What Dosage of CBD Should You Take?
Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Iryna Veklich / Getty Images
CBD is available in a number of different formulations including creams, tablets, oils, and gummies. These can vary in terms of their ingredients as well as dosages, and there is not a great deal of research available on what dose might be beneficial or safe to treat certain conditions.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is the second most abundant cannabinoid found in marijuana. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD does not have psychoactive effects. Interest in the use of CBD for health purposes has grown tremendously in the last few years.
CBD is believed to have a range of positive physical and mental health effects. Because of this, it has become increasingly popular as a way to alleviate everything from anxiety to sleep disorders.
In order to determine if CBD is right for you, it is important to consider its potential benefits, side effects, and available research on safe dosages.
CBD is just one of hundreds of different compounds found in the cannabis plant. While cannabis has been used in holistic medicine for many years, only recently have researchers begun to explore some of the medicinal purposes for CBD and other cannabinoids.
While further research is still needed, there is some evidence that CBD may have some beneficial mental health effects. These include:
- Alleviating depression: Some research also indicates that CBD may be useful as a treatment for depression. Studies suggest that the cannabinoid might have an influence on how the brain responds to serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in mood. People with depression sometimes have a low level of serotonin, so CBD may help the brain use available serotonin more effectively.
- Improving sleep: While the reasons are not entirely understood and require further research, CBD also appears to have potential as a treatment for sleep problems. For example, one study found that people who took CBD also reported improvements in the quality of their sleep.
- Reducing anxiety: Anxiety is one of the most common types of mental health conditions, affecting almost 20% of American adults each year. Research suggests that CBD may help alleviate acute symptoms of a number of anxiety-related conditions including generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and social anxiety disorder.
In addition to the mental health benefits, CBD may also have therapeutic benefits for a range of other conditions. The World Health Organization suggests that CBD may have beneficial effects in the treatment of:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Cardiovascular disease
- Multiple sclerosis
It is important to remember that these benefits have not yet been conclusively proven. More research is needed to determine the role that CBD might play in the treatment of different disorders and health conditions.
There have been a number of studies that suggest that CBD may have a number of different physical and mental health uses. However, more research is still needed to better understand the substance’s potential applications and possible long-term side effects.
A 2019 comprehensive review published in The Lancet Psychiatry looked at previously published studies. The review ultimately concluded that there was little evidence to support the use of CBD for mental health purposes and suggested that more research is needed in order to substantiate its use to treat symptoms of conditions such as anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
It is important to remember that this doesn’t mean that CBD isn’t effective. Many of the studies that were included in the review were small, had few participants, and were not randomized controlled trials.
This suggests that more research involving more participants and well-designed studies is needed in order to better understand if, how, and why CBD works.
While its effectiveness is still up for debate, one 2017 review found that it was a relatively safe option. While it is important to remember that there is still a great deal we don’t yet know about CBD and its effects, it is something that you might opt to try to see if you experience any benefits.
How Much Should You Take?
The dosages used in research studies vary and there is no consensus on how much should be used for specific conditions. If you do decide to try CBD, it is also important to note that there is no universally agreed upon dose. Research also suggests that people may respond differently to various dosages, so the amount that is right for your needs might vary.
Some dosages that have been used in research studies for different conditions include:
- Anxiety: 300 to 600 mg
- Bowel disease: 10 mg per day
- Cancer-related pain: 50 to 600 mg per day
- Parkinson’s disease: 75 to 300 mg per day
- Poor sleep: 25 mg per day
- Psychosis: 600 mg per day
One 2020 review of studies found that participants showed improvements in anxiety levels after single doses of CBD ranging from 300 to 600 mg. Such results indicate that the CBD may hold promise as a treatment to alleviate symptoms of acute anxiety.
It is important to remember that you should always talk to your doctor before using CBD if you have symptoms of a serious mental or physical health condition. CBD could potentially worsen symptoms or interact with other medications you are taking.
Looking at the dosage information for the CBD product that has been FDA approved can also be helpful. For Epidiolex, an FDA-approved cannabis-derived medication used to treat seizures in people with certain types of epilepsy, the starting dosage is 5 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. This dose can later be increased to 5 mg per kilogram of body weight twice a day.
Other CBD products are not FDA regulated and do not have officially recommended dosages. This can make it difficult to determine how much you might need, but there are some things you can consider that might help.
- Assess your sensitivity to CBD: Your individual ability to tolerate CBD can also play a role in determining how much you need. If you are very sensitive to the effects of CBD, you should take a small dose. Some people may find that they are not as affected by the substance, so they may need to take a larger dose to notice any beneficial effects.
- Consider individual factors: When you are trying to decide how much CBD to take, there are a number of factors you should consider. These include the formulation and concentration of the capsule, oil drops, or gummies you are taking, the symptoms you are treating, and your age, sex, weight, and overall health. Generally, people with heavier bodies need to take a little more to achieve the same effects. Men may need a larger dose, while older people may need less.
- Consider the symptoms you’re treating: The symptoms you are trying to alleviate can also play a role in the CBD dosage you need to take to see results. In one study, participants who took 25mg of CBD each day had improved sleep quality, although the results were not consistent. However, you might find that you need a lower or higher dose if you are treating another type of condition.
- Try a dosage calculator: Researchers note that while the variety of dosing strategies and formulations make it difficult to determine efficacy, there are a number of online “dose-calculators” available online (such as mydosage.com) that are designed to help people choose the correct dose. The accuracy of such calculators is difficult to assess, but it may be a good place to start.
Before you try CBD, discuss your plan with your doctor. They may be able to recommend a dose and help you better understand any potential risks, complications, side effects, or interactions you might experience.
Start With a Low Dose
Unless your doctor recommends a specific dose, start by taking 10 to 20 mg a day. Take this for a week to ensure that it is well-tolerated and that you don’t experience any unwanted effects or an allergic reaction.
If this dose does not have the desired effect, try increasing in increments of 5mg each week until the desired amount is reached.
In studies, amounts vary from as low as 20 milligrams per day to up to 1,500 milligrams (mg) per day. The World Health Organization reports that dosages in clinical research studies typically range between 100 and 800 milligrams per day.
Is It Possible to Take Too Much?
So what is the maximum amount of CBD you should take? Researchers have found that 600 mg per day appears to be safe, but one study suggested that doses of up to 1,500 mg a day are safe and tolerated well.
However, it’s important to remember that research is still in its infancy and experts do not yet fully understand the potential long-term impacts of CBD usage. For that reason, you should always discuss your CBD use with your doctor.
Starting at a lower dose and working your way up to the amount you need may be the best ways to avoid taking too much.
How to Take CBD
The amount of CBD found in a product may depend on different factors, including the formulation and method of administration. CBD products are available in a number of different forms including oils, capsules, tablets, nasal sprays, and gummies.
One of the most popular ways to take CBD is as an oil. Such products are made by combining CBD with some type of carrier oil, such as coconut oil. Some more recently developed products include dietary supplements, foods, beverages, lotions, salves, and cosmetics.
The type of CBD product you choose may depend on what you are trying to treat. If you are looking for general mood improvements, a dietary supplement might be a good option.
If you are targeting specific symptoms of a condition, taking an oil, capsule, or gummy might be a better way to obtain a higher, more concentrated dose.
Topical applications may produce localized effects, but they are unlike to have any mental health benefits.
What Kind Should You Take?
It’s also important to remember that many products don’t contain just CBD on its own. There are three types of CBD available:
- Isolate contains CBD and only CBD.
- Broad-spectrum contains CBD and other cannabinoids, but not THC.
- Full-spectrum contains CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids.
It may be helpful to take a broad-spectrum product since research suggests that CBD’s effects may be most beneficial when taken in conjunction with other cannabinoids, a phenomenon known as the entourage effect. CBD may also help mitigate some of the effects of THC.
While CBD is generally well-tolerated, this does not mean that you won’t experience any side effects.
Some of the most common side effects that people experience when taking CBD include:
- Appetite changes
- Stomach upset
- Weight changes
Some recent research has generated concerns over the safety and potential long term effects of CBD. One study involved giving mice an equivalent of the maximum dose of the CBD medication Epidiolex, which is used to treat certain forms of epilepsy. The results indicated an increased risk for liver damage as well as concerns over its interaction with other medications.
It is also important to remember that CBD products are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Some manufacturers make unproven claims about the uses and efficacy of their products. There is also concern about the quality and safety of the products themselves.
One report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicated that a number of people experienced negative unwanted side effects due to CBD products that contained synthetic CBD, although the products were not labeled as containing such ingredients.
Mislabeling appears to be a fairly common problem with CBD products. In one study, 70% of the CBD products that were sold online contained significantly more of the psychoactive ingredient THC than the label indicated.
Federal law prohibits the sale of products that contain more than 0.3% THC. States laws also vary, so you should always check with your state before buying CBD products online.
A Word From Verywell
If you do decide to take CBD to alleviate an acute or chronic condition, remember that the amount that you take will depend on a variety of factors. Finding the right dosage often takes some experimentation and adjustments. Starting with a low dose and then gradually increasing the amount you take until you achieve the desired effects is the best approach.
CBD holds promise as a treatment for a range of conditions, but how much should you take? Learn more about CBD dosages for different purposes.
What is the Best CBD Dosage?
By Guest Author
If you’re curious about the potential benefits of CBD, you’re not alone. Countless people are discovering how CBD might help with pain, anxiety and depression, and even medical conditions like epilepsy and seizures.
As you begin your own journey with this versatile compound, one of the first questions you’re bound to ask is, “What is the best CBD dosage?” We’ll illuminate some answers to that question below.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is derived from either marijuana or hemp and acts on the receptors in your Endocannabinoid System . Unlike THC – the psychoactive substance in the cannabis people smoke or ingest – CBD does not have psychoactive effects.
In other words, it won’t get you high.
There’s evidence that it can, however, provide many of the benefits of cannabis, including pain reduction, anxiety reduction, better sleep and relaxation, and more.
CBD is not one-size-fits-all
In short, there is no official dosage of CBD. For one thing, CBD consumption is still partially-restricted by federal law (USA). The FDA has not provided a Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) for most uses of CBD (though it has recently approved the use of a pure CBD product called Epidiolex for epilepsy). Even recommended dosages printed on CBD product labels can vary by company or product.
What’s more, as with any drug, the effects of CBD on any one individual depends on several factors. That means one person’s ideal dosage may not work for someone else. You can’t just rely on your friend’s perfect dosage – instead, you’ll need to go by the Goldilocks rule, carefully experimenting with your chosen product to find a dosage that’s just right for your circumstances.
Factors impacting your optimal CBD dosage include:
- The concentration of CBD in the particular product you’re consuming
- Your body weight and body chemistry
- The type and severity of the condition you’re treating
- Your intake type – for example, whether you’re using a tincture or vape
What does this mean for those who want to try CBD? Don’t worry – there are plenty of safe ways to find your proper dosage of CBD. It just requires some trial and error, patience, and ideally the advice of a CBD-literate physician.
Three rules for estimating your dosage
Since finding your proper CBD dosage will require some experimentation, it helps to be systematic about the process. Follow the rules below for a smooth calibration process:
- Start small and ease up your dosage gradually. This is sound advice for any supplement, and it’s easy to do with CBD. Start with the lowest possible dosage for your weight, condition, and intake type, then bump it up as needed until you find a dosage that’s just right.
- Estimate by body weight. The experts at CBD Origin recommend using your body weight to find your starting dose. Their dosage calculator lets you enter your weight and condition severity. They’ll give you an estimated range, and you can use a dosage at the low end to start before gradually increasing your dosage if necessary. If you’d rather calculate the estimate yourself, CBD Origin suggests taking 1-6 milligrams of CBD per 10 pounds of body weight.
- To start, try it before bed. If you’re not sure how CBD will affect your energy, many recommend trying it before bed in case it makes you feel drowsy (a common side effect of CBD). That way, the worst thing that can happen is you have a great night’s sleep.
When in doubt, always ask a doctor – especially if you are using CBD to treat a severe medical condition like seizures, multiple sclerosis, or arthritis.
What is the best CBD dosage by intake type?
One of the biggest factors in determining your dosage is how you’re administering your CBD. Tinctures, vapes, capsules, and edibles all have different bioavailability (i.e., how the CBD enters your bloodstream), meaning some intake types will hit you more quickly or strongly than others. This means you’ll need to adjust your CBD dosage based on how you’re consuming it.
First, let’s break down the most common ways to take CBD:
- Oils and Tinctures
- Topical creams and ointments
Some intake types are easier to dose than others. For example, many edibles, gummies, and capsules will come with specific information about how many milligrams of CBD are in each unit. Oils and tinctures, on the other hand, may require more estimation on your part, but dosage can actually be more fine-tuned if, say, you want to up your dosage by only a few milligrams. Creams and ointments are probably the least precise, so many experts recommend using them sparingly at first.
Now to find what the best CBD dosage is by type.
How to dose CBD oils and tinctures
CBD oils and tinctures are usually taken sublingually(beneath the tongue). This offers high bioavailability since the CBD gets to bypass your digestive tract, where some of the CBD would otherwise be filtered out. Sublingual tinctures are administered with a dropper.
Okay, bear with us, because this might require a little basic math. But don’t worry – once you’ve done the work of finding your proper dosage, you’re pretty much done… as long as your chosen product doesn’t change its bottle size!
The easiest way to dose sublingual oils and tinctures is to buy a bottle that comes with 1 milligram per drop concentration. That means if you’re aiming to start with 10 milligrams, it’s as easy as taking 10 drops.
If that’s not possible, however – this is where the math comes in – you can figure out how many milligrams of CBD fit into your dropper if you know how many total milligrams of CBD are in your bottle, how many millilitres of oil/tincture is in the bottle, and how many millilitres of oil/tincture fit in your dropper.
Let’s say your bottle contains 50 millilitres of tincture and 1,000 milligrams of CBD. Most droppers can hold 1 millilitre of tincture at a time. So if you can figure out how many milligrams of CBD are in each millilitre of tincture, you know how many milligrams of CBD you’re getting in each dropper-full.
So, 1,000 mg CBD ÷ 50 ML tincture = 20 mg CBD per ML tincture, or 20 mg CBD per dropper
From there, you can easily decrease or increase dosages one drop at a time. If you want to start with only 10 mg, just fill your dropper halfway.
How to dose CBD for vaping
Vaping CBD means inhaling CBD vapour that comes from an oil. That means you could estimate how much CBD is in one “puff” of the vaporizer using a similar process to estimating your dosage for a CBD tincture. If you know the concentration of CBD by milligrams in your oil, how many millilitres of oil fit in your tank, and about how many “puffs” you can get from your tank before refilling, you can gauge about how much CBD you’re taking in per puff.
But that might be a little more math than is reasonable to do.
A simpler method is to start small – say, with one puff – and see how you feel. As with any other method, you can gradually increase to two, three, or however many puffs feel right, reducing as needed if you ever feel you’re plateauing or starting to feel worse. While it may not be the most precise dosing method, especially since your intake is impacted by how deeply you inhale, it does give you a finer grain for adjusting your dosage.
Like sublingual tinctures, vaping offers relatively high bioavailability since the vapour does not go through your digestive system.
How to dose CBD capsules
Capsules are probably the easiest to dose since they usually come in regularly measured units. Check your product labels carefully to see how many milligrams of CBD are in your capsules.
There are two drawbacks to capsules:
- They have lower bioavailability than tinctures or vaping, so you may need higher doses to feel the same effects.
- It can be harder to fine-tune your dosage if you’re trying to make very small adjustments. If each capsule contains 10 milligrams of CBD, it can be difficult to adjust your dosage by anything less than 10 milligrams at a time. You can, however, bypass this by making your own capsules with custom units of CBD.
How to dose CBD edibles and gummies
Like capsules, edibles and gummies are ingested orally, offering similarly reduced bioavailability. They also tend to come in regularly dosed units, which makes it incredibly easy to know how much you’re taking in one piece or individual gummy (if you carefully read your labels).
One advantage is that edibles and gummies may be easier than capsules to break into smaller doses if necessary.
How to dose CBD creams and ointments
Creams and ointments may be the toughest to precisely dose. For one thing, truly topical creams are designed to produce an effect only at skin-level, while CBD typically has its best effects in the bloodstream. Even for a cream intended to penetrate the bloodstream through the skin, it would be tougher to produce the desired effects than through a method with higher bioavailability, like sublingual or even oral consumption.
Your best bet is to use creams sparingly to start and talk to your doctor about your usage.
Always do your research before increasing dosage or trying new intake methods.
Since there are no official CBD dosage regulations, it’s essential to do careful research before adjusting your dosage or switching intake methods. For example, the effects of CBD from edibles usually last longer than the effects of vaping, while you can feel the same effects from lower doses of tincture than of edibles or capsules. Your safest bet is to talk to a physician familiar with CBD products, then estimate dosage by body weight and start with low doses.
Evidence suggests that CBD could be a safe option to treat pain and other medical conditions, but there is no officially recommended dosage. Learn how to find the best CBD dosage for you.