Since being legalized in all fifty states, CBD has exploded in popularity. You may be skeptical about it, though, since some of the claims that have been made about its health benefits really seem too good to be true.
People claim that CBD can help manage almost everything from depression to insomnia to cancer. Meanwhile, none of these claims are currently backed by the FDA , which certainly creates some doubt even though new research is pressing ahead. On top of that, there's the common cannabis link between non-psychoactive CBD and the decades old negative perception of marijuana which is variably psychoactive and has its own health and medical uses; but this link creates even more skepticism.
One of the most common questions we hear is, "How long does CBD stay in your system?". Most people asking this are either concerned that CBD will get them high or show up on a drug test, or they are wondering how long the medicinal effects of CBD will last.
Either way, there is a fundamental misunderstanding of what CBD is and how it works in the body physiology. To help you better understand CBD, we'll break down how it affects the body, the question of how long CBD stays in your system, and how it can improve your overall health.
What Is Homeostasis?
First, we need to examine the concept of homeostasis. In layman's terms, homeostasis describes what happens when all of the different components of a system are in balance, or if one or more system is our of balance. In every system in your body, there is the potential for things to be unbalanced.
Your immune system can cause inflammatory reactions, which are crucial for fighting illness and infection, but left unbalanced can cause chronic disease. Anti-inflammatory substances are crucial for balancing this out.
The nervous system can be excited or relaxed, as well. Too much of either is a problem and so they need to be balanced. The same is true for the endocrine system or hormones they produce, which needs a balance between creating and breaking down the hormones in your system to maintain the proper amount for maintaining body systems and optimum health.
Maintaining and Disrupting Balance
For every system in the body, there is a need for a balance between positive and negative. Complicating this further is that each system of the body is not discreet but rather all systems are connected and an overall balance of the whole body system is achieved when each is in balance - this is optimal health.
A good analogy is a hanging mobile. When each element of the mobile is in balance, the whole piece hangs correctly. If one element is out of balance, either too light to or too heavy, all elements in the whole piece are affected and the mobile no longer hangs correctly as a whole system. So, when one of our body systems become unbalanced, we get sick, or feel generally unwell in other areas. These can be physical illnesses or mental illnesses.
Most people take prescription drugs for these illnesses. While these drugs usually are very effective at treating the symptoms of a disease and mild illness, there is a problem. Drugs only treat one part of the system, but any illness affects the whole system.
That means drugs can never be truly effective. In fact, they can throw off the balance of the system even more. Anything you do to any part of the system affects the whole system at once. Treat one symptom with one drug, and there will be ripple effects throughout the body.
These ripple effects often require more drugs to treat them. Eventually, in a worst case, this can lead to a whole bathroom cabinet full of prescription drugs, most of which were prescribed to treat the side effects of the other drugs prescribed to tackle the initial symptoms of illness or disease.
The Importance of Homeostasis
All of this means your body is unable to balance out all of its internal systems, and the result is a constant chronic illness. Pain, arthritis, and depression are just some of the problems caused by unbalanced systems.
When we treat these problems with prescription drugs, we can alleviate the symptoms, but always at the cost of introducing a different imbalance. Pain or depression is relieved, but we can introduce other problems such as insomnia or lowered libido instead.
In contrast, when the body is in homeostasis, it is very resilient to disease and injury, and we feel well and positive. Naturally, we should want to keep ourselves in homeostasis. When we're in homeostasis, our bodies are functioning at peak efficiency, and everything is working the way it's supposed to.
To explain this visually please watch this video made by Dr Asher Milgrom about CBD and homeostasis:
What Is CBD and Will It Get Me High?
CBD, which is short for cannabidiol, can be found in all cannabis plants. Since that includes marijuana, people are often concerned about CBD getting them high. The answer is that this is extremely unlikely.
While there are some strains of marijuana bred for a higher concentration of CBD, CBD products on the market are made from hemp, not marijuana. For legal purposes, hemp products are defined as containing less than 0.3% THC. Anything with a higher THC content is still illegal in most states.
Many CBD products are made with CBD isolate, which is pure CBD. These products cannot get you high. Many people, however, believe that full-spectrum CBD is better for you. Full-spectrum oil will contain trace amounts of THC, although it will never be more than 0.3% so you won't notice any psychoactive effects.
It is improbable that even full-spectrum CBD oil would get you high. The amount of THC is almost undetectable. Nonetheless, it is still technically present, and there is a tiny, tiny chance that some people may experience a minor effect if extremely sensitive, but again, this is almost impossible, so you should be fine.
Marijuana and CBD
If you live in a state that has legalized marijuana, you've likely seen some marijuana advertised as low-THC, high-CBD marijuana. These strains do indeed have fairly low concentrations of THC, and lots of CBD, but do not confuse them with the hemp products that are legal in all states as the THC component will be significantly higher that 0.3%
While these strains are not likely to get most people high, they still have far more than the 0.3% THC content that is legal in all fifty states. They can be a very effective way to get your CBD if you live in a state where it is legal, but you cannot take them across state lines.
How Does CBD Work?
CBD is interesting because it doesn't treat the symptoms of anything. Another way to understand CBD is that it doesn't act directly on any of the symptoms you feel.
For example, many non-opioid painkillers are made of anti-inflammatory substances; the medicine itself directly causes a reduction in inflammation, which eases your pain. Opioid painkillers interfere with your ability to feel pain. Either way, they have a direct effect on your pain and in essence treats the symptom.
CBD works differently. CBD only interacts with the endocannabinoid system in the body. This is a system of receptors that is present in every cell of the body. Your body naturally produces two endocannabinoids. The anandamide or "joy molecule" and the 2-AG, which is naturally part of the body's appetite, immune system, and pain management system.
What CBD Does
Cannabinoids are substances found in all cannabis plants, including THC and CBD. They are so similar to the endocannabinoids produced in our bodies; hence, they can interact with our endocannabinoid receptors.
The endocannabinoid system helps to regulate the immune system and body's response to pain and appetite. Thus, any substance that can affect the endocannabinoid system can have the same effect.
Many people are familiar with the way the marijuana consumption can dramatically increase appetite. CBD's effects are concentrated on the immune system and pain management. In particular, CBD reduces inflammation in the body by regulating the immune system.
How CBD Promotes Homeostasis
We mentioned earlier that the biggest problem with many pharmaceutical drugs is that they treat only one symptom at a time. Pain killers either directly reduce inflammation or interact with the body's ability to perceive pain. These drugs inevitably cause side effects because you cannot mess with one part of the system without affecting the entire system.
The video featured earlier in this article offers an excellent visual analogy of homeostasis using the idea of a mobile to represent the whole body system and how drugs and CBD affect the body differently. Dr Milgrom asks us to imagine a mobile, like the ones you hang over a child's bed. There is one main support, and hanging from it are several other support beams; hanging from each of these are small stars.
Each star represents one part of a system. If one star develops a problem, it throws the whole mobile off-balance. Treating only that one star does not restore balance, it would only imbalance the mobile in a different way.
This is, essentially, what we're doing when we use prescription drugs to treat only one symptom or one part of a system. Instead of restoring homeostasis, we are simply creating a different type of imbalance.
How CBD Is Different
Now, go back to that image of the mobile. Imagine that, instead of applying a treatment just to one star, you rebalance the mobile by addressing the problems at the point where the support beams are connected to the string hanging from the ceiling.
Essentially, CBD restores homeostasis by treating the system, not the symptoms. It reduces inflammation by regulating the immune system, which controls inflammation instead of the brute-force approach that most drugs use.
In this way, CBD can help manage illnesses without causing side effects because what it's really doing is enabling your body to function the way that it's supposed to. While it does affect more than just the body's inflammation response, that is its most important function.
Many of the chronic problems that people are seeking relief from are the result of inflammation. Most chronic pain is caused by inflammation. Many autoimmune diseases are the result of runaway inflammation. There's even evidence now that anxiety and depression are tied to inflammation.
How Inflammation Becomes a Problem
If inflammation is a natural part of the body's immune system, you might be wondering why it would be so harmful to the body. The answer is that it's not, when it's under proper control.
Unfortunately, between our poor, sugar-rich diet and inactive lifestyles, our ability to regulate our immune system is compromised. Many of the foods we eat, especially processed foods, trigger inflammation. Most of us are constantly inflamed to some degree in some part of our bodies overall system.
This constant inflammation throws our bodies off balance and destabilizes the whole system. CBD can restore our bodies to homeostasis, improving our overall health.
How Long Does CBD Stay in Your Body?
First, we should say that there is no clear-cut answer to this question. The exact amount of time that CBD stays in your body will vary from person to person. It depends on how much CBD you've consumed, what form you consumed it in, and how efficiently your body processes it.
In general, CBD lasts for three to five days in your system, with a week being the absolute maximum. That does not mean that one dose of CBD is effective for that long; CBD can and does stay in your system long after you have stopped feeling its effects.
This is why many experts recommend microdosing: taking small doses of CBD daily to keep a constant level of CBD in your body. The theory is that, while the immediate effects won't be as dramatic, the effect on your health, in the long run, will be stronger.
If you are microdosing, nothing is stopping you from taking a stronger dose when needed. For instance, if you feel a panic attack coming on, a hefty dose of CBD may help to curb it even if microdosing did not prevent it.
CBD and Drug Testing
Since it stays in your system for so long, you may be worried about CBD showing up on a drug test. If so, don't worry because CBD won't cause you to fail a drug test.
Drug tests aren't even screening for CBD. Even if they did, CBD is not a psychoactive substance, so there would be no problem.
Drug tests are screening for THC, though, and some CBD products will contain trace amounts of THC. Unless you have been using excessive amounts of those products, it shouldn't be enough THC to cause you to fail a drug test no matter how long CBD stays in your system.
Using CBD is one of the best things you can do for your overall health. CBD is a better choice for your health than most prescription drugs since those drugs only create new imbalances in your body which then require more medications to treat as symptoms arise, creating a vicious cycle.
Instead of constantly using prescription drugs to treat illnesses, CBD offers an all-natural and holistic way to improve your overall health which should result in symptoms reducing or disappearing as the body's overall system achieves homeostasis.
Instead of constantly treating symptoms of illnesses, CBD solves the problem by working on the system itself. When you take CBD, you are actually improving your body's ability to function. That makes CBD more effective than prescription medications while having fewer side effects, too.