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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.

A bottle of CBD oil and a medicine dropper

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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.

Possible Benefits

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
  • Arthritis
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Infection
  • Inflammation
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Nausea
  • Pain
  • Psychosis

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.

Research

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.

CBD Dosages

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.

Side Effects

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
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • 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.  

Safety

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.

CBD For Rheumatoid Arthritis

Kimberly is a health and wellness writer with 8 years of experience in healthcare and a special passion for mental health awareness.

Scott J. Zashin, MD, specializes in the treatment of rheumatologic and musculoskeletal conditions using both traditional and alternative therapies.

As cannabidiol (CBD) has grown in popularity over the years, major organizations like the Arthritis Foundation have released guidelines pertaining to its use in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). CBD is a non-psychoactive component of cannabis. The CBD in most products is extracted from hemp, a variety of cannabis that only has traces (up to 0.3%) of THC, the active compound that gets people high. Studies have shown CBD can help reduce chronic pain by impacting endocannabinoid receptor activity, which may also reduce inflammation.

CBD comes in different forms, including oil, vape, edible, and topical. Oils, vapes, and edibles are taken orally, while topical CBD lotions can be applied to the skin. CBD dosage varies depending on the form, the indication, and other treatments being used.

What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

RA is an autoimmune inflammatory disease, in which the immune system attacks healthy cells in the body and causes inflammation. RA commonly affects joints in the hands, wrists, and knees, causing the joint lining to become inflamed and damaging the tissue. This causes chronic joint pain and leads to deformity. RA can also affect other tissues throughout the body, such as the lungs, heart, and eyes.

medicinal cream with CBD oil, bottle of cannabis oil, capsule

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Health Benefits of CBD for RA

Animal studies have suggested that CBD has pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties, but these effects have not been validated with quality studies in humans. Anecdotally, some people who have tried CBD for treatment of arthritis symptoms report noticeable pain relief, improved sleep improvement, and reduced anxiety.

The trials that have been conducted in humans have not yielded strong evidence for the use of CBD in managing arthritic pain.

  • A randomized trial of topical CBD for treatment of knee osteoarthritis lasted only 12 weeks, and results were mixed.
  • One of the largest reviews examining the health effects of cannabis and CBD concluded that there is substantial evidence that cannabis is an effective treatment for chronic pain in adults. There was, however, no specific conclusion regarding CBD, as definitive studies were not available.
  • More recently, a new study showed that CBD can potentially help alleviate RA pain and inflammation by acting on immune cells that are attacking healthy cells in the body. It’s important to note that this study was also not conducted with human subjects.

Research in this area is ongoing.

If you are interested in trying CBD for RA pain management, be sure to talk to your doctor first before using any CBD products.

Rising Popularity of CBD for RA

Based on a 2019 national survey of 2,600 people conducted by the Arthritis Foundation, 79% of respondents said they were using CBD, have used it in the past, or were considering using it to help with their arthritis pain.

Health Benefits Related to Arthritis

Given the lack of strong scientific evidence supporting the use of CBD, it is not recommended as the first choice for pain relief in RA.

If you have RA, you should not stop taking your prescribed medications that may be protecting your joints from future damage. You should discuss any changes you want to make to your medication regimen with your doctor.

Additional Health Benefits

The strongest scientific evidence for effectiveness of CBD as a medical treatment is for seizure prevention in Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, which are severe childhood epilepsy disorders that typically don’t respond to antiseizure medications. Several years ago, the FDA approved the first cannabis-derived medicine for these conditions, Epidiolex, which contains CBD.

Other potential health benefits of CBD include:

  • Reduce anxiety, insomnia, and depression
  • Relieve cancer or cancer treatment symptoms
  • Clear acne
  • Slow the progress of neurologic disease like Alzheimer’s disease

Possible Side Effects

Treatment with CBD should be started slowly and under the supervision of a doctor, who will oversee its effectiveness and side effects. There have been reports of mild side effects of CBD.

The most common side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Lightheadedness
  • Sleepiness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Appetite changes

It’s important to note that CBD may interact with other drugs, including some of the medications that are prescribed for the treatment of RA.

Warnings and Interactions

There are some warnings and adverse drug interactions to be aware of before beginning using CBD for management of RA-associated pain.

Warnings

Do not stop taking any other treatments without consulting your doctor. Additionally, CBD shouldn’t be a replacement for other therapies you are using.

Pregnant people and children should consult a doctor before using CBD since there isn’t enough research on the effects of CBD on these populations. There has been concern about a possible link between inhaled cannabis and lower-birthweight babies, but it’s not clear if this applies to CBD.

Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate the safety and purity of CBD products, so you cannot know for sure that the product you buy has active ingredients at the dose listed on the label. The product may contain other unknown elements. The most effective therapeutic dose of CBD for any particular medical condition has not been established.

Are CBD Products Legal?

CBD products derived from hemp are no longer considered schedule I drugs under the federal Controlled Substances Act, but they still remain in a legal gray zone.   There are changes underway on federal and state levels that will ultimately clarify the laws and regulations related to CBD-based products and sales. Despite that, they’re widely available in nearly every state and online. People who want to use CBD should check their own state laws.

Interactions

Studies have found moderate interactions between CBD and medications commonly prescribed for treating RA.

Interactions can occur with these medications:

  • Corticosteroids
  • Tofacitinib
  • Naproxen
  • Celecoxib
  • Tramadol
  • Some antidepressants, including amitriptyline, citalopram, fluoxetine, mirtazapine, paroxetine, and sertraline
  • Some medications used for treating fibromyalgia, including gabapentin and pregabalin

CBD can increase your level of coumadin, a blood thinner.

CBD may also raise levels of other medications in your blood by the same mechanism that grapefruit juice does.

Medications that interact with grapefruit juice can potentially interact with CBD, including:

  • Cholesterol medications
  • High blood pressure medications
  • Organ-rejection medications
  • Anti-anxiety medications
  • Corticosteroids
  • Heart medications
  • Some antihistamines

Preparation and Dosage

If you’ve decided to try CBD for treating your RA pain, the next step is figuring out how much to take.

Your dosage depends on a number of factors:

  • Body weight
  • Medical indication
  • The concentration and form of CBD that you’re taking

You will likely need to start with a low dose and find what works for you. Studies have found extreme differences in dosages, with some people using 5 milligrams (mg) and others as much as 600 mg.

Your healthcare provider may direct you to start with 20-40 mg per day and increase slowly each day until you feel the relief you’re looking for.

To ensure that you are using CBD safely and effectively for pain management, you should:

  • Choose an oral treatment (rather than inhaled products) and start with a low dose
  • Establish initial goals of treatment within a realistic period of time. For example, a reduction in knee pain that allows you to walk around the block within two weeks of starting treatment; later, if improved, the goals can be adjusted
  • Tell your doctor(s) about your planned and current CBD treatment; monitor your pain and adjust medications with your medical providers, rather than with non-medical practitioners
  • When preparing to take a liquid form, be aware that the CBD extract is mixed with a carrier oil, so there are two measures to know: the amount of the liquid product to take (the dose) and the amount of CBD in each dose

If CBD alone doesn’t work and you are in a state where medical or recreational marijuana is legal, you could consider talking to your doctor about taking CBD with a very low-dose THC product. Be aware that even at low levels, THC may make you feel high, resulting in cognitive, motor, and balance impairment.

If you experience any unwanted side effects when using a CBD product, immediately discontinue use and inform your doctor.

What To Look For

Look for the following when choosing a CBD product:  

  • Look for products manufactured in the United States with ingredients grown domestically
  • Choose products made by companies that follow good manufacturing practices established by the FDA for pharmaceuticals or dietary supplements or required by the state where they are manufactured
  • Buy from companies that test each batch and provide a certificate of analysis from an independent lab that uses validated standardized testing methods approved by the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP), the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), or the Association of Official Agricultural Chemists (AOAC)
  • Avoid companies that claim their products have disease benefits
  • Be aware that marketers and people behind retail counters are not health professionals. Your doctor is your best source for guidance and monitoring when using an unregulated product

A Word From Verywell

CBD may sound like an appealing option for pain relief, but do your due diligence before jumping on the bandwagon. A lot of people say CBD can help reduce pain and inflammation for those with RA, but not a lot of strong scientific data have substantiated that claim. That said, serious effects are not commonly associated with CBD use.

If this is something you are interested in, you can work with your doctor to figure out whether CBD is something you can try safely. Remember that CBD should not be used as a first-line treatment for RA pain and that it’s not advisable to stop taking disease-modifying treatments for RA.

Cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive component of marijuana, may help to relieve pain and joint stiffness in people with RA. Here’s what you need to know.