One of the more confusing aspects of taking CBD is how to use it, specifically how much of a dose to take. The confusion is rooted in the fact that the industry is in its infancy and that CBD can be used for a host of issues. Some issues may need more CBD and others less. In addition, other considerations such as age, size, gender, and more may play a role in how much CBD a person should take.
An internet search can reveal thousands of articles about the many products available that contain CBD and the benefits that they possess, but there is no official guidance on how much a person should take. As CBD is considered a supplement, normally organizations such as the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or, less commonly, some medical organizations such as the World Health Organizations (WHO) or the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) may make some type of recommendation.
The issue is that in the US, the use of CBD is in a bit of a legal limbo. Hemp, the plant from which CBD is derived was only legalized in December of 2018 and the FDA and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has to reconsider the use of CBD. As of now, it is still technically classified as a Schedule I substance, meaning it has no medical use and can’t be prescribed, but a specific CBD prescription drug called Epidiolex is classified as a Schedule V substance, meaning it is safe and can be prescribed. So it may take time to get guidance from them.
Due to the lack of guidance, those who use CBD have to guess at how much to take. Sometimes these recommendations are based on the manufacturer’s recommendations, but other times it could be a store or even a friend that gives the consumer a recommendation on how much CBD to take.
When reading tincture material, many bottles will mention taking one or two droppers full of CBD liquid each day. The problems with this statement are that it generalizes the dosage too much and tincture droppers don’t have a guide on it to tell if the dropper is full. So in addition to possibly not using the correct amount of CBD for the issue that a person might have, the measurement of the recommended dosage from the bottle can’t even be measured accurately.
Dosage of CBD needs to (or any medication or supplement) take into account such considerations as:
- The concentration of the CBD in the product
- The patient’s body weight
- The condition that the patient has
- The severity of that condition
- The overall health of the patient
- The patient’s gender (in some cases)
- Any other medications that the patient may be taking
Understanding the Mechanics of How CBD Acts in the Human Body
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of 113 known chemical compounds that’s produced in both cannabis and the human body. For all of recorded history, people have used cannabis, specifically hemp, for such things as medicine, food, building supplies, rope, clothing, and much more. Hemp is the most versatile crop in the world and has over 50,000 uses,
CBD works with the body’s natural neurotransmitters and neuroreceptors (known as CB1 and CB 2 – or cannabinoid receptor type 1 and cannabinoid receptor type 2) found in the brain and in both the peripheral and central nervous systems. CB1and CB2 along with certain enzymes are collectively known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The ECS is responsible for many physiological and cognitive processes in the body. Among these processes are:
- Appetite modulation
- Effects of exercise on the body
- Mood modulation
- Post-natal development
- Pre-natal development
CBD works with both the CB1 and CB2 receptors as neuromodulators. Neuromodulators are neurotransmitters that spread out through neural tissue to regulate the receptors of neurons.
A list of neurotransmitters affected by the CB1 and CB2 receptors and CBD include:
- CART (cocaine and amphetamine regulated transcript)
- Gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA)
- Substance P
These neuromodulators control mental and physical processes such as learning, appetite, and pain sensation.
The CB1 receptor is the primary receptor in the ECS can affect brain and motor function as well as the lungs, kidneys, liver, thyroid, the digestive tract, the adrenal glands, fat cells, and muscle cells.
The CB2 receptors are less extensive than the CB1 receptors but still, play an important role in the ECS and in overall health. CB2 receptors are found in the brain, the digestive system, the nervous system, and the immune system.
Most cannabinoids bind or attach to these one or both of these receptors to allow them to distribute the cannabinoid throughout the body. But CBD works a bit differently.
The way CBD behaves with the neuroreceptors depends on which receptor it is interacting with. With CB1 receptors, the CBD acts as an antagonist. In this case of, CBD triggers but doesn’t bind to the receptor. This allows CBD to control the flow of neurotransmitters by inhibiting, but not preventing, them from being quickly absorbed. By not allowing the quick and full absorption of the neurotransmitter, CBD allows the neurotransmitter to build to proper levels to allow for homeostasis within the ECS.
Conversely, CBD binds to CB2 receptors and acts as an agonist, allowing neurotransmitters to pass through readily.
CBD works with the ECS and other proteins in the body to help develop equilibrium. It does this by regulating the activity that occurs rather than suppressing it as some medication might do.
Determining Dosage When Administering CBD
The human body doesn’t exist in a bubble. Our physiology is constantly changing. An example of this would be our taste buds. When we are born, our sense of taste is heightened because we have millions of taste buds on our tongue. As time goes on, we shed those taste buds and it makes us less sensitive to certain tastes. For example, as a child, a person may not be able to tolerate a jalapeno pepper, but as an adult, can. Science tells us that we totally shed and replace our taste buds about every 7 years. This is an example of how human physiology is under constant change.
Just like our taste buds our endocannabinoid system and the cannabinoid receptors are constantly changing. This affects the interactions and reaction that our bodies will have when taking CBD. As a result, the amount of CBD that is needed to help with an issue will need to be adjusted. These adjustments could be needed often as cannabinoids work in a number of ways in our bodies. That being said, there is no such thing as a one size fits all universal dosage when it comes to CBD.
So if every person needs different amounts of CBD based on their individual needs and issues, how is a person supposed to figure out how much CBD to take?
The answer is that for most people, it’s going to be a situation where they need to test and see what works. But that doesn’t mean that a person needs to fly blindly into dosing CBD. Among some of the ways a person can determine how much CBD to take include:
- The step-up, step-down method – This method is just like it sounds. Start with a small dose and gradually ramp up the amount that is administered. Eventually, a point will be hit where the amount of CBD taken is causing drowsiness or other minor side effects. When this point is hit, reduce the amount slightly each day until a point is reached where the side effects are minimal and are not interfering with daily activity. Some may question whether this is a safe method or not, and that is a legitimate concern, but it should be remembered that CBD isn’t toxic and the major side effect of taking too much is sleepiness.
- Estimate dosage based on body weight – Body weight is a major consideration with any substance that is taken into the body. The bigger a person is, the more CBD they can tolerate and will likely need. Many suggest that the best way to dose CBD is to administer 1 to 6 milligrams of CBD for every 10 pounds of body weight. The scale of 1 to 6 should be based on pain. So if the pain is nonexistent to mild, then 1 to 2 milligrams, for medium pain, the dose should be 3 to 4 milligrams and for severe pain, the dose should be 5 to 6 milligrams. So a 300-pound man with severe pain may need to take 150 milligrams to 180 milligrams where a 120-pound person with only mild pain may need to take 12 to 24 milligrams.
- Use the Mayo Clinic Recommendations – (These dosages are based on a number of studies that the Mayo Clinic has reviewed.) While the Mayo Clinic isn’t the FDA or a governmental agency in charge of creating recommended dosages, they are a respected non-profit academic medical center that does research in many different aspects of healthcare and medicine. While not extensive, the Mayo Clinic has put out some guidelines for CBD dosage. This is based on the disease that the patient is trying to treat. These dosages include:
- Epilepsy: 200-300mg of CBD (orally) daily.
- Huntington’s disease: 10mg of CBD per kg of body weight daily for six weeks (orally).
- Sleep Disorders: 40mg-160mg of CBD (orally).
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS) symptoms: Cannabis plant extracts containing 2.5 to 120 milligrams of a THC/CBD combination daily for 2-15 weeks.
- Schizophrenia: 40 to 1,280mg oral CBD daily.
- Chronic Pain: 2.5-20mg of CBD (orally).
- Loss of Appetite in Cancer Patients: 2.5mg of THC (orally), with or without 1mg of CBD for six weeks.
- Consult a doctor – While many doctors are still new to the use of CBD in medical treatment, some are very familiar with it, and many more are learning as the CBD phenomenon grows in popularity. A doctor can help a patient navigate their health issues as well as work to tailor CBD dosages to the patient based on their medical history and the medications that they may be taking.
Measuring Dosages of CBD
Another issue that CBD users come across is measuring the dosage. This can be a major problem for many, especially new users who are just told to take a certain number of droppers for their CBD dose.
But there is a solution. In the case of a tincture, it comes with a dropper. The standard dropper included with a tincture hold 1 milliliter of liquid. Knowing this information, you can then use the information on the bottle to determine the approximate dosage.
For example, if a tincture of CBD contains 50 milliliters of liquid and the CBD concentration is 500 milligrams, divide 500 by 50 to get the amount that the dropper will hold, so
So in this example, the dropper holds 10 milligrams of liquid. So a dose of 80 milligrams will require 8 droppers full of liquid to get the full dose.
In the case of vaping CBD, the process starts the same as using a tincture, by determining how much CBD is in a dropper. Once this is determined, that amount can simply be loaded into the tank. While vaping the user should be aware of when the tank needs to be refilled and how many refills are done throughout the day. In most cases, a single tank would contain approximately 33.33 milligrams of CBD.
But once again, these are estimates. The droppers used in tinctures hold 1 milliliter of liquid, but the plunger may not draw that much or the complete amount may not come out when used.
If a person wants exact dosages, then the solution is to take CBD in pill form. CBD pills come in tablets, gelcaps, soft gels, capsules, and even gummies. By taking a pill, a user is assured that they’re taking the full dose of CBD that the pill claims.
It may take a few more years to get the FDA to create a recommended dosage for CBD. They still have to actually get around to reclassifying it before recommendations can be made. But there’s some guidance out there that we’ve presented today. And as time goes on and more research is done, more guidance will be made available.
Until that time, following steps such as the step-up, step-down method, recommendations of the Mayo Clinic, the body weight method, and consulting a physician can all be beneficial in optimizing the proper CBD dosage for the individual.