How much CBD oil should you take? Getting the dosage right
CBD (cannabidiol) is an increasingly popular natural wellness product derived from hemp plants of the species cannabis sativa.
Unlike THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis, CBD does not get you high. However, there is initial evidence that it may have beneficial effects on a number of health conditions.
If you’re new to CBD or still considering whether it’s for you, one of the things you may be wondering is how much of it you should take.
This article runs through methods for finding the right dose, factors that can impact how much CBD is actually absorbed into your bloodstream, how to understand the amounts of CBD oil in a bottle and per droplet, plus safety concerns.
How to find the right CBD dosage
The amount of CBD that works best for you will depend on a number of factors including your weight, individual body chemistry, the type of CBD product you use and the way you use it (see the section below for further details).
Although CBD generally causes only minor side-effects in a small proportion of users, the safest way to determine the right dosage is to start small. Begin by taking a low dose, perhaps as little as 10mg per day, and make a note of how you feel. After a few days, if you’re not experiencing any adverse effects and think you could benefit from increasing the amount, work your way up in similar increments until you find the ideal dosage.
Depending on the ailments you are aiming to treat, you may want to try smaller amounts of CBD taken more than once per day.
Below, we'll look at some other things to keep in mind when determining the right dose of CBD.
How you take CBD can affect how much you absorb
There are a whole host of CBD products on the market, including bottled oils, vaping liquids, chewable gummy sweets, capsules, topical creams and cosmetics.
However you take CBD, the amount actually absorbed into your bloodstream will always be significantly less than the product contains – but some methods deliver more than others, which can have an impact on any effects you might experience.
CBD oil taken sublingually – under the tongue – is therefore the next best option. Simply place the required number of droplets under your tongue using the dropper that comes with the bottle, hold them there for a minute or two, then swallow. The CBD will be absorbed directly into the bloodstream via the capillary-rich mucous membrane beneath the tongue, bypassing the digestive system.
Of course, you can choose to swallow CBD oil directly, or take it with food or drink, but sending it through your digestive system means less of it will be absorbed, and more slowly. The same applies to products such as gummy sweets and capsules.
Topical CBD creams may help with some conditions, such as joint pain. However, the CBD won't enter the bloodstream so any effects are likely to be limited to the areas where the cream is applied.
CBD oil is a solution of CBD in a carrier oil, such as hemp, olive or coconut. It generally comes in a bottle with a built-in-dropper, allowing for measured doses. Bottles are labelled with some or all of the following information: the total amount of CBD they contain, the volume of the solution in the bottle and the percentage of CBD in the solution. However, they won’t necessarily tell you how many drops you need to take for a certain dosage.
Because of the varying concentrations of CBD in different CBD oil products, the amount in a single droplet – and therefore the number of droplets you need to take – can also vary.
If you need to calculate an approximate dosage yourself and know the strength of the oil by percentage, simply halve that number to find the amount of CBD per drop in mg. If you don't know the percentage but do have the volume of the bottle and the total amount of CBD it contains, you can follow the formula below.
A single droplet from a dropper is approximately 0.05ml. A 10ml bottle, for example, therefore holds 10ml / 0.05ml = 200 droplets. If it contains 500mg of CBD, there is therefore 500mg CBD / 200 droplets = 2.5mg of CBD in each droplet. You can use this formula to calculate the amount of CBD per droplet in any bottle of oil by adjusting the volume of your bottle and the amount of CBD it contains, but remembering that the size of a droplet remains the same.
- Volume of bottle in ml / 0.05ml = number of droplets
- Total amount of CBD in mg / number of droplets = amount of CBD in mg in each droplet
5% v 10% CBD oil
CBD oils come in a variety of concentrations, usually displayed as a percentage on the label. The most common are 5% and 10% solutions.
The percentage is not an indicator of the quality of the CBD per se but it is important because it tells you the strength of the oil. A single droplet of 10% CBD oil will give you twice as much CBD as a single droplet of 5%.
That means that if you usually take, say, 10 droplets of 5% oil, you’ll only need 5 droplets of 10% oil to get the same amount of CBD. Conversely, if you usually take 5 droplets of 10% oil you’ll need to up that to 10 droplets if you want the same dosage from a 5% oil.
Some CBD oils may give you the volume of the solution in the bottle and the total amount of CBD but not the strength by percentage. If you need to calculate the percentage of CBD in a bottle, multiply the volume in millilitres by 10, then divide the amount of CBD in mg by that number.
- 10ml x 10 = 100
- 500mg / 100 = 5%
To save you the maths, here are some common volumes of oil and amounts of CBD with their strength by percentage.
- 10ml containing 500mg = 5%
- 10ml containing 1000mg = 10%
- 10ml containing 2000mg = 20%
- 20ml containing 500mg = 2.5%
- 20ml containing 1000mg = 5%
- 20ml containing 2000mg = 10%
- 30ml containing 500mg = 1.6%
- 30ml containing 1000mg = 3.3%
- 30ml containing 2000mg = 6.7%
For help calculating how much CBD is in each droplet of different strength CBD oils, see the section above.
Many CBD products are made using CBD isolate, the pure form of the compound. But you may also have heard of full-spectrum CBD oil, which includes extracts from the whole plant. As well as CBD, full-spectrum oils contain a broad range of other cannabis compounds, known as cannabinoids, along with anti-oxidants such as flavonoids and aromatic oils called terpenes.
It’s possible that these substances contribute to the theoretical ‘entourage effect’, which is said to enhance the benefits of CBD, and a 2011 review of studies did conclude that terpenes may improve the therapeutic effects of cannabinoids.
If it is true that full-spectrum CBD oil can be more beneficial, then it may be that less of it is required to achieve the desired effects. While further research is needed to determine whether this is actually the case, it’s something to be aware of when calculating the right dosage of CBD oil for you.
CBD oil dosage calculator
You can get a broad idea of what dosage of CBD oil might suit you by using the Jersey Hemp dosage calculator. Just input your body weight and you’ll be told the recommended daily amounts of CBD if you choose to take a low, medium or high dose, including the number of drops to take for both 5% and 10% CBD oils.
This is based on recommended amounts of 1-6mg of CBD for every 10 pounds of body weight. If you’ve not taken CBD before and decide to use the calculator to help determine your dosage, it makes sense to start with the lower amount first and work your way up until you find your optimal dosage.
Can you overdose on CBD?
As explained above, when working out the right dosage of CBD oil for you, you should consider any adverse effects before increasing the amount you take. However, side-effects of CBD are generally minor and a number of studies have treated patients with very large amounts - up to 1500mg per day over a four-week period – with no adverse effects noted (and improved symptoms). That is certainly not to say that you should consider taking anywhere near that amount of CBD but only to provide some context if you're worried about the possibility of overdosing.
You should also be aware that the UK’s Food Standards Agency recommends as a precaution that healthy adults do not take more than 70mg (around 28 droplets of 5% strength CBD) per day. This is based on an early study that suggests higher doses of CBD may adversely increase enzymes in the liver. However, other research has suggested that CBD may actually improve liver function.
Can you take CBD every day?
While many people do take CBD daily, there is little scientific data about the safety of very long-term regular use. However, studies lasting as much as a year have shown some positive results.
A 12-month study into the effectiveness of the drug Nabiximols (brand name Sativex) – a combination of CBD and THC – found that it remained well tolerated after this period, with 84% of patients reporting no side-effects at all.
Further research focusing on the longer-term effects of regular CBD use is required before any solid conclusions can be made.
In 2017, a report by the World Health Organization said that CBD exhibited “a good safety profile” and posed no discernible risk to public health.
A ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union at the end of 2020 backed this up, concluding that CBD “does not appear to have any psychotropic effect or any harmful effect on human health”.
Since then, the United Nations has downgraded cannabis and its extracts such as CBD, opening the door for further medical research.
The UK’s Food Standards Agency advises as a precaution that people in vulnerable groups, including pregnant and breastfeeding women and those on medication, do not use CBD. Read more about CBD and its potential interactions with medicines below.
The appeal of CBD to both users and researchers is in part due to its relatively minor and infrequent side-effects compared with many traditional medicines. It is considered 'well tolerated' by clinicians, meaning very few patients drop out of medical trials due to adverse effects.
However, a proportion of users do experience side-effects, most commonly including dry mouth, tiredness/fatigue, diarrhoea, appetite changes, irritability and nausea.
It’s important that anyone taking medication consults their doctor before using CBD products. CBD inhibits certain enzymes that help the body to metabolise a range of drugs. This can lead to a potentially dangerous amount of the drug in the system and can accentuate any adverse side-effects.
One of the enzymes that CBD interacts with is the same that is inhibited by grapefruit and certain other citrus fruits so you should not take CBD with any medication that carries a ‘grapefruit warning’. However, CBD can also slow the action of other enzymes that don’t come with a warning, so if you are on any medication or supplements always speak to your doctor before taking CBD.
The author of this article is not a medical expert and nothing in this article constitutes medical advice or gives rise to a medical practitioner/patient relationship. You should seek specialist medical advice where required. Never disregard professional medical advice or refrain from seeking it because of something you have read here.