Here’s How to Determine How Much CBD You Should Take
Many people use CBD for pain and anxiety relief. But how do you know if you’re taking too much?
Taylor Leamey writes about all things wellness. She holds a bachelor’s degree in both Psychology and Sociology and is a certified sleep coach.
It’s safe to say that CBD is pretty mainstream now — you can buy it in grocery stores. No longer is it considered a trendy health hack but a legitimate option for pain and anxiety relief. But even with the largely widespread acceptance, there are still a lot of questions about how much and how often you should take CBD.
CBD products do not have federal oversights or regulations. In fact, up to 70% of CBD products you buy on the internet either have more or less CBD than listed on the label. Finding the ideal CBD dosage for pain or anxiety can be difficult. Here’s how to make it easy.
What can you use CBD for?
Research, though limited, indicates that CBD has legitimate health benefits. While there is no FDA regulation, research has shown that full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD effectively treat pain and anxiety. There’s only one FDA-approved CBD product, called Epidiolex, that’s available by prescription. Epidiolex treats seizure disorders such as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.
However, there are several other benefits and uses of CBD products.
The most common uses of CBD
- To lessen symptoms of anxiety and depression for things like muscle pain or migraines
- To reduce chemotherapy-induced nausea
- Relieve inflammatory diseases
- Help with behavioral symptoms of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease
- Managing multiple sclerosis and improving mobility
The CBD market is continuously expanding with new products. However, there are four main types of CBD product categories. All of which will vary in potency and dosage per unit.
Oils and tinctures
CBD oils generally come in either a liquid or capsule form. You can take the extracts independently or use the dropper to add them to food or drinks. Liquid tinctures are usually taken directly under the tongue.
“Tinctures are generally taken at higher concentrations than oils. This means that if you were taking 1 milliliter of tincture, you would need to drop the concentration down to 0.5 milliliters. A good rule of thumb is to start with a small dose (0.25 milliliters) and slowly increase your dose over time,” says Reda Elmardi, a registered dietician and certified nutritionist.
Edible CBD products are quickly becoming very popular, likely because of their convenience and flavor profiles. With edibles, you have several options in flavor, potency and prices. They have everything, from gummies to cookies, chocolates and even granola bars.
CBD is also available in topical creams and salves applied directly to the skin. Popular forms are lotions, creams or ointments. Topical CBD products are good options for muscle pains, joint inflammation or nerve pain.
Topical CBD is one of the more difficult forms for determining dosage. Not only does potency vary by product, but also varies by how much you use each application. It’s important to follow manufacturer instructions carefully.
How to determine the best CBD dosage for you
CBD products express dosage in milligrams. Epidiolex starts with a dosage of 2.5 milligrams taken twice a day. After a week, you can increase the dosage to 5 milligrams twice a day. Federal regulation makes determining dosage straightforward.
For the rest of the products on the market not regulated by the FDA, there are no established guidelines for CBD concentration, which makes determining how much you should take a little more difficult. There are a few key factors you need to keep in mind — your weight, what you’re treating and the concentration of the product.
The ideal dosage for you will vary depending on what you’re using it for and what form you’re taking. Don’t forget that different forms also mean how quickly it takes effect. Generally, edibles, oils and capsules will take roughly 30 to 60 minutes to take effect. Smoking or vaping CBD will bring it on significantly quicker since the CBD absorbs into your bloodstream rather than your digestive system.
CBD dosage will vary by condition
In general, the CBD dosage is dependent on the disease and its ability to be managed by CBD. The research that is available on CBD treatments has very varied dosage levels. Clinical studies have varied in oral doses from 100 to 800 milligrams a day. Others administer lower levels around 40 milligrams. A 2019 study investigating CBD for anxiety found that 300 to 600 milligrams reduced anxiety symptoms. However, that study was limited to 57 adult males.
“For generalized anxiety or sleep disorders, 25 to 75 milligrams per day is recommended, while for PTSD, 33 to 50 milligrams per day is recommended. In severe anxiety, a patient’s dose might be increased to 300 to 600 milligrams. If the patient is experiencing pain due to chemotherapy, 50 to 60 milligrams is recommended, with a maximum daily dose of 600 milligrams,” says Kimberly Langdon, a board-certified MD.
How much CBD is best for you will depend on your body. Your body weight and existing medications will influence the ideal dosage for you.
Can you take too much CBD?
A clinical review of studies confirmed that people tolerate doses as high as 1,500 milligrams a day. We want to stress that the research around CBD dosage is still really young, so there is not much to point to about how much is too much for people. More research is needed to definitively conclude the ideal dosage for each condition.
Not a ton of known side effects associated with CBD products. Though fatigue, diarrhea and appetite changes have been reported. The FDA states that CBD can cause liver damage and potentially impact the other prescription medications you’re taking.
If you’re starting your CBD journey, it’s best to slowly build your dosage so you can monitor how it affects you.
“The idea is to start very low (i.e., 5 milligrams per use) and increase daily usage by 5 milligrams every two days until you start feeling results. Then, stop increasing and keep using the same number of milligrams or drops. For many people, the amount that provides modest benefits in the first couple days will, after consistent use, provide more and more benefit over time,” says Dr. Dustin Sulak, an integrative physician and leading cannabis clinician.
How to calculate CBD dosage
For some forms of CBD, determining how much is each unit is simple. Capsules or gummies tend to have an expressed milligram content, making dosage much easier than oils or creams.
Oils or tinctures with a dropper bottle list the CBD content for the total liquid bottle. So instead of eating a gummy that’s 50 milligrams, it will look more like 7,500 milligrams of CBD in the 30-milliliter bottle. Some bottles will offer serving sizes — like one drop — to indicate dosage. This allows you to have greater control over how much you are intaking, but even still, it’s not a perfect science.
Some bottles with a traditional nutrition label on the back will tell you exactly how much is in one dropper. If you are unsure, it’s a good idea to reach out to the company to find out. It can be difficult to figure out how much you’re intaking for the bottles that do not break down by serving size and offer only the total amount. It is difficult, but not impossible; it just takes a little bit of math.
Say you have a 30-milliliter bottle of CBD oil, and each drop is 0.05 milliliters.
To determine how many milligrams of CBD per milliliter, you divide the total milligram content by how much the bottle is. In this example, the math would look like this:
7,500 milligrams divided by 30 milliliters = 250 milliliters.
There is 250 milligrams of CBD per milliliter for this product. Next, you want to know exactly how much CBD is in each drop.
250 milliliters x 0.05 milliliters = 12.5 milliliters per drop.
This calculation works with any bottle of CBD. Once you know how much CBD is in each drop, you can accurately take your ideal amount. “To ensure the best results, keep track of how much you take, how many times a day you take it and rate your symptoms daily (by rating 1 to 10, 10 being best) to see if they are getting better or worse,” Sulak advises.
Too long, didn’t read?
CBD is a continually evolving field in both products and research. While research is lacking, what is available suggests that CBD does have therapeutic benefits and is generally very well tolerated by people. Still, more research is needed to really dig into the long-term side effects and best dosage markers for the average person.
In place of federal regulations, use your best judgment regarding how much CBD you are taking. Talking to your doctor about dosage is always a good idea when in doubt.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.
CBD Dosage: What’s the Right Dose of CBD for Pain Relief?
Take a look at the label on any over-the-counter pain reliever and you can easily figure out how much you’re supposed to take for your symptoms. Finding the right dose of cannabidiol (CBD) for pain relief, however, isn’t that simple.
Enthusiasts rave about CBD’s potential to ease pain, reduce inflammation, relieve anxiety and promote sleep. However, there’s no conclusive research about just how much CBD a person needs to take in order to experience benefits.
There are very few human studies on CBD, and those that have been done include doses that are all over the map: In some studies, patients used 5 mg of CBD; in others, they took as much as 600 mg. To further add to the confusion, CBD comes in a number of forms — oils and tinctures, creams and lotions, pills, vaping, and edibles — and each one has differences in terms of bioavailability (the percent of active ingredient that gets into your bloodstream).
“There are no standard doses for patients,” says Rachna Patel, DO, a physician who does consultations about medical marijuana and CBD and sells her own line of CBD products. “Ultimately, it’s trial and error, but you have to go about it in a methodical way.”
Here are some tips to guide you on how to find the right CBD dosage for your pain relief and other symptoms.
1. Work with an expert
Many factors, such as your body mass index (BMI), specific health condition(s) you have, medications you take, your health history, and the form of CBD you plan to use can influence how much CBD you may need to treat your symptoms. Although CBD is different than medical marijuana — which contains CBD as well as THC, an intoxicating ingredient — a doctor who’s well-versed in cannabis (marijuana) is probably the best person to help you help you sort it out.
“I wouldn’t recommend starting CBD without the supervision of a physician,” says Dr. Patel, author of The CBD Solution. “Many times people purchase a CBD product, try a dose that that doesn’t work for them, switch products and spin their wheels. Or, worse, they develop side effects.”
Ask your rheumatologist or primary care provider to recommend an expert, or find an expert near you by searching the directory of members of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians or the database maintained by your state’s medical marijuana program (if it has one).
2. Do some math
Let’s say you and your doctor settle on a dose of 30 mg of CBD per day. Now what? The answer depends on which form of CBD you take.
Figuring out how much CBD is in capsules or gummies is simple — just read the supplement facts section on the label. (If it says 10 mg of CBD per capsule, you’d take three capsules to get your 30 mg of CBD a day.)
Oils and tinctures can be trickier because the packaging often states the amount of CBD in the entire bottle, not in a dropper. This calculator can help you figure out how many drops you need based on the strength of the product.
When it comes to CBD in topical form (creams, lotions, and salves), you’ll probably see the total amount of CBD in the container listed on the label. You’ll then have to divide that total by the number of millimeters in the package to determine how much is in each milliliter. For example, if you have a 50 ml jar of salve that contains 200 mg of CBD, there’s 4 mg per ml. You should then use a metric measuring spoon to scoop out 7.5 ml to get a 30 mg dose of CBD.
3. Expect some trial and error
No two patients respond to CBD in the same way. You and your doctor will probably need to adjust the dose either up or down until you hit the right balance of benefits without side effects. “A lot of it depends on your biochemistry and the way your liver breaks down these chemicals. There’s a wide variety of factors that come into play,” says Dr. Patel.
It can take a little while to get it right, so be patient. Many people do not see a difference in symptoms after one or two doses of CBD. It can take up to eight weeks of regular use to feel an impact, says Bridget Seritt, co-founder of the Canna-Patient Resource Connection, a Colorado-based organization that is working to protect patient rights and end stigma against those who choose cannabis as medicine.
4. If you have side effects, stop or lower the dose
CBD won’t get you high the way that cannabis with THC can, but it may still cause side effects. “The most common side effects are fatigue and lethargy, and in rare cases diarrhea,” says Dr. Patel, who notes that CBD that’s taken topically less commonly causes side effects. Topical CBD is best used to address pain in a single joint, rather than widespread pain, she adds.
No matter which form of CBD you use, pay attention to how you feel. If you notice any negative side effects, stop or lower the dose and consult your doctor.
CBD Dosage for Inflammation
CBD is one of the most promising natural remedies to come along in years. Along with having the ability to potentially alleviate ailments like depression, insomnia, and epilepsy, CBD has also shown effectiveness in reducing inflammation.
If you’re trying to self-medicate with CBD to help with your inflammation, this article is for you. Here we define CBD, present where the research rests at the moment, and explain how to find the right amount for you.
Table of Contents
What is CBD?
CBD stands for cannabidiol, one of many hundreds of active compounds present in the cannabis plant. These compounds, called cannabinoids, are responsible for all of the lovely things cannabis does to us, from relaxing us to easing afflictions like inflammation.
In contrast to its party-hardy cousin THC, CBD does not get you high. What it does do is make you feel good in plenty of other ways.
But what does the research say about CBD and your health?
The Current Research on CBD
There are lots of discussions centered around CBD today. Research is heavily underway to determine what it treats, how much of it to take, and whether there are any potential long-term effects to be aware of.
CBD and Inflammation
In 2016, an animal study showed that CBD reduced joint inflammation in lab rats by reducing their joint swelling. Additionally, the study showed no notable side effects. In fact, most studies of CBD for inflammation have been on animals — however, the results are looking promising for humans.
A 2017 study indicated the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD could help with conditions like inflammatory bowel diseases, cardiovascular diseases, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, and other inflammatory conditions.
CBD and Safety
In 2017, researchers found that studies on CBD generally indicated a high level of safety. Another conclusion of this study was that different people require different dosages of CBD to achieve the optimum response. The range of doses can be quite wide.
Make sure to talk to your doctor before starting CBD. It could be the case that CBD isn’t right for you or that it could interact with another medication you’re taking. CBD interacts with your body through the endocannabinoid system — basically, a complex set of receptors that affect things like mood, heart rate, anxiety, and more — so it’s really important to check with a healthcare professional before starting CBD.
How to Find the Right Dosage for Your Inflammation
Several factors come into play in determining your ideal dosage:
- Your weight
- Your body’s response to CBD
- The bioavailability of the type of CBD you choose
- Your condition
- The concentration of your CBD
Assuming your doctor hasn’t recommended a CBD dosage for you, the best way to begin is to start with a small dosage and work your way up. Start with either 20 or 40 mg per day, increasing by 5 mg each week until you start to notice a change in your inflammation. Keep track of this so you can find your optimum dose.
When you’re calculating dosage, keep in mind that different types of products have different bioavailabilities. Bioavailability means how much of the substance actually makes it to your bloodstream. The following are some general bioavailability numbers:
- Topical CBD:
- CBD edibles (like gummies) and capsules: 5-15%
- CBD oil drops: 30%
- CBD vapes: >50%
In other words, 300 mg of CBD in an edible may only yield you 45 mg maximum, while CBD oil drops could yield nearly 100 mg.
Look at the product’s packaging. It should tell you how much is in a single serving. It’s particularly important to be able to calculate the dosage for CBD oil, as this is a common form of taking CBD.
A CBD oil bottle should deliver 1 mL per dropper, which may contain a stated amount of CBD. But how much is a single drop of the oil?
Consider that a single drop is usually around 0.05 mL of oil. If your 10-mL bottle contains 1,500 mg of CBD, that means there’s roughly 7.5 mg of CBD per drop.
CBD is natural, and research is showing it’s safe. If you’re trying to find the right dosage for your inflammation, try starting with 20 or 40 mg per day and increasing by increments of 5 mg each week. When you start to notice results, stay at that dosage!
Our dosing calculator will also help you understand how to find a great starting dosage.