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CBD Dosage Guide: How Much to Take and When

CBD Dosage Guide: How Much to Take and When

Posted by Dr. Leslie Mudd, PharmD on May 14th 2020

Updated: July 15, 2021

You might be new to products containing cannabidiol (CBD).1 But now you want to know: How much CBD should I take to enhance my well being? Because cannabidiol products are so new, questions about CBD dosage are very common.

In the cannabidiol market, most companies sell over-the-counter CBD products. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved at least one drug made from the active ingredient from hemp, cannabidiol, at a much higher dosage than regular CBD products for its potential therapeutic benefits.2 For the purposes of this article, we will look at over-the-counter CBD oil, CBD capsules, and CBD topicals that you can find on the internet, at the grocery, or at pharmacies and health food stores across America.

Before we get into CBD dosages, let's talk about some information that you need to know to understand the effects of cannabidiol, and how CBD may work in the body.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of the many chemical compounds that is only found in the flowers and leaves of the hemp cannabis plant.3 This unique plant species produces cannabinoids in the resin, which is a sticky substance naturally secreted by the plant in order to have a better chance of pollination.

When no male plants are introduced as the season passes, our female hemp plants become even more dense with cannabinoid-rich resin. Research suggests that the different hemp cannabinoid compounds located in this resin may provide an array of potential therapeutic qualities for the endocannabinoid system, or ECS.

The Entourage Effect and Full Spectrum CBD

There are over 150 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, including CBD and the compound tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. You probably know THC as the psychoactive property in marijuana that gets you "high." The only difference between marijuana plants and hemp plants is the concentration of CBD and THC.

Marijuana is defined as having a high amount of THC and a low amount of CBD. Hemp is the opposite, with a high amount of CBD and a low THC. The Farm Bill of 2018 federally legalized the cultivation of hemp plants containing no more than 0.3 percent THC. The passage of the Farm Bill opened the door for cannabidiol products with the whole range of cannabinoids to enter the marketplace nationwide, products like CBD oil drops, CBD balms, CBD tinctures, CBD capsules, and CBD gummies.

The "entourage effect" is the combined effort of all of the natural hemp compounds on the ECS. Having all of the cannabinoids together is what makes full spectrum CBD work better on the ECS. Many studies find that this type of CBD product may work better than a THC-free product, such as broad spectrum and CBD isolate. This is because without THC, the entourage effect cannot occur.

Benefits of CBD

According to two surveys published in 2019 by Gallup4 and Consumer Reports5, CBD is now a mainstream product that's being used by millions of Americans for a variety of potentially therapeutic benefits. Both surveys found the same results for the top reasons people are turning to CBD.

As for how many people are using CBD these days, Gallup reported that 14 percent of all Americans are taking CBD oil products as of July 2019.6 When broken down by region, those numbers climb to 21 percent in western states.7 Since July 2019, those numbers have only increased.

Maybe your neighbor recommended that you take cannabidiol to help with your discomfort, or maybe you heard about it on the news. No matter what the reason, once you decide to try cannabidiol, you then have the excruciating task of choosing where to purchase it. With thousands of brands available and hundreds of differences between brands and products, shopping for hemp derived CBD can be very confusing.

There are lots of misleading brands out there selling snake oil disguised as legitimate CBD. But once you do some homework, you can find a CBD brand you can trust.

Woman who can't decide between products.

How to Choose High Quality CBD

Since CBD is mostly unregulated, a lot of CBD products you see are usually of low-quality. These products may contain harmful materials, or may have a lower potency than what you expected. Here are some things to take notice of when shopping for hemp derived CBD products:

Check the Source

The most important thing to research first is to find out where the company grows its hemp, and where they process it.

Hemp is a bio-accumulator. That means that hemp absorbs all of the toxins from the soil it is planted in. When you make an extract from hemp that is contaminated with toxins, pesticides, and herbicides, all that harmful stuff ends up in your product.

Many major CBD companies source their hemp from countries outside the US. This allows the possibility for discrepancies in the quality and safety of the material, as many foreign agencies do not require the documentation to prove the hemp is safe at harvest. Therefore, hemp sourced from America is the safest option when it comes to verifying your product's safety.8

Look for USDA Organic

A few years ago, all hemp farmers in America grew pesticide-free hemp. That’s changed now because the EPA approved pesticides for hemp farmers.9 All of these things matter for your health and safety. Some products may contain heavy metals leached from the soil or solvents used in processing and not properly removed.

Therefore, the best way to make sure that you are getting a safe CBD product that is free of toxins. The easiest way to do this is to look for the USDA certified organic seal, even on secondary products like CBD topicals and roll-ons.

Third Party Lab Tested

You want to make sure that whatever CBD product you are buying has been fully tested by a third party laboratory. Why must it be a third party? Because then you can trust that the results were not edited or tampered with in any way by the manufacturer.

Lab results should include the reports for potency and pesticides. As well as reports on any residual solvents, mycotoxins, heavy metals, and microbial contaminants in the sample. A good CBD brand will make it easy for customers to find their product's lab certificates, or certificates of analysis. The best companies will have a QR code on the product label that you can scan on your phone that show you the report.

Can You Trust a CBD Label?

Is the amount of CBD advertised really in the bottle? To answer this, researchers from UPenn, Johns Hopkins, and others looked at 84 different cannabidiol preparations purchased online and compared their actual concentration of CBD to the stated concentration on the label.

They found that 26 percent contained less cannabidiol than stated10 and 43 percent contained more.11 Additionally THC was detected in 21 percent of the samples in large enough quantities to cause intoxication in a child or a positive drug test.12  That’s why it is so important to only buy CBD from companies that provide you with a certificate of analysis on the CBD product.

The Brand I Trust

Cornbread Hemp is a family-owned CBD company that sources their hemp from Kentucky. They use organic sugarcane ethanol to gently process the hemp cannabis extracts they use as a base for their products. Cornbread Hemp is the first company in the region to attain a USDA certified organic seal on their CBD cannabis oil. That's a big deal!

To create Cornbread Hemp USDA certified organic CBD oil formulas, organic cannabis extract is blended with organic MCT coconut oil. This is a better carrier oil than other choices like olive oil or hempseed oil because MCT oil molecules are smaller, which helps to penetrate skin membranes.

Third party lab reports are available for every product on their website, they even have scannable QR codes on every box to easily access the COA's. Another feature that makes Cornbread Hemp stand out is the CannVerify authentication code on every package. This safeguards consumers from purchasing counterfeit merchandise.

This brand excels in "high quality." They offer USDA organic oils in two strengths, 25 mg of CBD in a full dropper, and extra strength formulas that are 50 mg per serving size. They also carry CBD capsules, creams, and an oil for pets.

Fields of Kentucky hemp

How Much CBD Should You Take?

If you’re having trouble finding a comprehensive CBD dosing guide, don’t be worried. Dosing of over-the-counter CBD products has not been well established. To add to the confusion, the bottle size and CBD content varies from product to product.

To make it even more complex, every body is different. The "correct" CBD dosage is highly subjective and personal because each of us may respond differently to cannabidiol. So finding the right doses of CBD depends on factors including a person’s body weight, metabolism, genetics, etc.13

A good starting point for most people is 25 mg CBD per day. Just keep in mind that it may be necessary to adjust CBD dosages to a higher dose or a lower dose based on body weight. It will also be necessary to adjust the mg of CBD dosage as your body acclimates to the new levels of cannabinoids.

How Long Does CBD Take to Work?

Remember, cannabidiol does not work overnight like magic. You most likely won't feel a huge difference the first time you try it. But be patient with your CBD product. Keep a journal of your dosing and any comfort you find so you can review it after a week or two.

The research suggests that continuous use of CBD is more effective, as opposed to taking a one-time dose of CBD in response to a problem.14 For physical discomfort, the research suggests that it may take weeks of regular CBD doses to feel an improvement.

How Many CBD Doses Can You Take?

Exact dosing guidelines are not available. Researchers conducting human studies have looked at many doses ranging from 20 mg per day to upwards of 1000 mg of CBD per day. The CBD oil dosage recommendation they advise is to start with a lower dosage of CBD and gradually increase at a slow rate.15

Notice that those doses are per day. For best results, it’s good to spread out the dose's total amount along the course of the day. So, if you set your starting dosage of CBD at 20 mg per day, try taking 10 mg twice a day for more efficient absorption.

How Often Can I Take CBD?

Consider starting with a low dose on a regular basis.16 Use the same brand at the same time of day. After a week of consistent CBD use, think about your comfort level. Once established, you will find your ideal CBD “base dose.” If your comfort levels are not controlled at this dose, you may need to increase your serving size or how many times a day you are taking CBD.17

Breakthrough Dosing and CBD

Once you establish the total amount of CBD your body can handle as a consistent “base dose,” you can begin to experiment with breakthrough dosing as needed. For instance, your body might respond well to one serving size of CBD per day most of the time. But on some days, you might need more.

This is called taking a “breakthrough dose” on top of a consistent “base dose.” For some users of cannabidiol, this will be an effective dosing strategy.

Are There Side Effects to CBD?

The World Health Organization says that using CBD is safe.19 You cannot overdose on cannabidiol.20 However, check in with your doctor or pharmacist before beginning a CBD regimen if you're taking prescription medications in order to avoid experiencing any drug interactions or side effects.

You may experience side effects of cannabidiol if you are allergic to hemp, so discontinue use if you have an allergic reaction. Also, if you take too large of an amount, you may become drowsy or you may have an uncomfortable bathroom experience. In these cases, dialing back on the dosage will help significantly.

Will I Fail a Drug Test?

Full spectrum CBD hemp oil contains trace amounts of THC (less than 0.3%), so there is a possibility that you may fail a drug test if you're taking cannabidiol products. Many people think they can use broad spectrum (THC free) products and pass a drug test. However, there is a chance that you will flag positive on a drug test no matter what kind of cannabidiol product you’re taking, whether it be broad spectrum or even pure CBD by itself.

Many tests used in workplace drug screening cannot tell the difference between CBD and THC. So in some cases it doesn't matter what kind of cannabidiol products you use: you may fail a drug test. That's why it's important to check with your company's HR department if you are interested in using CBD and are worried about being tested.

Topical CBD products may be the best choice for people concerned about THC levels. Cannabinoids don't absorb through the skin to the bloodstream as easily as it does through the mucous membrane.

Bottom Line: How Much CBD Do I Take?

Circling back to our original question, “How much CBD do I take?” The answer: the ideal dosage of CBD is unique for each person. But, we can recommend one dose of 25 mg CBD each day as a starting point, and monitoring your response over time. You will likely need to increase or decrease the dosage of CBD as needed to adjust for your specific needs and health and wellness goals.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to cannabidiol wellness. It depends on many factors including your specific body chemistry, the type of CBD you choose, and your chosen delivery method. But with some time and mindfulness, you will find the correct dose to get your desired effect from CBD.

Portrait of Dr Leslie Mudd, board certified oncology pharmacist and Cornbread Hemp resident pharmacist

About the Author

Dr. Leslie Mudd, PharmD

A board certified oncology pharmacist with 25 years experience at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center in Louisville, Kentucky, Dr. Leslie Mudd now serves as the Cornbread Hemp resident pharmacist and medical expert. Read Dr. Mudd's full author bio here.

CBD Oil Dosage FAQ's

What happens if you take too much CBD?

You cannot fatally overdose on CBD oil - in fact, you really can't hurt yourself by taking CBD oil at all. In order to cause physical harm or long term damage to your body with CBD oil, you'd have to ingest more than a few bottles a day for an extended period of time. So don't worry about overdosing, just find your optimal dose by starting low and working your way up.

Can CBD make you high like marijuana?

No. The highest quality CBD oils contain a legal amount of THC at no more than 0.3 percent. However, even though full spectrum CBD oil contains THC, it's not nearly enough to get you high.

In fact, studies show that CBD may help to counteract the psychoactive effects of THC. If you take too much THC, CBD may help bring you down from being intoxicated. So instead of being "high" CBD makes you "middle", comfortable and calm, but not buzzed.  

Does CBD oil have any side effects?

Most people rarely experience any side effects or long term problems from cannabidiol CBD, so long as they are taking the correct dose and follow the instructions.

There are some potential side effects that CBD may cause that can be easily avoided. Taking too much CBD at once may cause drowsiness, appetite changes, or some uncomfortable bathroom related issues. Keeping your starting dose low and slowing building up to learn what your body will tolerate will help you avoid experiencing these side effects of CBD.

Rarely, some seriously negative results can present themselves, especially if you are taking other medications. If you are taking medication or are being treated for any medical condition, sure to talk to your doctor before taking any product that contains CBD. Also, if you think you may have a hemp allergy, it is advisable to discontinue all use of any hemp derived products.

References

1) Peter Grinspoon, M., 2020. Cannabidiol (CBD) — What We Know And What We Don’t - Harvard Health Blog. [online] Harvard Health Blog. Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/cannabidiol-cbd-what-we-know-and-what-we-dont-2018082414476 Accessed July 30, 2020. 2nd paragraph, 1st sentence

2) Commissioner of the. FDA Approves First Drug Comprised of an Active Ingredient Derived from Marijuana to Treat Rare, Severe Forms of Epilepsy. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-first-drug-comprised-active-ingredient-derived-marijuana-treat-rare-severe-forms Accessed July 30, 2020. 1st paragraph, 1st sentence

3) Phys.org. 2018. Favoring Female Flowers In Hemp Horticulture. [online] Available at: https://phys.org/news/2018-12-favoring-female-hemp-horticulture.html Accessed July 29, 2020. 7th paragraph, 1st sentence

4)Brenan M. 14% of Americans Say They Use CBD Products. Gallup.com. https://news.gallup.com/poll/263147/americans-say-cbd-products.aspx. Published August 7, 2019. Accessed July 30, 2020. Refer to ‘why Americans use CBD products’ table

5)Gill LL. CBD Goes Mainstream. Consumer Reports. https://www.consumerreports.org/cbd/cbd-goes-mainstream/. Accessed July 30, 2020. Refer to ‘what do people use CBD for? Pie chart’

6)Brenan M. 14% of Americans Say They Use. CBD Products. Gallup.com. https://news.gallup.com/poll/263147/americans-say-cbd-products.aspx. Published August 7, 2019. Accessed July 30, 2020. Refer to ‘title’

7)Brenan M. 14% of Americans Say They Use CBD Products. Gallup.com. https://news.gallup.com/poll/263147/americans-say-cbd-products.aspx. Published August 7, 2019. Accessed July 30, 2020. Refer to ‘Americans’ use of CBD products’ pie chart’, Region section

8)Blake DK. Best CBD Oil 2020 - Top 10 Products for [Discomfort] Management. American Marijuana. https://americanmarijuana.org/best-cbd-oil/. Published July 30, 2020. Accessed July 30, 2020. Under ‘hemp source’ section, 1st paragraph, 1st and 2nd sentence

9)Jaeger K. EPA Approves Pesticides For Hemp In Time For 2020 Growing Season. Marijuana Moment. https://www.marijuanamoment.net/epa-approves-pesticides-for-hemp-in-time-for-2020-growing-season/. Published December 19, 2019. Accessed July 30, 2020. 1st paragraph, 1st sentence

10)Bonn-Miller MO, Loflin MJE, Thomas BF, Marcu JP, Hyke T, Vandrey R. Labeling Accuracy of Cannabidiol Extracts Sold Online. JAMA. 2017;318(17):1708-1709. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.11909. Under ‘discussion, section, 1st paragraph, 2nd sentence

11)2019 Update on Cannabidiol and Hemp Products. https://www.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/meeting/documents/cannabidiol-hemp-products-update-06112019.pdf. Accessed July 30, 2020. Under ‘truth in labeling section’, ‘tested for CBD’ subsection, 2nd and 3rd bullet points

12)Bonn-Miller MO, Loflin MJE, Thomas BF, Marcu JP, Hyke T, Vandrey R. Labeling Accuracy of Cannabidiol Extracts Sold Online. JAMA. 2017;318(17):1708-1709. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.11909. Under ‘results’ section, 1st paragraph, 6th sentence

13)CBD Oil Review. 2020. CBD Dosages - How Much CBD Oil Should I Take? | CBD Oil Review. [online] Available at: https://cbdoilreview.org/cbd-cannabidiol/cbd-dosage/ Accessed July 30, 2020. Under ‘everyone Is different’ subtitle, 1st paragraph

14)CBD Dosage Guide: How Much Should You Take? | CBD . https://www.cbdoil.org/cbd-dosage-guide/. Accessed July 30, 2020. Under ‘how much CBD should you take?’ section, 3rd and 4th sentence

15)CBD Dosage Guide: How Much Should You Take? | CBD . https://www.cbdoil.org/cbd-dosage-guide/. Accessed July 30, 2020. Under ‘how much CBD should you take?’ section, 3rd and 4th sentence

16)CBD Dosage Guide: How Much Should You Take? | CBD. https://www.cbdoil.org/cbd-dosage-guide/. Accessed July 30, 2020. Under ‘how much CBD should you take?’ section, 3rd and 4th sentence

17)CBD Dosage Guide: How Much Should You Take? | CBD . https://www.cbdoil.org/cbd-dosage-guide/. Accessed July 30, 2020. Under ‘how much CBD should you take?’ section, 4th sentence

18)Best CBD Oils. 2020. Can CBD Cause Diarrhea? - Best CBD Oils. [online] Available at: https://www.bestcbdoils.org/can-cbd-cause-diarrhea/ Accessed July 30, 2020. 1st paragraph, 3rd sentence.

19)CANNABIDIOL (CBD). https://www.who.int/medicines/access/controlled-substances/CannabidiolCriticalReview.pdf. Accessed July 30, 2020. Under ‘summary’ section, 5th paragraph, 1st sentence

20)CBD Dosage - How Much CBD Oil Should I Take? CBD Oil Review. https://cbdoilreview.org/cbd-cannabidiol/cbd-dosage/. Accessed July 30, 2020. Under ‘know you cannot overdose on CBD’ section, 1st paragraph, 1st sentence

21)Drugs That May Interact with CBD Oil: Learn More. CBD Oil Review. https://cbdoilreview.org/cbd-cannabidiol/cbd-p-450-enzyme/. Accessed July 30, 2020. Under ‘cannabidiol in the cytochrome p-450 system’ section, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd sentence

All rights reserved. The statements made regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The therapeutic effects of CBD products have not been confirmed by FDA-approved research. CBD products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or medical condition. All information presented here is not meant as a substitute for or alternative to medical advice or health information from health care practitioners. Please consult your healthcare provider about potential interactions or other possible side effects and complications before using any hemp derived cannabidiol CBD product. No research studies have been performed to determine the safety of CBD for infants. The FDA does not advise using hemp related products when pregnant or breast feeding.

Cornbread Hemp works with suppliers who guarantee an equal to or less than 0.3% THC content. With these trace amounts of THC, it is possible that users may fail a drug test. Cornbread Hemp does not take any responsibility in the instance a customer fails a drug test while using these products. Check state laws before travelling with CBD products. We do not ship to countries outside the US and its territories.

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