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CBD Dosage: How Much to Take for Pain, Anxiety & Sleep

Illustration of CBD oil dropping into glass dropper and lab flask

    Written by Livvy Ashton
  • Last Updated: September 2, 2020

So you’ve bought yourself some CBD, but one question remains unanswered — How much CBD oil should I take?

Is one dropper daily enough to manage symptoms?

What’s the best CBD dosage for specific conditions?

This article is going to blow the doors wide-open on dosing CBD.

You’ll understand the ins and outs of dosing cannabidiol, learn how to properly measure your CBD dose with different products, and learn the important differences between dosing CBD oil for different types of symptoms.

CBD Dosage: How Much CBD Oil Should I Take?

A one-size-fits-all dosage for CBD doesn’t exist. Even the FDA doesn’t provide a Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) for CBD.

In simple terms, CBD doesn’t have an official serving size.

CBD acts on 60 different molecular pathways, meaning it has a very complex relationship with the body and the brain. It’s difficult to come up with a definite dosage guideline that would help any person regardless of individual physiology.

Some CBD manufacturers give you their own dosage recommendations, but they do so to provide new users with a general point of reference. It’s impossible to tell if a specific dosage is the right amount for a given person because it doesn’t address a few critical variables — which I’m going to discuss below.

Important Considerations For Dosing CBD

Finding an effective CBD dosage may depend on the following factors:

  1. The potency of the product
  2. The bioavailability of the chosen product
  3. Your unique biochemistry
  4. Prior experience with CBD
  5. Your weight
  6. Your metabolism
  7. The severity of your condition
  8. Other medications you’re currently taking

Nick Jikomes, an esteemed neuroscientist, says:

“As our body undergoes physiological changes, so do cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system, which are directly linked to the effects produced by CBD.”

This means that your “best CBD dosage” can change throughout your life, so there will never be a universal or static amount that works for you.

How to Calculate the Best CBD Dosage for Your Needs

cbd dropper in glass bottle

There are steps you can take to find your ideal CBD dosage for your health goals. Let’s go over the process step by step.

1. Decide What Form of CBD to Use

Currently, the most common way to deliver CBD to your system is through CBD oil drops. They’re relatively easy to use and allow you to absorb CBD directly into the bloodstream as opposed to capsules and edibles.

However, pure CBD oil has a distinct earthy taste. Some find this flavor too harsh and somewhat bitter. If you don’t like the taste of CBD oils, something like a capsule, gummy, or vape oil may be a better option.

The above routes of administration are typically preferred by people who need fast relief from anxiety, stress, pain, or inflammation.

Other popular methods include CBD edibles, capsules, and topicals. Topicals are the better option if the area you’re trying to treat is on the skin, joints, or muscles.

Remember when I mentioned the importance of the chosen consumption method on your dosage regimen?

Here’s why it matters.

2. Check the Bioavailability of Your Product

Bioavailability refers to the percentage of ingested CBD that your body absorbs into the bloodstream.

Below you’ll find the bioavailability of 4 different delivery methods:

    CBD topicals: 3. Talk to a Physician

Before taking any CBD product, I advise you to consult with a physician. This is the best way to make sure the CBD or other supplements you’re taking won’t interfere with any medications you may be taking. It’s also the best way to rule out any major causes for your symptoms before starting supplementation.

4. Start With a Lower Dose than You Think You Need

Everybody has a different history with the use of certain substances, supplements, and medications. And since we’re all made differently, what works wonders for you, might not work for your friend — and vice versa.

The best way to determine your initial CBD dosage is to count it by your body weight. Experts recommend starting with 1–6 mg of CBD per pound. Low doses allow the user to monitor their body’s reaction more effectively.

This brings us to our last tip.

5. Gradually Increase the Dosage Until You Notice the Difference

Increasing the amount of CBD oil gradually is the best way to figure out the best CBD dosage.

I recommend lower CBD doses at first because if the dose is too high, it may trigger some unwanted effects, such as sleepiness, lowered blood pressure, lightheadedness, or diarrhea. Side-effects are a cue to dial your dose back to the last one that didn’t produce these effects.

On the other hand, if you continue to use a dosage that’s too low, you may not feel anything at all, so again — observation is key. Listen to your body, you’ll soon get a feel for how CBD works for you.

How to Measure Your CBD Oil Dosage

CBD oil drops come in dropper bottles. They’re easy to use and allow you to precisely measure out your serving of CBD.

All you need to do is squeeze the dropper so it draws the oil from the bottle, apply a few drops under the tongue, and hold it there for about 60 seconds. This way, CBD will absorb into the bloodstream through sublingual membranes under the tongue.

But how do you estimate your CBD oil dosage?

To answer this, you’ll need to know how much CBD a dropper holds. Typically, a dropper can carry 1 ml of liquid. If you know the total volume of your oil drops, you can do the math and calculate your CBD dosage using a simple formula.

[Total CBD in the bottle] ÷ [Number of milliliters in the bottle] = mg of CBD in a dropper.

For example, let’s say you have a 30 ml CBD oil that has 750 mg of CBD:

750 ÷ 30 = 25 mg of CBD per ml (per dropper)

How to Measure Your CBD Vape Oil Dosage

With CBD E-liquids, you’ll need to know how much CBD is in the product. As you vape your E-liquid throughout the day, watch the tank and see how long it will work without refilling.

Dosing vape oil is better using qualitative means. The effects appear much faster than from tinctures or edibles, so you can take little puffs at a time and wait about 5 minutes between another dose to see how it’s affecting you.

Once you start feeling the effects you’re looking for, this is your dose.

If you experience side effects, it means the dose is too high, so the next time you vape, useless.

Recommended CBD Dosage for Pain, Anxiety & Sleep

cbd softgel dosage

As mentioned, there are some general dosage guidelines for CBD that you can use for certain conditions. After studying CBD for several decades, scientists have finally created some kind of a framework for CBD dosage. This creates a relatively good point of reference for determining the effective amount of cannabidiol.

CBD Dosage for Anxiety

Most studies have investigated the use of CBD to treat social anxiety. One of the first studies, which was replicated many times since the initial publication, points to a dosage of 40 mg of sublingual CBD as an effective treatment for social anxiety. However, specific cases of anxiety disorders may call for an increase of up to 300 mg of CBD.

CBD Dosage for Different Levels of Pain

The optimal CBD dosage for people with chronic pain ranges between 2.5–20 mg of CBD when administered orally, alongside or without THC. Certain individuals may require higher doses, especially those with a greater body mass.

CBD Dosage to Improve Sleep Quality

CBD is known for its ability to reduce stress and anxiety and mitigate both pain and inflammation.

These factors are important when it comes to maintaining proper sleep quality, but there’s also one more benefit you should be aware of. At higher doses, CBD may induce sleepiness, allowing the user to fall asleep faster without experiencing the stream of racing thoughts.

Depending on the frequency and severity of your symptoms, you may need between 25–175 mg of CBD daily to combat them.

CBD Dosage: FAQ

1. Is CBD Safe?

Yes, CBD is generally considered safe for human consumption, with no signs of toxicity at doses as high as 1,500 mg daily.

2. Can CBD Get You High?

No, CBD doesn’t act on the cannabinoid receptors in the brain as THC does. Therefore, this cannabinoid is non-intoxicating — it can’t get you high.

3. Can You Overdose on CBD?

Overdosing on cannabinoids is impossible because cannabinoids don’t affect the brain stem are responsible for respiration.

4. Does CBD Oil Have Any Side Effects?

CBD has a relatively short list of side effects, most of which are considered minor. However, in high doses, CBD can produce an array of unwanted reactions, such as:

  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Lowered blood pressure and heart rate
  • Sedation

It’s a small price to pay compared to the list of side effects caused by prescription medications.

5. What’s the Best Way to Consume CBD?

If by “the best” you mean the most efficient, then oil tinctures or vaping products will be your best options. That’s because they offer higher bioavailability than capsules and edibles.

6. Should I Take Full-Spectrum CBD or Isolate?

If you’re not subject to periodical drug tests at work, I would recommend a full-spectrum product because of something called the “entourage effect.” This term describes the synergy between all active ingredients in cannabis, including cannabinoids other than CBD and THC, terpenes, and other plant compounds. They’re believed to require less CBD than pure isolate to produce similar effects.

7. Can I Give CBD to My Dog or Cat?

Hemp-derived CBD products are safe for pets because they contain little to no THC, the intoxicating compound that produces toxicity in animals. Pets can benefit from CBD in similarly to humans.

Final Thoughts: What’s Your Optimal CBD Dosage?

The ideal CBD dosage that would work for everyone doesn’t exist. The nature of cannabidiol is very complex — so is the cannabis plant — and there are too many outside variables that can influence CBD’s absorption.

The potency of your product, its bioavailability, your weight, the severity of the condition, cannabinoid spectrum — they all matter.

You can use some general dosage guidelines for specific conditions, but always make sure you treat it as a point of reference, not the one and the only way to dose CBD.

So, what’s the best way to figure out the ideal CBD dosage?

Start low and gradually go up with the dosage until you experience the desired effects. The way you react to CBD can change over time, so you need to monitor the effects throughout your supplementation.

You should also ask a physician who’s experienced in using CBD or hemp extracts with patients to get professional guidance.

What CBD dosage is best for you? How much do you take daily? Let me know in the comments below!

CBD Dosage: How Much to Take for Pain, Anxiety & Sleep Written by Livvy Ashton Last Updated: September 2, 2020 So you’ve bought yourself some CBD, but one question remains

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

Iryna Veklich / Getty Images

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.