Cannabidiol, or CBD, comes in many different forms: tincture, tablets, gummies, creams, lotions, and infused pastries. There is even CBD-infused soda pop these days! The evidence is clear that CBD works for pain, insomnia, fatigue, eye health, and so much more. But how do you know how much CBD to take for your unique health situation? In this article, we unpack everything you need to know about CBD dosing so that you can make an informed decision and get results.
CBD Can Help with Dozens of Symptoms
CBD has been proven to help with dozens of conditions, everything from acne to fibromyalgia. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), some of the most common of these include: (1)
-Pain in general
-Symptoms of diabetes
-Cognitive degeneration disorders, especially Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease
-Many kinds of autoimmune disease, such as M.S., rheumatoid arthritis, and Crohn’s
-Digestive disorders and symptoms, such as IBS and nausea in general
The WHO also determined that CBD helps lower inflammation in general. According to an international study conducted in 2017 sponsored in part by the University of California, San Francisco, “chronic inflammation is an essential component of chronic diseases.”(2)
CBD Rule of Thumb: Use Organic, Mold and Pesticide Free Full Spectrum Plant Extract
The very first “rule of thumb” when considering CBD is to make sure your cannabis source is free of pollutants, pesticides, molds, and other toxins. This may seem like a “no-brainer” but actually these kinds of harmful substances are frequently found in many low-grade hemp and medical marijuana products. A recent report put out by Steep Hill Labs in California discovered gram-negative Klebsiella, Enterobacter, Salmonella and Bacillus bacilli and Aspergillus and Penicillium fungi in a large number of samples coming from California medical cannabis crops.(3)
Since legal commercial hemp production has been around for a lot longer, there are currently more regulations in place for it. However, most of these regulations are geared towards industrial hemp and not towards hemp for human consumption. This is why it is extra important to stick with a hemp-based CBD company that is ethical, sustainable, and responsible to its customers and the planet.
It is also imperative that you make sure your CBD comes from “full spectrum” plant. One of the main reasons why CBD is so beneficial to your body is because of all the “good stuff” in the plant itself. You may find this hard to believe, but that fact is that a single cannabis leaf (hemp or marijuana) may contain up to 500 diverse phytonutrients! A product that clearly states that it is “full spectrum” on the label (not broad spectrum nor CBD isolate) is going to contain anti-inflammatory terpenes, detoxifying antioxidants, brain and heart healing fatty acids, and immune-boosting flavonoids, in addition to CBD and THC (necessary trace amounts of THC are found in hemp too). Full spectrum means more plant healing power for you!
No One Universal Dosage When It Comes to CBD
So now that we know the kind of hemp or medical marijuana we are looking for, is there a “universal dose” for CBD that we can all rely on?
Unfortunately, the answer is no. In fact, a 2017 comprehensive review published in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research looked at studies done on both animals and humans. They found that CBD works in very diverse ways depending on who is taking it. In human studies, effective CBD doses ranged from between 20 to 1,500 mg per day!
According to the researchers, some of the factors that determined effectiveness (as well as strength and staying power) included the status of the person’s liver function, neurochemical function, and metabolic function as well as any medications or supplements the person was taking at the time.(4) Other factors that can have an effect on CBD effectiveness include weight, digestive health, and specific pre-existing conditions or diseases.
Even though there isn’t a universal CBD dose that will work for everyone, there is a rubric that many people rely upon when determining how much CBD they will need for their unique situation.
Assessing Your M.E.D.
The “Minimum Effective Dose,” or M.E.D., is the smallest amount of CBD a person can ingest that will have the intended result of calming symptoms such as nausea, pain, cognitive/mood disorders, and others.
Your M.E.D. is actually fairly easy to assess. An easy yet effective way to determine it is:
#1 Evaluate your particular symptom on a scale of 1-10 before taking any CBD product.
#2 Start out with a small amount of CBD. For moderate symptoms, try with 5-10 mg. For severe symptoms, such as severe pain, you may want to try 25-30 mg for your first time.
#2 Monitor the level of your symptom every fifteen minutes or so to determine if the symptom has lessened with the amount you ingested. A good way to track your observations is to write them down in a journal or notepad.
#3 After an hour or so, determine if your symptom severity has gone down by at least two points on your 1-10 scale. That is how you will know that your gummy, tincture, or capsule is doing its job at that particular dosage. You have just discovered your M.E.D.
If you are still experiencing symptoms that are too severe for your comfort, then you may have to up your dose. Take a small amount more (5-10 mg) and repeat the same procedure. Be sure to recheck your M.E.D. periodically (every few months or so) as your body changes with age, disease development or healing, and in response to other factors.
Using your M.E.D. as your “go to” for regular CBD administration is a good overall strategy because it is easy to do, it allows the substances in your CBD gummy, capsule, or lotion to work in the gentlest way possible, and it also helps you to save money too!
CBD: How You Take It Affects How Your Body Uses It
The specific product that you buy will determine how CBD will eventually go into your bloodstream. The three main ways that most people consume CBD is through edibles, as drops (i.e. a tincture), and as a topical. Here is the rundown on all three methods:
Edibles (gummies, cookies, brownies, butter):
Oral administration through edibles (i.e. food) is perhaps the most common way people ingest CBD. Edibles include gummies, cookies, brownies, butters, and all other foods that are infused with CBD. Once you eat these foods, the CBD in them must pass through all the regular processes that the rest of the food particles have to go through. It first has to go through digestion, then through the liver, and finally the CBD will be administered into your bloodstream a little at a time.
It may take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour and half for the effects of ingested CBD to kick in. On the other hand, the effects will last much longer than with other methods of ingestion. How much food you have in your stomach before taking CBD will also determine how long the CBD will last and the strength of the effect.
When it comes to gummies and other edibles, quality is paramount. Lesser quality edibles may have significantly less CBD, as little as 7 mg per serving. Higher quality CBD gummies, cookies and other edibles can have up to 30 mg per serving. Be sure to look at the label and know how much CBD is in each serving before you purchase. Also don’t be swayed by fancy (and confusing) marketing when it comes to CBD from hemp.
What is the difference between hemp gummies vs. cbd gummies? In the majority of cases, there is none. It is just that some promotional avenues, especially online, do not allow the word “CBD” to be used, so hemp-based CBD companies on these platforms will opt to use the phrase “hemp gummies” instead.
To recap, gummies and other edibles are great for when you need long-lasting, sustained results. Many people use edibles for pain, for sleeping through the night, and if they are working long hours and may not have the time to monitor results and take additional doses.
There are tons of studies that have outlined the effectiveness of cbd gummies for pain. Studies from over 30 years ago (and through today) have also found that CBD administered orally can help significantly with sleep disorders as well. A 2017 review of CBD and sleep found that CBD can help with not with insomnia, but with sleep apnea, REM sleep behavior disorder and, surprisingly, with excessive daytime sleepiness too.(5)
Higher amounts of CBD taken orally have also been shown to reduce cortisol levels. This is great for rebalancing hormones, for unplugging from the stress cycle, and for lowering inflammation.(6) Keep in mind, however, that for some people, high doses of CBD can have a sedative effect.
Sublingual use of CBD includes using a CBD tincture (usually oil-based) or sucking on a lollipop or piece of hard candy that has been infused with CBD. When administered orally under the tongue in this way, the CBD enters the bloodstream through specific tissues that are located under the tongue. These tissues are actually connected to major arteries.
Sublingual CBD bypasses the digestive process. It is a great method of CBD administration if you need fast relief and are okay with taking multiple doses throughout the day. Unlike ingesting an edible, the effects will be rapid, but they may not last as long. That being said, a 2010 study found that “peak blood levels” of CBD were achieved in about 10 to 15 minutes when administering sublingually through drops under the tongue.(7)
Studies have found that sublingual CBD can help with a variety of conditions, including pain, mood disorders, and digestive disorders. A 2016 comprehensive review found that 5 mg twice a day of sublingual CBD (in the form of oil-based drops) helped significantly with symptoms associated with Inflammatory Bowel Disease.(8)
Topical Creams, Lotions, and Balms:
Yes, you absolutely can “eat” through your skin, and that includes CBD as well! When you apply CBD topically, it will enter your bloodstream through the skin. CBD administered this way has been shown to be very effective not just for skin-related conditions. A 2015 animal study found that topical CBD lowered joint swelling and pain caused by arthritis. The dosage was 6.2 to 62 milligrams per day (for mice).(9)
It Is Up To You to Find the Right CBD Dose for Your Unique Body
As we emphasized above, finding the right CBD dosage for your particular situation is not an exact science. Again, that is because everybody is unique and so is every type of CBD product. No matter how you decide to take your CBD – hemp or medical marijuana, edible or drops– our suggestion is to always choose the highest quality, full spectrum, toxin-free product for the most medical marijuana health benefits and the most benefits from your hemp CBD product as well.
Take your time and start slow. And don’t forget to monitor your symptoms as you go so you can feel the subtle effect CBD is having on you and your symptoms. Doing this, you can lock in to your M.E.D. and be worry-free with CBD!
WHO CANNABIDIOL (CBD) Pre-Review Report
Inflammation: The Common Pathway of Stress-Related Diseases
A microbiome assessment of medical marijuana
An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies
Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Sleep: a Review of the Literature
Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series
SUBLINGUAL MUCOSA AS A ROUTE FOR SYSTEMIC DRUG DELIVERY
Current Status and Prospects for Cannabidiol Preparations as New Therapeutic Agents
Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis