One of the first things CBD users and medical cannabis patients want to know is how much CBD they should take. How many milligrams of CBD do they need to alleviate their pain, anxiety, epilepsy and other issues?
Unfortunately, there’s not a simple answer. CBD does not yet have a precise, officially stated “serving size.” This is due to a number of factors.
First, cannabidiol (CBD) as a medicine is completely new to western medicine, and we’re still fine-tuning and working out the kinks when it comes to an accurate, milligram-based prescription based on different medical needs. Second, CBD doesn’t impact the body in the same way traditional, chemically isolated prescription medicine does.
And finally, the CBD dose will also depend on delivery (how you take the CBD). Yes, there’s a big difference between vaporizing, eating and delivering sublingually (under the tongue).
It’s important to remember that “one dropper” per day or twice daily can vary significantly depending on the type of product (whether it’s an isolate or a distillate), concentration of product (e.g., 500 milligrams per bottle or 1,000 milligrams per bottle) and the individual’s reaction to CBD. Keep in mind that we all have an endocannabinoid system (ECS) with receptors for CBD, but your body will have its own individual response.
It’s similar to the way in which some of us can eat bread with no problem, but others have a severe reaction to gluten. This will be a lesson in listening to and honoring your body.
Some CBD brands include a chart with their product that prescribes one milligram of CBD per 10 pounds of body weight. For instance, a 40-pound child would take 4 milligrams of CBD, whereas a 140-pound adult would take 14 milligrams. However, it’s important to note that this is primarily used to determine the dosage for children.
One milligram per 10 pounds of body weight is a particularly light, mild dose for adults. In this case, it will also depend on the severity of your symptoms. Do you have a bit of muscle soreness from a workout, or were you in a car accident and are trying to avoid prescription opioids from the hospital? Do you have light stress from work, or do you suffer from severe panic attacks?
Of course, it’s always best to consult a doctor who is familiar with cannabis as well as your particular condition, especially if you’re using CBD to treat something severe.
While a psychiatrist who specializes in anxiety would be an excellent resource for your mental health woes, they may not be able to help you with your dose if they’re not versed in cannabidiol as an anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) treatment. Finding this cross-section of expertise is important.
Back to weight: some doctors believe that weight is less important than body-fat percentage. Because cannabidiol is lipophilic (it binds to and dissolves into fat), it can readily absorb into fat stores.
This means it could be drawn away from your bloodstream if you have more body fat, leading to less absorption and thus lessened effects. If that’s the case, you might need a higher dose. Those who are leaner may see stronger effects with fewer milligrams, though there are no clinical studies on this theory just yet.
There’s a major difference between broad or full-spectrum distillates and CBD isolates. There have been reports of a U-shaped response curve when it comes to CBD isolate, meaning that after a certain threshold, the CBD isolate becomes less effective. This has not proven to be true for distillate, in which (typically) more is more.
A rule of thumb: start low and go slow. While there have been no reports of overdosing on CBD (the World Health Organization reports that CBD is safe, with few to no side effects), it’s better to start with a little and see how your body reacts. Take a small amount, once a day. Then work your way up incrementally to see how it impacts your symptoms and improves your health.
Additionally, you’ll want to factor in your delivery — how you take CBD. If you’re ingesting cannabidiol (gummies, capsules, pills, food products, drinks), that means the CBD will be broken down in your digestive tract and you may feel different results.
If you’re vaporizing or smoking, or using a sublingual (under-the-tongue) oil, this is a more direct delivery that goes straight to your bloodstream through tiny capillaries, thus bypassing the digestive tract. You may receive stronger results from a smaller dose in this case, as less of the CBD is lost in this direct delivery than it would be in the digestive process.
Speaking of digestion, some doctors have noted that the amount of food in your stomach impacts your body’s ability to absorb CBD, and they recommend taking cannabidiol on a full stomach to see better results. This has yet to be studied, however, and will only apply to ingested forms of CBD.
Don’t forget that what works for some people may not work for you. While your best friend may see results from 100 milligrams per day, you may see results with significantly fewer milligrams. Then again, you may not feel anything at all until you get to a higher threshold.
Clinical trials showed efficacy for CBD on anxiety and psychosis at 800 to 1,000 milligrams per dose — hundreds of times higher than the average dose. This is why it’s always best to work with a doctor, particularly if you have severe symptoms.
The good news? Despite this confusing arena of plant-based medicine, you can’t really go wrong. As mentioned, there are few to no side effects (and those that are reported are typically not severe), and there is no euphoric intoxication with CBD the way there is with THC.
While it may take some trial and error to get to know how your body’s endocannabinoid system works, once you get the dose right, you’ll be living a less painful, less stressful, less inflamed, healthier life.