Dosing of cbd oil for anxiety

What Dosage of CBD Should You Take?

Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology.

Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.

John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE is board-certified in addiction medicine and preventative medicine. He is the medical director at Alcohol Recovery Medicine. For over 20 years Dr. Umhau was a senior clinical investigator at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

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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.

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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.

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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.

How to find the proper CBD dosage for you, according to medical cannabis experts

This article was medically reviewed by Mia Hazle, MD, a psychiatrist in the Division of Addiction Psychiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

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Our stories are reviewed by medical professionals to ensure you get the most accurate and useful information about your health and wellness. For more information, visit our medical review board.

How concentrated your CBD oil is will determine how many drops you should take. chonticha wat/Getty Images

  • How much CBD you should take depends on your weight, body chemistry, and condition.
  • For example, CBD dosages for anxiety range from 400 to 600 mg a day.
  • Determining your CBD dosage will take some trial-and-error and you should discuss it with a doctor.

CBD is one of more than 60 active compounds found in the cannabis plant. It’s used to treat childhood epilepsy, but is also being studied as a way to manage and treat conditions including anxiety, schizophrenia, diabetes , Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.

However, how much CBD you need for these conditions, or otherwise, is unclear. That’s because CBD is not regulated by the FDA and therefore lacks any official dosing guidelines.

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That said, preliminary research provides a basic understanding of how much CBD can be effective for certain conditions and groups of people. Here’s what researchers know so far about CBD’s dosage and effects.

Important: Unlike THC — another common compound in cannabis — CBD is non-intoxicating and won’t make you feel “high.”

How to determine CBD dosage?

How much CBD you should take depends on multiple factors like body weight and genetics. Usually finding the right dose comes down to good, old-fashioned trial and error.

However, before experimenting with different CBD doses, you should talk to your doctor since there are no regulated dosing guidelines. Plus, studies on CBD’s effects include a wide range of doses, from “lower” doses of 10mg to 100 mg to “higher” doses of 100 mg to 1,500 mg, making it even more difficult to determine the proper dose on your own, says Anthony Ferrari, PhD, the Chief Science Officer of Your CBD Store, a nationwide CBD retail and research company.

How much CBD is in a drop of CBD oil? CBD oil typically comes in dropper bottles with a single drop containing about 0.05 ml. A product’s packaging will tell you how much CBD is in the bottle, which can help you determine how much CBD is in a single drop. For example, if a 20 ml bottle containing 2,000 mg of CBD contains 400 drops, then each drop would contain around 5 mg of CBD.

Further muddling the dosing equation is the fact that some CBD products, known as isolates, contain only CBD, while others are “full-spectrum” and contain other cannabinoids, like THC. The additional cannabinoids in full-spectrum formulas might modulate CBD’s effects, thus altering how much you need to take, Ferrari says.

Factors that influence how much CBD you should take include:

  • Bodyweight: Studies examining CBD’s effects use different doses depending on their body weight. These doses typically range from 5 to 20 mg per kilogram of body weight.
  • The condition being treated: “The clinical trial data as it stands usually suggests a lower dosage for ailments such as anxiety and a higher dosage for ailments such as sleep, chronic pain, and epilepsy,” Ferrari says.
  • Your individual body chemistry: Individuals respond differently to varying dosages of CBD due to their individual genetics and brain chemistry, says Jordan Tishler, MD, president of the Association of Cannabis Specialists and CEO of medical cannabis practice inahleMD. For example, a dose that might make one person feel slightly drowsy might cause unmanageable fatigue in another.

CBD dosage based on conditions

Clinical trials on CBD are limited and existing studies use a wide range of doses to treat various conditions. Here’s what we know so far:

Anxiety

Studies examining CBD’s effects on anxiety use varying doses, typically ranging from 400 mg to 600 mg per day. In a small 2017 study, test subjects reported reduced anxiety after taking a 300 mg dose of CBD.

Schizophrenia

In a couple of small studies, CBD doses ranging from 600 mg to 1500 mg per day were shown to reduce some symptoms of psychosis due to schizophrenia.

Can you take too much CBD?

CBD is generally considered to be safe and well-tolerated in doses up to 1500mg per day. While there’s a real risk of fatal overdose when using drugs like opiates or alcohol, taking too much CBD is more likely to result in sleepiness and perhaps an upset stomach.

Side effects are typically mild and include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Drowsiness
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea

In rare instances, CBD could cause liver damage. A 2019 animal study found that liver damage occurred when mice were given high doses of CBD — the human equivalent of 200 mg of CBD per kilogram of body weight. It’s not clear if these findings are applicable to humans.

“If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking any other medications, you should discuss your CBD journey with a primary care physician, Ferrari says. “Everyone experiences the effects of CBD differently and you should always monitor your body’s reactions.”

Warning: Taking CBD in addition to other medications that cause drowsiness — like benzodiazepines, antipsychotics, antidepressants, antihistamines, or alcohol — may lead to increased drowsiness, accidental falls, or accidents while driving.

Insider’s takeaway

Emerging research suggests CBD is a promising and low-risk treatment for a number of conditions — but like all medications, you need to be cognizant of dose. Because there are no regulated dosing guidelines, it’s especially important to talk to your doctor before starting a CBD regime.

“Maintaining open communication with your physician is the key to overall success when first incorporating CBD into your routine, especially for those with complicated health issues,” Ferrari says.

Lia Tabackman is a freelance journalist covering health and science topics for Insider.com. She can be found on Twitter @LiaTabackman.