibly not extracted from legal hemp that contains no more than 0.3% THC by dry weight – which is basically what’s allowed in the US.

Ivan writes about Cannabis at The Cannabis Radar. He has a degree in Nutrition Sciences from University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Centre. He likes to spend his spare time reading to his daughter or spending time with his wife.

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