CBD oil is extremely popular, but its most common uses remain unapproved. This means first-time users must face the challenge of adjusting the dose without official guidelines. What steps should you follow to find your optimal dose? And which factors should you take into account? Read our protocol to find out.
Why Is It Difficult to Determine How Much CBD You Need?
It is not certain whether CBD oil is effective in treating many medical conditions. Medicinal use of this product for most conditions has not been approved by the FDA. CBD oil should not be used in place of medication prescribed for you by your doctor . Remember to speak with your physician before taking any supplements.
First-time CBD oil users may feel a bit overwhelmed by the wide variety of available products and brands. Even people who have been using CBD for years often need to keep optimizing due to the lack of information about effective doses.
Coming up with the right dose is trickier than it may seem at first glance.
On the one hand, the FDA has only approved one medicine with pure CBD oil so far (Epidiolex, used for seizures in two rare types of epilepsy). This means there will most likely be no official dose for the health issue you are trying to improve with CBD oil .
Instead, we recommend consulting with your physician and diving deep into the clinical research in addition to taking your individual factors into account to find the doses that are likely to help.
However, many users blindly accept the dose recommended by CBD oil manufacturers, natural health blogs, or even friends.
The truth is that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all dose; different factors such as your weight, health condition, type of product, or delivery method will determine what amount may work.
Below is a comprehensive list of steps to help you get there.
Steps to Finding the Right CBD Oil Dosage
1. Set Your Goals
CBD has many targets in the body, meaning the oil may have several therapeutic effects.
The first step is to ask yourself what you want to achieve by taking CBD oil. Do you want to relieve chronic pain? Curb your anxiety? Sleep better? Improve your mood? Your optimal dose will not only depend on the condition you want to improve but also its severity.
2. Find the Right Dosage (CBD Dosage Chart)
The following table summarizes the doses of CBD (alone) successfully tested in clinical trials for different conditions:
|CBD Dosage Chart by Health Condition|
|Anxiety from stress||300-400 mg/day||[3, 4, 5, 6]|
|Social phobia||400-600 mg/day||[7, 8]|
|PTSD||12-100 mg/day||[9, 10]|
|Insomnia||25-175 mg/day (adults) and 12-25 mg/day (children)||[11, 12]|
|Autism||16 mg/kg (up to 600 mg/day)|||
|Seizures||200-300 mg or 0.5-50 mg/kg per day||[11, 14, 15, 16, 17]|
|Schizophrenia||200-1000 mg/day||[18, 19, 20]|
|Adverse effects from THC abuse||30 mg/day (anxiety), 200 mg/day (depression), and 600 mg/day (paranoia and memory impairment)||[21+, 22, 23]|
|Pain from kidney transplant||100-300 mg/day|||
|Movement disorders||100-600 mg/day|||
|Parkinson’s disease||75-400 mg/day||[26+, 27+, 28]|
|Fragile X syndrome||32-64 mg/day|||
|Heroin abuse disorders||400-800 mg/day|||
|Preventing transplant rejection||300 mg/day|||
CBD doses for the following conditions were excluded from the chart due to weak evidence:
- Crohn’s disease: the only trial using CBD for Crohn’s had negative results .
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): no clinical trials tested CBD for IBS. We can’t rule out its benefits for IBS, but more research is needed. One study on colonic biopsies from people with the disease suggests it may help (by increasing TRPV1 expression) .
- Migraines: no clinical trials have tested CBD alone. One trial tested a product with 9% CBD and 0.4% in people with migraines .
In any case, remember to discuss your CBD oil dose with your doctor.
3. Choose Vaporizers, Topical, or Oral Products
Once you and your doctor have estimated an approximate dose, the next step is to figure out how to deliver it with your preferred form of supplementation.
- Vape oils normally come in 30 mL bottles with the total CBD content (normally 200-1500 mg) stated on the label. This means their concentration ranges from 6.6 to 50 mg/mL. Because most vaping pens are designed for 1- or 1.5 mL cartridges, you can expect a dose of 6.6-75 mg CBD from vaping a whole cartridge.
- Mouth sprays and oral tinctures often come in 15 or 30 mL bottles containing variable CBD amounts (100-1500 mg, but some reach up to 5000 mg). You need to calculate the dosing per dropping (whose size is typically 1 mL). For instance, a dropping of 100 mg strength tincture from a 15-mL bottle will supply 6.6 mg.
- Oral products such as gummies, lollipops, and capsules are the easiest to dose because each one represents one serving size and their CBD content is normally stated on the package. For instance, a CBD gummy typically contains 5-40 mg CBD.
- Topical products such as lotions, salves, and creams are applied directly on the skin. Each tube or bottle typically contains 250-1500 mg CBD. Because the serving size depends on how much you apply, it’s very difficult to calculate the dose.
[sh_summar] Vapes, mouth sprays, tinctures, and oral products are easy to dose. Check the CBD content on each to make sure you are dosing it correctly. [/sh_summary]
Importantly, not all the forms will deliver CBD with the same effectiveness. Vapes release CBD directly into your bloodstream. In contrast, the CBD from other oral forms passes into the liver right after digestion. This means it will be broken down before reaching the bloodstream [36, 37+].
The CBD percentage you can expect to absorb from each delivery method is [38, 36, 39+]:
- Vaporizers: 20-56%
- Mouth sprays and oral tinctures: 12-35%
- Oral capsules, tablets, teas, and edibles: 6-20%
Except for transdermal patches, topical forms will generally release little or no CBD into your bloodstream. They will only act locally on the skin, muscles, and joints.
3. Consider Your Weight
As with most substances, your weight will influence the amount of CBD oil you will have to take to achieve the desired effects. Heavier people will need higher doses to start feeling the effects, while lower amounts will be enough for lighter people.
For instance, people with chronic pain generally need 1-6 mg CBD taken 1x-3x/day for every 10 pounds of body weight. Based on this, the recommended doses would be:
- Light people (below 135 lbs or 61 kg): 10-17 mg
- Medium-weight people (135-200 lbs or 61-90 kg): 15-25 mg
- Heavy people (over 200 lbs or 90 kg): 22-45 mg
Pain can be highly subjective and most scientists agree that the benefits can be maximized by letting the patients adjust the dosage themselves. Self-dosing is usually only a concern with THC-containing cannabis, which is more likely to cause side effects. Nevertheless, discuss it with your doctor before making changes in your CBD oil dose .
4. How Quickly Do You Need CBD to Work?
In addition to the dose, you will also need to consider how quickly you need the product to work. Taking the right dose the wrong way will leave you disappointed.
Acute, episodic conditions (such as cluster headaches or panic attacks) will require the effects to be much faster than those with constant symptoms (such as chronic pain or persistent depression).
The time until you notice the effects will largely depend on the delivery method –which determines the rate at which CBD is released into your bloodstream [37+, 41]:
- Vaping is a very fast method that quickly passes CBD from the lungs into the bloodstream. The effects normally kick in after only 5-15 minutes and may last 2-4 hours.
- Mouth sprays and oral tinctures also act very quickly. CBD is directly absorbed through the blood vessels under your tongue, along your gums, and on the inner lining of the cheeks. The effects may start after 15-30 minutes and last ~6 hours.
- Capsules, teas, and edibles are slow-release forms. They need to be digested before CBD passes into the bloodstream, meaning the effects will probably start after 30-180 minutes. The silver lining to this is that they may last up to 8 hours.
- Topical forms are very variable when it comes to the onset and duration of their effects. Users claim you will notice them after 30-120 minutes.
Based on this, slow-release oral forms may be taken 1x-3x/day while those with shorter effects may be used up to 4-6x/day (oral tinctures and mouth sprays) or as needed (vaping). Remember to consult the delivery method and frequency with your doctor.
5. Enhance CBD Absorption
The dose per serving only represents the highest CBD amount that could enter your body. However, a large part will be lost with the vapor, not absorbed by your blood vessels, or broken down in the liver. Depending on the form of supplementation, there are some tips that may help increase the amount taken up:
- Vaping: experiment with different techniques. Inhaling deeper, taking longer puffs, and holding your breath for a longer time before exhaling may increase CBD absorption [42+].
- Oral tinctures: experts suggest keeping them under the tongue for 1-1.5 minutes or vigorously swishing them around the mouth before swallowing to enhance absorption through the blood vessels.
- Capsules, teas, and edibles: because CBD is fat-soluble, you will absorb more if you combine them with a healthy dose of dietary fats instead of taking them on an empty stomach. As with oral tinctures, maintaining them in the mouth may help you absorb some CBD through blood vessels .
- Topical forms: you may get better results if you combine them with forms that allow CBD to reach the bloodstream.
6. Final Personalization
Because everybody is different, the same CBD dose delivered with the same method for the same condition may not be equally effective in two people.
Additional factors that may determine how your body will respond to CBD include [44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51]:
- Health status
- Drug interactions
- Metabolic rate (including CYP2C9, CYP2C19, and CYP3A4 enzymes)
- Genetic factors
- Previous CBD (or cannabis) use
This means that dosing is a highly individual process that will probably involve some trial and error.
Start with a low dose and track your response. If it doesn’t work, wait until the effects of your delivery form should disappear (based on the description from Step 4) and take a slightly higher dose. Repeat this process gradually until you achieve the desired effects. Remember to discuss it with your doctor before increasing your dose.
Other Factors to Consider
It’s important to buy CBD oil from a reputable source to make sure it contains the CBD levels stated on the label. In an analysis of 84 CBD products from 31 different companies, 26% contained less CBD than advertised .
Plant-derived Extracts vs. Pure CBD
Plant-derived extracts (also called full-spectrum CBD oil) may be more effective than pure CBD isolates due to the presence of other plant compounds that enhance the effects of CBD. In a study in mice, pure CBD lost anti-inflammatory activity at high doses, while full-spectrum extracts didn’t .
The interaction between CBD and THC is complex. THC-containing oils may be more effective than pure CBD for some conditions (such as chronic pain) but less for others (such as insomnia and anxiety). Importantly, you should go for products with little or no THC if you want to avoid its adverse effects or if drug tests are part of your life [54+, 55+, 56].
Can You Take too Much CBD Oil?
Upper Safe Dosage
CBD is generally safe and chronic doses of up to 1500 mg/day were well tolerated in clinical trials. Remember that most bottles contain less than this amount, so you would most likely be safe even if you drank or vaped a whole bottle per day [57, 58].
Additionally, CBD is very unlikely to cause addiction. In a clinical trial on 43 highly vulnerable people (frequent recreational drug users), pure CBD showed no abuse potential at therapeutic doses (750 mg) and very little at megadoses (1500-4500 mg) .
CBD oil users sometimes report adverse effects, but they are rare and mild. Among them, the most common ones include dry mouth, drowsiness, fatigue, and changes in appetite .
Importantly, CBD blocks a liver enzyme that breaks down many drugs (CYP2C19) and may increase their effects in the body. This means you should talk to your doctor if you’re on prescription medication and plan to start using CBD oil [61, 62].
Finding the right CBD oil takes some time – there is no one-size-fits-all amount. Whether you are taking CBD oil for the first time or are optimizing your dosage, you should follow a couple of key steps to find what works for you. As long as you take these factors into account and discuss this with your doctor, you will get there.
First, set your health goals and identify the right, clinically-validated dosage for them. Next, decide between vapes, tinctures, capsules, creams, or other forms. These will determine CBD absorption, how fast it will act, and for how long. Capsules are better for sustained CBD delivery and chronic symptoms, vapes for acute relief, and topicals for targeting specific body areas. You can also combine different formulations.
Lastly, adjust the dosage to your weight, metabolism, and genetics. Talk to a doctor if you take prescription drugs to determine if they affect the dose you need. Importantly, make sure to buy a high-quality, full-spectrum CBD plant extract for the best results.