Here’s How to Determine How Much CBD You Should Take
Many people use CBD for pain and anxiety relief. But how do you know if you’re taking too much?
Taylor Leamey writes about all things wellness. She holds a bachelor’s degree in both Psychology and Sociology and is a certified sleep coach.
It’s safe to say that CBD is pretty mainstream now — you can buy it in grocery stores. No longer is it considered a trendy health hack but a legitimate option for pain and anxiety relief. But even with the largely widespread acceptance, there are still a lot of questions about how much and how often you should take CBD.
CBD products do not have federal oversights or regulations. In fact, up to 70% of CBD products you buy on the internet either have more or less CBD than listed on the label. Finding the ideal CBD dosage for pain or anxiety can be difficult. Here’s how to make it easy.
What can you use CBD for?
Research, though limited, indicates that CBD has legitimate health benefits. While there is no FDA regulation, research has shown that full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD effectively treat pain and anxiety. There’s only one FDA-approved CBD product, called Epidiolex, that’s available by prescription. Epidiolex treats seizure disorders such as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.
However, there are several other benefits and uses of CBD products.
The most common uses of CBD
- To lessen symptoms of anxiety and depression for things like muscle pain or migraines
- To reduce chemotherapy-induced nausea
- Relieve inflammatory diseases
- Help with behavioral symptoms of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease
- Managing multiple sclerosis and improving mobility
The CBD market is continuously expanding with new products. However, there are four main types of CBD product categories. All of which will vary in potency and dosage per unit.
Oils and tinctures
CBD oils generally come in either a liquid or capsule form. You can take the extracts independently or use the dropper to add them to food or drinks. Liquid tinctures are usually taken directly under the tongue.
“Tinctures are generally taken at higher concentrations than oils. This means that if you were taking 1 milliliter of tincture, you would need to drop the concentration down to 0.5 milliliters. A good rule of thumb is to start with a small dose (0.25 milliliters) and slowly increase your dose over time,” says Reda Elmardi, a registered dietician and certified nutritionist.
Edible CBD products are quickly becoming very popular, likely because of their convenience and flavor profiles. With edibles, you have several options in flavor, potency and prices. They have everything, from gummies to cookies, chocolates and even granola bars.
CBD is also available in topical creams and salves applied directly to the skin. Popular forms are lotions, creams or ointments. Topical CBD products are good options for muscle pains, joint inflammation or nerve pain.
Topical CBD is one of the more difficult forms for determining dosage. Not only does potency vary by product, but also varies by how much you use each application. It’s important to follow manufacturer instructions carefully.
How to determine the best CBD dosage for you
CBD products express dosage in milligrams. Epidiolex starts with a dosage of 2.5 milligrams taken twice a day. After a week, you can increase the dosage to 5 milligrams twice a day. Federal regulation makes determining dosage straightforward.
For the rest of the products on the market not regulated by the FDA, there are no established guidelines for CBD concentration, which makes determining how much you should take a little more difficult. There are a few key factors you need to keep in mind — your weight, what you’re treating and the concentration of the product.
The ideal dosage for you will vary depending on what you’re using it for and what form you’re taking. Don’t forget that different forms also mean how quickly it takes effect. Generally, edibles, oils and capsules will take roughly 30 to 60 minutes to take effect. Smoking or vaping CBD will bring it on significantly quicker since the CBD absorbs into your bloodstream rather than your digestive system.
CBD dosage will vary by condition
In general, the CBD dosage is dependent on the disease and its ability to be managed by CBD. The research that is available on CBD treatments has very varied dosage levels. Clinical studies have varied in oral doses from 100 to 800 milligrams a day. Others administer lower levels around 40 milligrams. A 2019 study investigating CBD for anxiety found that 300 to 600 milligrams reduced anxiety symptoms. However, that study was limited to 57 adult males.
“For generalized anxiety or sleep disorders, 25 to 75 milligrams per day is recommended, while for PTSD, 33 to 50 milligrams per day is recommended. In severe anxiety, a patient’s dose might be increased to 300 to 600 milligrams. If the patient is experiencing pain due to chemotherapy, 50 to 60 milligrams is recommended, with a maximum daily dose of 600 milligrams,” says Kimberly Langdon, a board-certified MD.
How much CBD is best for you will depend on your body. Your body weight and existing medications will influence the ideal dosage for you.
Can you take too much CBD?
A clinical review of studies confirmed that people tolerate doses as high as 1,500 milligrams a day. We want to stress that the research around CBD dosage is still really young, so there is not much to point to about how much is too much for people. More research is needed to definitively conclude the ideal dosage for each condition.
Not a ton of known side effects associated with CBD products. Though fatigue, diarrhea and appetite changes have been reported. The FDA states that CBD can cause liver damage and potentially impact the other prescription medications you’re taking.
If you’re starting your CBD journey, it’s best to slowly build your dosage so you can monitor how it affects you.
“The idea is to start very low (i.e., 5 milligrams per use) and increase daily usage by 5 milligrams every two days until you start feeling results. Then, stop increasing and keep using the same number of milligrams or drops. For many people, the amount that provides modest benefits in the first couple days will, after consistent use, provide more and more benefit over time,” says Dr. Dustin Sulak, an integrative physician and leading cannabis clinician.
How to calculate CBD dosage
For some forms of CBD, determining how much is each unit is simple. Capsules or gummies tend to have an expressed milligram content, making dosage much easier than oils or creams.
Oils or tinctures with a dropper bottle list the CBD content for the total liquid bottle. So instead of eating a gummy that’s 50 milligrams, it will look more like 7,500 milligrams of CBD in the 30-milliliter bottle. Some bottles will offer serving sizes — like one drop — to indicate dosage. This allows you to have greater control over how much you are intaking, but even still, it’s not a perfect science.
Some bottles with a traditional nutrition label on the back will tell you exactly how much is in one dropper. If you are unsure, it’s a good idea to reach out to the company to find out. It can be difficult to figure out how much you’re intaking for the bottles that do not break down by serving size and offer only the total amount. It is difficult, but not impossible; it just takes a little bit of math.
Say you have a 30-milliliter bottle of CBD oil, and each drop is 0.05 milliliters.
To determine how many milligrams of CBD per milliliter, you divide the total milligram content by how much the bottle is. In this example, the math would look like this:
7,500 milligrams divided by 30 milliliters = 250 milliliters.
There is 250 milligrams of CBD per milliliter for this product. Next, you want to know exactly how much CBD is in each drop.
250 milliliters x 0.05 milliliters = 12.5 milliliters per drop.
This calculation works with any bottle of CBD. Once you know how much CBD is in each drop, you can accurately take your ideal amount. “To ensure the best results, keep track of how much you take, how many times a day you take it and rate your symptoms daily (by rating 1 to 10, 10 being best) to see if they are getting better or worse,” Sulak advises.
Too long, didn’t read?
CBD is a continually evolving field in both products and research. While research is lacking, what is available suggests that CBD does have therapeutic benefits and is generally very well tolerated by people. Still, more research is needed to really dig into the long-term side effects and best dosage markers for the average person.
In place of federal regulations, use your best judgment regarding how much CBD you are taking. Talking to your doctor about dosage is always a good idea when in doubt.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.
CBD Dosage: How Much to Take for Pain, Anxiety & Sleep
This article is going to blow the doors wide-open on dosing CBD.
You’ll understand the ins and outs of dosing cannabidiol, learn how to properly measure your CBD dose with different products, and learn the important differences between dosing CBD oil for different types of symptoms.
CBD Dosage: How Much CBD Oil Should I Take?
A one-size-fits-all dosage for CBD doesn’t exist. Even the FDA doesn’t provide a Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) for CBD.
In simple terms, CBD doesn’t have an official serving size.
CBD acts on 60 different molecular pathways, meaning it has a very complex relationship with the body and the brain. It’s difficult to come up with a definite dosage guideline that would help any person regardless of individual physiology.
Some CBD manufacturers give you their own dosage recommendations, but they do so to provide new users with a general point of reference. It’s impossible to tell if a specific dosage is the right amount for a given person because it doesn’t address a few critical variables — which I’m going to discuss below.
Important Considerations For Dosing CBD
Finding an effective CBD dosage may depend on the following factors:
- The potency of the product
- The bioavailability of the chosen product
- Your unique biochemistry
- Prior experience with CBD
- Your weight
- Your metabolism
- The severity of your condition
- Other medications you’re currently taking
Nick Jikomes, an esteemed neuroscientist, says:
“As our body undergoes physiological changes, so do cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system, which are directly linked to the effects produced by CBD.”
This means that your “best CBD dosage” can change throughout your life, so there will never be a universal or static amount that works for you.
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How to Calculate the Best CBD Dosage for Your Needs
There are steps you can take to find your ideal CBD dosage for your health goals. Let’s go over the process step by step.
1. Decide What Form of CBD to Use
Currently, the most common way to deliver CBD to your system is through CBD oil drops. They’re relatively easy to use and allow you to absorb CBD directly into the bloodstream as opposed to capsules and edibles.
However, pure CBD oil has a distinct earthy taste. Some find this flavor too harsh and somewhat bitter. If you don’t like the taste of CBD oils, something like a capsule, gummy, or vape oil may be a better option.
The above routes of administration are typically preferred by people who need fast relief from anxiety, stress, pain, or inflammation.
Other popular methods include CBD edibles, capsules, and topicals. Topicals are the better option if the area you’re trying to treat is on the skin, joints, or muscles.
Remember when I mentioned the importance of the chosen consumption method on your dosage regimen?
Here’s why it matters.
2. Check the Bioavailability of Your Product
Bioavailability refers to the percentage of ingested CBD that your body absorbs into the bloodstream.
Below you’ll find the bioavailability of 4 different delivery methods:
- CBD topicals:
- CBD capsules and edibles: 5-15%
- CBD Oil drops: 20-30%
- CBD vapes: ~56%
For example, if you consume 15 mg of CBD in oral drops, you’re going to end up with 4–6 times the amount of CBD in your body than you would with a capsule containing the same concentration.
The bioavailability of CBD topicals is measured at 0% because none of the CBD applied to the skin makes it to the bloodstream. Instead, CBD reaches the cannabinoid receptors in the skin and muscles.
3. Talk to a Physician
Before taking any CBD product, I advise you to consult with a physician. This is the best way to make sure the CBD or other supplements you’re taking won’t interfere with any medications you may be taking. It’s also the best way to rule out any major causes for your symptoms before starting supplementation.
4. Start With a Lower Dose than You Think You Need
Everybody has a different history with the use of certain substances, supplements, and medications. And since we’re all made differently, what works wonders for you, might not work for your friend — and vice versa.
The best way to determine your initial CBD dosage is to count it by your body weight. Experts recommend starting with 1–6 mg of CBD per pound. Low doses allow the user to monitor their body’s reaction more effectively.
This brings us to our last tip.
5. Gradually Increase the Dosage Until You Notice the Difference
Increasing the amount of CBD oil gradually is the best way to figure out the best CBD dosage.
I recommend lower CBD doses at first because if the dose is too high, it may trigger some unwanted effects, such as sleepiness, lowered blood pressure, lightheadedness, or diarrhea. Side-effects are a cue to dial your dose back to the last one that didn’t produce these effects.
On the other hand, if you continue to use a dosage that’s too low, you may not feel anything at all, so again — observation is key. Listen to your body, you’ll soon get a feel for how CBD works for you.
How to Measure Your CBD Oil Dosage
CBD oil drops come in dropper bottles. They’re easy to use and allow you to precisely measure out your serving of CBD.
All you need to do is squeeze the dropper so it draws the oil from the bottle, apply a few drops under the tongue, and hold it there for about 60 seconds. This way, CBD will absorb into the bloodstream through sublingual membranes under the tongue.
But how do you estimate your CBD oil dosage?
To answer this, you’ll need to know how much CBD a dropper holds. Typically, a dropper can carry 1 ml of liquid. If you know the total volume of your oil drops, you can do the math and calculate your CBD dosage using a simple formula.
[Total CBD in the bottle] ÷ [Number of milliliters in the bottle] = mg of CBD in a dropper.
For example, let’s say you have a 30 ml CBD oil that has 750 mg of CBD:
750 ÷ 30 = 25 mg of CBD per ml (per dropper)
How to Measure Your CBD Vape Oil Dosage
With CBD E-liquids, you’ll need to know how much CBD is in the product. As you vape your E-liquid throughout the day, watch the tank and see how long it will work without refilling.
Dosing vape oil is better using qualitative means. The effects appear much faster than from tinctures or edibles, so you can take little puffs at a time and wait about 5 minutes between another dose to see how it’s affecting you.
Once you start feeling the effects you’re looking for, this is your dose.
If you experience side effects, it means the dose is too high, so the next time you vape, useless.
Recommended CBD Dosage for Pain, Anxiety & Sleep
As mentioned, there are some general dosage guidelines for CBD that you can use for certain conditions. After studying CBD for several decades, scientists have finally created some kind of a framework for CBD dosage. This creates a relatively good point of reference for determining the effective amount of cannabidiol.
CBD Dosage for Anxiety
Most studies have investigated the use of CBD to treat social anxiety. One of the first studies, which was replicated many times since the initial publication, points to a dosage of 40 mg of sublingual CBD as an effective treatment for social anxiety. However, specific cases of anxiety disorders may call for an increase of up to 300 mg of CBD.
CBD Dosage for Different Levels of Pain
The optimal CBD dosage for people with chronic pain ranges between 2.5–20 mg of CBD when administered orally, alongside or without THC. Certain individuals may require higher doses, especially those with a greater body mass.
CBD Dosage to Improve Sleep Quality
CBD is known for its ability to reduce stress and anxiety and mitigate both pain and inflammation.
These factors are important when it comes to maintaining proper sleep quality, but there’s also one more benefit you should be aware of. At higher doses, CBD may induce sleepiness, allowing the user to fall asleep faster without experiencing the stream of racing thoughts.
Depending on the frequency and severity of your symptoms, you may need between 25–175 mg of CBD daily to combat them.
CBD Dosage: FAQ
1. Is CBD Safe?
Yes, CBD is generally considered safe for human consumption, with no signs of toxicity at doses as high as 1,500 mg daily.
2. Can CBD Get You High?
No, CBD doesn’t act on the cannabinoid receptors in the brain as THC does. Therefore, this cannabinoid is non-intoxicating — it can’t get you high.
3. Can You Overdose on CBD?
Overdosing on cannabinoids is impossible because cannabinoids don’t affect the brain stem are responsible for respiration.
4. Does CBD Oil Have Any Side Effects?
CBD has a relatively short list of side effects, most of which are considered minor. However, in high doses, CBD can produce an array of unwanted reactions, such as:
- Dry mouth
- Lowered blood pressure and heart rate
It’s a small price to pay compared to the list of side effects caused by prescription medications.
5. What’s the Best Way to Consume CBD?
If by “the best” you mean the most efficient, then oil tinctures or vaping products will be your best options. That’s because they offer higher bioavailability than capsules and edibles.
6. Should I Take Full-Spectrum CBD or Isolate?
If you’re not subject to periodical drug tests at work, I would recommend a full-spectrum product because of something called the “entourage effect.” This term describes the synergy between all active ingredients in cannabis, including cannabinoids other than CBD and THC, terpenes, and other plant compounds. They’re believed to require less CBD than pure isolate to produce similar effects.
7. Can I Give CBD to My Dog or Cat?
Hemp-derived CBD products are safe for pets because they contain little to no THC, the intoxicating compound that produces toxicity in animals. Pets can benefit from CBD in similarly to humans.
Final Thoughts: What’s Your Optimal CBD Dosage?
The ideal CBD dosage that would work for everyone doesn’t exist. The nature of cannabidiol is very complex — so is the cannabis plant — and there are too many outside variables that can influence CBD’s absorption.
The potency of your product, its bioavailability, your weight, the severity of the condition, cannabinoid spectrum — they all matter.
You can use some general dosage guidelines for specific conditions, but always make sure you treat it as a point of reference, not the one and the only way to dose CBD.
So, what’s the best way to figure out the ideal CBD dosage?
Start low and gradually go up with the dosage until you experience the desired effects. The way you react to CBD can change over time, so you need to monitor the effects throughout your supplementation.
You should also ask a physician who’s experienced in using CBD or hemp extracts with patients to get professional guidance.
What CBD dosage is best for you? How much do you take daily? Let me know in the comments below!
Livvy is a registered nurse (RN) and board-certified nurse midwife (CNM) in the state of New Jersey. After giving birth to her newborn daughter, Livvy stepped down from her full-time position at the Children’s Hospital of New Jersey. This gave her the opportunity to spend more time writing articles on all topics related to pregnancy and prenatal care.
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