In recent years, CBD oil products have become ever more popular in the health and wellbeing industry – one survey found that a third of Americans have tried CBD at some point. Part of the reason for this surge in popularity is that CBD, also known as cannabidiol, offers a range of potential health benefits like anxiety reduction, pain relief, and better sleep.
The huge growth in CBD’s popularity as a wellness supplement has resulted in an equally large increase in the amount of CBD products available. While having such a wide choice of products can be a good thing, it can make it hard to judge which product is the right one for you – not least because the actual CBD content of these products can vary massively.
This is important, as whatever the reason why you’re taking CBD, finding the right dosage is vital for getting the results you want. As such, it’s important to be able to work out just the exact cannabidiol content of your supplements. This guide will cover the basics of working out CBD content and potency, a rough guide to potential dose ranges for different purposes, and how to work out which dosage is right for you.
How do you calculate CBD content?
When it comes to CBD content calculations, it’s important to bear a few factors in mind – namely, CBD potency, total CBD content, and the total volume of the CBD product.
What is CBD potency?
CBD potency refers to how strongly concentrated the CBD in different products is. Most CBD products aren’t composed of pure CBD; instead, the CBD is mixed in with additives like solvents, oils, or vaping liquids depending on how it’s designed to be taken.
These additives aid the delivery of the CBD into your system, but they also dilute it, leaving it at a weaker CBD concentration than pure CBD extract. Since the ingredients for every CBD product are different, this leads to a huge range of different potencies. CBD potency is usually listed as a percentage on the packaging of the product.
What is CBD content?
Whereas CBD potency is a measure of the strength of the CBD in a given product, CBD content is concerned with the exact volume of CBD in each product. Larger quantities of CBD supplements don’t necessarily mean a higher volume; a smaller bottle with higher potency may end up having more CBD content than a larger, less potent bottle, for example.
CBD content is therefore an important factor to be aware of when calculating exactly how much CBD is in each dose of a given product. The total CBD content of a product is normally given in milligrams on the product’s packaging; however, it can often be more helpful to calculate the CBD content per milliliter of the product in order to work out specific doses of CBD.
CBD content calculator
The calculation is relatively simple to work out on your own – all you need to know is the total CBD content of the product in milligrams and the total volume of the product in milliliters (or milligrams for solid supplements like edibles).
Simply take the total CBD content and divide it by the total product volume, and you’ll be able to work out the CBD content in milligrams per milliliter of the product. For example, if a 25ml tincture has a 500mg CBD content, then 500 divided by 25 equals 20mg of CBD per ml of tincture.
This measurement can then be used to work out dosages – in the example above, for instance, a 50mg dose of CBD would require 2.5ml of tincture.
How much CBD can I take?
The optimum dose of CBD varies from person to person, and also depends on what effect you’re trying to achieve. It’s therefore hard to say exactly how much is too much, as it’s largely dependent on who is taking the CBD and what they’re taking it for.
However, research reviews from 2011 and 2017 indicate that CBD is fairly well tolerated by humans with few side effects, even when taken in doses as high as 1500mg per day, which suggests that taking too much CBD isn’t too much of a worry. For comparison, a reasonable starting dose for someone new to CBD could be as low as 5-20mg.
Some factors may make taking high amounts of CBD riskier. The main risk factor is that CBD may have harmful interactions with other medications; for example, CBD can act as a blood thinner, which may have dangerous implications for users who already take prescription blood thinners such as Warfarin. If you take any prescription medication, it’s best to consult your doctor before starting to use CBD.
In addition, a growing trend is to use CBD alongside specialist diets such as keto or paleo diets which limit carbohydrate intake. However, the first few days of these diets are often characterized by the “keto flu” – a variety of symptoms like nausea, stomach pain, headaches, and muscle soreness caused by the body trying to adapt to the new diet and nutritional balance.
The keto flu normally passes within a week or so. However, if you’re new to taking CBD, it may be advisable to begin experimenting with your CBD dosage after your body has grown used to the keto diet – starting both at once may exacerbate the symptoms of keto flu as your body struggles to adapt to CBD alongside the new diet.
What’s the normal CBD dosage?
As noted above, the effects of CBD vary from person to person, which makes it hard to gauge a universal recommended dosage. Since there’s no definitive dose recommendation, it’s often a good idea to start with a lower dose and steadily increase it until you find the dose that works best for you as different CBD dosages may make you feel differently.
With that said, some past studies may provide a baseline to work from when working out your dosage. Bear in mind, though, that research into CBD dose recommendations is fairly limited, so the best course of action is to consult a health professional before you start experimenting with CBD dosages.
Dosage for pain
Finding the right dosage for pain relief will vary depending on the severity of the pain you’re trying to treat – it’s likely that the worse the pain, the more CBD you’ll need to take to feel any relief.
As a baseline, many suppliers suggest beginning with a dose of 0.25mg per pound of your body weight, increasing incrementally until you get the desired effect. For a stronger effect immediately, some suppliers suggest 0.5mg per pound instead – but use this measure with caution, especially if you aren’t used to CBD.
Dosage for anxiety
It’s unclear what the best dose for reducing anxiety is – not least because research into CBD’s relationship with anxiety has often focused on very high doses of 300-600mg. While studies such as this have shown results in reducing anxiety, it may be better to start with lower doses and work upwards rather than jump in at the deep end with high doses such as these.
Dosage for depression
As with anxiety, there’s no clear recommendation for CBD dosages to treat depression. Taking the same approach of starting with low doses and working upwards may be helpful. Alternatively, micro-dosing could be helpful for depression sufferers – rather than taking a single daily dose, you can take a few smaller doses throughout the day for a more prolonged effect.
Dosage for sleep
There’s slightly more precedent for CBD dosages to facilitate better sleep than for other purposes – one study found that 66.7% of subjects taking a 25mg capsule of CBD each day reported better sleep. This research is far from definitive but may provide a helpful baseline to work from when working out your preferred dosage.
How can I find the best CBD dosage for my body?
The way that CBD affects you is dependent on a number of different factors tied to your body chemistry such as age, weight, pre-existing medical conditions, and even genetic disposition. All of this should be considered when working out your preferred dosage. CBD may last longer in some individuals than others therefore it’s important to start with a smaller dose before working your way up to larger doses.
Dosage based on weight
CBD is a highly lipophilic substance, meaning it is easily absorbed by fats within the body. Because of this, body fat (and by extension body weight) play an important role in determining how CBD affects your body.
As noted above, one way of dosing based on weight is to start off with 0.25 mg of CBD per pound of body weight and work upwards until you reach the desired effect; a starting dose of 0.5 mg per pound can also be used if you want a stronger effect immediately.
Dosage based on condition
Trying to work out an effective dosage of CBD to treat specific conditions can be very hit-and-miss on your own – you might find the effect is much weaker than you want, or worse, you may accidentally overestimate how much you need to take and experience unwanted side effects as a result of an excessive dose.
This is especially risky if you’re on prescription medication for your condition, as CBD may have adverse interactions with certain medicines. If you’re trying to treat a specific condition with CBD, it’s best to consult a doctor first.
CBD dosage calculator
Some websites offer CBD dosage calculators which provide additional guidance in finding the right dose for you. These should only be used as a guideline and aren’t a substitute for professional medical advice, but can nevertheless be helpful in estimating a starting dose. Some examples include:
- Start Sleeping CBD dose calculator – a very simple calculator giving an estimated safe dosage range based on your weight
- Daily CBD dose calculator – calculates based on body weight, intended effect potency, CBD content, and product volume
- CBD Dosage Calculator – based on crowdsourced data from other CBD users to give estimated doses for varying purposes and personal factors
How the “entourage effect” impacts dosages
While people mainly take CBD oil for the potential health benefits offered by CBD itself, it isn’t the only beneficial compound found in CBD products. CBD oils are also rich in secondary compounds such as phytocannabinoids and terpenes which offer their own unique benefits.
For example, D-limonene, one of the 200+ terpenes found in CBD oils, has been reported to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. The additional benefits of CBD’s secondary compounds help to augment and add to CBD oil’s benefits in what is known as the entourage effect.
The entourage effect also applies to additives which are introduced to the CBD oil by its manufacturer. For example, producers may add the sleep hormone melatonin to CBD products specifically designed to aid sleep.
The entourage effect means that full- or broad-spectrum CBD products (which include all of CBD’s secondary compounds) can often be more effective than CBD isolates (where all secondary compounds are removed). Because of this, higher doses of CBD isolate products may be needed than full- or broad-spectrum CBD to achieve the same effect.
CBD content plays an important role in determining the effects of CBD products you take, but luckily, it’s fairly simple to work out yourself with either an online CBD content calculator or some simple maths. What’s more difficult is working out the best CBD dose for your intended effects; however, with some guidance and some patient experimentation, you could soon find the results you want.
Dr. Rob Streisfeld is a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine and trained Gourmet Natural Foods Chef. “Doc Rob” as widely known, provides an informed and innovative perspective with a focus on education, community, and health-driven lifestyle products.
A consultant & spokesperson for leading brands in the Natural Products Industry for nearly two decades, he’s traveled and lectured extensively, utilizing his creative & enthusiastic style to effectively communicate on a variety of health/ nutrition topics, including Cannabis and CBD. Doc Rob hosts a podcast, “Concierge for Better Living” on CannabisRadio.com, and launched the book series, The Cannabis Conundrum.