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CBD Dosage: How Much to Take?

CBD Dosage: How Much to Take?

The Right CBD Oil Dosage: How much should you take?

This article was reviewed for scientific accuracy by Dr. Leah Zitter, PhD.

CBD is a natural compound found in the cannabis and hemp plants that’s quickly taking over the wellness world. There is tons of empirical evidence that cannabidiol, known to most as CBD, has helped people of all ages remedy a wide range of ailments, from anxiety to seizures and many other diseases. Since the federal legalization of hemp and hemp derivatives (including CBD products) in 2018, there has been an explosion of new research and interest in CBD’s potential benefits, which are reported to include many of the same benefits as medical marijuana, without causing intoxication or impairment. With so much buzz around CBD and other non-psychoactive cannabinoids, you might be wondering if CBD is right for you and your ailments. Before you get started with CBD, it’s important to know what’s in CBD oils, how to take CBD oils, and the right CBD oil dosage for your needs.

Why people take CBD

CBD is taken by people from all walks of life for myriad different reasons. The benefits of CBD, as reported by thousands of different users across the world, include better sleep , increased relaxation , decreased anxiety , reduced inflammation , and tons more.

The popularity of CBD has grown rapidly due to its therapeutic properties, which are reported to soothe disorders such as PTSD , anxiety, Parkinson’s disease , and epileptic seizures, thanks to its anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, and antioxidant properties – among others. There is still much to learn about this natural treatment, but millions of people have found CBD to be a therapeutic solution that is less habit-forming and more natural than traditional drugs doled out by Big Pharma. People who regularly take CBD will attest to the positive effects, but due to lack of research there is not a medical consensus on CBD oil dosage. With no proper regulations, the consensus is to ease into it; begin with a low dose, and gradually increase the CBD dosage to find the right amount for your needs.

Because of the different bioavailability of various CBD products, the correct CBD dosage depends on the method of ingestion. For this guide, we’ll be focusing on CBD oils specifically, which are taken orally or sublingually. Bioavailability means, simply put, the amount of active ingredient that your body will absorb based on the way you take it – each method varies in terms of how much CBD will actually make it into your bloodstream. For example, CBD vapes have a much higher bioavailability than CBD edibles.

For the best results and highest bioavailability, we recommend taking CBD oils sublingually, meaning to hold it under your tongue for 30-60 seconds before swallowing it. You’ll get more active ingredient this way when compared to simply swallowing the CBD oil or adding it to food or drink.

The different types of CBD oil do play a role in the effectiveness of treating particular ailments. CBD is considered by many to work the best when taken in combination with other cannabinoids and compounds found in the hemp plant – this creates what is known as the “ Entourage Effect, ” which specifies that CBD works best when taken alongside other compounds like cannabinoids and terpenes. People who are hoping to treat severe or chronic symptoms may desire an oil that contains as many of the natural compounds found in CBD as possible.

Some people who are looking to take advantage of the calming effects of CBD, without any trace of THC, will most likely lean towards the isolate . If done correctly it consists of 99% pure CBD, with no traces of other cannabinoids. This is also the only form of CBD that ensures no failed drug tests, as it has no trace of the psychoactive compounds like THC. The powder form is the easiest to ingest, mixed in with food or liquids. CBD isolate is ideal for users who have sensitivity to THC, or who are worried about getting a false positive on a drug test.

How do I calculate my CBD dosage?

There are several variables to consider when calculating your CBD dosage, namely:

  • Your body weight
  • The severity of the ailment you’re trying to treat
  • How concentrated the CBD is in the product you’re taking
  • Your unique body chemistry

Because of these varied factors, and because there are not yet official guidelines from the FDA or the medical community, determining the right CBD oil dosage for you can be tricky. As with anything you’re taking for health reasons, your best course of action is to consult with your physician to determine the right CBD dosage for you. If you don’t have a CBD-friendly doctor, or aren’t comfortable asking them for this kind of advice, read on:

The lack of official consensus means each CBD user needs to do their due diligence – for starters, always begin with a small dose, then slowly increase it until you find the correct dosage. As a rule of thumb, we recommend starting with the smallest possible serving of the product you’re using, and increasing it gradually week-by-week. For example, if you’re using CBD gummies , and each gummy measures 5mg of CBD, start by eating just one each day (or even half of one!). Keep track of how you feel, and if by the end of the week you haven’t experienced the effect you’re looking for, increase the serving by one unit (another 5mg, in this case). This dosage guide will get most CBD users where they need to be, even if it takes a little bit of time.

To know how much CBD you’re taking at one time, you’ll need to learn how to read a CBD product label. Most CBD oils list the total CBD content for the bottle, and not the individual dose – so if you’ve got, for example, a CBD oil marked as 500mg , that means the entire bottle contains 500mg of CBD. Most CBD oil droppers will dispense 1ml of oil for a full dropper, and about 0.05ml per drop. The standard size of a CBD oil bottle is 30ml, but make sure to read the label to know for sure.

In this example, using a 30ml, 500mg bottle of CBD oil, each ml (one full dropper) will contain 16.66mg of CBD. That means to get a 5mg dose, you’ll want to take approximately ⅓ of a dropper at a time. Remember that you’ll absorb more by taking it sublingually vs swallowing it, so adjust accordingly.

In order to make sure you’re getting accurate CBD dosage, look for a CBD company that provides lab reports , so you know exactly what you’re getting when you take CBD.

No matter if you’re a first time user or have been a CBD loyalist, learning about the right dosage for you is crucial. Click here to learn more!

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.