These days CBD can be found nearly anywhere in almost anything. There are CBD lattes at the local café, an ever-growing array of beauty products, and CBD is even stacked on the shelves of pharmacy chains located across the U.S. It's not hard to find CBD oil and CBD-infused products, but finding the most effective CBD dosage, on the other hand, well, that's an entirely different story.
CBD is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid from the cannabis plant that offers an extensive number of potential therapeutic benefits, including anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-anxiety, and seizure-suppressant properties. Although its popularity had already started simmering, the CBD market shifted into a higher gear once hemp production was legalized with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. This measure paved the way for a massive influx of hemp-derived CBD oil and CBD-infused products on the consumer market, but most users are still unaware of how to find the most effective CBD dosage.
Although more research is needed in order to define the most effective CBD dosage for specific ailments and conditions, evidence shows that CBD holds promise in treating a wide range of conditions and ailments, including epilepsy, chronic pain, inflammation, opioid addiction, and anxiety, among others.
Knowing the way that CBD products work and are marketed can improve one's ability to accurately administer CBD for specific ailments or conditions.
What to look for in CBD products
While sifting through the vast ocean of CBD oils and infusions now available online and in health and wellness sections across the US, it's important to know what to look for in order to find the best possible products.
What type of CBD product should you consider?
There are a lot of different CBD products on the market, and each requires different considerations when it comes to the optimal CBD dosage. This diverse array of CBD product types includes:
- CBD oil
- Topicals, such as creams and lotions
- Sublinguals, such as oral sprays and droppers
- Vape pens
- High-CBD flower
Certificate of analysis from third-party testing lab
First and foremost, it's highly important to find CBD oil or CBD-infused products from a reputable source, preferably one that includes a certificate of analysis from a third-party testing lab. By having third-party product verification, the amount of CBD inside the product, along with other potential ingredients, can be confirmed without solely relying on the manufacturer's word.
Since the legalization of hemp-derived products via the 2018 Farm Bill, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has continued to grapple with how to regulate CBD oil and CBD-infused products. This lack of oversight has led to products that either contain less CBD than advertised or no CBD at all.
For instance, in a November 2017 study, researchers tested 84 CBD products from 31 companies. Only 30.95% of the samples were accurately labeled with the correct amount of CBD.
Read the product label
Aside from proof of third-party testing, there's additional information that should be listed on the label of the CBD products. By knowing what to look for on CBD product labels, consumers have a better chance of finding high-quality items. The total amount of CBD and amount per serving size should always be clearly showcased on the label. Look for the following details on CBD product labels to ensure that it comes from a reputable source:
- Amount of active CBD per serving
- Supplement Fact Panel, including other ingredients
- Net weight
- Manufacturer/Distributor name
- Suggested Use
- Full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or isolate
- Batch/date code
- Expiration date
Don't fall prey to enticing buzzwords such as “organic' or “all-natural,” as they can be misleading and don't have a scientific basis. There are also some product labels that claim to contain hemp or hempseed oil, but this is not the same as hemp-derived CBD oil, and frequently contains little to no cannabinoids at all.
Know the CBD-to-THC ratio
It's also important to know whether the CBD product contains any THC and, if so, what the exact CBD-to-THC ratio is. The way this ratio works is relatively simple. For instance, a CBD oil that claims to offer a 3:1 CBD-to-THC ratio will have around three times more CBD than THC. The higher the amount of CBD, the more the consumer is protected from the undesirable effects of THC, such as anxiety and paranoia.
The CBD-to-THC ratio can vary from product to product, but there are certain ratios that seem to be commonplace among most manufacturers, usually ranging anywhere between 1:1 and 18:1. A product with an 18:1 CBD-to-THC ratio provides the best chance for avoiding any semblance of the high that THC produces. A product with a 1:1 CBD-to-THC ratio is more balanced, better suited for someone who is prepared for the intoxicating effects of THC, even if they are mild. Something in the mid-range, such as a 2:1 or 3:1 CBD-to-THC ratio, will be higher in CBD, but will still slightly maintain the sensory and psychoactive effects of THC. Ultimately, however, a person's individual level of tolerance to THC's effects will affect their level of intoxication.
Finding the most effective CBD dosage will likely require a bit of experimentation, but knowing how different CBD-to-THC ratios work can help narrow down the search. Start with a CBD product that has high levels of CBD and, if necessary, slowly transition to something that contains more THC. There is also a wide range of hemp-derived CBD on the market, which contains less than 0.3% to no THC.
As for why you might want to combine CBD with THC in the first place, research suggests that the two cannabinoids work in tandem to create a more beneficial and therapeutic experience, often referred to as the entourage effect.
One 2006 literature review published in Medical Hypothesis suggests that CBD can improve the therapeutic benefits and reduce the adverse effects of THC. Other research appears to support the view that CBD and THC have a positive synergistic effect when combined. For instance a 2012 study found that cannabis consumers with a higher intake of CBD had better recall memory. There is also evidence suggesting that CBD can reduce anxiety and paranoia, two side effects commonly associated with THC.
Consider the ailment or condition
The optimal CBD dosage will not only depend on the individual, but also their ailment or condition. Depending on the therapeutic needs, different CBD products may prove more beneficial than others.
For instance, to combat arthritis or chronic pain, a CBD-infused topical applied directly at the site of pain may be more effective than a sublingual oil or tincture. In a 2016 study conducted on lab rats, researchers found that CBD had limited oral bioavailability, leading them to surmise that topical CBD may be more effective when it comes to treating inflammation or pain in a specific area, such as arthritis or muscular pain.
How much CBD oil should I take?
While further research and educational tools are required to pinpoint the optimal CBD dosage for each individual, existing studies can help narrow down the best CBD dosages for certain ailments and medical conditions. For instance, Mayo Clinic, the U.S.-based nonprofit academic medical center, released a review that can be used as a starting point for THC and CBD dosage measurements for various ailments, combining scientific research, publications, and traditional and expert opinions. Based on information in the review, it might be helpful to start with a dose of 2.5 - 10mg of CBD to reduce anxiety or 160mg for inflammation.
But finding the ideal CBD dosage is dependent on several factors, including the individual's weight, diet, metabolism, other medications, genetics, and medical condition, as well as the formulation and quality of the CBD. Therefore, it's not yet possible to develop universal CBD dosage guidelines that work effectively for everyone, but well-educated estimates can still be made using the limited information currently available. Of course, novice users should start with a lower dose and work their way up until the optimal CBD dosage is found.
When administering CBD oil, the corresponding dropper in the bottle can be used to obtain an accurate measurement. The right amount will be subject to the desired CBD dosage and product serving size. For example, one 50-milliliter bottle contains 2,000 milligrams of CBD. Considering a standard dropper typically holds one milliliter of liquid, just divide the milligrams of CBD by the amount of liquid in the bottle. In this case, one full dropper should contain 40 milligrams.
So, to start with a CBD dosage of 20 milligrams, simply fill half of the dropper and administer the oil underneath the tongue. Holding under the tongue is a critical step in tincture consumption because CBD is very poorly absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract (i.e., very little of what is swallowed ends up in the bloodstream). Efforts are underway to develop formulas that increase the oral bioavailability of CBD; these may include consuming it alongside piperine, a molecule found in black pepper, which is commonly used to boost the absorption of turmeric.
Lastly, it's always worth consulting a physician about using CBD to treat a specific medical condition or ailment. While medical professionals might not yet have clinical expertise regarding CBD, they may still be able to provide guidance on the optimal CBD dosage for each patient.