CBD Dosing - Strategy and Specifics
When buying CBD for the first time, there’s a lot to consider. Most of us are all new to CBD, so we have to understand some of the bigger picture items like quality, value, and what all the numbers mean before we should even think about a specific product or what brand to buy.
Even if you’re well studied on all the conceptual stuff around CBD, you’re still not there yet. The final frontier is dosing. Once explored, you will actually be using the product successfully.
The purpose of this article is to thoroughly explain dosing of CBD. First, as an overall strategy, then the specific steps. I’m including a few dosing tables as a reference, because most manufacturers are not providing them.
I probably should have written this article before. Like 16 months ago when everyone started selling CBD. I’m not the smartest guy on the planet.
By the end of this article, you’ll be a CBD dosing wizard.
What You Should NOT Do When Using CBD
Before we talk about how to dose CBD properly, we have to pump the brakes a bit. Many people use CBD incorrectly. This is no fault of their own! There’s no clear cut information and like 99% of people buying it have no Big Mouth professional telling them proper dosing strategies.
Through my experience working with individuals on their CBD journey, I’ve identified three things that many people do wrong.
Don’t focus on any one product
Our tendency is to jump right in, looking down on the counter to the bottle in front of you. It is far more important that you look up and see the big picture before you do anything.
We must understand CBD dosing strategy (covered in this article!) before you use a single dose. If you’re already on CBD, then take a step back, learn the strategy, then apply that to the bottle in front of you.
CB-Don’t rush in or focus on how many drops of a specific bottle you need. CB-Do understand the concepts put forward in this and our other articles first.
Don’t repeat the same, ineffective dose
A lot of the time, medications and supplements will build up in our systems with repeated use. If we take the same dose, after 3-5 days typically, we’ll start to notice the effects of the medicine.
This is kinda-sorta-but-not-really true with CBD.
One of the most important nuggets about CBD is this: if you take a dose and it does nothing, you probably just need a higher dose.
No ineffective dose should be repeated. You will not get that accumulation effect. If a dose doesn’t work, try a bit more.
Don’t buy another CBD product if dosing strategy isn’t clear.
“I tried a 500mg, that didn’t work so I tried a different brand 500mg. That didn’t work so I tried a 750mg.” And on and on and on.
Not knowing the CBD dosing strategy first is an expensive mistake to make. Swinging from vine to vine trying to find a product that magically works without understanding what it is you are doing and how to take it is NOT advised.
I would rather everyone stick with a single product and experiment with it, even if it is not a Vitality Approved option. Even if you find your product isn’t the best quality or wasn’t a good value, you’ve already committed and probably can’t return it, so at least use it to figure out what dose you respond to.
CRUCIAL: If you are in the camp of people who think 750mg CBD is stronger than 500mg CBD, please read my article CBD By The Numbers before you continue on here!
Don’t get carried away.
I know we’re all excited because marijuana’s been taboo and it’s fun, exciting, AND medically beneficial.
But, save the fun and carelessness for weed. CBD is being used for a specific purpose, so we need to respect it. We need to know the good, the bad, and the ugly. We need to understand the numbers. When dosing, we need to get specific and be consistent.
In other words, save the handful of edibles or “squirt and see” method for weed.
Dr. Neal Smoller is your personal authority on all things CBD - give him a call to learn more!!
Your First CBD Dose Is The Hardest
Like Sheryl Crow said, the first cut is the deepest. The first time you use CBD is going to be the most difficult dose because we don’t know how you’ll respond.
Will it work? Will you get a side effect?
Remember, with any medicine or supplement, you have 2 effects. The intended effect in CBD is calming or muscle relaxation. The side effects can be drowsiness, confusion, muscle weakness, headache, and more. None of these are good if you are using a forklift or a deli slicer, and it’s probably a good sign that you took too much CBD if you are using either one of those and you’re a lawyer or something.
We need balance. We need to find the lowest dose that is most effective for us that also doesn’t give us unwanted side effects.
To find this balance, your CBD dosing strategy is start low, go slow, but go.
The Correct Way To Dose CBD
I’ve got all sorts of analogies that I can use here. Maybe I’ll post a video on them someday. To keep it brief, here’s an overview of how to properly dose and use CBD.
- Start on a low dose, especially during the day. What that number is doesn’t matter, just know it should be low.
- Wait 15-60 minutes (up to 90 if taking oral pills or edibles). Don’t be impatient or a diva.
- Measure how you feel. Did it help? Did it hit you a little too hard?
From here, there are 3 scenarios
- If it helped, giving you everything you want and more, then you have found your dose. Very easily. You are a cheap date, just like myself. You do not have to change your CBD dose.
- If it hit you too hard, then you’re going to want to back the dose down, usually by about half. How do you know if it was too much? You’ll zonk out on the couch or have any other side effect in a pronounced manner, and it won’t be something you enjoy.
- If it did nothing, fear not. This is the most common outcome from someone’s first dose, especially when being conservative in dosing. Your next step is to wait 4 hours for the current dose to wash out of your system, and try again. This time, though, at a higher dose than before.
If a dose of CBD isn’t giving you the benefit you desire, try more. I usually tell people to double their dose until they get the effect they’re looking for. If you start at 5mg, then next time try 10mg. If you are at 10mg and nothing, try 20mg.
The big takeaway: CBD dosing is trial and error until you find YOUR dose for YOUR health concern.
What To Expect From CBD
I think it’s important that we all realign our expectations around CBD. Much like every fad that cycles through our culture, CBD seems like a miracle product that literally everyone will benefit from just by being in the same room as the newest extraction.
This is not the case, of course. Most people will find success, but not as easily as the popular media and anecdotes would make you believe.
Keep in mind, I find there are 3 possible outcomes with CBD:
- You find a dose that works and you’re happy as a clam. Though I’ve never met an unhappy clam.
- You don’t find a dose that works. You’re taking a high dose (100mg or more!) of a quality, full spectrum CBD multiple droppers and nothing. Sorry, CBD isn’t for you.
- You find a dose, but it’s a high dose, which means it’s a big cost. CBD is expensive, and spending that kind of money isn’t for you!
CBD Dosing Specifics
Let’s dive into some concrete numbers to get an understanding of all of this.
First, you should know that the CBD dosing range is from 1mg all the way up to over 3000mg.
Don’t take 3000mg, please. That’s 4 bottles of a 750mg CBD, and while I’d appreciate the income, that would probably take down a wooly mammoth. I share that number to display how wide the range is.
You could be anywhere on that scale. You could be a "cheap date" like myself, who responds to 5mg. You could be someone who needs 100mg.
There are a bunch of articles out there telling you how many drops of specific products to take for which ailment, but my advice is to ignore them and stick with the start low, go slow, but go methodology.
Remember, I’m a pharmacist, but not YOUR pharmacist. Get dosing specifics from YOUR licensed healthcare provider.
Here are our recommendations for approximate CBD starting doses:
Adult (age 12 and up)
- Daytime use anywhere between 5 and 12.5mg
- Bedtime use anywhere between 12.5 and 20mg
Specific to the child’s age and size, but in general start at ¼ to ½ an adult’s dose, which is 1-5mg.
Recommended dosing ranges are 1 to 6mg per 10 lbs of body weight. Here’s a list of starting doses based on weight:
- Less than or equal to 10 lbs - 1mg
- 15 lbs - 1.5mg
- 20 lbs - 2mg
- 30 lbs - 3mg
- 40 lbs - 4mg
- 100 lbs - 10mg, and that’s not a dog it’s a person.
In general, if you need to increase your dose, you’ll probably be safe just doubling your current dose as we’ve stated before.
Remember, your starting dose isn’t your end dose. You may start at 12.5mg for sleep, but end up needing 50mg or more.
How CBD Is Best Taken
We’ve talked about our favorite CBD dosing forms, and we’re 100% all in on liquid extracts used under the tongue (sublingual).
Why? It’s easiest and cheapest. If your dose is 15mg but you only have 10mg capsules, what do you do? Plus, the oral absorption of CBD is very poor - as low as 6%! That’s as bad as some common magnesium supplements that we highlighted in our guide, Making Magnesium Supplements Easy.
As we said at the beginning, CBD needs precision and consistency to work best. Exact doses, not random “close enough” amounts. Consistency is also crucial on how you actually ingest liquid CBD.
Liquid CBD should be held under the tongue for a consistent amount of time. I’ll tell people 2-3 minutes, just to be sure you’re maxing absorption.
IMPORTANT: Set a timer. Your phone’s come equipped with this advanced technology. Why? We’re really good about waiting the two minutes when we start. After like 5 doses we start eyeballing it. “Eh that’s close enough.” No go! That only works for horseshoes and bombs.
CBD Dosing Strategy In A Nutshell
- Use sublingual oils for best value and consistent absorption
- Adults should start at 5-12.5mg during the day or 12.5-25mg for bedtime
- Hold under your tongue for 2-3 minutes
- Wait 15-90 minutes for full effect
- Did that work? Great!
- Didn’t work? Up your dose next time - about 4 hours from your last dose.
CBD Concentration Tables
Here are a few tables to help you understand how the volume of liquid for different strength CBDs relate to mg of actual CBD:
To find the strength of the CBD product you have, divide the TOTAL CBD (usually on the front) by the number of milliliters (usually also on the front, but smaller and near the bottom of the label)
Note that when I say drops, I only do so for completeness. A drop is not specific. It’s best to use precise measuring tools or calibrated droppers. See my video on the subject for more info.
Here are some less common strengths we’ve seen:
Woodstock Vitamins Is Your CBD Resource
There’s so much info out there about CBD. EVERYONE is writing something, and almost everything I’ve seen has been pretty low quality stuff.
If you haven’t been yet, check out our CBD hub here.
I believe CBD is a great tool in our toolbox. CBD has been shown to promote calm, relax muscles, have pain management activity, and even help reduce seizures in certain populations.
We must sort through the mountains of misinformation, though. Stay hyper-focused on what matters most: getting a high-quality product at a good value, then using trial and error to find the right dose for you, doing so in a precise and consistent manner.
Just trying to keep it real,
Neal Smoller, PharmD
Owner, Pharmacist, Big Mouth