Despite all we now know about its many benefits for health and wellness, we still don’t have a definitive formula for dosing CBD.
CBD dosage is still a very grey area.
As every patient will know, success with any treatment regimen is inextricably tied to following the right dosage, as it is to taking the right medication.
With some medicines, inaccurate dosing can be downright dangerous. Fatal even!
Thankfully, with CBD, overdosing is unlikely to put your health or life at risk. Neither will underdosing. Though you have to worry about taking medication in doses that do little to relieve your suffering
The concern for every new user is the critical lack of clarity on how much CBD to take – in the many different products it comes in – and at what frequency.
This CBD dosage guide will review prevailing knowledge and explore the better practices to help you determine the right way to dose if you are self medicating.
So this is the question you are asking:
How Much CBD Should I Take?
There is no one-dosage-fits-all answer to this question.
Though it is generally accepted that 15 mg is a good starting point, from which to slowly build until you find relief from symptoms.
So the best route to the optimal CBD dosing is through your own experimentation. That said, for the best guidance you must consider several factors:
- The type and severity of condition you want to manage.
- Physiological factors, like your body weight and metabolism.
- The type of product the CBD is delivered in.
- Your age and lifestyle.
We could list other things you must consider to arrive at the right dosage for your needs, or whatever ails you. The point here is CBD does not have a universal dosing formula.
Try as you may, you will not find a reliable Reference Daily Intake for CBD, even for recreational users.
We will get into the bolts-and-nuts of CBD dosage. First we want to discuss the two safest approaches to dosing for medical cannabis:
- Let your doctor’s recommendation guide you. If you are taking a prescribed medication and are being monitored by a doctor, be sure to first consult them before trying any CBD therapy,
- Check the CBD product’s packaging or website for the manufacturer’s dosing recommendations. They make the product and should have a better idea on how much of it you need to take for your condition.
About the manufacturer’s recommendations, let their recommendation be a guide only. Some tend to promote exceedingly high dosages, most likely to encourage consumption and sell more of their product.
Having said all that, there are many intervening scenarios that may cause you to seek further guidance on CBD dosage.
The first and most common circumstance is that you are not sick. You only want to take cannabidiol as an aid to better health and productivity.
Second is when you may indeed be sick. But your doctor isn’t convinced of CBD’s efficacy for your condition enough to recommend it. Yet you’ve heard a lot of good things about CBD and still want to try it.
We can talk of a third scenario. This is where you are unsure which CBD product – between capsules, tinctures, and others – is the best and has how much CBD in their formulation. We will discuss this one in greater detail throughout this CBD dosage guide.
So, there are enough information gaps in CBD dosing to leave you confused about how to proceed. But here is the good news:
CBD is Safe to Use for Most People and is Incredibly Versatile
Am I right to say the reason you are reading up on CBD dosage is your concern about the possible risk of an overdose?
Being a cannabis compound, you could even have the lingering fear that over-medicating with CBD may be intoxicating.
I am happy to put both these fears to rest. Your chances of overdosing with CBD are slim to non-existent.
Besides being versatile, CBD is also safe and well tolerated by most people. You have to take copious amounts of it to start to feel any serious side effects.
The known side effects include lightheadedness, drowsiness, and dry mouth. That said, these aren’t common nor serious for you to be too concerned.
As for getting high, you can rest assured you will stay sober no matter how much CBD you take because it is not psychoactive. It is another cannabinoid – tetrahydrocannabinol – that will produce a high.
To understand CBD dosage better, let us first discuss how a dose differs from dosage:
CBD Dose vs. CBD Dosage?
There is some confusion on the difference between a dose and a dosage. Sometimes these two are used interchangeably, which is wrong.
A dose is a specified amount of a medicine taken at a specific time. It is measured in milligrams.
On the other hand, a dosage refers to the frequency at which a particular dose is taken over a given period.
The reason this distinction is important is because there are other ways of measuring a dose. This is pertinent for CBD in particular because it comes in more than one form.
As with other medicines, CBD can be taken as capsules or oil tinctures (commonly measured in drops). There are other methods of CBD delivery that are even more difficult to dose, such as topicals, soaks, and vapes.
So a drop of CBD oil may be deemed to have the same strength as a 10 mg capsule.
For an industry that doesn’t yet have a set dosing standard, there are wide variances on the strength of the CBD oil brands on the market to conclusively say a drop will give you a dose of so much CBD. You will have to let your particular CBD oil brand guide you.
Even then, the question on the actual dosage to follow will still be far from answered:
CBD Has a Wide Dosing Range – Why That Should Concern You
Nothing aptly explains why the best CBD dosage differs from person to person more than its wide dosing range.
Precisely, a dosing range is the difference between the lowest and highest doses at which different people will start to feel relief after taking a medication.
In the case of CBD, one person can find relief taking just 5mg per day. Another will tell you they need as much as 1,500 mg for the same ailment. They even tell you they don’t feel any negative effects taking such a high dose.
Yes, 1,500 mg is an incredibly high tolerable upper limit, but that gives you an idea why CBD dosage is such a complex subject.
Given such a wide dosing range, prescribing one dose to manage a specific ailment is not helpful. You will have to find out what dose is the right one for you, making it a completely subjective process.
The best practice is to start on a smaller dose, ideally 15mg, and build it up until you start to see your symptoms improving.
Some, especially those taking CBD for wellness purposes, will increase the dosage to tolerance. This means they will keep increasing the dose until they start to feel adverse effects.
Here is why that last approach is problematic:
A High CBD Dose Does Not Always Come With the Expected Response
We have recommended to start on a small dose and working your way up until you get to a dosage that gives you the desired therapeutic effect.
There is a limit to how much CBD you can take and still get the expected response.
With most medicines, a higher dose usually comes with a stronger therapeutic effect and higher chances of adverse effects. This is known as the monophasic dose-response relationship.
CBD, though, is different.
Increasing your dosage gradually will see a corresponding increase in the therapeutic effect only up to a certain point. Beyond this point the therapeutic effect will start to weaken, even if you keep increasing the dose, as this study showed.
Why is this?
It is all do with the high sensitivity of the endocannabinoid system itself.
The ECS works to maintain your body’s physiological balance, otherwise known as homeostasis. To do this, it adjusts accordingly when the CBD receptors on which it depends are overstimulated.
To build tolerance to the CBD, as you increase the dose beyond a certain level the CBD receptors in the body will also start to diminish. The consequence is the body’s response to the higher dose will also start to drop.
As your body builds greater tolerance to the CBD, it may start to respond to it again, possibly to the level it started to plateau. But the unwanted effects will continue and may worsen.
In light of all this, a high CBD dose will not always provide the strongest response or relief in symptoms. In the majority of cases, less is more with CBD.
Importantly, as the therapeutic effect plateaus, adverse effects will start to emerge and will worsen as you increase the dose. Again, the point at which the condition/disease responds to increases in dosage will start to drop differs with every person.
The advice here is to know your therapeutic window, which, I should also add, will differ from the next person’s.
This therapeutic window is the range between the dose at which you start to record effective relief/response from the CBD therapy and that at which unwanted effects will start to show (tolerable upper limit).
We would advise to just concentrate on establishing your lowest effective dose for now. Going too high above in the hopes of trying to get faster relief/results may mean wasting your precious CBD oil for little benefit. Or at the cost of unwanted effects.
Note, though, if you are a first time user of CBD, your therapeutic window will be narrow. It will widen with time, as your tolerance to CBD improves.
Let’s talk about that lowest effective dose, which is in the same region you should find your optimum:
How to Determine the Optimal CBD Dosage for Your Situation
Establishing your optimal CBD dosage requires that you consider several factors. For me the sweet spot will be somewhere slightly above the lowest effective dose.
Remember here we are trying to establish a good ballpark. That will be a dose from which you can start to experiment until you achieve that which gets you the best results.
We will go in stages:
1. Isolate the real condition you want to manage
I can almost hear you say, ‘of course I know what my condition is’
But you will be surprised how easy it is to end up trying to manage a symptom instead of the real condition behind your pain or discomfort. An example will do here:
Let’s suppose you are struggling to sleep. At the same time you are also struggling with the pain in your twisted ankle. Between the sleeplessness and the ankle pain, what will you treat first?
We know CBD is effective in managing insomnia. But don’t you think treating the twisted ankle should also see you sleeping better? That it may be the pain or even the meds you are taking for it that is behind your sleep struggles?
Perhaps this set of circumstances is best referred to your doctor. We always encourage to see your doctor if something about your treatment is unclear.
But if you are struggling to sleep because of extreme anxiety, then, of course, CBD therapy will help you sleep better because it will help manage the anxiety.
So, first be sure you are using CBD to treat the right condition. Then move on to this next consideration:
2. Method of delivery
CBD can be ingested orally, inhaled as vapor, or absorbed through the skin.
In the case of ingestion, you can take it as a capsule or as any one of the many edibles that are now available. These include gummies, beverages, and pretty soon all manner of foods.
The consideration on the method of delivery should also be tied to the actual condition you want to manage. If you’re treating chronic inflammation, you may prefer capsules or tinctures, which provide longer lasting relief.
If you are trying it for beauty and cosmetic uses, it follows that topicals, salves, and soaks will be the best ways to medicate with CBD.
At the same time, you will probably not be as concerned about dosage as one who is trying to manage a pre-existing medical condition.
So the method of delivery, same as your actual use scenario, is as important to determining dosage. It will also determine how fast you can start to feel an improvement in symptoms if you are managing an illness.
3. Your body weight
With conventional medicine, body weight is the most widely accepted factor in determining dosage.
For example, to treat a condition it may be universally accepted that 1-3 mg per 10 lbs of body weight is the safest, effective dose for a set period of time. It may be altered depending on the level of pain.
For CBD, 1-6 mg per 10 lbs of body weight is a loosely accepted dosing standard.
You may have seen a few CBD dosage calculators and charts online. Honest Marijuana has a useful one that is optimized for severity of pain.
But we will still sound the caution that whatever your dosage works out to using these charts and calculators should only be a guide.
Because your body weight alone is not a reliable guide to how well the body will respond to a particular CBD dosage. I will explain:
Our bodies are not made equal. Or should I say they are not ‘maintained’ the same. Yours could be 60 percent pure muscle and mine 60 percent fat. Yet we will weigh the same.
I am not quoting any scientific fact, but I would assume a fitter person would experience a faster response to any treatment.
Besides that, other factors also play a part in your response to CBD therapy. These include stress levels, nutrition, metabolism, and your endocannabinoid tone.
4. How old are you?
As you age, your body’s physiology changes. So does its endocannabinoid system and, as a consequence, your response to CBD.
So you may weigh the same with another person who has had success following a particular CBD dosage. Basing your CBD dosing on body weight and condition alone, it will seem sensible adopting the same dosage yourself.
But your response may be completely different to this person’s if they are older or younger than you. Unless you only use their dosage as a starting point to help you gauge what dose is the most effective for you.
To add to that, it is not a bad idea to join forums and social media groups where people with your condition hang out. This subreddit is a great place to start.
Within those groups could be people who are using CBD to manage a similar condition as yours. You may even find you share important characteristics with some to pry useful insights on how to dose CBD for your situation.
5. Are you a first time CBD user?
If you have used CBD before, even for purposes that aren’t strictly medical, you should have built some tolerance to it.
So the point at which you will start to feel relief after taking it will differ. Go on any CBD forum and regular users will advise to take your time before you make up your mind on dosage, and even on its effectiveness.
So if you are new to CBD it really helps to go slow and not increase your dose every time you medicate. Don’t expect to see the full therapeutic effects the first time you take CBD. Be patient and give it time.
6. The strength of the CBD product you are using
CBD production is largely an organic process. As such the quality and strength of CBD products on the market will vary, sometimes wildly.
There are many reasons to this, not least the differences in soil quality, fertilization methods, and other environmental factors.
Added to that, extraction processes will also differ across brands. It is, thus, possible some CBD oils may contain trace amounts of THC and other cannabis compounds.
Why is all this important?
Well, the point is the quality/strength of the CBD product you are using also has an effect on your dosing size.
For this reason, it may be prudent to thoroughly vet your CBD oil sources and settle on a trustable brand that you will stick to.
Flipping between the many brands available will make it difficult to find a dosage that will give you consistent results.
What else haven’t we discussed?
How to Take Your CBD
We have talked a bit about how to take CBD, in the several forms it comes in.
We might add here too that, with orally ingested CBD, you should give it about 1.5 hours before you feel the full therapeutic effect.
Also with CBD oil tinctures, it is important you hold the drops under your tongue at least 30 seconds before you swallow. This gives it enough time to absorb into the body.
Some people will prefer to take their daily CBD oil dose using the vaping method. So instead of ingesting the CBD, you are inhaling it.
It could be that people who prefer the vaping method find the experience more enjoyable. But a good number also choose it because it is the fastest delivery method, as the CBD goes straight to the brain.
You will have a choice to use the many vaporizers, cartridges, and vape pens that are available.
Another way of taking your CBD oil is by mixing it into your food and drinks. Remember, though, the CBD oil will not absorb into the body or start to take effect as fast you would like.
The same caution applies with CBD offered as edibles or drinkables. Examples are CBD gummies, cookies, brownies, and beverages.
If you are treating more localized pain, like joint pain, you will get faster relief if you use topical creams, oil sprays, or salves. You simply dab or rub onto the area where the pain is concentrated.
Note, even though capsules and tinctures may have longer onset times, relief from using these is longer lasting.
Right, you may not yet be an expert on CBD dosing, but you certainly are not clueless.
Yet, with so many ways to take the stuff, you may be biting your nails wondering which is the best CBD dosing method:
What is the Easiest Way to Dose CBD?
With capsules you know how many milligrams of CBD are in each pill. So it is easy to work out how many capsules you need to take for your daily dosage.
If your dosage is high, the advice is not to take your daily dose all at once. With capsules it should also be easier to divide your daily dose and spread it through the day. Just remember to allow at least four hours between doses.
For one reason or another, oil tinctures may be your preferred way to take your CBD.
In which case you would need to have a good handle on how to measure your doses:
Measuring CBD Oil Tincture Doses
It is one thing to know what dose you want and another completely to know how to measure it. Especially when using CBD oil tinctures and vaporizers.
Most tinctures will come with a recommended serving size. For example, they may say one drop of CBD oil carries 10 mg of pure CBD.
This makes dosing quite straight forward. Less so if the CBD oil potency is only expressed in percentage terms.
In other words, not all the oil is ‘pure’ CBD extract. In some cases, up to 90 % maybe a carrier oil, like coconut oil.
So you find some CBD oil brands, instead of the serving size, may only state the total CBD in milligrams that is in a bottle.
It is up to you to make the conversion so you can determine how much CBD is in one drop of the oil.
Use this handy conversion tool to convert the total milligrams to millilitres. You can then reduce the total mls to drops by dividing it by the size of each drop in mls.
In Canada it is now a legal requirement to state how many milligrams of CBD you get in every millilitre of CBD oil. This is known as the equivalency factor.
Before we round off this CBD dosage guide, there is one last question we must answer:
Will CBD Interact With Other Medication You are Taking?
CBD is known to inhibit cytochrome P450, a family of enzymes that metabolize up to 60 percent of all marketed pharmaceutical drugs.
In that case, if you are taking other prescription drugs, CBD may reduce or increase their effect.
But you will have to take CBD at enough quantities for this to happen. At low dosages the effect may not be noticeable, though there may still be some effect.
A person considering a CBD rich treatment regimen, who is also taking other prescription drugs, will thus need to consult with their doctor before proceeding. The doctor may suggest a lower CBD dose to limit the risk of drug interaction.
ProjectCBD covers CBD/drug interactions in greater detail here.
With CBD Dosage, Start Low and Go Slow
You could say we have laboured to make a simple point…
That there is no specific CBD dosage for each ailment. That people respond differently to CBD and will have different tolerances to it.
But we needed to argue the case there are a lot of variables to consider when determining the optimal CBD dosage for your particular use situation.
There is no universal CBD dosage to recommend. It is a matter of experimentation, starting low and slowly increasing your daily dose until you are pleased with the relief achieved.
Important, too, is how well you select your CBD sources. The industry is still young, with standards still to be agreed on both dosing and quality of product.
Above all, remember your attitude to treatment and lifestyle choices are as important to treatment success as the CBD dosage.