Medically Reviewed by Dr. Saira Zulfiqar, PharmD
The dosage for CBD can be broken down into how you’re taking the CBD, what the CBD concentration in your product is, and why you’re taking CBD. Then, there are scientific factors like CBD bioavailability that come into play.
Understanding CBD dosage is actually really easy! We’re going to walk through everything you need to know about CBD dosage.
- CBD Dosage Nuances: Dosage varies by consumption method and product concentration. Bioavailability, like in edibles, affects absorption speed and duration.
- The Bioavailability Factor: CBD bioavailability determines absorption efficiency. Vaping offers quick effects; edibles last longer but act slowly.
- Dosing Different CBD Products: Each CBD product has a unique dosing. CBD vape oil measures by mL; concentrates by grams, tinctures need careful measurement, and edibles require patience with their delayed onset.
- The Spectrum of CBD: Products range from full-spectrum to isolates. Full-spectrum has cannabinoids; isolates are pure CBD.
What is CBD Bioavailability?
Before we can get into CBD dosage, we need to talk about CBD bioavailability. This is essential for understanding how our bodies use CBD and why different intake methods, like edibles or vapes, have different dosing strategies.
Bioavailability is simply how available a substance becomes after we’ve ingested it into our bodies. Bioavailability refers to the rate at which our bodies absorb substances after we have eaten, smoked, or applying them to our skin.
There are different ways of taking CBD and each has its bioavailability. Here’s a quick shortcut that you can use to think about bioavailability: The lesser the distance, food or drug has to travel to get into our bloodstream, the greater its bioavailability is going to be.
For this reason, CBD edibles have the lowest bioavailability. Research has found that their bioavailability is between 4% and 20%1M. A. Huestis, “Human Cannabinoid Pharmacokinetics,” in PubMed Central (PMC), [Online]. Available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2689518/. This is because CBD has to travel through the digestive system before being absorbed into the bloodstream.
However, CBD edibles have their advantages. CBD taken orally tends to stay in the body longer, which means more consistent relief.
CBD vape juice is the fastest way to get CBD into the bloodstream. Vaping CBD, or smoking CBD flower, has the highest bioavailability. This is because the CBD is spread across the large surface area of our lungs and then absorbed directly into the bloodstream.
This also means that the effects of smokable CBD tend to dissipate more quickly than edible CBD. It’s a balance between how quickly your CBD takes effect and how long it lasts.
How Much CBD Should I Take?
There are few hard-and-fast rules for how much CBD you should take, but there are several best practices that you should keep in mind when coming up with a CBD dosing regimen.
The most important thing you need to keep in mind is that different CBD products have different concentrations. One brand of CBD gummies can have 20 mg of CBD per gummy, while another could have 100.
This means that if you wanted a 50 mg dose of CBD, you would need two and a half gummies from the first brand or just half of one gummy from the second.
We know this is starting to sound like a high school math problem, but trust us, understanding how CBD concentration and bioavailability all factor into CBD dosing is important for ensuring you have the right experience with CBD.
We’re going to take a look at CBD dosing from a few of the most popular ways of enjoying CBD.
Dosage for CBD Vape Juice
CBD vape pens have the highest bioavailability for CBD. They allow CBD to pass through your lungs and directly enter your bloodstream. This is the easiest way to get a positive effect from CBD.
However, CBD vape juice is also a little hard to dose properly. Most people make the mistake of trying to dose on a “per puff” basis, but this is next to impossible. We’re going to cover why that is and show you the best way to dose your CBD vapes.
Figuring out how much CBD you intake per puff is incredibly difficult. Everyone has a different smoking style,, from people who inhale full lungs off their vape hit to people who take short, shallow puffs. This means that it’s extremely difficult to accurately gauge the amount of CBD an individual gets per inhale.
So, how do you do CBD vape juice? The answer is that we’re going to do a little math and calculate the amount of CBD per mL of vape juice.
To do this, all you need to do is divide the milligrams of CBD in your vape juice by the total milliliter volume. This will give you the total CBD per milliliter. The formula is Milligrams of CBD / Total milliliters of CBD vape juice = CBD concentration per milliliter.
You can then smoke the exact milliliter dosage to get how much CBD you’re looking for! There are even CBD pen mods that can count your puffs to help you gauge how much you’re smoking.
You can also take advantage of a clear vape cart and use a permanent marker to draw a quick milliliter gauge on the side of the cart to track dosage.
Dosage for CBD Oil and CBD Tinctures
The dosage for CBD oil and tinctures is going to be a little different. This is because they’re absorbed into the body differently which means you need to change how you approach dosing these CBD products.
One important thing that we need to highlight is that CBD oil, CBD tinctures, and CBD vape juice are three different products. You can’t use CBD tinctures like you use your favorite vape pen, neither can youuse CBD vape juice like you would a tincture or oil.
CBD oil and tincture come with a dropper inside the bottle. These droppers are designed to hold 1 ml of CBD oil, which can help you accurately dose.
You can use the exact same equation that we had above for CBD vape juice to calculate the amount of CBD per milliliter of your tincture.
CBD oil and tinctures can be applied in a variety of ways, but they’re meant to be used sublingually. This means that you lift your tongue, apply a few drops to the base of your tongue, then lower your tongue and hold it down for 15 to 30 seconds.
This will allow the CBD to pass into your bloodstream by taking advantage of the fact that blood vessels are very close to the surface on the underside of the tongue. Applying medication sublingually is a great way to get those substances into the blood quicker.
Unlike vaping, sublingually applying a CBD tincture takes a little getting used to. We recommend starting slowly and building up your dosing using this method. That will help you understand how your body absorbs CBD sublingually.
Dosage for CBD Concentrates
The CBD dosage for concentrates is the most important thing to know about these CBD products. CBD concentrates are also called dabs or crumbles. They are made by extracting CBD and concentrating it into a purified oil. These can be 80% or higher CBD.
CBD concentrates can also be full-spectrum or broad-spectrum. This means they can contain other cannabinoids or just the terpenes that bring flavor and aroma to CBD flowers.
They can also be CBD isolates that are nearly 100% pure CBD.
Dosing CBD concentrates correctly is very important. This is because they are highly potent. A one-gram CBD concentrate that is just 80% CBD will have 800 milligrams of CBD! That’s a huge concentration in a small dose.
This means you’ll only need a very small amount of CBD concentrate to get your dosage needs met. CBD concentrates are commonly consumed using 510 vape batteries, dab pens or dab rigs. They can also be added to joints of CBD flower or used with edibles.
Just remember to watch that dosing!
Dosage for CBD Edibles
Unlike CBD vape pens, CBD edibles take a while before their effects can be noticed. This causes a few changes to how we dose edibles.
The first thing you should know is that it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a total two hours for edibles to take effect. This causes a common problem for people new to edibles who think the dosage is too low and accidentally take too much.
Thankfully, CBD doesn’t have many adverse side effects when you accidentally take too high a dose, but you still don’t want to risk it. Always take it easy with edibles and give yourself the time to understand how a dose affects your body.
CBD edibles have the lowest bioavailability, but the effects tend to last longer in the body. This means you might need to increase your dosing toto compensate for the lower bioavailability. It also means that the onset of relief might be a few hours after you take your edibles. Vaping is a better choice for people who want or need a quicker response time from their CBD.
The form of the edibles can also have an impact on your dosing. While gummies are the most common type of edible, you can also find CBD beverages, CBD baked goods, and other types of CBD food products.
Beverages tend to be absorbed quickly into the body. CBD baked goods, such as cookies, might take longer, but all the sugar in baked goods might be a bigger problem, depending on your specific health needs.
There’s a lot to consider regarding CBD edibles, but the big thing to take away here is that you need to give them time to take effect.
Dosage for CBD Topicals
CBD topicals are interesting when it comes to dosing. This is because we have CBD patches, creams, and lotions that fall into this category. Each of these two types of products is entirely different when it comes to dosing.
CBD patches are incredibly accurate and very easy to dose. Your CBD patch will tell you exactly how much CBD is in the patch and how long it will stay active. Your CBD patch might contain 50 mg of CBD and remain active for 12 hours. This gives you an incredibly accurate and detailed picture of the CBD dosing and patches.
CBD lotions are much harder to dose accurately. The best advice we can give is to start small and apply the CBD lotion gradually over time. CBD lotions also pair very well with CBD vapes as they can help your body absorb CBD from two different pathways.
Dosage for CBD Flower
Unlike CBD vape juice, which contains exact measurements for dosing, CBD flower can be a little less precise. As a quick guide, the percent concentration of CBD in a flower is roughly equal to the mg dosage times 10. This means a 20% CBD flower will contain 200 mg of CBD. Most pre-roll CBD flower joints contain about one gram, but the packaging should say exactly how much you’ve got per preroll or gram.
Then, we apply the same rules for vaping. It’s tough, maybe even impossible, to dose per puff. Always dose by a gram of flower smoked rather than guesstimating how much you’ve inhaled.
Dosage for CBD Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum, and Isolate
Now, we need to talk about full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and CBD isolates. While the essential core of how you see CBD products stays the same, there are some essential differences to discuss.
Full-spectrum CBD contains other cannabinoids, terpenes, and less than 0.3% THC. This means that you could get the entourage effect. This is the theorized effect that says the mixture of cannabinoids and terpenes in hemp products causes more potent effects than isolated cannabinoids could.
Broad-spectrum CBD also causes the entourage effect, but it has been processed further to remove any THC. This is an excellent option for people who want the full entourage effect but don’t want to risk THC showing up in their drug tests.
CBD isolate is pure CBD. This is used in concentrates, oils, tinctures, and edibles. It’s pure CBD, which makes dosing very easy, and contains no other terpenes or cannabinoids.
Dosing CBD for Potential Medicinal Benefits
Before we look at the research for the potential medical benefits of CBD and how they are dosed, we should acknowledge that CBD research is juvenile. CBD hit the market just a few years ago, and scientists are devising methods to accurately measure the CBD quantity for positive effect.
With that said, you always want to start low and work your way up towards the specific dose. This is especially true for conditions that have higher tested doses.
Now, let’s look at some of the doses and the research behind them.
- Anxiety – 300–600 mg – Oral2E. M. Blessing, M. M. Steenkamp, J. Manzanares, and C. R. Marmar, “Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders,” in Neurotherapeutics, vol. 12, no. 4, pp. 825–836, Oct. 2015. [Online]. Available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4604171/
- Bowel disease – 5 mg twice daily – Sublingual3P. S. Fasinu, S. Phillips, M. A. ElSohly, and L. A. Walker, “Current Status and Prospects for Cannabidiol Preparations as New Therapeutic Agents,” The National Center for Natural Products Research, School of Pharmacy, The University of Mississippi, University, MS, Pharmacotherapy, vol. 36, no. 7, pp. 781–796, 2016. [Online]. Available: https://www.alchimiaweb.com/blogfr/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Current-Status-and-Prospects-for-Cannabidiol-Preparations.pdf
- Type 2 diabetes – 100 mg twice daily – Oral4K. A. Jadoon, S. H. Ratcliffe, D. A. Barrett, E. L. Thomas, C. Stott, J. D. Bell, S. E. O’Sullivan, and G. D. Tan, “Efficacy and Safety of Cannabidiol and Tetrahydrocannabivarin on Glycemic and Lipid Parameters in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Parallel Group Pilot Study,” Diabetes Care, vol. 39, no. 10, pp. 1777–1786, Oct. 2016. [Online]. Available: https://dx.doi.org/10.2337/dc16-0650
- Pain due to cancer – 50–600 mg per day – Oral5A. Haywood, G. Gogna, J. Martin, P. Yates, R. Greer, and J. Hardy, “Oral medicinal cannabinoids to relieve symptom burden in the palliative care of patients with advanced cancer: a double-blind, placebo controlled, randomised clinical trial of efficacy and safety of cannabidiol (CBD) – BMC Palliative Care,” BMC Palliative Care, vol. 18, Article number: 110, Dec. 2019. [Online]. Available: https://bmcpalliatcare.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12904-019-0494-6
- Parkinson’s disease – 75–300 mg per day – Oral6F. F. Peres, A. C. Lima, J. E. C. Hallak, J. A. Crippa, R. H. Silva, and V. C. Abílio, “Cannabidiol as a Promising Strategy to Treat and Prevent Movement Disorders?,” in Frontiers in Pharmacology, vol. 9, no. 482, 2018. [Online]. Available: DOI: 10.3389/fphar.2018.00482
- Huntington’s disease – Up to 12 sprays per day – Nasal spray7F. F. Peres, A. C. Lima, J. E. C. Hallak, J. A. Crippa, R. H. Silva, and V. C. Abílio, “Cannabidiol as a Promising Strategy to Treat and Prevent Movement Disorders?,” in Frontiers in Pharmacology, vol. 9, no. 482, 2018. [Online]. Available: DOI: 10.3389/fphar.2018.00482
It’s worth pointing out that individuals have also reported that much lower doses of CBD have helped them manage these conditions.
Anxiety is a great example. Individuals have reported that as low a dose as 2 mg a day has helped them manage their anxiety.
Chronic pain is another pressing issue. Individuals have reported doses ranging from 5 mg to 50 mg a day have helped them with chronic pain.
Individuals who have epilepsy have stated that doses ranging from 200 to 300 mg a day have helped improve their condition.
Sleep disorders are another common reason that people take CBD every day. Individuals often report that doses ranging from 40 to 60 mg before bed help them sleep easier.
So, what can we draw from this wide range of doses, scientific research, and anecdotal testimonies of people who use CBD?
The biggest takeaway is that you should start your dosing low and slowly raise it over time to find what you’re comfortable with. While research is still forming on CBD dosing, there’s a good chance that a lower dose might be just as beneficial for you as a higher dose.
It’s always good to start slow when adding CBD to any self-care routine.
CBD Dosage: The Takeaways
Figuring out the correct CBD dosage is easy when you know the CBD bioavailability of your favorite CBD products, how to dose for the potential health benefits you’re looking for, and how to start low and slowly raise your CBD dose.
Let’s recap what we have learned so far.
CBD vape juice has the highest bioavailability. This is because CBD vape pens allow the CBD to pass directly to the bloodstream through the lungs. CBD edibles have lower bioavailability, but their effects might last longer.
Research into CBD dosing for medical benefits is still ongoing. This means we have to rely on early scientific research and evidence from the broader CBD community. Considering both of these is the key to finding the correct dosing for you.
Always take it easy when adding CBD to your self-care, and you’ll be able to enjoy the potential benefits of this laid-back cannabinoid!
- 1M. A. Huestis, “Human Cannabinoid Pharmacokinetics,” in PubMed Central (PMC), [Online]. Available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2689518/
- 2E. M. Blessing, M. M. Steenkamp, J. Manzanares, and C. R. Marmar, “Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders,” in Neurotherapeutics, vol. 12, no. 4, pp. 825–836, Oct. 2015. [Online]. Available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4604171/
- 3P. S. Fasinu, S. Phillips, M. A. ElSohly, and L. A. Walker, “Current Status and Prospects for Cannabidiol Preparations as New Therapeutic Agents,” The National Center for Natural Products Research, School of Pharmacy, The University of Mississippi, University, MS, Pharmacotherapy, vol. 36, no. 7, pp. 781–796, 2016. [Online]. Available: https://www.alchimiaweb.com/blogfr/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Current-Status-and-Prospects-for-Cannabidiol-Preparations.pdf
- 4K. A. Jadoon, S. H. Ratcliffe, D. A. Barrett, E. L. Thomas, C. Stott, J. D. Bell, S. E. O’Sullivan, and G. D. Tan, “Efficacy and Safety of Cannabidiol and Tetrahydrocannabivarin on Glycemic and Lipid Parameters in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Parallel Group Pilot Study,” Diabetes Care, vol. 39, no. 10, pp. 1777–1786, Oct. 2016. [Online]. Available: https://dx.doi.org/10.2337/dc16-0650
- 5A. Haywood, G. Gogna, J. Martin, P. Yates, R. Greer, and J. Hardy, “Oral medicinal cannabinoids to relieve symptom burden in the palliative care of patients with advanced cancer: a double-blind, placebo controlled, randomised clinical trial of efficacy and safety of cannabidiol (CBD) – BMC Palliative Care,” BMC Palliative Care, vol. 18, Article number: 110, Dec. 2019. [Online]. Available: https://bmcpalliatcare.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12904-019-0494-6
- 6F. F. Peres, A. C. Lima, J. E. C. Hallak, J. A. Crippa, R. H. Silva, and V. C. Abílio, “Cannabidiol as a Promising Strategy to Treat and Prevent Movement Disorders?,” in Frontiers in Pharmacology, vol. 9, no. 482, 2018. [Online]. Available: DOI: 10.3389/fphar.2018.00482
- 7F. F. Peres, A. C. Lima, J. E. C. Hallak, J. A. Crippa, R. H. Silva, and V. C. Abílio, “Cannabidiol as a Promising Strategy to Treat and Prevent Movement Disorders?,” in Frontiers in Pharmacology, vol. 9, no. 482, 2018. [Online]. Available: DOI: 10.3389/fphar.2018.00482