Ever think about how many different ways there are to consume cannabis these days? Smoking flower, vaping oils, eating an edible, doing a dab, dropping a tincture under the tongue, applying a topical—the list goes on. And if you’ve tried a few of these different consumption methods, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the onset time for effects varies quite a bit between vaping and, say, edibles.
So why do infused cannabis edibles take so long to work?
There are a couple key reasons. It largely boils down to the fact that the way your body processes cannabis compounds depends on how you consume them. It’s important to note that a long onset isn’t the case for all edibles, however. First, let’s look at the science.
Delivery Methods Affect Absorption Rates
In general, consumption methods fall into four buckets: inhalation (vaping, smoking), oral (edibles, infused beverages), sublingual (tinctures, strips applied under the tongue) and topical (skincare products, pain creams, etc.).
When you inhale cannabis smoke or vapor into the lungs, the cannabinoid THC and others are absorbed into the bloodstream and sent to neural cannabinoid receptors in the brain. Once in the brain, the THC binds to the receptors and produces psychotropic effects—receptors located throughout the body interact with other cannabinoids like CBD, CBG and CBN in different ways, and many do not produce a “high” feeling.
Because active cannabinoids hit the brain so quickly after inhalation, smoking and vaping cannabis produce a rapid onset, meaning you feel the effects right away.
Sublingual administration refers to placing an extract tincture, infused food-based oil or a strip under the tongue and letting it dissolve. This method also provides a relatively rapid onset time, due to the cannabinoids entering your bloodstream through the tissues in your mouth.
Traditional edibles, on the other hand, need to pass through the digestive system and be processed by the liver before the effects can be felt, which leads to delayed onset time. And since the body absorbs edibles more slowly, there’s also more opportunity for the THC you’ve consumed to be filtered out of your system before you ever feel it.
In general, most edibles take 30 to 60 minutes to begin taking effect, and the effects tend to peak around three hours. That said, onset times and duration can range widely, depending on other factors. The dose and concentration of the edible product you’re consuming play a large role. But other factors like your gender, body weight and metabolism, what else you’ve eaten or drank recently, and what other medications you’re taking also play a part.
Since so many factors affect the length of time it takes for the effects of infused edibles to be felt by the consumer, the best teacher is really time and cautious practice to find the “sweet spot” that works for you. As they say, “start low and go slow.”
The New Wave of Fast-Acting Cannabis Edibles
Luckily for anyone who’s relatively new to the edibles space, or those of us who simply don’t care for the unpredictability of traditional edibles (like your friend’s homemade brownies), newer fast-acting edibles—such as ebb’s dissolvable THC—are now hitting the market.
Our water-soluble, dissolvable THC is created using nano-emulsion technology. The cannabinoid nano-emulsification process breaks down concentrated cannabis oil droplets into very tiny, water-dissolvable particles, thus increasing the cannabinoids’ bioavailability—a fancy term for the ability of a cannabinoid to be absorbed by the body and produce effects.
Nanotechnology makes it possible for cannabinoids added to foods and drinks to be absorbed more quickly, starting in your upper gastrointestinal tract, aka your mouth. This produces effects that kick in within a matter of minutes, not hours. Yay for science!
Learn more about our fast-acting, dissolvable THC here.