If you’re brand new to CBD, or even if you’ve been taking it for years, you probably have some questions about the best dosage to get the health and wellness benefits that you’ve read about.
In the last year, 11% of the adult population in the UK tried CBD, and there’s no question that it’s the most-talked-about health supplement to come around in the past couple of years. CBD is a natural compound extracted from the flowers and leaves of industrial hemp, and there’s no THC, so it’s not psychoactive.
CBD may offer a number of promising health benefits from improving sleep and reducing anxiety to lowering inflammation and joint pain. But how do you tap into those health benefits? What’s the best dosage if you’re using edibles such as gummies, applying a CBD lotion to your skin or taking CBD oil sublingually?
We’re here to simplify CBD dosing, and share a couple of things to look out for:
1. Start Slow and Track Your Experience
The industry standard for dosing for new CBD users is to start with a lower dose and increase incrementally because more is not always better.
As you increase your dose, monitor how you feel. If you feel better, you can increase your dose until you get to the maximum dose. If you feel the same or worse after increasing your dose, you’ve gone over your maximum dose and should then return to the previous level.
Keep in mind it takes people different amounts of time to experience the effects of CBD. While there are many reported benefits, there’s no set timeline for experiencing them. Many feel the effects of CBD within an hour, but for some, it may take a few days or weeks of consistent dosing. If you don’t notice any effects after a week, increase your dose. Conversely, if you are more sensitive to supplements, you could increase the dose every few days until you notice the benefits.
If you are taking CBD to improve the quality of your sleep, you should be tracking how long it takes you to fall asleep, how many times you woke up in the night, how many hours you were asleep and how you felt when you woke up. You can simplify this process with a sleep app.
It will take some time and experimentation to find the right dose as it varies from person to person, but it’s an important process because it will impact the benefits you experience and your journey with CBD going forward. It’s not as simple as weight-based dosing and, for most people, the optimal dose will be somewhere between 10mg and 40mg per day if you are using full-spectrum CBD oil. Keep in mind the UK government recommendation of a maximum daily dose of 70 mg per day.
2. Develop a Routine
Consistency is one of the factors that will impact your CBD experience. Depending on your reasons for taking CBD, you will want to tailor your daily routine to meet those needs.
If you are using CBD to help with insomnia or sleeplessness, or if you have noticed that CBD makes you feel drowsy, you should take CBD an hour or two before you go to bed. This way, the dose will not impact your productivity, and you can enjoy the benefit of a good night’s sleep.
You may also choose to split your dose. Instead of taking it all at night before bed, you could divide it in two and take a smaller dose twice a day to see if your experience changes. CBD stays in your system for 4 – 6 hours, so more regular doses may be helpful.
When you’re starting out, it is useful to set calendar reminders that will allow you to monitor and maintain consistency in timing and frequency. This will ensure that you take the right amount of CBD at the right time of day to get your body into a good rhythm.
3. Determine the CBD Type and Concentration
The optimal dosage for your needs will depend on the type of CBD that you take. You will need less if you are using a CBD oil tincture ingested sublingually (under the tongue) as it offers greater bioavailability. If you are taking CBD orally, some of the active ingredients will be lost by ‘first-pass metabolism’ in the GI tract as the compounds are broken down in the digestion process.
Known as bioavailability, the amount of CBD that can be used by the body depends on the concentration of the CBD and the type of CBD you use because dosage is not the same as intake. So, along with understanding different CBD product types, you also need to look at CBD concentration, as the less concentrated the CBD is, the more you will need to take.
The product will have a suggested dosage on the label as well as the total milligrams contained in the product which allow you to calculate the amount of CBD you want to ingest. The effects are usually felt faster than other methods (usually under 20 minutes) as the CBD is absorbed directly into the bloodstream.
To work out the dose you are taking, remember that each drop of CBD oil is 0.05ml, so a 30ml bottle of CBD oil will contain 600 drops. If the concentration is 1,500mg per ml, one drop will contain 2.5mg.
Edibles include capsules, gummies, drinkers and more. The package labelling will tell you how many milligrams of CBD are contained in each gummy, making it easy to measure and monitor your dosage. Because edibles pass through the digestive system, it takes longer to feel the effects (usually between 30 minutes and an hour), although they generally last longer too.
CBD edibles are broken down in the body’s metabolic and digestive processes, reducing the bioavailability, which is somewhere between 4 and 20%.
Topicals such as lotions, balms and gels are applied directly to the affected area, bypassing the digestive process. They offer long-lasting results, often upwards of 5 hours, but are slow to take effect.
Topical CBD engages with endocannabinoid receptors in your peripheral nervous system, interacting only with local receptors in the skin, and it doesn’t enter the bloodstream. While the exact bioavailability of topical CBD products hasn’t been quantified, it is likely to be low. But this doesn’t mean that it’s not effective, as multiple studies have shown.
4. Check CBD Product Quality
Trying to find the best CBD product and take the right dosage can feel like a minefield when even buying the CBD is a confusing, overwhelming process. With thousands of brands to choose from, all offering the benefits of CBD, it can be difficult to see the wood for the trees. CBD sellers may use different source materials, include other natural compounds, use different extraction techniques, and offer different concentrations. They may also recommend very high doses, while others recommend doses so low that they’re likely to be ineffective.
Then, added to this, multiple studies that show many CBD products contain little to no CBD extract, and others have levels of harmful ingredients. You won’t get the benefits of CBD if the extract isn’t high quality and there are a number of companies that sell low-quality products (often at a high price point).
All this means that determining the ideal dose is very difficult, especially if the actual CBD content of a product varies wildly from what is printed on the label. So, before buying CBD oil, check the independent lab reports and quality certificates, read reviews about the brand, and spend some time exploring their website to check that the company is reputable and that they supply high-quality CBD.
5. Consider Personal Factors
There are many different factors related to you personal circumstances that also need to be taken into account such as weight, diet, genetics, metabolism, stress and the environment. Together, these factors make it very difficult to prescribe a dosage that will work for everyone.
The effect that CBD has will depend on your body’s chemistry, rate of metabolism, how sensitive you are to CBD, your body mass and any underlying medication conditions. Some people have a CNR1 gene mutation which means that CB1 receptors throughout the body are impacted, resulting in an endocannabinoid system that functions sub-optimally.
The food you eat, your alcohol and smoking habits, weight, stress and activity levels all impact how CBD is absorbed and processed in your body. Substances such as alcohol and nicotine may increase the effects of CBD, while chronic stress would necessitate an increased dose of CBD. Exercise naturally activates CB1 receptors by increases anandamide levels (a cannabinoid that is produced naturally in the body), so a healthy level of exercise would translate to a lower effective CBD dosage.
6. Take the Pressure Off
CBD is not physically addictive, it can be safely consumed long-term, and it is very difficult to overdose, which means that you can afford to experiment a bit with your dosage levels without worrying about adverse health impacts.
We often get asked if it is possible to become addicted to CBD oil, and the answer is no. Unlike substances such as heroin, cocaine and alcohol, the compound is not physically addictive based on its chemistry. If you stop taking CBD, you will not experience any withdrawal symptoms, and it may even help minimise withdrawal symptoms from other narcotics.
While it’s true that when you stop taking CBD for your symptoms, those symptoms will return, this is no different to managing a condition with medication. When the medication wears off, the symptoms will also reappear.
CBD Offers Reverse Tolerance
CBD doesn’t bind to receptors in the endocannabinoid system in the way that THC does (thereby diminishing the effectiveness of your ECS), but rather supports their function, making it safe for use in the long-term, and it also offers the potential for reduced dosages. Called ‘reverse tolerance’, if you use CBD over a longer period, you can decrease the amount of CBD you consume and still get the same level of relief for your symptoms.
There is no comprehensively established lethal CBD dose, and doses as high as 1500 mg per day (30 times higher than the recommended daily amount) are well tolerated by humans. However, CBD may alter the levels of essential liver enzymes, so it’s important to consult with your physician to work out the ideal dosage and type of CBD to manage your condition.
For people who take CBD to manage psychotic disorders and epilepsy, the side effects are less than other drugs used in the treatment of those conditions, which improves compliance and adherence to treatment.
There are some minor risks associated with high doses or long term use of CBD, including:
- Low blood pressure
- Changes in appetite
- Reduced fertility
- Dry mouth
If you are taking medication to manage your health conditions, it is important to read up about drug interactions and consult with your doctor.
It’s impossible to take a one-size-fits-all approach to CBD dosage, and the amount of CBD that works for you might not be the same as for the next person. In general, if you are using full-spectrum CBD oil, the optimal dose will be somewhere between 10mg and 40mg per day, and you shouldn’t exceed 70mg per day.