A growing number of studies and trials are showing the medical and therapeutic benefits of cannabidiol (CBD). It can provide pain relief, alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety, mitigate the symptoms associated with various cancers and cancer treatments and reduce seizures in patients with epilepsy . Recent research has also demonstrated its ability to lower high blood pressure, aid sufferers of insomnia and help to treat an array of conditions ranging from diabetes to substance abuse.
The demand for products containing CBD oil is also increasing, and the market for these products is growing with it. If you plan to try them out yourself, it’s vital that you take the correct dose; as with any medicines or supplements, you should always consult a medical professional before self-medication.
But there is no perfect CBD dosage that is right for everyone. The amount of CBD you should consume, and how you should consume it, is unique to you.
It requires patience and careful consideration to figure it out.
You can read more about where to buy CBD oil in our guide.
How much CBD oil should I take?
There are many factors you must consider when determining the ideal CBD dosage for you. Everybody reacts differently to CBD, and each delivery method produces a different effect in our bodies. It has over 65 potential targets throughout the human body, so focusing on just one or two of its desired properties will enable you to pinpoint its impact and hone in on the correct dosage more quickly.
Ask yourself what part of your body it needs to reach, and in what timeframe you want it to work. The duration that CBD is effective largely depends upon how you ingest it.
Some delivery methods provide quick results with a sharp peak, while the effects of others are gradual and more steady. You may benefit from a combination of different delivery methods.
Identifying the ones that suit you and your needs is a crucial step in determining your perfect dosage.
Want to learn more about CBD? Check out our article that helps to define CBD oil.
How to take CBD oil
When swallowed, CBD is ingested and absorbed into the bloodstream as it passes through the digestive tract. This is the slowest route it can take to reach its desired targets but it will also remain active for longer. A wide range of products including gummies, truffles, mints, pills and capsules can be used to consume CBD this way .
You should note that products that you swallow are metabolised by your liver first, those which also contain THC can be converted to the intoxicant 11-hydroxy-THC. The CBD often counterbalances any associated ‘high’, but people who are sensitive to THC should avoid edible products containing “full-spectrum CBD” (which we will touch upon shortly).
You can also ingest CBD sublingually or buccally, using CBD oil or tinctures (concentrated cannabis extracts made by soaking cannabis flowers in alcohol). Simply leave the oil or tincture to sit in your mouth, where it will be absorbed into the bloodstream through capillaries under your tongue, in your cheeks and along your gums. The absorption of CBD into your bloodstream is marginally faster than if you swallow it.
In the case of all CBD edibles, sublinguals and buccals, any dose will have a greater impact if you consume it on a full stomach.
Numerous studies have shown that your body absorbs cannabinoids more effectively if you have recently eaten.
Inhalation is the quickest method of circulating cannabidiol through your system, though it also yields the shortest period of effectiveness. CBD passes into your bloodstream via your lungs and can be delivered by using vape pens, dabs and by smoking high-CBD cannabis flower (though remember to ensure that smoking cannabis is legal where you are, first).
Just beware that studies into the potentially harmful impact of vaping products are ongoing. If you decide to vape, it’s advised that you avoid CBD cartridges made with carriers or thinning agents such as propylene glycol, fractionated coconut oil or vegetable glycerin, as these compounds have been found to potentially damage lung tissue.
Topical application diffuses CBD across your skin, reaching local targets like muscles, pain-perceiving nerves and inflammatory cells. Products in this category include CBD-infused lotions, creams, balms, salves, and transdermal patches. Unless the product is specifically designed for transdermal activity, very little (if any) CBD will enter your bloodstream.
The permeability of your skin is much lower than the permeability of mucous membranes like sublingual tissue, meaning you’ll need to choose a product with a high amount of CBD in order for it to be effective. You will also need to apply it generously. For long-term consumption, many people opt to use topicals in conjunction with other CBD products.
Vaginally and Anally
Like CBD topicals, the suppositories, sprays and creams used to apply CBD vaginally and anally have a strong local effect, targeting muscles, pain-perceiving nerves and inflammatory cells. However, unlike your skin, these areas are rich in capillaries, meaning CBD may also make it into your bloodstream.
Some products have been known to produce an effect within minutes, though the extent of absorption into the bloodstream varies considerably. The level of absorption across your vaginal wall depends upon factors like your vaginal pH, where you are in your menstrual cycle, and your age. Whether rectal suppositories deliver CBD into the bloodstream varies substantially from one individual to another.
Which CBD products are right for me?
The CBD on the market is typically one of two types: full-spectrum CBD or CBD isolate. In addition to over 100 active cannabinoids (including CBD), cannabis contains terpenes, essential oils and other phytonutrients. These can also be found in full-spectrum CBD oil, whereas CBD isolate is simply “the singular compound [of CBD] standing alone” .
Many consumers consider CBD isolate to be “pure”, and thus believe it produces better results, though an increasing amount of research contradicts this assumption.
The isolate is only shown to be effective in certain concentrations, but early indications suggest full-spectrum oil is more suitable for everyday use, and at lower doses.
Full-spectrum CBD and CBD isolate interact with the human body differently, so it’s important to know which one you are using when determining your cannabis oil dosage.
You must also ensure that you consume a reliable product. As demand grows, an increasing number of manufacturers are bringing products to market which don’t contain enough CBD for it to have any noticeable effect. Others are intentionally mislabelling products. Researchers in America recently found that one brand’s CBD e-cigarettes contained a range of undesirable chemicals, including some that were “potentially dangerous” and had “a high risk for addiction” .
The industry is currently under-regulated, and the results of consuming products that falsely claim to offer the benefits of medical cannabis can be harmful to your health.
Ensure any product you buy has undergone third-party lab testing and closely read the label so that you know exactly what you are consuming.
So how much CBD oil should I take?
Firstly, if you’re looking for the most efficient path to using CBD effectively to treat some kind of medical condition, going to speak with a trained medical professional is, without doubt, the best thing you can do.
Access to medical cannabis is widening, the cost of the product isn’t actually that different to street value and quality plus consistency is going to be far greater.
Dr Rickcord and Dr Teh discuss the patient journey and how they work with patients to find the right method and dosage.
When it comes to CBD, if you don’t find the right dosage and delivery system for you, it may not work at all.
But determining the correct dose is not an exact science. It will most likely take time, patience and some trial and error. Depending on your goals, you may need to continue adjusting your dose over time, based upon your routine, environment, tolerance levels and mood. It’s an incredibly individual process. Understanding it is the key to a happy relationship with CBD.
So where to begin? As previously mentioned, always consult a medical professional before beginning any kind of self-medication. After you have been given the green light to try it, be sure to start with a very low dose, below the recommended serving size noted on the product. This allows you to see if you react badly to any of its ingredients before consuming a more substantial amount.
After the CBD has peaked and is already leaving your system, you can increase the dose slightly.
We recommend that you wait at least an hour for inhaled products and over six hours for products taken orally.
If you take more CBD sooner, the effects you experience will be the combined impact of both doses. At this point, you are trying to identify the precise impact of a specific dosage.
Once you feel comfortable, you can begin experimenting to determine your optimal dose of CBD. To work this out, you will need to consider a number of key factors:
The concentration of your product
The concentration of your product refers to the amount of CBD that it contains. CBD concentration is measured in milligrams per millilitre (mg/ml) of oil. The higher the concentration of your product, the lower the dose that you will require.
Your body weight
This is often a factor in how much (or how little) CBD affects your body. All else being equal, people who weigh more tend to need a higher dose of CBD than lighter people in order to experience the same effects.
The desired impact
Obviously, the most important factor comes down to the type and level of pain or discomfort you wish to alleviate. For instance, a person suffering from a condition such as chronic pain or severe anxiety would require a larger dose to treat their symptoms than someone with a more minor ailment, seeking milder results.
Constant users may develop a tolerance to CBD over time. This will not be a factor when you begin taking CBD, but continued use for prolonged periods may result in you experiencing reduced effects from the same dose. In this case, a higher dosage will be required in order to obtain the same impact.
This is trickier. Even when you know the exact amount of CBD that you are taking, this only reflects the maximum amount that could be entering your bloodstream and reaching its intended targets. Unfortunately, most of the CBD will not get where you want it to go. There isn’t much you can do about this, but it’s worth remembering if you change from one delivery method to another. If your delivery method changes, so does your level of absorption. Your dosage may need to change too.
Many other factors, such as when you last ate, will also affect your body’s absorption levels. So your CBD consumption will yield more uniform results if you take it as part of a consistent routine.
One more time: some manufacturers are more trustworthy than others.
If you switch CBD product or brand, beware that the concentration of CBD in each of your doses may be changing too – even if the label says otherwise.
If you’re interested in learning how to make CBD oil, our step-by-step guide covers you from start to finish.
How do I administer my dose?
Taking into account all of the above, you still need to know how to accurately administer your doses so that you can keep track of them and monitor their effects. Generally speaking, this is easy. Many edible products like gummies, mints, pills and CBD capsules have packaging which tells you the amount of CBD in a single serving. (For the purpose of this explanation, we’re assuming they are from a reputable source and that we can trust what the packaging says). If you’re using CBD oil, the packaging might specify the amount of CBD in a single drop. So administering a proper dosage is simple.
But when the packaging tells you how much CBD is in the entire bottle instead of the amount in a single drop, you will have to work it out yourself. Let us help you. One drop is roughly 0.05 millilitres. Please note, this is just a single drop, not a full dropper. So a 15-millilitre bottle of CBD oil, for example, would contain 300 drops. Knowing the concentration of your CBD oil (in milligrams per millilitre, given on your product’s label) and that a single drop is 0.05 millilitres, you should be able to calculate the amount of CBD in a single drop of oil.
Can I take too much CBD?
Generally speaking, CBD is not thought to be dangerous. A 2017 review highlighted numerous studies whose results have shown it to be a safe treatment. Clinical trials have even prescribed daily doses of up to 1,200mg – many times the suggested dosage for consumer products – for prolonged periods of time without observing serious side effects .
A 2019 study conducted on mice raised questions about CBD’s potential to cause liver damage, though its results were far from conclusive. A more pressing concern for users should be how it might interact with other medications. CBD, like grapefruit, interferes with Cytochromes P450 (CYPs), a family of enzymes that are crucial to our bodies ability to metabolise drugs.
If you are taking medications or supplements that come with a “grapefruit warning”, you must consult a medical professional before taking CBD.
But in spite of its “grapefruit effect”, CBD is recognised as interacting with just a small number of medications. It also has very few known side effects, all of which are relatively minor in severity. If you use CBD, these side effects may include appetite changes, changes in weight, diarrhea and fatigue.
Of course, there is still much we don’t know about CBD. More studies, of greater depth, are required. But the weight of current evidence shows it to be safe.
The best time to take CBD oil
Timing is crucial when it comes to determining your ideal dosage of CBD. In the early stages, you will need to closely monitor the impact that taking CBD has upon your body. You must also be attuned to any changes that result from the slightest variances to your dose. This will be easier if you develop a routine.
The most important thing is consistency. Take the same dosage of CBD at the same time (or times) each day. If you seek a more long-term impact, stick with this routine for an initial four to six weeks in order to give yourself enough time to notice any changes.
You should also keep a written record of your dosage, the times you consume CBD and the effects it has on your body.
This information will be useful when you look back and consider whether to change or maintain your dose, whether that’s after several weeks or several days.
Keeping your activities before and after your consumption of CBD as constant as possible will also help you to maintain more consistent absorption levels. This will enable you to achieve steady results and make it easier for you to track them.
Deciding the precise time to take CBD oil, like determining the dose and means of delivery, is a personal choice, dependent upon a variety of factors. If you want to try CBD to alleviate anxiety, you might take it shortly before the part of your day that provides the greatest measure of stress. If you are looking to combat insomnia, you should take it in anticipation of going to sleep. You may wish to vape CBD multiple times throughout the day; you might want to ingest it orally, just once. Your body absorbs more cannabinoids on a full stomach, making the times after meals great for taking CBD if you want to maximise its effectiveness.
There is no perfect time of the day at which everybody should take CBD. It is dependent upon the individual. Your ideal time will be based upon factors like your delivery method, what you hope to achieve from taking CBD, whether you experience any side effects and your own day-to-day schedule.
Establishing how much CBD you should take, how you should take it and when you should take it must depend upon your own precise needs. It requires time, patience and careful observation of your body and how it responds to taking the cannabinoid. Working out your ideal dosage may seem daunting at first, but it will be worth it.
Ensure you consume CBD oil through reliable products, follow these guidelines, and you can safely reap the medicinal and therapeutic benefits of CBD.