CBD Dosage: How Much Should You Take?
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Table of Contents
- Determining the Best CBD Dosage for You
- How to Calculate CBD Dosage
- How to Take CBD
Cannabidiol (CBD) is growing increasingly popular, thanks to its many purported health benefits and non-intoxicating properties (most CBD products contain less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC). In fact, 60% of U.S. adults have tried CBD at some point and believe it has medicinal benefits, according to a recent Forbes Health survey of 2,000 U.S. adults conducted by OnePoll. As research evolves and sheds light on CBD’s efficacy, especially for pain relief, more and more people are adding it to their daily wellness regimens.
Consumers can choose from a variety of CBD products, from oils to gummies to vapes to capsules. But figuring out the safe and effective CBD dose for an individual is a complex decision.
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Here’s how to find the right CBD dosage for you and how to consume it safely.
Determining the Best CBD Dosage for You
With the exception of one CBD product, a prescription drug used to treat seizures associated with particular syndromes, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate the use of CBD. (In fact, it’s illegal to market CBD as a supplement or add it to food.) Therefore, it’s best to consult a doctor with experience in CBD administration to determine your ideal dosage.
Expressed in milligrams (mg), CBD dosage largely depends on the conditions and symptoms you’re trying to treat and your unique endocannabinoid system, which is associated with motor control, behavior, emotions, the nervous system and homeostasis. CBD dosage remains an area of active research—more large, high-quality studies are needed in different populations to determine appropriate dosing, efficacy and safety guidelines.
“It’s best to start small and gradually increase your dose up to a level that gives you the desired effect,” says Cheryl Bugailiskis, M.D., a cannabis specialist at Heally, a telehealth platform for alternative medicine. Your starting point might look like half a CBD gummy or a drop of oil. Ideally, navigate this process under the guidance of a qualified physician.
If you’re still not sure where to start, mydosage.com offers a questionnaire and CBD calculator to help you based on your specific symptoms and usage goals.
How to Calculate CBD Dosage
When you consume CBD gummies, capsules or softgels, dosage is typically expressed per unit. For example, there may be 50 milligrams of CBD in each individual gummy. These products don’t offer much dosage flexibility since you can’t split up capsules easily. For instance, if one softgel capsule didn’t provide your desired result, you would have to take another full capsule, doubling the total dose.
CBD oil, on the other hand, makes it easier, to begin with a small dose. But calculating CBD oil dosage can be less straightforward. Oils and tinctures tend to come in a dropper bottle and, typically, only the total liquid volume and CBD contents are listed on the label. For example, the label might simply state there’s 1,500 milligrams of CBD in the 30-milliliter bottle.
But what does 1 milliliter look like? Due to the current lack of regulation of CBD, this calculation can be tricky. Start by figuring out the volume of a single drop in your dropper, which is usually 0.05 milliliters, according to Dr. Bugailiskis. If you’re unsure, ask the company.
Here’s where math comes in. Let’s continue with the 30-milliliter bottle with 1,500 milligrams of CBD and 0.05 milliliters in a single drop as our example.
1500mg÷30mL = 50 mg/mL
This bottle contains 50 milligrams of CBD per milliliter. Let’s see how many milligrams are in a drop:
50mg/mL ×0.05mL/drop = 2.5mg/drop
Each drop contains 2.5 milligrams of CBD.
Next, you can calculate how many drops you need to reach your goal dosage. Let’s say you want to consume 25 milligrams each day.
25mg÷2.5mg/drop = 10 drops
10 drops ×2.5mg = 0.5mL
With this CBD oil dosage calculator as your guide, you would find that you needed to consume 10 drops, or 0.5 milliliters, to reach 25 milligrams. And if you intend to consume 25 milligrams daily, you can expect this particular bottle to serve as a 60-day supply.
Some CBD products do some of this math for you and illustrate how many milligrams are in a milliliter, some even marking these points on the dropper so you know exactly what you’re taking.
CBD Dosage for Different Ailments
Without FDA approval, there is little guidance in the U.S. on how much CBD a person should consume for various conditions.
In many medical studies on CBD, you see administered doses reach hundreds of milligrams a day, which sounds severe compared to our starting dosage example of 25 milligrams. However, Steven Phan, founder of Come Back Daily, a CBD dispensary in New York, points out that patients in these studies are often dealing with serious flare-ups and pain-inducing conditions compared to everyday dispensary customers.
Below are clinically-studied CBD dosages based on different ailments and conditions. Note: Some of the formulations studied contained THC as well—not all available dosage research sticks strictly to CBD.
*Dosages are based solely on small, short-term clinical study results where CBD proved significantly successful over placebo. Much larger studies are needed to further strengthen the evidence.
FDA-approved Epidiolex administers CBD orally as a liquid to treat seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, Dravet syndrome and tuberous sclerosis complex. The dosage of Epidiolex is determined by taking the patient’s weight in kilograms (kg) into account.
Several countries, including Canada and those in the U.K., have approved the use of Sativex, an oral spray with equal amounts of CBD and THC, to treat pain stemming from multiple sclerosis. Canada has also approved it for treatment of cancer pain.
The medical and research community still has a long way to go before figuring out what dose works best for each condition. At an individual level, consumers can experiment with caution until they find what works best for them.
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How to Take CBD
Popular ways to take CBD include:
- Oils and tinctures (extracts of plant material dissolved in ethanol): A liquid that comes in a bottle with a dropper
- Gummies: A soft, chewable candy that’s often fruit-flavored
- Sprays: A liquid that comes in a bottle with a nozzle for spraying into the mouth
- Capsules: Tablets or softgels that are ingested by mouth
- Vapes: CBD oil that’s heated without ignition, resulting in an inhalable vapor
- Flower: Dried hemp plant that’s often ignited and smoked
- Edibles: Any food that CBD oil has been added to, such as brownies or chips
- Drinks: Any beverage that’s infused with CBD, often in the form of hemp extract
Your CBD product of choice will largely depend on your personal preferences, as well as your budget since prices vary depending on the potency of ingredients and manufacturing processes. Different mediums also offer varying levels of bioavailability—or how much of what you take is actually absorbed into your bloodstream to have an effect. For example, if you ingest 10 milligrams of CBD via 1 milliliter of liquid, your body might absorb about 60% of it, or about 6 milligrams.
Cannabinoids generally have a low bioavailability compared to other substances, according to Jordan Tishler, M.D., a physician specializing in cannabis treatment in Massachusetts. However, “products that contain emulsifiers like egg yolk (brownies) or lecithin (some gummies) do better,” he says.
With that said, ingesting CBD via gummies or other edibles may take longer to take effect since the CBD has to travel to your digestive system to be broken down and absorbed.
Can You Take Too Much CBD?
Like with any substance, you can take more CBD than your body can handle. Studies show doses up to 1,500 milligrams a day have been well-tolerated, but every person is different  Bergamaschi MM, Costa Queiroz RH, Zuardi AW, Crippa JAS. Safety and side effects of cannabidiol, a Cannabis sativa constituent. Current Drug Safety. 2011;6(4):237-49. . Ingesting too much CBD can cause unpleasant side effects, such as dry mouth, nausea, diarrhea, upset stomach, drowsiness, lightheadedness and general disorientation. While rare, liver damage can also occur.
What’s more, CBD can have serious interactions with certain medications. In evaluating available information on five prescription CBD-based medications, researchers found 139 medications could have a potential drug-drug interaction with CBD  Kocis PT, Vrana KE. Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol and Cannabidiol Drug-Drug Interactions. Medical Cannabis and Cannabinoids. 2020;3:61–73. . People who take certain blood thinners, heart rhythm medications, thyroid medications and seizure medications need to be particularly careful.
At the end of the day, not all supplements are created equal, which is why it’s important to work alongside a health care provider when adding CBD to your wellness regimen and research reliable brands. And while emerging research and anecdotal evidence is promising, more large, randomized-controlled trials are needed to further understand the benefits of CBD and its dosing.
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.