It seems like CBD oil can be found just about anywhere nowadays. At the corner drugstore, your favorite supermarket, your trusted online retailer… it’s not difficult to spot. What’s more challenging, however, is finding appropriate dosing information to meet your needs.
An important note before we dive in: So far, there isn’t any reliable research to support a so-called “universal ideal dosage” for CBD — and this notion is also reflected in what you see across the CBD market itself. For all the CBD products out there, there’s also a wide range of recommendations on how much and how often one should use CBD.
Since there are no “standard” dosages, it’s therefore up to each of us to discover the ideal amount of CBD that works for our body.
There are several reasons why it’s so difficult to make a precise recommendation for CBD dosage, and we’ll cover them in just a moment.
ARTICLE OVERVIEW: CBD DOSAGE AND USE
CBD DOSING: EACH BODY IS DIFFERENT
As soon as CBD reaches your bloodstream, regardless of the route, it acts upon your body's endocannabinoid system, or ECS for short. To put it very simply, the ECS regulates processes like mood, appetite, pain management and inflammation, and ensures that your bodily functions remain in optimum balance, a concept otherwise known as homeostasis.
The exact effects and the extent to which CBD affects your ECS depend on a wide range of factors, such as your weight, diet, metabolism, general health, other medications you take and, last but not least, your genes.
So, when we consider that each and every one of these factors affects how your body reacts to CBD, it's easy to see why general dosage guidelines are so difficult to provide to any given person. To make matters worse, many argue that not enough scientific research is being done on CBD to begin with, which means we’re not getting any closer to understanding how these factors affect CBD.
HOW MUCH CBD IS RIGHT FOR ME?
Now that we’ve got all that out of the way, we can finally get to what everyone wants to know: How much CBD should I take?
Again, there is no clear answer to this key question. Every person reacts differently to CBD and, depending on the product and form of administration, the results can vary greatly. However, with a few simple steps and rules of thumb, you can hopefully find the CBD dosage that works best for you.
Step 1: Determine the strength of your CBD oil
Many manufacturers make this easy because they clearly state how many milligrams of CBD are in each serving (drop, pump, spray etc.) of the total bottle. If the label does not include that information or any details about the concentration of your CBD oil, you’ll need to do the calculation yourself. (It’s quick, we promise!)
For that, you’ll need the following numbers:
- Bottle size in milliliters (ml)
- CBD content in milligrams (mg; for example, 200 mg, 500 mg, 1,000 mg, etc.)
Then, we calculate the CBD concentration using this basic formula:
CBD content in mg ÷ bottle size in ml = CBD mg per ml
Let's assume a manufacturer sells a 10 ml bottle of CBD oil that contains 500 mg of CBD. Thanks to our formula, we can calculate that 500 mg ÷ 10 ml = 50 mg CBD / ml. One milliliter of oil, therefore, contains 50 milligrams of CBD.
Great, but now how do we tie milliliters to actual drops of oil?
Step 2: Determine the amount of CBD per drop (serving size)
Most vials of CBD oil come with their own pipette or dropper to dose out drops. In order to find out how much CBD is in each drop, you’ll need to know how many drops are in a full pipette. Some CBD oils already provides this information on the packaging, but if not, here’s where this step comes in.
(For CBD sprays, make sure the manufacturer states how much CBD is in each spray or pump, as the following calculation does not work with sprays.)
Usually a full pipette will hold about 1 ml of oil, but sometimes it’s a little less. Fill the pipette completely with oil and count how many drops there are in the pipette. (Remember to drop the oil back into the vial so it doesn’t go to waste!) The amount of CBD per drop can then be calculated with this formula:
CBD mg per ml ÷ Number of drops in 1 full pipette = CBD mg per drop
Let's say your pipette contains 40 drops and the bottle contains 50 mg CBD per ml. That means that 50 mg CBD ÷ 40 drops equates to 1.25 mg CBD per drop.
Step 3: Approach the Dose That Works for You
Those who have never used CBD before might want to start with a low dose of 5 mg per day. The exact number of drops depends on the oil you’re using and the calculations made in Steps 1 and 2.
(In the above example, with a 10 ml bottle of 500 mg CBD, 50 mg CBD per milliliter and 1.25 mg CBD per drop, a 5 mg dose of CBD would equate to about 4 drops of CBD oil total per day.)
This amount is then increased by small increments over time until you have achieved the effect you want. While side effects are rare and usually quite harmless, CBD can make some people feel quite sleepy, so you might want to take your first doses in the evening, or at least not before an important meeting or a long drive.
Day 1: 5 mg per day
Day 2: 5 mg per day
Day 3: 5 mg per day
Day 4: 10 mg per day
Day 5: 10 mg per day
Day 6: 10 mg per day
Day 7: 15 mg per day
And so on until you’re satisfied with the dose.
Remember to be patient and not to increase your dose too quickly, as it can take many people several weeks at a consistent dose of CBD before they feel an effect.
How much CBD is recommended per day?
People who take CBD regularly tend to take between 20 and 100 mg per day, but the amount that works for you will, of course, depend on the effect you seek with CBD and how your body reacts to it.
If you experience side effects such as headache, slight drowsiness, dizziness, loss of appetite, diarrhea or nausea/vomiting, it probably means that you increased your dose too quickly or exceeded the dose that works best for your body, which is why it might be a good idea to go back down to a lower dose until you feel better. Here you can find more information about possible side effects with CBD.
Start low and slowly work your way up — and don't forget that oftentimes with CBD (and so much else) less is more.
WHAT CBD PRODUCTS ARE OUT THERE AND HOW DO THEY DIFFER?
CBD can be ingested and absorbed by the body in different ways. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages, and often simply comes down to your personal preferences. More information about the various intake methods can be found here.
CBD is now available in almost every dosage form, and new products like CBD coffee are constantly being added to the list of available CBD products, of which the most well known is probably CBD oil.
Dozens, if not hundreds, of brands offer CBD oils in a variety of formulations and flavours. The vial usually comes with a pipette that’s used to put the oil directly under your tongue. Yet dosing with pipettes is often cumbersome and imprecise, which is why some brands, and we at VAAY, offer CBD sprays instead. A practical spray bottle head simplifies the dosage and intake of the oil considerably.
For those who aren’t fans of the earthy taste that hemp often has or prefer something different, some brands offer CBD capsules. Often these capsules are gel-filled, which means they’re pre-dosed, and they can be taken easily and inconspicuously on-the-go, usually without any unpleasant aftertaste.
With regard to these oral administration methods, it should be noted that CBD first has to pass through the stomach and liver before it reaches the bloodstream. This increases the time it takes for CBD’s effects to take hold, but they also last the longest with this method of administration (up to 6 hours).
Many people use CBD topically in the form of CBD ointments, CBD lotions, CBD creams and CBD gels to treat muscle aches, pain from arthritis, inflammation and other issues related to skincare. When CBD is applied locally, the effects can often kick in faster than when CBD is taken orally. This is because the CBD in topical products is absorbed through the skin precisely in the affected area, where they then interact directly with the skin’s cannabinoid receptors. Depending upon the exact formulation, the dosage can differ from product to product and it’s usually specified on the package.
CBD can reach your bloodstream the fastest is when it’s inhaled through your lungs, via vaporiser or CBD diffuser pen. (Smoking cigarettes with CBD falls into this category too, however due to the lung damage that results from combustion, smoking is not recommended under any circumstances.)
Bioavailability is highest when CBD is inhaled (approx. 31%), which means that you can receive more of an effect with a lower dose than you would with other forms of administration. In other words, the effects might be stronger, even thorough the dose is smaller.
For example, if you typically take 10 mg of CBD via drops and you want to try vaping, you might want to cut the dose in half and inhale just 5 mg until you know how it affects you.
Whereas orally ingested CBD might take an hour to kick in and hours to wear off, CBD that’s inhaled can take hold in just minutes but its effects will also diminish more quickly too. For a long-lasting effect, it is best to combine inhaled CBD with an orally ingested form of CBD.
IS ALL CBD THE SAME? THE CHALLENGES OF A NATURAL PRODUCT
At first glance, the idea that all CBD is the same seems logical. For example, Vitamin C supplements are practically indistinguishable from brand to brand, so in the end, all kinds of CBD work the same way too, right? But appearances can be deceptive.
CBD is one of 100+ cannabinoids that occur naturally in cannabis and hemp plants. However, before CBD can be processed into an end product like CBD oil, cream, capsules, bath balls and beyond, it must be extracted from the plant. There are various extraction methods that a given manufacturer can use, and the extract obtained can be either a full-spectrum extract, a broad-spectrum extract or a pure CBD isolate.
As the name suggests, a full-spectrum extract reflects the full range of all components (other cannabinoids and terpenes) found in the particular plant from which the CBD was extracted. A broad-spectrum extract is similar, except the THC is completely removed. The terms themselves “full-spectrum” and “broad-spectrum” are often mixed up because most hemp plants contain negligible amounts of THC anyway and so there’s no need to use a separate word to refer to hemp extracts without THC.
However, calling out the difference with CBD isolate is important because these finished products contain only pure CBD and no other components from the plant. This can have its advantages: manufacturing is often easier and the end product is often cheaper for the consumer. However, studies suggest that when it comes to effectiveness, CBD isolates don’t hold a candle to full- or broad-spectrum extracts. In addition, there is some evidence to suggest that CBD might have a synergistic relationship with other plant elements, resulting in a so-called “entourage effect” in the body.
How exactly a manufacturer extracts its CBD and how it is processed makes a big difference and influences how the finished product works for you. So you see, not all CBD is created equal.