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.
Can CBD help you sleep? Experts explain the current CBD research
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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- CBD for sleep has limited research — though some early studies have shown promising results.
- But CBD researchers theorize that CBD may help with sleep by alleviating anxiety and pain.
- If you want to try it, doctors suggest taking 25 mg before bed, and increasing as you see fit.
Touted to relieve everything from acne and anxiety to pain and poor sleep, CBD (cannabidiol) is making waves in the wellness industry despite a lack of scientific evidence proving the compound’s overall effectiveness.
Medical term: CBD is a component of cannabis that does not cause you to feel high or stoned.
That said, a handful of small, preliminary studies have found that CBD may help improve the sleep quality of certain individuals. Here’s what researchers know so far.
Can CBD help you sleep?
There have only been a handful of small, trusted studies that look at pure CBD for sleep, says Jeff Chen, MD, MBA, Founder of the UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative and Cofounder and CEO of Radicle Science.
What the research says
of 72 adults with anxiety and sleep troubles found that doses of CBD ranging from 25 milligrams to 75 milligrams improved sleep in 66.7% of participants. found that since CBD can reduce pain, it may improve sleep in people who suffer from chronic pain and related sleep problems.
- A 2018 study of 27 healthy participants found that a dose of 300 milligrams of CBD had no significant effect on sleep versus a placebo.
Though early results are encouraging, researchers aren’t sure why CBD may help with sleep — but it may have something to do with how it can help improve underlying conditions.
“Sleep disorders, mood disorders, and pain disorders are often co-occurring, and CBD could possibly indirectly improve sleep by improving an underlying anxiety or pain condition,” says Chen.
And to make things even more confusing, it’s possible that smaller doses of CBD may have a stimulating effect rather than a sedating effect, says Me Fuimaono-Poe, MSN, FNP, faculty at Pacific College of Health and Science, and the medical director for the Malie Cannabis Clinic.
For example, a 2014 study found that a dose of 15 milligrams of CBD may have an “alerting” effect.
The lack of large-scale clinical studies makes it difficult to draw solid conclusions. “There is no firm evidence regarding whether CBD may help with sleep, and if so, what dose of CBD is most appropriate,” says Chen.
How should I take CBD to sleep?
Since researchers haven’t determined a rule of thumb when it comes to CBD dosage for sleep, experts can only guesstimate. If you want to give CBD a shot, Fuimaono-Poe suggests starting with 25 milligrams and increasing as needed, taken one to two hours before bed.
There’s also the question of what form of CBD is best for sleep. Fuimaono-Poe says two common delivery methods are taking CBD oil or smoking CBD flower. CBD oil is preferable and healthier for your throat and lungs since smoking can cause throat irritation and coughing, says Fuimaono-Poe.
However, smoking CBD flower comes along with the benefit of having a more rapid onset than taking a dose of CBD oil, so you can use that closer to bedtime. You’ll feel the effects five to ten minutes after smoking, says Fuimaono-Poe.
Risks of CBD
CBD is typically well-tolerated, however, it is possible to experience some side effects. Some documented potential side effects of CBD (discovered during human studies of using CBD for epilepsy and psychiatric disorders) include:
- Drug interactions
Additionally, there are some groups of people who should avoid using CBD, such as:
- Women who are trying to get pregnant, women who are pregnant, and women who are breastfeeding: Chen says researchers don’t know the impact of CBD on human fetuses or babies, but animal studies indicate that it stunts fetal development. Therefore, it’s safer to err on the side of caution and avoid CBD.
- People with liver disease or people who drink heavily: It’s possible that CBD may damage the liver, Chen says, so it may be safer for these people to not take CBD. This is because drinking excessive alcohol also causes damage to the liver.
- People taking certain medications: CBD may cause drug interactions or increase your risk of adverse side effects, says Chen. Therefore, if you take any prescription drugs, check with your doctor before taking CBD.
At the end of the day, more research is needed to determine the efficacy of CBD for sleep, as well as the best dosage and most effective ways to consume it.
However, in the meantime, it likely won’t hurt to give CBD a try if you’re experiencing trouble with sleep.
If CBD doesn’t help and your sleep problems persist or worsen, be sure to see a doctor for guidance.
Ashley Laderer is a freelance writer from New York who specializes in health and wellness. Follow her on Twitter @ashladerer