Everything You Need to Know About Microdosing CBD
The CBD supplement trend as well as the microdosing trend have both been on the up for similar reasons in the last few years. The premise behind microdosing developed from the idea that smaller, more consistent doses are more stable and better for the body to absorb. CBD, or cannabidiol oil has been both suggested and, in some cases, proven to have significant positive impacts on the human body for a variety of purposes.
But how do you know whether CBD will even help treat your condition? How much should you be taking? How often should you be taking? What side effects should you worry about? To be asking questions is a good sign, because it means that you’re looking for real answers and solutions! Let’s take a look at what we know about cannabidiol oil and how it’s used.
Understanding the trend of CBD use
Cannabidiol oil has experienced a growth in popularity since the legalization of the growth, production, and manufacturing of hemp in 2018. CBD was also approved at the federal level as an effective medication for treating severe cases of childhood epilepsy. Following these, further studies were conducted and explore the potential of CBD on the human body in a wealth of other areas.
Currently, these studies have most strongly demonstrated the effectiveness of cannabidiol oil on epilepsy, first and foremost, as well as significant benefits on those who suffer from anxiety and stress. There have also been positive results shown for the impact CBD has on pain management, which can help alleviate the need for opioids.
Further potential benefits include:
- Decreasing opioid addiction rates or alleviating addiction as well as preventing relapses
- Alleviating symptoms of various forms of cancer
- Alleviating symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease
- Depression, and many of the symptoms associated with depression
- The cessation of smoking
- Weight loss, as well as weight gain
- Insomnia or struggles with falling asleep or staying asleep
- Cardiovascular diseases
- ALS or Alzheimer’s disease
- Attention issues or ADHD
It’s important to state that while epilepsy has been proven to be effectively treated by CBD, and anxiety and stress have been significantly tested to prove they are alleviated by CBD, most of the other benefits are still in fairly early stages of research. Although the research is promising, it remains to be completed.
For many people, cannabidiol oil presents them with an alternative method of treatment or management to a variety of conditions which often require prescription medications. Individuals are looking for alternative ways to manage their various conditions and find themselves excited at the potential for relief presented by using CBD.
It’s equally important to always clarify two common misconceptions when it comes to cannabidiol oil. First, that CBD is not a medication or cure (not yet, anyway) by definition. Second, that CBD is not marijuana and possesses no psychoactive properties. In marijuana, the THC, or tetrahydrocannabidiol, is what induces the euphoric high associated with marijuana, while hemp-produced CBD contains almost no THC.
What is microdosing?
The premise behind microdosing seems to have exploded in popularity, coincidentally, from the microdosing of psychedelic substances, like psilocybin, commonly referred to as mushrooms, or LSD, also known as acid. After learning of the potential for the treatment of serious mental health conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder, Alzheimer’s disease, opioid addiction, anorexia, anxiety, stress and depression, scientists began to look further into them.
The suggestions of the potential of these psychedelics led to one of the most prestigious medical institutions, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, to open a study on the effects of these substances on the body. With around $17 million invested into the study, it’s expected to have a significant impact on the psychological and therapeutic world. It’s only just been announced, so the study has barely even begun.
The practice of microdosing involves taking a fraction of what would be considered a full dose, and continuing that small, fractional dose, to help mitigate peaks and to instead help moderate symptoms. Participants and practitioners of microdosing and microdosing studies noted that when taking a fraction of the substance, they found it to be more enjoyable and easier on the body.
Specifically with regards to microdosing, recreational users of psychedelics began reporting that by microdosing substances, the impact and effects on the body were more manageable, more sustained, and a range of positives were noted.
This included an easier time leveling off, it included greater absorption of substance, it included a tamer experience, and kept the body in greater balance. The effects of the substance still occur, but with a significantly decreased sudden impact. Participants in the study also noted less anxiety and stress over a longer period of time, sharper mental focus during periods of use, increased consciousness and awareness.
While there is a much greater deal needed to be researched in this category, it did suggest as to the power of microdosing itself, regardless of the substance. Overall, users noted greater sense of homeostasis that positively impacted the experiences they had.
Microdosing Cannabidiol Oil
When it comes to microdosing cannabidiol oil specifically, the premise and purpose remains moderately consistent with the purposes behind microdosing other substances. While CBD has no psychoactive components and therefore does not alter one’s mental state in that fashion, it has similarities with regards to maintaining the body’s homeostasis while taking cannabidiol oil. Many individuals specifically chose to take it to help regulate their body better, often looking to alleviate symptoms of stress and anxiety.
Traditionally, the ingestion of cannabidiol can be taken a variety of ways. The most effective means of consumption for microdosing is going to be with oils and tinctures. The challenges presented with other methods of ingestion, as well as things to consider prior to taking CBD, are mentioned in a later section of this piece. For now, we will continue to explore the oil and tincture methods of consumption.
For the CBD oils and tinctures, dosing recommendations dictate that a consumer use the dropper included to measure out a specific quantity of CBD then place the dropper under the tongue and release the stopper. This is the sublingual approach, which allows the CBD to be absorbed directly into the blood stream via oral veins. After holding the tincture or oil under the tongue for thirty seconds, it is then swallowed into the stomach, where it is further absorbed through the digestive tract.
Users as well as studies have commented on how microdosing CBD can help balance out their body throughout the day. At the same time, different potencies and quantities consumed can also affect the benefits that one experiences.
Particularly when looked at for attention and focus, CBD doses have demonstrated the ability to improve focus and attention in individuals when smaller doses have been consumed, whereas larger doses might make them feel more drowsy and to feel sedated
If you’re looking to feel more relaxed, calm, and balanced throughout the day, then microdosing might be the perfect fit. If you’re looking to help improve your own focus and attention throughout the day, then microdosing might also be the perfect fit. The smaller doses taken more consistently throughout the day tend to lead to fewer side effects like drowsiness and or feeling too relaxed.
While taking one larger dose before bed might be the best way to maintain sleep habits and get a full night’s rest, microdosing might help the body remain more balanced and calm throughout the day, ultimately leading to a sound night’s sleep.
Further still, some individuals chose to use the microdosing technique solely for the purpose of finding their ideal dosage of CBD. It can help allow them specific, controlled quantities of CBD for a certain number of days until they’ve managed to decide on the perfect amount to take.
Finding the right dosage for your CBD
When purchased from a reliable producer, CBD products will provide users with a general directive regarding how much CBD they should take. Typically, the best approach is to start with the smaller doses and increase in increments until the desired effects are felt, while still within range of the recommended maximum dosage.
Because there are so many different potential therapeutic benefits to taking cannabidiol oil, it’s recommended that a consumer first pinpoint precisely what they would like to get out of their CBD. Selecting two or three specific conditions or symptoms that you’re looking to alleviate will better help you target the effectiveness of your dosage.
It’s also equally important to track these symptoms and how they are or are not felt on the body while working through the right dosage amount. If you can’t monitor how effective it is or is not for you to be taking CBD, then it won’t be possible to determine what too large a dose might be for you and your symptoms.
Even if you have multiple conditions and are looking for CBD to help with all of them, it’s important to focus on one or two for the purpose of dosing. If you’re looking to lower stress and anxiety, it will be easier to gauge a 30mg dose being effective, rather than looking to collectively treat your leg pain, and your headaches, and your stress and anxiety, as well as your appetite. By focusing on one or two conditions, you will be able to better track how those symptoms are being handled.
It’s also important to always consult with your own medical professional prior to starting any sort of traditional or alternative method of treatment.
Finding the right dose is also important because taking too much CBD might actually have a reverse effect (not necessarily adverse, though), and where a smaller dose might have been effective, a larger dose is not, turning away a potential consumer who could’ve had relief by taking a smaller amount.
Dosing in general typically involves using a dropper, often a 1 mL dropper. Bottles come in many different concentrations, so one drop from a one-ounce bottle that contains 300mg of CBD is going to be weaker than a half-ounce bottle that contains 270mg of CBD. Often, the labels should tell consumers what the ratio of CBD mg/drop is. It’s also important to note here that one drop of oil is incrementally smaller than one dropper full of oil. One dropper is going to be typically 1 mL, while that dropper may have a dozen or so individual drops within it.
Currently, research show that there isn’t a published daily maximum amount of CBD that can be ingested by a consumer. On the other hand, it’s important to start small and work one’s way up in small increments until they receive the desired effects.
Although it varies depending on concentration, a typical tincture product might have 15mg of CBD per 1 mL of oil. Some products will go so far as to tell you the amount of CBD in one single drop. This is helpful information to have, so if they only tell you the mg of CBD per bottle, it’s important to do the math yourself. One .5 ounce bottle might contain 130 mg of CBD, while another might contain as high as 800 mg of CBD in the same .5 ounce bottle.
Many bottles come in a standard half ounce (15mL) or full ounce size (30mL), with a single mL dropper included. A good mid-range average is 200-300 mg per 15mL bottle. To help individuals find their own idea dose, let’s assume they have one .5-ounce bottle of 250 mg of CBD oil.
The best approach is to then start with 1/4 th to 1/5 th of a dropper of oil, placed underneath the tongue. Leave it there for thirty seconds, then swallow the oil. After an hour to an hour and a half, take note of any changes in feeling. Then, 3 to 5 hours later, take the dropper again.
After a couple of days, if you’re not feeling the desired effects, increase the quantity. However, be mindful of the fact that you’re looking to microdose, which means keep small, consistent doses throughout the day. The last thing you’ll want is to find yourself consuming full doses multiple times during the day. The effects of microdosing might be more subtle, but they’re designed to last longer and be more consistent.
If by your own personal expectations, taking 1/4 th or 1/5 th of a dropper seems to strong, then the recommendation is to measure by individual drops instead of the full mL dropper unit in the bottle. Find the right dose for you, and keep it consistent in your dosing and frequency.
Take notes, jot down responses, and track the desired effect of the symptoms you personally are looking to alleviate. Bodies respond differently, so it’s difficult to a label of one-size-fits-all dose for CBD.
Challenges with Microdosing CBD & Things to Consider Before You Microdose
As with many substances, the microdosing of cannabidiol oil can be challenging to figure out. Many sellers have a variety of concentrations that they offer to consumers. Some of these concentrations have a higher percentage of CBD per mg, while other concentrations might have significantly less percentages of CBD per mg. It can also be a challenge to figure out how to dose some of the methods of ingestion, such as inhalants, edibles, oils, tinctures, topicals, or patches.
Although the FDA has approved hemp produced CBD for growth, manufacturing and production, there are still some gray areas. For example, while the legal requirements dictate that the THC level must remain below .3% to be legal, they do not regulate the production of CBD. While some products may advertise a certain potency, there is no regulation in place, and many consumers find that with unreliable producers, the CBD potency is far below the advertised label.
If you don’t find a reliable and efficient producer to purchase from, you might find yourself believing you are consuming a certain potency while in fact, it’s different from what you expected. There’s not a way for consumers to test the concentration of CBD in the oil they consume.
With inhalants, while the concentration can be clear with the solution purchased, there isn’t a specific, measurable method of consuming specific quantities. It’s hard to gauge how much individual consumers are going to inhale, which makes inhalants too big of a challenge successfully microdose.
Similar challenges with dosing can be said of topicals, which already are one of the lowest absorption methods, and are not entered into the bloodstream. When looking to microdose cannabidiol, the oils, tinctures, and edibles are suggested as the most effective and manageable approach.
Microdosing can also be a challenge because the specific dosage amounts vary from person to person. Many producers of CBD will dictate recommended dosage amounts or dosage instructions with their individual product. Always follow those guidelines and start small when it comes to determining what works for you.
Another challenge with ingesting different forms of CBD has to do with the method of absorption into the body. Edibles and topicals tend to produce a significantly lower effect on the body. Topicals are superficial, meaning while relief might be found on a certain body part where the cream or topical is applied, it doesn’t enter the body through the bloodstream or digestive system. With edibles, the CBD is entering the body, but that it needs to go through the digestive tract means the absorption will be slower and longer.
While inhalants can begin to be detected in the bloodstream in as little as fifteen minutes, capsule methods of intake are similar to tinctures and oils. However, since they don’t have the interaction with oral veins, and are solely absorbed through the digestive tract, it can take upwards of two hours before the effects are felt.
With inhalants, the challenge presented is that the quickest way to ingest CBD into the body. This can cause quicker reactions, and often makes for a more intense experience of benefits, but with less longevity overall. When the point and purpose to microdosing is to slow down and level out the side effects, this might prove counterintuitive.
It’s also important to note that when it comes to the ingestion of CBD, whether or not one has eaten nothing all morning, or recently had a large lunch might affect the CBD’s benefits. On a full stomach, the CBD is going to take longer to reach the digestive system and run through it into the body.
An individual’s body weight and own metabolic process might also impact the absorption rates, creating varying ranges of dosage required to be effective. Although the dangers and negative side effects are few and far between, responsible users should be conscious of the conditions in which they’re taking CBD.
With oils and tinctures, there are two benefits. The first benefit is that the CBD is absorbed into the bloodstream sublingually, and minimally when the oil is held under the tongue for 30 seconds. After this, it is swallowed, taking the remaining CBD into the digestive system. This allows for the body to quickly absorb some of the substance while allowing the body to more slowly absorb the remaining quantity.
For these reasons, when it comes to microdosing, it is most strongly recommended to take the CBD in the form of oils, with a measured dropper, or gummies, where the exact quantity of CBD per gummy is clearly identified. It’s also best to consult with your own medical professional before beginning any treatment methods. Responsible consumers also often prefer to consult with professional experts on the effects and impact and dosing within the industry. The more questions you can ask and that are answered, the better.
What Dosage of CBD Should You Take?
Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology.
Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.
John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE is board-certified in addiction medicine and preventative medicine. He is the medical director at Alcohol Recovery Medicine. For over 20 years Dr. Umhau was a senior clinical investigator at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Verywell / Madelyn Goodnight
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.
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
- Cardiovascular disease
- Multiple sclerosis
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.
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.
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.
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
- 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.
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.
Cannabidiol in Children With Refractory Epileptic Encephalopathy (CARE-E)
This study will assess the safety and tolerability of a cannabidiol-enriched Cannabis Herbal Extract in a small group of children with refractory epileptic encephalopathy. The dosage of Cannabis Herbal Extract will be gradually increased over a four month time period.
|Condition or disease||Intervention/treatment||Phase|
|Epileptic Encephalopathy||Drug: CanniMed® 1:20||Phase 1|
Epileptic Encephalopathies are a group of epilepsies that develop in children. These epilepsies can cause frequent and difficult to control seizures. Because of the ongoing seizures, these epilepsies can also cause cognitive impairment and neurological impairment.
In many children with these Epileptic Encephalopathies, seizures are difficult to control with medical treatment, such as anti-convulsants or non-drug treatments like the ketogenic diet (a high fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet). This has resulted in a need to find therapies that are effective and better tolerated for children with epileptic encephalopathies.
There is very limited data regarding the use of cannabis products in children, in particular cannabidiol-enriched cannabis oil in children with epilepsy. However, hemp oil products with high cannabidiol and low tetrahydrocannabinol ratios have been reported to provide seizure relief and cognitive improvement in children who take them.