When we’re in pain or feeling anxiety, we don’t typically want something to start working tomorrow. We need it to start working now. Some of us have looked into CBD for pain or stress management, but have been left to wonder, “But will it help me right now?”

The good news is that for some people, the answer is yes. CBD products can start to work within minutes. For some people, however, and with some conditions, the effects may take longer to set in or to become regular. 

We’ll break it down by reason for taking it, for pain or anxiety. Then we’ll look at how to take it.

CBD for Pain

There are a number of reasons why you might want to take CBD for pain. One of the reasons a lot of people like it is that it’s not an opiate. You won’t get addicted and there are no dangerous side effects. We broke down how long each type of CBD product typically takes for specific pain needs.

  • Creams and Salves: Fastest

    Generally best for soreness after a workout or for an injury that’s healing up, creams and solves are applied topically, or on the surface. If your shoulder is bothering you, you can rub some CBD cream right onto your shoulder and expect relief typically within minutes.

  • Sublingually: Within Fifteen Minutes

    Placing a drop of CBD oil under the tongue is one of the most common ways to get CBD into your system. It’s absorbed by the capillaries in our mouths and goes straight to our blood stream. The good news is that it works faster than edibles, like gummies. The bad news is it’s not as targeted as salves and creams, which means it may take a little bit longer. 

    However, because it’s not targeted, it may be the best option for people suffering from wide-spread or chronic pain. For fibromyalgia or chemo patients, for instance, this option provides whole-body relief, quickly.

  • Gummies or Capsules: Longest

    That may seem like a bad thing, right? If an edible takes the longest, why bother? We’ll tell you. Because it’s a controlled dose and you can take it like a vitamin, you can manage your pain with gummies and other edibles before the pain starts. That means if you have a knee that acts up everyday, or arthritis that flares up around noon no matter what, you can take an edible for a nice, easy, slow-releasing CBD into your system.

CBD for Anxiety

The options are largely the same for anxiety as for pain, with the obvious exception of creams. We should say right at the top, though, that sometimes anxiety can take a little bit longer to quell than pain. And because everyone’s anxiety is different, please note your results may be a little different.

  • Sublingual: Under an Hour

    Many people report seeing less anxiety in under an hour when they take CBD under the tongue. But there are two important things to remember. The first thing to keep in mind goes by many names, from placebo effect, to mind-over-matter, to the more technical term psychosomatic. Basically what it means is that sometimes the act of doing something can help us feel better.

    Some people like using the CBD oil under the tongue for that very reason. When having acute feelings of anxiety, it can help to assert some control over the situation by doing something about it right away. In that way, sublingual CBD can make you feel better, sooner.

    The second thing to keep in mind with under-the-tongue CBD is that it is absorbed directly into the bloodstream—so be careful with doses. Start slow and keep it low.

  • Edibles: Half-Hour to an Hour

    With gummies or pills, sometimes it can take a little longer to feel the anti-anxiety effects of CBD. That’s because your body needs to process the CBD through the digestive tract, then into the blood, and finally to the endocannabinoid receptors in our brains. The good news with this method, though, is that some users report feeling better long term effects. Taking the same dose, day in and day out, at the same time, helps their body adjust to and make the best use of the CBD.

  • Aromatherapy: Varies

    People with stress and anxiety have been using various aroma therapies for years now. And for good reason. Breathing in the oils of various plants gets their essences into our lungs and our blood stream in a calming, relaxing way. Adding CBD to your aromatherapy routine, whether in a machine or at bathtime, can help you unwind and melt away your stress. This method can be hard to judge for time because of variance in uses, whether in a steam room, a bath, or other environmental differences.


Whether you’re looking to ease an elbow after a tough workout, or you have chronic anxiety, CBD can be a great way to get relief and help. But not knowing how long until you’ll get that relief can be stressful all by itself. That’s why we recommend reading up on the product and strength you’re choosing. Lastly, please note our final tips at the bottom. And always consult your doctor if you’re on prescription medications for your condition.

Pro Tips

  • Start Slow and Low: When you’re starting a CBD regimen, start with a low dose and take it regularly for a week or two to get started. Sometimes your system needs some time to adjust. If you’re not getting relief after two weeks, consider going to a stronger dose, then.

  • CBD Cannot Cure Diseases: Research is being done every day on the efficacy of CBD in clinical and medical applications. Until your doctor tells you to, never stop taking a prescribed medication, no matter how good CBD makes you feel.

  • Why We Did Not Include Vaping: Many people get the fastest and strongest results from vaping CBD directly. And honestly, that’s one of the reasons we didn’t include it in our article. There is so much variance in vaping and everyone’s body is so different, there’s no way to tell someone how much CBD they may be getting per inhalation. CBD professionals always advise starting out with low doses, and that’s incredibly hard, or impossible, to control with inhaled vaping. In addition to that, so many risks associated with inhalation of oils are still unknown. On the other hand, creams and tinctures and gummies have been used safely and effectively for years.

About the Author

Steven has been into health, nutrition, and fitness for over 10 years, and has a degree in Physical Education and Coaching. He is an expert in supplements and is devoted to helping his clients achieve their fitness goals and live their best lives.

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