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.
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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.
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.
A guide to CBD dosage
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- What to look for in CBD products
- How much CBD oil should I take?
These days CBD can be found nearly anywhere in almost anything. There are CBD lattes at the local café, an ever-growing array of beauty products, and CBD is even stacked on the shelves of pharmacy chains located across the U.S. It’s not hard to find CBD oil and CBD-infused products, but finding the most effective CBD dosage, on the other hand, well, that’s an entirely different story.
CBD is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid from the cannabis plant that offers an extensive number of potential therapeutic benefits, including anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-anxiety, and seizure-suppressant properties. Although its popularity had already started simmering, the CBD market shifted into a higher gear once hemp production was legalized with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. This measure paved the way for a massive influx of hemp-derived CBD oil and CBD-infused products on the consumer market, but most users are still unaware of how to find the most effective CBD dosage.
Evidence shows that CBD holds promise in treating a wide range of conditions and ailments. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Although more research is needed in order to define the most effective CBD dosage for specific ailments and conditions, evidence shows that CBD holds promise in treating a wide range of conditions and ailments, including epilepsy, chronic pain, inflammation, opioid addiction, and anxiety, among others.
Knowing the way that CBD products work and are marketed can improve one’s ability to accurately administer CBD for specific ailments or conditions.
What to look for in CBD products
While sifting through the vast ocean of CBD oils and infusions now available online and in health and wellness sections across the US, it’s important to know what to look for in order to find the best possible products.
What type of CBD product should you consider?
There are a lot of different CBD products on the market, and each requires different considerations when it comes to the optimal CBD dosage. This diverse array of CBD product types includes:
- CBD oil
- Topicals, such as creams and lotions
- Sublinguals, such as oral sprays and droppers
- Vape pens
- High-CBD flower
Certificate of analysis from third-party testing lab
First and foremost, it’s highly important to find CBD oil or CBD-infused products from a reputable source, preferably one that includes a certificate of analysis from a third-party testing lab. By having third-party product verification, the amount of CBD inside the product, along with other potential ingredients, can be confirmed without solely relying on the manufacturer’s word.
The total amount of CBD and amount per serving size should always be clearly showcased on your product’s label. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Since the legalization of hemp-derived products via the 2018 Farm Bill, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has continued to grapple with how to regulate CBD oil and CBD-infused products. This lack of oversight has led to products that either contain less CBD than advertised or no CBD at all.
For instance, in a November 2017 study, researchers tested 84 CBD products from 31 companies. Only 30.95% of the samples were accurately labeled with the correct amount of CBD.
Read the product label
Aside from proof of third-party testing, there’s additional information that should be listed on the label of the CBD products. By knowing what to look for on CBD product labels, consumers have a better chance of finding high-quality items. The total amount of CBD and amount per serving size should always be clearly showcased on the label. Look for the following details on CBD product labels to ensure that it comes from a reputable source:
- Amount of active CBD per serving
- Supplement Fact Panel, including other ingredients
- Net weight
- Manufacturer/Distributor name
- Suggested Use
- Full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or isolate
- Batch/date code
- Expiration date
Don’t fall prey to enticing buzzwords such as “organic’ or “all-natural,” as they can be misleading and don’t have a scientific basis. There are also some product labels that claim to contain hemp or hempseed oil, but this is not the same as hemp-derived CBD oil, and frequently contains little to no cannabinoids at all.
Know the CBD-to-THC ratio
It’s also important to know whether the CBD product contains any THC and, if so, what the exact CBD-to-THC ratio is. The way this ratio works is relatively simple. For instance, a CBD oil that claims to offer a 3:1 CBD-to-THC ratio will have around three times more CBD than THC. The higher the amount of CBD, the more the consumer is protected from the undesirable effects of THC, such as anxiety and paranoia.
The CBD-to-THC ratio can vary from product to product, but there are certain ratios that seem to be commonplace among most manufacturers, usually ranging anywhere between 1:1 and 18:1. A product with an 18:1 CBD-to-THC ratio provides the best chance for avoiding any semblance of the high that THC produces. A product with a 1:1 CBD-to-THC ratio is more balanced, better suited for someone who is prepared for the intoxicating effects of THC, even if they are mild. Something in the mid-range, such as a 2:1 or 3:1 CBD-to-THC ratio, will be higher in CBD, but will still slightly maintain the sensory and psychoactive effects of THC. Ultimately, however, a person’s individual level of tolerance to THC’s effects will affect their level of intoxication.
CBD with THC work in tandem to create a more beneficial and therapeutic experience, Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Finding the most effective CBD dosage will likely require a bit of experimentation, but knowing how different CBD-to-THC ratios work can help narrow down the search. Start with a CBD product that has high levels of CBD and, if necessary, slowly transition to something that contains more THC. There is also a wide range of hemp-derived CBD on the market, which contains less than 0.3% to no THC.
As for why you might want to combine CBD with THC in the first place, research suggests that the two cannabinoids work in tandem to create a more beneficial and therapeutic experience, often referred to as the entourage effect.
One 2006 literature review published in Medical Hypothesis suggests that CBD can improve the therapeutic benefits and reduce the adverse effects of THC. Other research appears to support the view that CBD and THC have a positive synergistic effect when combined. For instance a 2012 study found that cannabis consumers with a higher intake of CBD had better recall memory. There is also evidence suggesting that CBD can reduce anxiety and paranoia, two side effects commonly associated with THC.
Consider the ailment or condition
The optimal CBD dosage will not only depend on the individual, but also their ailment or condition. Depending on the therapeutic needs, different CBD products may prove more beneficial than others.
For instance, to combat arthritis or chronic pain, a CBD-infused topical applied directly at the site of pain may be more effective than a sublingual oil or tincture. In a 2016 study conducted on lab rats, researchers found that CBD had limited oral bioavailability, leading them to surmise that topical CBD may be more effective when it comes to treating inflammation or pain in a specific area, such as arthritis or muscular pain.
How much CBD oil should I take?
While further research and educational tools are required to pinpoint the optimal CBD dosage for each individual, existing studies can help narrow down the best CBD dosages for certain ailments and medical conditions. For instance, Mayo Clinic, the U.S.-based nonprofit academic medical center, released a review that can be used as a starting point for THC and CBD dosage measurements for various ailments, combining scientific research, publications, and traditional and expert opinions. Based on information in the review, it might be helpful to start with a dose of 2.5 – 10mg of CBD to reduce anxiety or 160mg for inflammation.
Finding the ideal CBD dosage is dependent on several factors, including the individual’s weight, diet, metabolism, other medications, genetics, and medical condition, as well as the formulation and quality of the CBD. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
But finding the ideal CBD dosage is dependent on several factors, including the individual’s weight, diet, metabolism, other medications, genetics, and medical condition, as well as the formulation and quality of the CBD. Therefore, it’s not yet possible to develop universal CBD dosage guidelines that work effectively for everyone, but well-educated estimates can still be made using the limited information currently available. Of course, novice users should start with a lower dose and work their way up until the optimal CBD dosage is found.
When administering CBD oil, the corresponding dropper in the bottle can be used to obtain an accurate measurement. The right amount will be subject to the desired CBD dosage and product serving size. For example, one 50-milliliter bottle contains 2,000 milligrams of CBD. Considering a standard dropper typically holds one milliliter of liquid, just divide the milligrams of CBD by the amount of liquid in the bottle. In this case, one full dropper should contain 40 milligrams.
So, to start with a CBD dosage of 20 milligrams, simply fill half of the dropper and administer the oil underneath the tongue. Holding under the tongue is a critical step in tincture consumption because CBD is very poorly absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract (i.e., very little of what is swallowed ends up in the bloodstream). Efforts are underway to develop formulas that increase the oral bioavailability of CBD; these may include consuming it alongside piperine, a molecule found in black pepper, which is commonly used to boost the absorption of turmeric.
Lastly, it’s always worth consulting a physician about using CBD to treat a specific medical condition or ailment. While medical professionals might not yet have clinical expertise regarding CBD, they may still be able to provide guidance on the optimal CBD dosage for each patient.
A guide to CBD dosage Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents What to look for in CBD products How much CBD oil should I take? These days CBD