How Much CBD to Take: The Ultimate Dosage Guide

Dosing CBD oil and knowing how much to take can be tricky.

A great place to start is with our handy-dandy Product Quiz. Answer a few questions, and viola! We recommend the best Ananda Hemp product for your needs.

As cannabinoids have only recently come onto the scene as possible therapeutic agents, there is not yet an established Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for CBD. Creating an RDA for cannabinoids remains unlikely anytime in the foreseeable future, due to the complexity of doing so.

In this article, we will review the various factors to consider when finding your CBD dosage. At last, everything you need to know to dial-in your daily CBD regimen, all in one place!

 

How Much CBD to Take: Dosage

At this time, there is a disappointing lack of scientific evidence to support official CBD dosage guidelines. Once (and if) there are, we will immediately update this guide. In the meantime, we invite you to study the following information - so as to be the most informed and empowered CBD enthusiast possible. 

Besides innate individual biology influencing how much CBD you should take, several other factors make it difficult to recommend a precise dose across the board, such as:

Genetics

Mutations on the CNR1 gene - a gene responsible for encoding CB1 cannabinoid receptors - can result in a less-than-optimally functioning endocannabinoid system (ECS). Recent studies suggest this genetic abnormality is correlated with physical childhood abuse.

Substance Use and Lifestyle Practices

Alcohol and THC

Drugs such as alcohol and THC both have a direct effect on the ECS as well. Chronic alcohol intake increases levels of endocannabinoids, which in turn reduces the number of CB1 receptors due to overstimulation. Additionally, cannabis dependency downregulates CB1 receptors due to the intense effect that THC has on the ECS.

Research suggests that it takes as long as four weeks after the cessation of chronic, daily cannabis use for the endocannabinoid system to return to normal functioning.

Opiates and Opioids

In mice, chronic exposure to morphine reduced CB1 receptor density. If this also applies to humans, it would mean that individuals with a long-term prescription for opiates/opioids would likely require a higher than normal dose of CBD.

However, brief or acute exposure to opiates actually enhanced the activity of the ECS. This means that for the opiate naïve, short-term usage of these medications may warrant a reduction in your typical CBD dosage.

Amphetamines

Methamphetamine directly alters both endocannabinoid levels and cannabinoid receptors. While we feel it is unlikely there are many methamphetamine advocates reading this blog, we wanted to share this tidbit in the name of harm reduction and spreading good information.

Methamphetamine shares pharmacological similarities with many of the most commonly prescribed ADHD medications (although methamphetamine is significantly more potent and neurotoxic), and as such could enact similar effects on the ECS. In theory, this means that if you are currently prescribed ADHD medication, you may need to take more than your average dose of CBD.

Ibuprofen

Taking NSAIDs like Ibuprofen can dramatically enhance the activity of both endocannabinoids and plant-based cannabinoids like CBD. Researchers believe this is because NSAIDs inhibit an enzyme called FAAH - the main molecule responsible for metabolizing anandamide.

Your current endocannabinoid levels play a big role in CBD dosage. The endogenous cannabinoid anandamide is though to activate CB1 receptors, which could create synergy with CBD.

Various activities alter anandamide levels, such as nicotine use, massage, acupuncture, flow states, exercise, yoga, and meditation.

Physical, Mental, and Environmental Stress

Long-term exposure to glucocorticoids (stress hormones such as cortisol) reduces the number of CB1 receptors in your body (acute stress does just the opposite and boosts endocannabinoid levels), meaning, those with:

  • PTSD
  • Trauma
  • High-stress levels in a perpetual ‘fight-or-flight’ mode

..will likely require above average CBD intake to elicit the same effect as a less stressed individual.

Indirectly, this could mean that stress-reducing meditation and CBD have a 1 + 1 = 3 synergistic effect. In this study, levels of several endocannabinoids were measured immediately before and after meditation. All endocannabinoids increased significantly as a result of this simple sitting practice - pretty cool!

It's interesting to consider what is giving our endocannabinoid systems such a challenging time operating smoothly. Environmental toxins like phthalates, heavy metals, microplastics, and pesticides are likely culprits, as these chemicals have been directly linked to impaired functioning of our natural biological rhythms. 

CBD and environmental pollution

Diet and Nutrition

Diet and nutrition are huge factors in determining how much CBD to take, as essential fatty acids (EFA’s) play a crucial role in maintaining the health of the ECS. Not only are EFA’s vital building blocks for endocannabinoids, but DHA is thought to directly increase the density of both CB1 and CB2 receptors.

It stands to reason that those consuming a balanced diet rich in healthy fats will not require as high of a dose of CBD as someone on a Standard American Diet.

Other nutrients thought to have a significant effect on the ECS include:

  • Vitamin A
  • Folate
  • Potassium
  • Resistant starch
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • EGCG (in green tea)
  • Capsaicin (in chilis)

The health of your microbiome will also play a significant role in helping you find your best CBD dosage, as probiotics in the gut modulate cannabinoid receptor expression.

Hormones

Hormones are hugely important for all facets of human health, and having them in balance can make or break you. We won't goo too in depth about hormones, as that's a whole topic in and of itself - but it is worth noting that hormones have powerful effects on our endocannabinoid system. 

Taking CBD With Prescription Medication

Not only is CBD metabolized by an essential group of liver enzymes called CYP450, but it functions as a competitive inhibitor for these crucial molecules. Grapefruit juice is a more well-known inhibitor of CYP450 - although in the doses commonly used, grapefruit juice is much more potent. 

Inversely, prolonged exposure to CBD in mice induced (increased) CYP450 enzymes in mice - an interesting factoid to consider for long-term CBD users.

One of the groups to take this the most seriously are those currently on a regimen of antineoplastics, alkylating agents, or similar substances. These drugs utilize CYP450 for their metabolism, meaning that undergoing treatment with these substances at a standard dose, while also taking CBD could result in highly toxic levels of these drugs accumulating in the body.

A real-world example of how interactions in this enzyme group play out is in people attempting to break their addiction to nicotine. Nicotine enhances the activity of CYP1A2, a subset of the CYP450 enzyme group, which is responsible for metabolizing caffeine.

Therefore, smokers may need to ingest up to four times as much caffeine as a non-smoker to achieve similar effects. The flip side of this situation is when an individual attempts to stop smoking cigarettes, yet continues taking in the same amount of caffeine. Since liver enzyme activity has returned to normal, smokers in the early stages of quitting can experience extreme discomfort and anxious feelings as a result of unintentionally overdosing on caffeine.

CYP450 enzymes are responsible for a massive percentage of drug metabolism, including:

  • Steroids
  • Antihistamines
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Antiarrhythmics
  • Antibiotics
  • Anesthetics
  • Anti-epileptics
  • Beta-blockers
  • NSAIDs


This list is not comprehensive; to see a complete list of drugs metabolized by CYP450, look here.

If you are currently taking any of these prescription medications, it’s seriously important that you pay close attention to your CBD dosage. Since CBD and your prescription medication may compete for the same enzymes, the levels of both substances in your body will be different than if you took either on its own.

The temporary deactivation of CYP450 enzymes by CBD could result in a prolonged period of metabolism for a particular drug, meaning that it might not reach the intended therapeutic levels and will thus be ineffective - or could get to much higher levels than intended, resulting in worse side effects.

CBD and prescription medication

Biphasic Effects of CBD

CBD falls into a category of substances with effects described as ‘biphasic.’ Essentially, this means that depending on the dosage, the compound can have polar opposite effects. Alcohol is an excellent example of a biphasic drug, wherein a small amount increases energy, but large quantities can cause you to fall unconscious.

At lower doses, CBD is often mildly stimulating, while at higher doses, sedation or relaxation is much more common. There are exceptions to this, of course, based on individual physiology. Still, nonetheless, people almost always find that different dosages elicit opposing effects - which is why finding the right amount of CBD to take is so important.

It may be tempting to take an ‘if one is good, two is better’ approach with CBD. However, we strongly encourage you to maintain a low dosage for several days while beginning to avoid the potential of feeling tired or lethargic. More is not always better with CBD, and most users will typically reach a ‘plateau dose’ where increasing the amount does not increase the beneficial effects. We call this the ‘sweet spot.’

Is CBD Oil addictive?

Fortunately, CBD is well-tolerated at unusually high dosages for extended periods of time.

However, it is possible that while CBD may assist with a variety of health conditions, it may or may not get at the root cause of said illness. What this means is that if you successfully manage your maladies with a daily intake of CBD, the symptoms caused by your sickness may return upon cessation of taking CBD.

 

Will CBD cause withdrawals?

This rebound effect of unwanted symptoms is much different from the withdrawals associated with addictive drugs, as in those instances, your body has adjusted to the daily presence of the addicting substance. When you remove the medication, your physiology goes haywire.

Deciding to stop taking CBD after a long period of use is better thought of as your body going back to the less optimally functioning state you were in before using CBD. This is a dramatically different (and much more peaceful) scenario than true drug withdrawal - something most of us have experienced with caffeine at one point or another. 

Caffeine, addiction, and CBD

Let's use caffeine to examine how classic withdrawals work on an anatomical level. Caffeine has a unique pharmacological profile - rather than dramatically increasing neurotransmitter levels like traditional stimulants (amphetamine, cocaine), caffeine tricks the body by mimicking adenosine.

In our brains, adenosine acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter, and once we are awake, adenosine levels rise by the hour. Ultimately, adenosine promotes sleep. Here's where caffeine works its magic - since it resembles adenosine so closely, it can slide into the body's adenosine receptor sites, blocking real adenosine from entering, preventing us from feeling tired.

The body compensates for this effect by generating more adenosine receptors. Now consider that due to caffeine's half-life of five to six hours (on average), you're looking at several days to eliminate one cup of coffee's worth (100mg) of caffeine from your body.

Over time, the body tirelessly creates more and more adenosine receptors - until suddenly, the caffeine intake ceases. Suddenly, the body has a massive abundance of adenosine receptors, causing extreme artificial sensitivity to adenosine.

If you stay the course and give your body several weeks of no caffeine, the extra adenosine receptors will be pruned, and things will return to normal. In the meantime, however, you're looking at severe fatigue, irritability, constipation, inability to focus, and more.

That is withdrawal. CBD will not cause withdrawals, thank the lucky stars.

How long does CBD last?

Duration of CBD Effects - How Long Does CBD Last

Although it depends on the route of administration, most ingestible CBD products (oils, tinctures) will take effect within 15-45 minutes, and last for between two and six hours.

We encourage keeping a CBD dosing journal at first, and documenting the following things to help fine-tune your dosage: 

  • How much did you take?
  • When did you take it?
  • How long did it take to kick in?
  • How strong were the effects?
  • How long did it last?

At a certain point in your dosage quest, you should find your ‘sweet spot,’ which is when you no longer need to increase the amount and consistently stay at the same dosage. 

Here are the amounts of CBD per drop for each of our tinctures: 

Spectrum 300:  .5mg 
Spectrum 600:   1mg 
Spectrum 2000: 2mg

Full Spectrum Dosage vs. CBD Isolate Dosage

While we never use CBD isolate in anything we sell, we still wanted to take a moment to highlight key differences between full spectrum CBD vs. CBD isolate, since the same dosing guidelines don't apply to both types of CBD. 

Thanks to the magnificent synergy achieved via the entourage effect, full spectrum CBD products (which includes our entire line) offer the effects people are looking for with as little as a few drops. 

It's more complicated with CBD isolate. Because this refined crystalline version of CBD lacks any of the co-occuring nutrients found in hemp, the desirable effects are not only much harder to achieve, but even when this perfect dose is found, there is still something 'lacking.' 

What's more, CBD isolate tends to require substantially higher doses than full spectrum CBD. Ultimately, the lower dose needed by full spectrum will not only be a boon to your wallet, but will also result in less strain on the liver, as well as less risk of side effects or drug interactions.

While both full spectrum and CBD isolate share a bell-shaped dose-response curve (meaning that the benefits grow up to a point, and then drop off when increased further), full spectrum offers a higher peak response at a lower dosage. 

For example, someone may peak at 80% symptom relief using 20mg of full spectrum CBD, yet experience only 50% relief with 100mg of CBD isolate. These are not hard numbers, but extrapolations gathered by experts from relevant scientific research.

Start Low, and Go Slow

Adhering to this old adage is vital for two reasons:

  1. It helps someone find their lowest effective dose, which is safest for all substances, including CBD.  While CBD has a favorable safety profile, increased doses result in increased risk of side-effects and drug-interactions.

  2. As we mentioned, the dose-response curve for CBD is a bell-shape or inverted U-shape - meaning more is not always better.  Once a person hits their optimal dose, more CBD will send them down the descending curve of that bell, resulting in decreased efficacy. If you start too high, you could miss this target dosage range.

The Type of CBD Matters

Compared to tinctures, softgels will take a bit longer to come on, with a more prolonged duration of effects. 

With tinctures, we recommend starting with a dose of 10mg total cannabinoids, which is .5mL of our 600mg tincture and 1mL of our 300mg tincture.  Use this dose for two to three nights, then titrate up by 5mg increments as desired.  Continue dosing upwards every few nights as needed. 

Additionally, you can add a morning dose (if desired and if no side-effects are noted).  Once you add more, yet do not feel improved effects (or experience diminished returns), then you have begun the decline of your dose response curve. If this happens, return to your previous dose.

With softgels, start with one 15mg softgel at least two hours before bedtime, as oral delivery has a delayed onset. The most common side effect of CBD is drowsiness, and if that happens at night, it’s safe and won’t ruin someone’s day. Once someone has evaluated how they react to CBD, they can consider whether or not they are a good candidate for adding a morning dose.

Please note that 15mg from the softgel is equivalent to 10mg of our tincture, as oral delivery is subject to a loss of ~30% of bioavailability due to first-pass metabolism (as opposed to sublingual delivery with a tincture).  We suggest titrating up by 15mg intervals with softgels every few days or as desired.

The Bottom Line for CBD and Dosage

While CBD is safe and generally well-tolerated, it’s not a one-size-fits-all product. Do your research and use care when determining what works best for you!

Remember, using high-quality CBD is very important, which is why at Ananda Hemp we publish our Certificates of Analysis proving the purity of our product. We third-party test all of our blends for heavy metals, pesticides, and other common environmental toxins.

Our undying commitment to quality and transparency allows you the freedom to find what works for you, in comfort and safety. Here's to your health!

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