Finding the Right CBD Dose


With all of the emerging research, clinical studies, and Epidiolex's FDA approval, there's little question as to whether or not cannabidiol, CBD, does, in fact, have therapeutic value. However, due to marijuana prohibition, federal laws, and a lack of formal education regarding the medical application of CBD, accurate dosing is still considered relatively complex and may be part of the reason physicians and consumers alike hesitate to try the elixir.

The ambiguity and lack of trustworthy information leave consumers with many questions. How much CBD should I take? What's a high dose? What's a starting dose? How much is too much? Do edibles provide a different effect from vaping? How much CBD should I vape?

No One-Size-Fits-All Dose

cbd tincture with leaf suggesting appropriate cbd dose

Maybe one of the hardest things to understand about cannabis or hemp-derived cannabinoid dietary supplements, such as CBD, is that there is no "one-size-fits-all" dose that’s right for every person. Your endocannabinoid system is unique to you, like a fingerprint. Whether discussing THC or CBD or any of the other minor compounds found in the cannabis sativa plant, how an individual responds to cannabinoids is largely dependent on his or her biochemistry and genetics. A doctor cannot just prescribe 5mg of CBD twice daily, because that may or may not be right for that particular consumer.

Finding the appropriate CBD dose is a process which is a unique and personal experience to the individual consumer. However, there are a few guidelines to follow which can make the process easier.

Start Low, Go Slow – While this phrase was coined for teaching recreational consumers how to handle THC-infused edibles safely, the same mantra can be applied to CBD supplementation as well. Consumers with little to no experience with cannabis should always start a low dose and work their way up to a higher dose slowly. Increase the dose by 5mg, every 2-3 days, until desired results are achieved.

Less is More – Although high doses of CBD are generally well-tolerated by consumers, CBD products aren't the cheapest natural supplements on the market. Slowly increasing to an appropriate amount without going overboard is not only logical, but it's also fiscally responsible. Additionally, larger doses may come with a higher risk for adverse side effects like drowsiness and stomach upset.

What Epidiolex Suggests

hemp plants in a field

Naturally, gaining FDA approval designates GW Pharmaceuticals as the pharma expert in pure cannabidiol. The makers of the drug suggest the following dosing scale for consumers taking Epidiolex for the specified conditions:

To Start: Consumers should take 2.5mg of CBD per kilogram of body weight, twice daily.

Maintenance: If further symptom relief is necessary after one week, double the dose to a maintained dose of 5mg of CBD per kilogram of body weight, twice daily.

Maximum: If symptoms are persistent, a maximum daily dose of 10mg of CBD per kilogram of body weight should be administered twice daily.

In other words, the average 150 pound (68 kg), American adult would start with a dose of 170mg twice daily for the first week, increase to 340mg twice daily the second week, with an absolute maximum recommended dose of 680mg twice a day. While this may be considered a significant treatment of CBD, the conditions it is recommended for are quite severe. Most consumers will most likely find the results they are looking for with much smaller doses.

Consumption Method Matters

marijuana edible cookies that have a different cbd dose recommendation

How a consumer chooses to use CBD products can make a big difference, too. Bioavailability, or how much CBD makes it into the body, is determined by how the product is ingested. As with all drugs, vitamins, and supplements, only a fraction of the active ingredients are absorbed by the body. In other words, with increased bioavailability, the consumer will likely require a smaller dose.

Edibles – Studies showed people who eat CBD-infused foods only receive between 4-20 percent of the total dose. The rest is lost through digestion.

Smoking – Although smoking, in general, is considered unhealthy, the lungs increase bioavailability to around 30 percent.

Tinctures/Oils – Sublingual drops are much more efficient, allowing as much as 40-50 percent of the cannabinoids to pass into the bloodstream.

Vaping – New studies show vaping CBD oils may be the best way to inhale cannabinoids. Increasing the bioavailability to 50-80 percent, vaping is said to eliminate the hazards of smoking, while allowing the lungs to perform critical absorption work.

Honey, We Shrunk the Cannabinoids

long line of hemp plants growing outside

One significant advancement in cannabis technology may resolve bioavailability issues in cannabinoid consumption. Several companies, like CBDLiving, are using ultrasonic technology to nano-size cannabinoids. In doing so, the molecules of CBD are broken into tiny particles which allow them to pass into the bloodstream with ease. With nanotechnology, consumers can achieve nearly 100% bioavailability.

As technology and science continue to advance what we know about cannabinoids like CBD, we will likely have updated recommendations on dosing in the future. However, in the meantime, as long as consumers take a responsible approach to experiment with cannabinoids, CBD or THC, finding the appropriate dose doesn't have to feel like rocket science. Start low, increasing dosing slowly, and don't go overboard.