how to dose CBD

Dosing CBD the Right Way:

How to Find Your Optimal Serving Size

CBD is the hot topic that no one can get enough of, thanks to the numerous health benefits it seems to offer.

Millions of people all over the world have been using it to overcome all types of health concerns and problems, especially the ones related to stress and anxiety.

Whether you’re an experienced user or someone trying it for the first time, it’s important to understand how this compound works and the best method of ingesting it.

But there’s a problem that persists among users—how to find a serving size that will be optimal for them. The gist of the matter is that there isn’t one fixed CBD dosage that works for everyone.

If you need help with figuring out how to dose CBD the right way, this quick guide is for you.

Let’s start at the beginning, do you know…

Table of Contents

What Is CBD?

CBD is a non-intoxicating compound of the cannabis plant, that has made headlines because of its potential therapeutic effects.

This compound belongs to a class known as cannabinoids.

cannabinoids infographic part 1
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CBD properties infographic

Cannabinoids have the ability to interact with a hidden system in your brain and body called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system plays an important role in maintaining your biological balance—necessary for optimal health.

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The CBD products you find on the market are usually hemp derivatives. Hemp is the legal variety of cannabis that has small traces of THC—the cannabinoid that gets you high.

It’s worth noting that most of these products haven’t been approved by the FDA, in fact, the only product that has its approval is Epidiolex, a drug to treat seizures.

Scientific evidence to prove the benefits attributed to this compound is not impressive at all, at least not for studies done in humans. But what have been found in animal models and the anecdotal experiences from people around the world, has been enough to get everyone excited for what CBD holds for human health.

Keep in mind that….

CBD is NOT a miracle drug, it may have a wide variety of potential medical benefits, but evidence is scarce to draw conclusions.

Researching CBD on the Internet provides you with hundreds of articles about its benefits, but you’ll struggle to find a reliable source on properly dosing it.

Finding the appropriate CBD dosage for your needs can be tricky, but you’re not powerless.

How to Figure Out Your Dose

In the quest to get official approval, another setback of CBD is the dosage. This is mainly because the lack of substantial research has stopped the FDA to come out with a Recommended Daily Intake (RDI), and all that means that this compound doesn’t have any official serving size.

As a result, CBD consumers are estimating their doses blindly based on recommendations from companies, and friends who claim to be experts because they have used CBD before.

The crux of the matter is that the appropriate CBD dosage depends on too many different factors.

To help you narrow down the search, here I’m listing them.

YOUR CONDITION

One of the defining factors that affect your CBD dosage is how severe your condition is. For example, if someone is taking CBD to fight insomnia, they would require a smaller dose and different timing than someone who is taking CBD for panic attacks.

If your condition is severe, your CBD dosage should be higher to counteract its effect and provide you with the relief you need.

YOUR BODY CHEMISTRY AND WEIGHT

The chemical signature of your body also plays a huge role in determining your optimal CBD dosage. A CBD dose that works well for someone with anxiety may not help someone else with the same problem.

Your body is naturally prepared to work with CBD, thanks to the endocannabinoid system; thus, this system plays the biggest role in how much CBD you need.

So, if you’re like me and you have a sensitive endocannabinoid system, then you only need really small amounts of CBD to experience the same effect as someone who has a less responsive endocannabinoid system.

This is why two people taking the same product may require separate dosage amounts for CBD to affect their body.

Another reason for that is your body weight. People who are heavy are going to need higher doses of CBD than someone of a smaller size.

YOUR GENETICS

This factor explains why some people are more sensitive to CBD and why it may not work for others. Some people have mutations on the CNR1 gene, which encodes the CB1 receptor.

Any problem with the CNR1 gene can prevent your endocannabinoid system from running optimally. The way the ECS functions in your body is key in determining how much CBD you should be taking.

There’s still research being conducted on understanding genetics, so it’s helpful not to be overly concerned with anything related to this emerging science right now.

YOUR LIFESTYLE

What you put into your body and how you move can affect your CBD dosage. Certain substances and lifestyle choices can increase its effects. You might need a lower dose if you:

  • Smoke marijuana
  • Drink alcohol
  • Exercise
  • Consume nicotine
  • Consume omega-3 fatty acids regularly

But if you’re chronically stressed, you will need a higher dose to get the same benefits of people whose stress levels are in check.

CBD CONCENTRATION

The wide variety of CBD products on the market have varying levels of strengths, and that’s another reason why you should always check the amount of CBD present in the product and adjust your dose accordingly.

You can find oils with concentrations starting at 100 mg and up to 1500 mg per bottle.

Therefore, the doses for each one are going to be different, making it harder to get the right concentration for your CBD dose.

The concentration depends on the strength of CBD you’re purchasing, but no matter what the concentration is, the total amount is not the same as the total serving size.

So, if your CBD oil label says 750 mg, then your serving size is much less than that, because it’s diluted in a carrier oil to make it easier to absorb.

If the product doesn’t have the concentration listed, you can find that out by dividing the amount of CBD by the volume of the tincture in the oil.

This way, if the label says 750 mg and the total volume in the bottle is 30 milliliters, you’re getting only 25 mg of CBD per ml of oil. If your serving size is 3 ml, then you’re taking 75 mg of CBD.

CBD BIPHASIC ACTION

Another crucial factor to consider when determining your dosage is the biphasic action, which essentially means that CBD may have different sets of effects at different dosage levels.

Thus, when the compound interacts with your endocannabinoid system at a low concentration, it will increase your alertness, making you energetic, wakeful, and ready for action.

But at higher levels of concentration, CBD has more of a sedating effect, making you feel sleepy, relaxed, and calm.

This is very similar to the effect of other substances, like alcohol. A person may find that the effects are less or more desirable, depending on the amount that has been consumed and the desired outcome.

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CBD BIOAVAILABILITY

There are different ways to take CBD: from oils to vapes, from capsules to candies. To determine your dosage, it’s important to know the bioavailability of the method you’re using.

In a nutshell, “bioavailability” refers to the amount of CBD that goes into your bloodstream and how much of it is actually absorbed to provide an effect.

Keeping that in mind, the bioavailability of CBD varies based on the way it is delivered and the CBD concentration in the product you are taking.

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TYPES OF CBD

Hemp-derived CBD products fall under three categories that refer to the components present in your oil: full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate.

Hemp has many therapeutic compounds beyond CBD. All of them work together in synergy, increasing their individual strengths to further enhance the way the oil benefits your body.

Full-spectrum products are made from whole hemp plants. Nothing is added or removed from the hemp’s natural chemical composition. These products contain THC, usually less than 0.3%.

Broad-spectrum products account for whole plant THC-free stuff; they go into a distilling process that removes the compound that gets you high.

As its name implies, isolate formulas contain only CBD.

Most people prefer full- and broad-spectrum products, because they seem to work better. But if you’re drug-tested often, you live in a state with tight restrictions, or your body is too sensitive to THC, then an isolated product might suit you better.

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As you can see, numerous variables come into play that make it almost impossible to have a universally prescribed CBD dosage. There’s also the factor that every individual is different and has different needs, which affects the dosage amount they need.

Now, you may wonder….

Is There a Recommended Dose?

The amount of CBD you should consume depends on your individual needs, but there’s a recommended dosage chart made by Mayo Clinic you can look at.

It’s based on expert opinion, traditional use, publications, and scientific research. The chart is as follows:

Condition Type Recommended Dosage
Chronic Pain
2.5 mg-20 mg of CBD [with or without THC] (orally)
Seizures
Start 2-5 mg/kg/day—goal 25-50 mg/kg/day (orally-Epidiolex)
Sleep Disorders
40 mg-160 mg of CBD (orally)
Schizophrenia
1.5 mg oral CBD daily
Anxiety Disorders
2.5 mg-10 mg of oral CBD. High doses induce mental sedation
Movement Problems Due to Huntington’s Disease
10 mg of CBD per kg of body weight daily for six weeks (orally)
Alzheimer’s disease
CBD 160 mg-600 mg for inflammation

You can use this chart as a reference to find your serving size, but in most cases, the process is highly dependent on the individual. You will need to experiment with different things in different amounts to find out what works for you. Expect a bit of testing and tweaking.

The best way to do this is by…

Starting Slow & Going Slow

That is the mantra you need to repeat to yourself every day when finding your optimal CBD dose.

You need to start slowly to find out how well you can tolerate a dose before working your way up to a higher dose that relieves your symptoms.

This is known as “self-titration,” “micro-dosing,” or “stepwise dosing,” because you’re in control of finding the lowest effective dose or sweet spot.

Finding Your Sweet Spot

The right dosage will give you the effect you want, providing you with all the benefits without causing any side effects. That’s the sweet spot you must aim to find, and it’s best to take as much time as you want to find it.

Stepwise dosing is a method by which you first establish a baseline dosage and then increase or decrease the medication accordingly with the frequency and severity of your symptoms.

Here’s what a stepwise approach with CBD oil or tincture looks like:

Start off by taking a small baseline dosage—a drop twice a day is a good start. Maintain your baseline dosage for a week and take careful note of how you feel.

Stick with it. CBD works in subtle ways with your endocannabinoid system to make you feel better. Some people experience instant results, but for others, it may take time. So, don’t expect epiphanies during week one.

If you don’t feel any improvement, add another drop to the dose every three days. Repeat this protocol until your body responds.

Remember that your body has a dynamic endocannabinoid system, and sensitivity changes may occur. Therefore, you should track your symptoms daily or intermittently to know when you should adjust your dose.

Once you do manage to find a dose that’s working for your condition, keep it like that. There’s no need to increase your dose after finding your sweet spot. You may even decrease your dosage a little bit to see if you can maintain the benefits at a lower dosage.

Now that you understand that dosing CBD is about finding your own personal protocol, it’s time to pick a method of consumption.

Ways to Take CBD

So, you’ve done your research and have a better grasp of how to start on CBD to find relief.  Now you’re faced with a thoughtful decision: tinctures, vaporizers, edibles, lotions… Which method is best for you?

Not all products are crafted equally, and the market is literally flooded with all kinds of goods, which makes deciding which brands and method to pick, a truly overwhelming process.

Here’s a list of the most common methods of consumption you can find on the market for your health goals.

ORAL COMSUMPTION

You can ingest CBD orally via edibles, powder, capsules, tinctures, and oils, among many other options. When you ingest CBD, it passes through the digestive tract and liver, where it will be absorbed into the bloodstream to travel across the body.

This method of consumption is the slowest route for CBD to reach its targets. It takes around an hour to kick in, but it’s also the method that ensures the longest period—around 8 hours—that this cannabinoid is active in the body.

Capsules and gummies are easy and convenient to dose, since they deliver a consistent amount of CBD. But infused food and beverages like cupcakes, lattes, and cocktails provide pretty inconsistent effects.

These foods and drinks are packed with other ingredients than can slow down or exacerbate the effects of the compound.

SUBLINGUAL

You can also absorb CBD directly into your bloodstream from capillary-rich areas in your mouth. You basically put a few drops of your favorite oil or tincture under your tongue and let them sit for 30–60 seconds.

Sublingual consumption avoids the first-pass effect of drug metabolism—which greatly reduces the bioavailability of your CBD—being degraded only by salivary enzymes before entering the bloodstream. This method is 3 to 10 times faster than swallowing. 

It typically takes 15–30 minutes to feel the effects of a CBD tincture that is taken under the tongue, and the effects are known to last between 4–6 hours.

Sublingual drops are the best way to start on CBD, so check the “Finding Your Sweet Spot” chapter above to calculate your dosage.

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INHALING

You can inhale CBD through vape pens, as it passes directly into the bloodstream avoiding the first-pass metabolism.

This is the fastest way to get CBD circulating through your system, but it’s effective for the shortest period, at around only 10 minutes.

Making dose adjustments is easy if you’re using a quality CBD vape pen. If a 250 mg pen provides 250 puffs, then doing the math is as easy as that: one puff will provide one mg of CBD.

If you’re just starting out, begin with a single inhalation and wait 10 minutes for the effects to kick in before inhaling again. You can then take note of the effects and adjust your next vaping session accordingly.

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TOPICAL

CBD topicals are recommended to provide localized benefits to the area of your body that need it most. The endocannabinoid system is present in your skin too, so, when you apply a CBD lotion, it’s absorbed through the skin, bypassing the digestive tract and liver.

But that’s quite difficult to achieve. Topical CBD has a very low bioavailability, so you may have to experiment to find a dose that provides noticeable effects. Dosing with CBD topicals is imprecise, and you need to be aware that higher concentrations of CBD are required in your product, simply because it’s harder for the compound to break through the skin.

This method is used for local relief only, because the dermal barrier doesn’t allow the active compound to enter the bloodstream.

The time frame CBD remains active depends on the target it’s applied to. Thus, effects can be felt quickly, within 15–20 minutes, and can last for up to 6 hours.

VAGINAL

CBD can be applied directly to the mucosal tissue of the vagina and anus and works similarly to how the topical method works. However, since these areas are rich in capillaries, CBD may also enter into the bloodstream in the same way sublingual drops do.

Research shows that this method has a greater bioavailability than oral administration; it ranges from 20 to 50%. And effects can last 4 hours.

Wrap-Up

CBD is a cannabis compound that has gained popularity because it seems to have potential medical value, but evidence is still scarce. Lack of evidence has left us without official guidelines for the best way to use it.

Finding your serving size is a unique experience that will make you undergo a trial-and-error process.

Many different factors should be taken into consideration to find your serving size. The type of CBD product, and how you use it, also plays a key role in how much to take.

When you’re getting started, the best advice is to go with the lowest dose possible and work your way up from there.

You can either take the dose at once or break it into smaller doses that can be taken throughout the day. The goal is to find out what works best for you. It may take weeks to find your sweet spot. Be patient and stick with it.

Good luck finding the relief you need.

Have questions? Ask away — the space below is for you.