How to calculate CBD dosage and how much to take
“How do I calculate CBD dosages and how much should I take?”. This is by far the question we’re asked most often.
Cannabidiol, better known as CBD, is one the most researched of all the cannabinoids, with research suggesting it can help alleviate a range of symptoms, including:
- Reduce anxiety and depression
- Improve sleep
- Reduce inflammation and oxidative stress
- Offer pain relief
- Controls seizure activity
- Improve involuntary motor movements and mediate tardive dyskinesia
Despite the growing body of research surrounding CBD, to the general public, relatively little information is available regarding CBD dosages.
This is primarily because of CBD, and other types of cannabinoid based medicines, still lacking approval and regulation from governmental and European health care bodies. The result of this is that it has created a reticence from doctors and other medical institutions to prescribe CBD.
Similarly, many doctors are simply not educated in the use of CBD oil and cannabinoid therapy, complicated by the fact that there is no recommended daily allowance (RDA) or universal dose that suits everyone. This ultimately leaves the average CBD consumer in the dark about CBD dosage.
In this article we will look at the various factors that influences CBD dosages, how to calculate it, different CBD dosages for various conditions, and things to consider when deciding on how much CBD to take.
Bi-Phasic Effect of CBD
Regardless of the type and seriousness of the condition, CBD dosage is vital to finding symptom relief. However, finding the right dosage can be a complicated process, because CBD is a complex molecule that works in a variety of ways in the body.
A biphasic effect is when a substance have different effects as its concentration in the body and blood increases. One practical example of the biphasic effect is something like alcohol. When just starting off having a drink, its effects are most often invigorating, stimulating conversations and making the person feel animated. However, beyond a certain point, the opposite happens. The individual becomes lethargic, words slur, and alcohol’s sedative effect kicks in.
Just like alcohol, cannabinoids such as CBD are biphasic, meaning that they work differently at different dosages. When CBD is taken in different dosages, different effects seem to occur. For instance, many people use CBD to help them feel focused and energised, while others use it to help induce sleep and relieve the symptoms of insomnia.
The reason for this is due to how CBD interacts with the body and the endocannabinoid system (ECS) through different pathways and in distinct ways. This property of CBD has the potential for activating conflicting pathways that result in what can sometimes be contradictory effects (e.g., stimulant-sedative effects).
In addition to the effects at different dosages, the biphasic effect of CBD is also important when considering the dosage. One example of such a dose-response relationship with CBD is in relation to anxiety. Several studies have shown that when combating both generalised anxiety as well as paranoia induced by the other famous cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), more does not mean better. Because of the range of complex biological responses that occur at different dosages, excessive amounts of CBD could be less effective for treating anxiety than smaller dosages.
Another thing to keep in mind is that CBD has been shown to have a bell curve regarding its effectiveness. Similar to its bi-phasic effect, CBD’s effectiveness is bell-curved, meaning its efficacy will increase as dosage increases until it has reached its maximum efficiency rate. Thereafter it falls off as it reaches saturation levels, resulting in wasted product.
What this means when considering taken CBD is that different dosages will evoke different, and sometimes even contradictory responses and effects. This means that each consumer has to monitor how they respond to different CBD dosage amounts to find their optimal dose for their particular desired effects. It is also important to keep in mind that a little CBD can often go a longer way than larger dosages.
How to determine CBD dosage
Although most CBD products have a recommended serving size printed on the label, these tend to be generic and unhelpful to anyone that wants more than general health and wellness effects. When determining individualised CBD dosages, there are several things to consider, including understanding a few key elements like CBD labelling, CBD potency and the basics of calculating the CBD dosage for a specific product.
CBD labelling accuracy
CBD oil bottles are usually available in 15 ml, 30 ml and 100 ml bottles which will determine the amount of CBD per millilitre.
Every bottle must have an ingredients list. The label should also indicate the type of CBD extract the product contains, for example full-spectrum, broad-spectrum or isolate.
Recommended Serving Size / Dosage
The serving size should include the dropper volume / size and the suggested dropper amount (dosage) of product to take at one time. Droppers come in 0.5 ml or 1 ml sizes and often calibrated to help with precision dosing.
CBD Strength & potency
CBD oils and products come in a range of strengths and potencies, each of which will be appropriate for different users and different conditions.
Low-Strength CBD Oils
These typically range from less than 100 mg to around 400 mg.
- Novice users
- Users with a sensitive endocannabinoid system
- Daily/dietary supplementary use
- Mild anxiety, aches, and pains
Mid-Strength CBD Oils
Usually contains around 400 mg to 800 mg of CBD per bottle.
- Low-strength CBD users who take multiple doses a day to find relief
- More severe symptoms of anxiety, pain, and stress
- Digestive issues
High-Strength CBD Oils
Containing between 800 mg to 1,200 mg of total CBD.
- Experienced CBD users
- Chronic and/or severe insomnia, depression, anxiety and pain
- Shows promise as providing relief from alcohol or drug withdrawal
Extra-High-Strength CBD Oil
Contain upward of 1,200 mg of total CBD per bottle with some going as high as 4,000 mg.
- Experienced CBD users
- Patients suffering from extreme health conditions such as epilepsy, cancer and multiple sclerosis
- Extreme cases of chronic pain and inflammation
Calculating CBD Dosage
Dosage is commonly expressed as the amount of CBD in weight (e.g., milligrams) per volume (e.g., millilitres). If the CBD oil label indicated the amount of CBD in milligrams, it’s relatively easy. However, CBD oil labels often only shows the percentage of CBD in which case the percentage needs to be converted into milligrams first.
Calculating CBD Dosage with Weight
Total milligrams of CBD in the bottle divide by bottle size in ml = CBD mg / ml
30 ml bottle containing 1,500 mg of CBD
→ 1,500 ÷ 30 = 50 mg of CBD per 1 ml
Calculating CBD Dosage with Percentage
1 milliliter = 1 gram = 1000 milligrams of CBD oil.
30 ml bottle of CBD with a concentration of 15% CBD
→ 15% of 3,000 mg = 1.5 x 3,000 = 4,500 mg of CBD per bottle
→ 4,500 ÷ 30 = 150 mg of CBD per 1 ml
CBD content vs. Cannabinoid content
Occasionally, a product will only indicate the amount of hemp extract or total cannabinoid content instead of CBD content For example:
Labelled as Total cannabinoid content
The CBD amount will be less than the labelled amount for example, 1,000 mg hemp extract may only contain 700 mg of CBD.
Labelled as a direct substitute,
The CBD amount will be the same as the labelled amount for example, 1,000 mg of hemp extract will contain 1,000 mg of CBD.
This can make precise CBD dosage calculations difficult, often requiring a conversion calculation to determine the milligrams of CBD for an accurate dosage. Check the third party lab tests for the product or reach out to the company directly to determine cannabinoid and CBD content.
CBD Oil Dosage
As mentioned, guidance on CBD dosage recommendations are unclear and hampered by a lack of dose-determination studies and desired plasma concentrations for minimum effective doses. Additionally, the role of different formulations and routes of administration on absorption rates and bioavailability in humans is also limited.
Similarly, there are countless biological and physiological variables including body composition, metabolism, genetics and overall health that make a universally applicable CBD dosage impossible.
General CBD Dosage recommendations
Whether a novice CBD user, sampling a new CBD oil, or needing to make adjustments to a current CBD treatment protocol, there are some basic CBD dosage guidelines to follow.
It is recommended to start with a smaller dosage first, gradually increasing it until the desired effects are achieved. This will usually mean starting at a dosage of 20 to 40 mg of CBD, taken twice daily. CBD dosage can then be increased by an additional 25 mg every three to four weeks until symptom relief is attained. Conversely, if symptoms worsen, decrease CBD dosage by 25 mg.
Additional CBD dosage considerations to consider factors such as:
- Body weight and composition with larger bodies needing higher dosages
- The condition being treating (see below)
- Individual body chemistry, genetics and metabolism
CBD Dosage Recommendations for specific conditions
Although effective CBD dosages in different disease states remains unclear, we can draw some conclusions reviewing those applied in experimental settings and clinical populations. This will allow for a basic understanding of the active range of CBD dosages in a various medical contexts in human populations.
CBD Oil Dosage for Pain & Inflammation
CBD dosage for treating pain and inflammation can vary greatly depending on the underlying cause. For instance, relief from chronic pain can be as little as 0.4 mg/kg per day when used as and adjunct therapy to pain medication. However, the usual dose recommendation is between 2.5 and 20 mg/day either taken with or without THC.
CBD Oil Dosage for Sleep
In an early study on the effects of CBD on sleep, researchers found dosage that people who do not suffer from sleeping disorders, needed very high doses of around the 600 mg mark while insomniacs only needed doses of a 150 mg to 160 mg of CBD to induce sleep. Therefore, it is suggested to start off with a dose of 40 mg, gradually working up to anywhere between 150 mg to 600 mg until relief is found.
CBD Oil Dosage for Anxiety & Depression
When seeking relief from conditions such as anxiety and depression, CBD dosages as low as 0.6 mg/kg per day, up to 6.7 mg/kg and 10 mg/kg per day produce positive results in the reduction of symptoms, improving quality of life, increase sleep quality and duration, as well as decrease anxiety secondary to PTSD.
CBD Oil Dosage for Schizophrenia
Several studies have investigated the efficacy of CBD for treating symptoms of schizophrenia. A review of these indicated that positive reductions in psychotic and/or psychiatric symptoms are achieved with an average dose of 15 mg/kg per day over a four to eight week period. However, one study describe a higher average dose of 25 mg/kg of CBD per day over 4 weeks as effective.
CBD Oil Dosage for Epilepsy
To date, Epidiolex is the only CBD-based medicine approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE), and the European Medicines Agency (EMA). As such, CBD dosage with Epidiolex for seizure conditions such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) is known which are as follows:
- The starting dosage is 2.5 milligrams per kilogram ofbody weight (mg/kg) twice daily, with a total dosage of 5 mg/kg per
- After 1 week, dosage may be increased to 5 mg/kg twice daily, or a total of 10 mg/kg per day.
All other CBD oils and products fall outside regulations, meaning that there are no official guidelines for their dosage. However, epilepsy is one of the most frequently studied medical conditions, with several studies describing the beneficial effects of CBD at various dosages. From that it can be concluded that an average dose of 15 mg/kg per day can successfully reduce the severity and/or frequency of seizures.
CBD Oil Dosage for Parkinson’s Disease
Research into CBD for Parkinson’s disease indicate that, in line with the bi-phasic effect of CBD, different dosages will yield relief for different symptoms. So, for instance, do 5 mg/kg per day of CBD improve wellbeing and general quality of life scores while psychotic symptoms are decreased with a CBD dosage of 7 mg/kg/d). In addition, improved rapid eye movement (REM) sleep was achieved at 1 mg/kg/d and dyskinesia was decreased with 2 to 3 mg/kg/d doses. Overall, the recommended CBD dosage for relief of exaggerated Parkinson's disease symptoms seems to be best achieved at 5 and 7 mg/kg/d.
CBD Oil Dosage for Multiple Sclerosis
The recommended CBD dosages for the active management of many of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis range from between 5 mg/kg to 10 mg/kg per day of CBD for the reduction of neural inflammation, spasticity, pain, fatigue and depression. When using whole-plant CBD:THC cannabis extracts like Sativex for MS, it is recommended to take 2.5 to 120 milligrams daily for two to 15 weeks.
When is the best time to take CBD
Just like there is no perfect dosage for everyone, there is also no perfect time of day to take CBD that will suit everybody. People even find that they might need to change their usual CBD routine at different times during their recovery or as their needs and lifestyles change.
One factor that will determine the best time of day to take CBD is the reason for taking CBD. Due to its aforementioned bi-phasic effects, CBD can cause different effects which can make taking it at a certain time preferable to another.
For instance, if CBD is consumed for aiding in cognitive function, focus and its awakening effects, taking it with breakfast in the morning is best. However, if it is used to relieve insomnia and help with sleep, taking it an hour or two before bedtime is better. Likewise, if taking CBD for pain, consuming a dosage if and when needed makes sense.
Similarly, considering that the full effects of CBD remain for approximately 4-12 hours (with time depending on factors such as the method of administration, product type and ), staggering smaller dosages throughout the day might be preferable to taking a single, larger dose once a day.
For suggestions on the best times to take CBD for different conditions, see the section “Dosage Recommendations for Specific Conditions”.
Despite what we know and the few guidelines that are available, it is important to remember that everyone is different. Each person has biological, physiological and neurochemical systems that are unique to them. Consequently, this means that each person has a different threshold point where therapeutic effects kick in. As such, there is no single recommended dosage that is suitable for everyone. In the end this means that the onus lies on the CBD user to experiment to find the correct dosage for them.