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CBD Dosage: How Much Should You Take?

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Table of Contents

  • Determining the Best CBD Dosage for You
  • How to Calculate CBD Dosage
  • How to Take CBD

Cannabidiol (CBD) is growing increasingly popular, thanks to its many purported health benefits and non-intoxicating properties (most CBD products contain less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC). In fact, 60% of U.S. adults have tried CBD at some point and believe it has medicinal benefits, according to a recent Forbes Health survey of 2,000 U.S. adults conducted by OnePoll. As research evolves and sheds light on CBD’s efficacy, especially for pain relief, more and more people are adding it to their daily wellness regimens.

Consumers can choose from a variety of CBD products, from oils to gummies to vapes to capsules. But figuring out the safe and effective CBD dose for an individual is a complex decision.

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Here’s how to find the right CBD dosage for you and how to consume it safely.

Determining the Best CBD Dosage for You

With the exception of one CBD product, a prescription drug used to treat seizures associated with particular syndromes, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate the use of CBD. (In fact, it’s illegal to market CBD as a supplement or add it to food.) Therefore, it’s best to consult a doctor with experience in CBD administration to determine your ideal dosage.

Expressed in milligrams (mg), CBD dosage largely depends on the conditions and symptoms you’re trying to treat and your unique endocannabinoid system, which is associated with motor control, behavior, emotions, the nervous system and homeostasis. CBD dosage remains an area of active research—more large, high-quality studies are needed in different populations to determine appropriate dosing, efficacy and safety guidelines.

“It’s best to start small and gradually increase your dose up to a level that gives you the desired effect,” says Cheryl Bugailiskis, M.D., a cannabis specialist at Heally, a telehealth platform for alternative medicine. Your starting point might look like half a CBD gummy or a drop of oil. Ideally, navigate this process under the guidance of a qualified physician.

If you’re still not sure where to start, mydosage.com offers a questionnaire and CBD calculator to help you based on your specific symptoms and usage goals.

How to Calculate CBD Dosage

When you consume CBD gummies, capsules or softgels, dosage is typically expressed per unit. For example, there may be 50 milligrams of CBD in each individual gummy. These products don’t offer much dosage flexibility since you can’t split up capsules easily. For instance, if one softgel capsule didn’t provide your desired result, you would have to take another full capsule, doubling the total dose.

CBD oil, on the other hand, makes it easier, to begin with a small dose. But calculating CBD oil dosage can be less straightforward. Oils and tinctures tend to come in a dropper bottle and, typically, only the total liquid volume and CBD contents are listed on the label. For example, the label might simply state there’s 1,500 milligrams of CBD in the 30-milliliter bottle.

But what does 1 milliliter look like? Due to the current lack of regulation of CBD, this calculation can be tricky. Start by figuring out the volume of a single drop in your dropper, which is usually 0.05 milliliters, according to Dr. Bugailiskis. If you’re unsure, ask the company.

Here’s where math comes in. Let’s continue with the 30-milliliter bottle with 1,500 milligrams of CBD and 0.05 milliliters in a single drop as our example.

1500mg÷30mL = 50 mg/mL

This bottle contains 50 milligrams of CBD per milliliter. Let’s see how many milligrams are in a drop:

50mg/mL ×0.05mL/drop = 2.5mg/drop

Each drop contains 2.5 milligrams of CBD.

Next, you can calculate how many drops you need to reach your goal dosage. Let’s say you want to consume 25 milligrams each day.

25mg÷2.5mg/drop = 10 drops
10 drops ×2.5mg = 0.5mL

With this CBD oil dosage calculator as your guide, you would find that you needed to consume 10 drops, or 0.5 milliliters, to reach 25 milligrams. And if you intend to consume 25 milligrams daily, you can expect this particular bottle to serve as a 60-day supply.

Some CBD products do some of this math for you and illustrate how many milligrams are in a milliliter, some even marking these points on the dropper so you know exactly what you’re taking.

CBD Dosage for Different Ailments

Without FDA approval, there is little guidance in the U.S. on how much CBD a person should consume for various conditions.

In many medical studies on CBD, you see administered doses reach hundreds of milligrams a day, which sounds severe compared to our starting dosage example of 25 milligrams. However, Steven Phan, founder of Come Back Daily, a CBD dispensary in New York, points out that patients in these studies are often dealing with serious flare-ups and pain-inducing conditions compared to everyday dispensary customers.

Below are clinically-studied CBD dosages based on different ailments and conditions. Note: Some of the formulations studied contained THC as well—not all available dosage research sticks strictly to CBD.

Condition Dose* Anxiety 300mg–600 milligrams a day [1] Linares, Ila M. et al. Cannabidiol presents an inverted U-shaped dose-response curve in a simulated public speaking test . Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry. 2019;41(1):9-14. [2] Bergamaschi MM, Queiroz RH, Chagas MH, et al. Cannabidiol reduces the anxiety induced by simulated public speaking in treatment-naïve social phobia patients . Neuropsychopharmacology. 2011;36(6):1219-1226. Select forms of epilepsy Starting at 2.5 milligrams per kilogram of the person’s body weight twice daily [3] EPIDIOLEX- cannabidiol solution. DailyMed. Accessed 7/4/2021. Central neuropathic and cancer-related pain A maximum of 30 milligrams a day (or 12 sprays) [4] Sativex Oromucosal Spray – Summary of Product Characteristics (SmPC) – (emc). Datapharm. Accessed 7/4/2021. Opioid addiction 400 or 800 milligrams a day [5] Hurd YL, Spriggs S, Alishayev J, et al. Cannabidiol for the Reduction of Cue-Induced Craving and Anxiety in Drug-Abstinent Individuals With Heroin Use Disorder: A Double-Blind Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial. American Journal of Psychiatry. 2019;176(11):911-922. Arthritis A maximum of 30 milligrams a day (or 12 sprays), or 250 milligrams applied topically [4] Sativex Oromucosal Spray – Summary of Product Characteristics (SmPC) – (emc). Datapharm. Accessed 7/4/2021.

*Dosages are based solely on small, short-term clinical study results where CBD proved significantly successful over placebo. Much larger studies are needed to further strengthen the evidence.

FDA-approved Epidiolex administers CBD orally as a liquid to treat seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, Dravet syndrome and tuberous sclerosis complex. The dosage of Epidiolex is determined by taking the patient’s weight in kilograms (kg) into account.

Several countries, including Canada and those in the U.K., have approved the use of Sativex, an oral spray with equal amounts of CBD and THC, to treat pain stemming from multiple sclerosis. Canada has also approved it for treatment of cancer pain.

The medical and research community still has a long way to go before figuring out what dose works best for each condition. At an individual level, consumers can experiment with caution until they find what works best for them.

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How to Take CBD

Popular ways to take CBD include:

  • Oils and tinctures (extracts of plant material dissolved in ethanol): A liquid that comes in a bottle with a dropper
  • Gummies: A soft, chewable candy that’s often fruit-flavored
  • Sprays: A liquid that comes in a bottle with a nozzle for spraying into the mouth
  • Capsules: Tablets or softgels that are ingested by mouth
  • Vapes: CBD oil that’s heated without ignition, resulting in an inhalable vapor
  • Flower: Dried hemp plant that’s often ignited and smoked
  • Edibles: Any food that CBD oil has been added to, such as brownies or chips
  • Drinks: Any beverage that’s infused with CBD, often in the form of hemp extract

Your CBD product of choice will largely depend on your personal preferences, as well as your budget since prices vary depending on the potency of ingredients and manufacturing processes. Different mediums also offer varying levels of bioavailability—or how much of what you take is actually absorbed into your bloodstream to have an effect. For example, if you ingest 10 milligrams of CBD via 1 milliliter of liquid, your body might absorb about 60% of it, or about 6 milligrams.

Cannabinoids generally have a low bioavailability compared to other substances, according to Jordan Tishler, M.D., a physician specializing in cannabis treatment in Massachusetts. However, “products that contain emulsifiers like egg yolk (brownies) or lecithin (some gummies) do better,” he says.

With that said, ingesting CBD via gummies or other edibles may take longer to take effect since the CBD has to travel to your digestive system to be broken down and absorbed.

Can You Take Too Much CBD?

Like with any substance, you can take more CBD than your body can handle. Studies show doses up to 1,500 milligrams a day have been well-tolerated, but every person is different [7] Bergamaschi MM, Costa Queiroz RH, Zuardi AW, Crippa JAS. Safety and side effects of cannabidiol, a Cannabis sativa constituent. Current Drug Safety. 2011;6(4):237-49. . Ingesting too much CBD can cause unpleasant side effects, such as dry mouth, nausea, diarrhea, upset stomach, drowsiness, lightheadedness and general disorientation. While rare, liver damage can also occur.

What’s more, CBD can have serious interactions with certain medications. In evaluating available information on five prescription CBD-based medications, researchers found 139 medications could have a potential drug-drug interaction with CBD [8] Kocis PT, Vrana KE. Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol and Cannabidiol Drug-Drug Interactions. Medical Cannabis and Cannabinoids. 2020;3:61–73. . People who take certain blood thinners, heart rhythm medications, thyroid medications and seizure medications need to be particularly careful.

At the end of the day, not all supplements are created equal, which is why it’s important to work alongside a health care provider when adding CBD to your wellness regimen and research reliable brands. And while emerging research and anecdotal evidence is promising, more large, randomized-controlled trials are needed to further understand the benefits of CBD and its dosing.

04: CBD:THC Ratios, How to NOT get High with Cannabis

In today’s episode of “How to NOT get high with cannabis,” we’re exploring cannabinoid ratios. In Video 1 we talked about hemp CBD, and in Video 3 we talked about finding your minimum effective dose of THC — but at the end of the day, if we’re really trying to use cannabis as medicine, then we want to use both THC and CBD together .

In our video about Hemp CBD products, we mentioned that ideally you want to be looking for “full spectrum” or “whole plant” extracts that have trace amounts of THC, as they’ve been found to be more effective than CBD isolates — and this is because of a concept in cannabis called the “entourage effect.”

The Entourage Effect

The “entourage effect” theorizes that all of the compounds in cannabis (cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and more) work best when used together, enhancing one another’s effects to maximize therapeutic benefits. When it comes to using cannabis as a medicine, choosing a CBD:THC ratio has a big impact on the level of intoxication or “high” you experience.

If you recall from our hemp CBD video, THC binds to endocannabinoid system receptors primarily found in our brain and central nervous system, which is why it can create intoxicating experiences — while CBD’s primary function is to slow the breakdown of our body’s own naturally produced endocannabinoids so that we can use more of them.

But when THC is consumed with CBD, CBD is actually able to bind to our receptors as well — and it changes their shape, weakening THC’s ability to bind to the receptor and ultimately impacting how “high” we feel.

When used together, CBD can reduce the negative side effects of THC such as anxiety, paranoia, elevated heart rate, memory loss, and sluggishness while THC can help to increase the therapeutic benefit of CBD. This is important information for patients who truly need the therapeutic properties that THC has to offer, but don’t want to feel “high.” And if you are someone who uses THC recreationally, keep this in mind if you do happen to get uncomfortably “high.”

So what’s this look like in practice?

Well, if you walk into a dispensary, you’ll probably see products labeled as Sativa, Indica, and Hybrid — but this doesn’t tell you anything about the CBD:THC ratio, so you’ll likely need to ask your budtender about which products offer the CBD:THC ratio that you’re interested in. This is known as a cannabinoid profile, and all cannabis products fall into three general categories:

  • CBD-dominant
  • Balanced
  • THC-dominant

Generally speaking, if you don’t want to get “high” then you should look for a CBD-dominant or balanced product, but it’s important to note that cannabis affects everyone differently; depending on your condition and dosing, a THC-dominant product may be an effective medicine without producing a “high.” See Video 03 on Finding your Minimum Effective Dose of THC for more information.

You can typically find CBD:THC ratios such as 1:1, 2:1, 1:2, 3:1 or even 10:1 or 20:1. When shopping, know that CBD-dominant products are relatively new; most cannabis strains have been bred to be THC-dominant — but as more research is done on the benefits of more balanced and CBD-dominant strains, this is changing. Ask your budtender to direct you to the CBD-dominant options in your dispensary.

Now, if you have no experience with THC and are particularly concerned about getting “high,” then starting with the highest CBD:THC ratio available is the way to go. Many medical patients have reported that a 20:1 CBD:THC ratio has been helpful for their symptoms without making them feel intoxicated at all.

Even with this ratio, you’ll still want to start low and go slow, paying attention to how many milligrams (MG) of THC is in the dose you are consuming. For tips on getting started with dosing THC, check out Video 03 on Finding your Minimum Effective Dose of THC here.

If this ratio doesn’t work for you, slowly start increasing your ratio of THC, again starting low and going slow. This may feel tedious and perhaps even expensive as you try new products, but know that as long as you’re careful with your math, you can always combine products to create your own perfect CBD:THC ratio.

On the flip side, if you are already experienced with THC and are looking for a product ratio that would allow you to get the relief you’re seeking while still remaining alert and productive during the day, you may want to start with a bit more THC in your ratio, perhaps 2:1 or even 1:1 parts CBD:THC.

Know that your perfect ratio may change based on the symptoms you’re dealing with. For example, I personally find that a 1:1 ratio of CBD:THC does wonders for my migraines, but if I’m struggling with back pain, a 2:1 ratio allows me to keep a clearer head.

Either way, always be sure to track your dose and the effects you feel — this is important for recreating or avoiding experiences in the future!

To learn more about the science behind using CBD and THC together, click here.

For more tips on how to not get high with cannabis, be sure to check out more from this video series here. And if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at [email protected]