How Much CBD Should I Take the First Time?
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Figuring out how much CBD, or cannabidiol, to take is more complex than it sounds. While cannabis has been around for forever, CBD products are relatively new. As a result, there aren’t any evidence-based dosing guidelines yet.
Most experts agree that if it’s your first time using CBD, starting with the lowest dose and gradually working your way up is the best way to go.
Here’s a look at what you should know before trying CBD for the first time.
For starters, your body weight and individual body chemistry affect how you tolerate CBD.
Here are some other factors that play into how much CBD you should use.
How you take it
There are a few different ways to use CBD. The form matters when it comes to how much you should take, how it’s absorbed by your body, and how quickly it takes effect.
The different forms include:
- oils and tinctures
- pills and capsules
- creams and lotions
Doses vary among forms. For instance, a standard dose in CBD gummies is around 5 milligrams (mg) per gummy, while tinctures and oils contain about 1 mg per drop.
Capsules and edibles can also take longer to kick in than a spray or tincture.
What you’re using it for
People use CBD to treat everything from nausea to arthritis pain. What you’re using it for matters when deciding how much you should take.
For instance, the Arthritis Foundation recommends starting slow with just a few milligrams of a sublingual form of CBD twice a day and increasing the dose by the same amount after a week if you don’t get enough pain relief.
That recommendation may not be the same if you’re using CBD for another condition.
If you’re on any other medications, it’s important to know exactly how much, if any, CBD you should take.
CBD is usually well tolerated, but there’s still limited data on drug interactions. CBD could change the way a drug is metabolized, and there’s some evidence that it may interact with blood thinners, immune suppressant drugs, and antidepressants.
If you’re taking any other medications, speak to your doctor before using CBD.
It depends on how you take it.
Edibles, such as gummies, have to go through your digestive tract before they’re absorbed. By the time this happens, the actual amount of CBD that ends up in your system could be fairly low.
Another form, such as a tincture that you take sublingually, gets absorbed directly into your bloodstream, meaning it kicks in faster.
CBD onset time
Here’s a look at how long it generally takes to feel the effects of different forms of CBD:
- Edibles: up to 2 hours
- Tinctures sublingual sprays: 15 to 45 minutes
- Topicals: 45 to 60 minutes
- Vape products: 15 to 30 minutes
Re-dosing is one of the most common reasons why people end up taking too much of anything. If you take more too soon, you could end up with unwanted effects.
Again, CBD is generally well tolerated, even at high doses, but that doesn’t mean it’s harmless.
Taking too much could result in:
A recent animal study also showed that high doses of CBD may cause liver damage.
Start low and slow, and make sure you give the CBD ample time to work before taking more. The general rule of thumb seems to be sticking with a low dose for about a week before increasing it.
In general, the effects of CBD last from 2 to 6 hours, depending on how you use it, how much you use, and your tolerance.
To better understand how your body reacts to it, take some general notes when using CBD, including:
- the amount you took and how you took it
- when you started feeling the effects
- how strong the effects were
- how long the effects lasted
This information can help you decide how much to take next time, as well as when to take it.
Ready to dip a toe into the world of CBD? These tips will help to unsure your experience is as comfortable, safe, and effective as possible:
- Shop smart. CBD products are largely unregulated in the United States. Mislabeling and poor quality control, including significant discrepancies in strength and undeclared THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, are an issue. Only shop from trusted, licensed dispensaries.
- Ask a professional. A healthcare provider who knows your medical history is the best person to go to for advice about how much CBD you take. As knowledgeable as sales staff may be when it comes to CBD products, they aren’t healthcare providers. Your best bet is to consult both.
- Use it before bedtime.Drowsiness is one of the most common side effects of CBD. Unless your healthcare provider advises otherwise, using CBD at bedtime — or when you have time to chill if you need to — is a good idea, at least until you know how your body responds to it.
- Avoid vaping. Vaping has been linked to serious lung infections and even death, though it’s not exactly clear how or why. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are investigating the risks of vaping, most government health agencies recommend avoiding vaping until we know more.
CBD is typically safe and well tolerated, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. There are several factors that play into how much and how often you should use it.
Until experts come up with clinical guidelines, your best bet is to talk to your healthcare provider, especially if you’re using CBD to manage a specific condition or regularly take a medication for a specific condition.
Is CBD Legal? Hemp-derived CBD products (with less than 0.3 percent THC) are legal on the federal level, but are still illegal under some state laws. Marijuana-derived CBD products are illegal on the federal level, but are legal under some state laws. Check your state’s laws and those of anywhere you travel. Keep in mind that nonprescription CBD products are not FDA-approved, and may be inaccurately labeled.
Adrienne Santos-Longhurst is a freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and lifestyle for more than a decade. When she’s not holed-up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals, she can be found frolicking around her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand-up paddle board.
New to CBD? Figuring out your most effective dose usually takes some trial and error. We’ll break down the process and everything else you need to know before your first time.
New to CBD? This Is How Much to Take the First Time
Created for Greatist by the experts at Healthline. Read more
CBD — perhaps you’ve heard of it? JK, you’ve definitely heard of it. You probably can’t go anywhere these days without seeing cannabidiol — commonly called CBD — products all over the shelves.
How’d it suddenly get so popular? Well, it’s been reported to have a ton of health and wellness benefits (anxiety relief and better sleep, anyone?). CBD products are cannabis-based, but because they contain little to no THC, they don’t get you high.
If you’re new to CBD, understanding the available products and their dosages can be overwhelming. You may have no idea where to start, what to buy, or how to find your ideal dose of CBD.
Don’t worry — we’ve got you covered! Here’s everything you need to know about taking CBD for the first time.
There are lots of ways you can get CBD into your system, so the first thing you’ll need to decide is how you’ll consume it.
Inhalation is the quickest way to get CBD into your bloodstream. If your state has legalized cannabis or has CBD-only dispensaries, you may be able to find CBD flower or “bud” with little to no THC.
If smoking isn’t your jam, CBD vapes are also fast-acting and offer a legit advantage in convenience and discretion. However! Be super-duper diligent about buying vaping products from a legal dispensary.
Black market vapes have been found to contain stuff you shouldn’t be inhaling, like vitamin E acetate. (And let us be clear: Vaping is still bad for your lungs.)
Oils and tinctures
If you thought oils and tinctures were the same thing, guess again:
- Oils tend to be more concentrated with CBD (i.e., more potent) and may have a weedy taste.
- Tinctures are alcohol-based, less potent, and the better-tasting of the two. They may be mixed with other herbs and flavorings.
Both products work by sublingual absorption (sub-what?). That means if you hold the liquid under your tongue for a bit before swallowing, some CBD will absorb through the membranes in your mouth. That makes it enter your bloodstream more quickly.
Edibles, candies, and drinks
The vast array of CBD capsules, CBD edibles, and CBD-infused drinks (hello, CBD coffee!) work similarly. They travel through your digestive system and start getting absorbed 30 minutes to 2 hours after you’ve swallowed them.
Creams, lotions, bath bombs, and lube
Yep, you read that right — lube! Topical CBD refers to creams, ointments, and lotions. These may be a good choice for localized pain and inflammation, while transdermal patches may deliver more of a sustained, long-term release.
Bath bombs are trending right now, with plenty of happy bathers claiming that soaking in a tub infused with CBD kick-starts a deep, full-body relaxation. And there are even CBD lubes that may help ease pain and get you in the mood.
Here’s the most important rule when it comes to cannabis: Start low and go slow.
If you’re smoking or vaping CBD, it’s hard to measure your intake in milligrams. But the nice thing about inhalation is that you get pretty instantaneous feedback. If a couple puffs on a CBD vape leaves you feeling relaxed but not too relaxed, that’s probably your happy spot.
Everyone responds to CBD differently. “There’s no such thing as a standard dose of CBD, given that it’s being used… by many people for many different conditions,” says Martin A. Lee, founder of Project CBD.
The different varieties of CBD may also require different dosages. For instance, you may need to take more of a CBD-only isolate compared to a full-spectrum product. If your stuff is CBD-only, Lee recommends 25 milligrams to start. You can always go up or down from there.
If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere with full cannabis access, you can get your feet wet with a lower dose of a full-spectrum CBD. Try 5 milligrams and titrate up (that is, adjust) by 5 more milligrams every couple of days.
Here’s a quickie suggestion guide for the two different types of CBD you may be taking — but remember that everyone is different.
Find the right dosage of CBD isolate
Note: The below dosages are general guidelines for first-time use. You should consult with your healthcare provider before starting a CBD regimen to determine the appropriate dosage for your specific needs.
Day 1: 25 mg
Day 2: Reduce to 10 mg if yesterday’s effects were too strong; otherwise, stay with 25 mg.
Day 3: Same as Day 2
Day 4: Increase to anywhere between 35 and 50 mg if you haven’t yet reached your desired effect.
Day 5: Reduce to 25 mg if a higher dose is too strong; otherwise, stay in the range of 35 to 50 mg for the next few days.
Increase your dose every few days and continue observing the effects. Many adults report finding their sweet spot in the range of 25 to 75 mg of a CBD-only product.
Dosages for full-spectrum CBD
Day 1: 5 mg
Day 2: 5 mg
Day 3: 10 mg (if you haven’t yet reached your desired effect)
Day 4: 10 mg
Day 5: 15 mg (if you haven’t yet reached your desired effect)
Day 6: 15 mg
Day 7: 20 mg (if you haven’t yet reached your desired effect)
Day 8: 20 mg
Day 9: 25 mg (if you haven’t yet reached your desired effect)
Continue increasing your dose until you get the maximum benefit. If you notice any unwanted response to CBD (such as dizziness), reduce your intake.
What you’re shooting for is a minimum effective dose — the sweet spot on the bell curve where you’re taking the most helpful quantity without overdoing it or breaking the bank. (Seriously, have you checked the price tags on high quality CBD products lately?)
It takes a little trial and error to find your ideal dose. But the good news is that most people tolerate CBD well, even in large quantities. Side effects of CBD, if any, tend to be diarrhea, appetite changes, and too much sedation (i.e., the inspiration for those very exaggerated PSAs from middle school).
If your anxiety quiets down, you’re sleeping better, or you’re experiencing less pain, that’s a win!
The time it takes for CBD to work varies based on how you consume it. It could range from a few moments (with vaping/smoking) to several weeks (like when you’re slowly increasing your CBD oil dose for therapeutic effects).
CBD isn’t psychoactive, so you won’t feel stoned. But some people report getting a fairly quick response where stress melts away and their mood is ever-so-slightly lifted.
If you’re taking CBD for therapeutic effects (like for sleep, anxiety, or inflammation), you’ll probably have to take it for a longer time before reaping all the benefits.
In terms of rigorously researched uses, CBD for epilepsy is the blockbuster here. In 2018, the FDA approved Epidiolex to treat two rare seizure disorders, Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.
But even without clinical approval, people are using CBD to address a wide variety of conditions. Lee tells us that an extensive survey of CBD users showed anxiety, depression, and pain as the top-reported uses. Some people are also using CBD alongside conventional cancer treatments, he says.
Here’s what some of the research says about potential uses:
- Anxiety: A study from 2019 found that 79 percent of people with anxiety showed improvement when taking 25 to 75 milligrams of CBD daily.
- Insomnia: More research is needed, but a 2017 review of existing studies found that CBD “may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of insomnia.”
- Depression: A 2010 study on mice found that CBD could have antidepressant effects. These results haven’t yet been fully replicated in people, but nevertheless, plenty of people report symptom relief.
- Pain and inflammation: A 2017 study on rats found that CBD may be effective in reducing pain. Once again, human studies still need to be done on this.
- PTSD and nightmares:A small 2019 study found that 10 out of 11 participants with PTSD found some relief with CBD. Some also reported relief from nightmares associated with PTSD.
- Nausea: THC is better known for helping with nausea, such as from chemotherapy. But CBD may have some benefits too. Many people report an improvement in nausea symptoms with CBD, and a 2010 study seems to back that up
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a chemical compound derived from cannabis that may have health benefits. You can buy CBD in oil, gummies, tinctures, lotions, and more. Find out the best CBD dosage for your first time, including the right dosage for anxiety. CBD does not produce a high, but THC does. CBD and THC seem to complement each other well when taken together.