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CBD Dosage Guide: How Much to Take and When

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

CBD Dosage Guide: How Much to Take and When

You might be new to products containing cannabidiol, often abbreviated as CBD.1 But now you want to know: How much CBD do I take? Because cannabidiol is so new, this simple question is more common than many think.

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 cannabidiol at a much higher dosage than CBD for wellness doses.2 For our purposes, we will look at over-the-counter products. This means the CBD oils, 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 what amount of CBD dosage you should be taking, I wanted to talk about some information that you need to know to understand how cannabidiol works.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the many chemical compounds that is only found in the flowers and leaves of the hemp cannabis plant.3 Animal studies and human studies support the conclusion that supplementing with this unique natural compound can stimulate the production of certain neurotransmitters, called endocannabinoids, in the body. Then, these neurotransmitters are able to bind to a series of cannabinoid receptor proteins in a recently discovered system called the endocannabinoid system, or ECS.

ECS receptors can be found along the central nervous system and in various organs throughout the body. They are also connected to the immune system and digestive system. Once cannabinoids bind to the receptors, the system works to bring your human body to a state of balance, or homeostasis. This is the general state of health and well being that we should all be striving to achieve. When your body is in balance, it is relieved from the symptoms of inflammation and stress.  

The Entourage Effect

The entourage effect is the combined effort of all of the natural cannabis plant compounds on the ECS. As I mentioned, CBD is just one Cannabis sativa constituent. There are over 120 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, including the compound tetrahydrocannabinol (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 has a high amount of THC and a low amount of CBD. Whereas hemp is the opposite. Some state laws allow the use of marijuana, but the Farm Bill of 2018 federally legalized the cultivation of hemp plants containing no more than 0.3 percent THC. The other 99.7 percent are all CBD compounds.

The passage of the Farm Bill opened the door for cannabidiol products to enter the marketplace nationwide; products like oils, CBD tinctures, CBD edibles, CBD gummies, and CBD infused teas. There is even CBD vape juice and vape pens for the younger crowd.

Full spectrum cannabidiol oil is considered to be the best because it contains all of the compounds present in the hemp plant. This includes a trace amount of THC. Don't worry, you're not going to feel stoned! Think of THC as a support team for CBD. Without a little bit of THC, the entourage effect cannot take place to help your ECS achieve maximum balance.

Benefits of CBD

According to two surveys published in 2019 by Gallup4 and Consumer Reports, the top reasons people take cannabidiol are for aches and pains, mild anxiety, and supporting a healthy sleep cycle.5

How many people turn to cannabidiol as a natural remedy? 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

Maybe your neighbor recommended that you take cannabidiol to help with pain. Or maybe you saw it on TV. Perhaps you noticed CBD at the grocery and wondered if it might help you deal with stress. No matter what the reason, once you decide to try cannabidiol, you need to buy it. But then there are thousands of brands available. The differences between brands and products can be very confusing.

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

How to Choose High Quality CBD

Check the Source

There are many things to be aware of when making a CBD purchase. 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, meaning that it absorbs all of the toxins from the soil it is planted in. This makes it extremely important to know where the hemp is being grown. Many major CBD companies source their hemp from overseas, but this allows for discrepancies in the quality and safety of the material. Therefore, hemp sourced from America is the safest option.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 while standing in the wellness aisle is to look for the USDA certified organic seal.

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 microbials 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 stated 10 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, right in the Heartland of America. 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.  

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 hemp seed oil, because MCT oil molecules are small enough to penetrate skin membranes. Making it the perfect vehicle for carrying cannabinoid compounds to your blood vessels.

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.

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 a little more complex, everybody is different. The "correct" dose of CBD is highly subjective and personal because each of us may respond differently to cannabidiol. This often depends their chosen CBD delivery methods. It also heavily depends on a person’s body weight, metabolism, genetics, and other factors.13

25 mg of CBD per dose is a good starting point for many. But 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 you're taking as your body adjusts to the new levels of cannabinoids.

How Long Does it Take to Work?

Remember, cannabidiol does not work overnight like magic. You won't feel different the first time you try it. Be patient with your CBD product. Keep a journal of your dosing and any symptom relief so you can review it after a week or two.

The research suggests that dosing CBD regularly and consistently is better, as opposed to taking a one-time dose of CBD in response to a problem.14 When you take a CBD dose reactively after the problem starts, it can be difficult to “catch up” and overcome the problem. For aches and pains, for instance, the research suggests that it takes a week of regular CBD doses to start to feel an improvement.

How Many Doses Can You Take?

Exact dosing guidelines are not available. Researchers have looked at many doses ranging from 20 mg CBD per day to upwards of 1000 mg per day. The CBD oil dosage recommendation they advise is to start at lower dosages 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 dose 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 symptoms. Once established, you will find your ideal CBD “base dose.” If your symptoms are not controlled at this dose, you may need to increase your dose or how many times a day you take 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 high doses.

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?

CBD may cause side effects, especially if consumed in a large dose on an empty stomach. Common side effects for cannabidiol include sleepiness, decreased appetite, and stomach ache that could lead to diarrhea.18 If you have a problem with any of these, decrease the amount of CBD that you are taking and monitor for improvement.

The World Health Organization says that using CBD is safe.19 You cannot overdose on cannabidiol.20 However at larger doses, CBD may have the potential to interfere with other medicines that you're taking.21 Cannabidiol can make your medicine more effective, thereby increasing its side effects. 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.

Will I Fail a Drug Test?

Full spectrum CBD hemp oil contains trace amounts of THC, so you may fail a drug test if you're taking cannabidiol. 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 an isolate.

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.

Bottom Line: How Much CBD Do I Take?

Circling back to our original question, “How much CBD do I take?” The answer: you take an individualized dose specific to you. Monitor your response. You will need to increase or decrease the dose as needed to adjust for symptoms or any side effects.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to cannabidiol wellness. It depends on many factors like your specific body chemistry and chosen delivery method. But with some time and mindfulness, you will find a correct dose for you.

CBD Oil Dosage FAQ's

Can you overdose on CBD oil?

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 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 taking too much, just find your optimal dose.

Does CBD oil get you high?

The highest quality CBD oils contain a legal amount of THC at no more than 0.3%, which is what is referred to as the full spectrum. However, even though 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.

Does CBD oil have any side effects?

Most people rarely experience any side effects from CBD oil as long as they take the correct dose and follow the instructions. Rarely, some side effects can present themselves if someone has taken more than they need. These mild side effects include dry mouth, increased appetite, and sleepiness.

All rights reserved. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. All content found on the Cornbreadhemp.com website, including: text, images, audio, or other formats were created for informational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a healthcare professional. Always seek the medical advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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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

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