It’s getting hard not to find at least some CBD somewhere in your circles. From the menus of cocktail bars and coffee shops, to the shelves of bougie grocery stores and posh day spas, CBD is all over the place. Many are into its ability to provide relief from inflammation, sleep issues, types of anxiety, and even epilepsy according to some.
But people aren’t talking enough about dose. Things can go wrong if you’re not paying attention to how, and where, you’re getting your CBD. More isn’t necessarily better, and just like sunshine, soup, and sex, the law of diminishing returns applies to this non-psychoactive substance.
Some studies show a bell curve in response to CBD. “What that means is that at a low dose, you don’t see the intended effect. At a moderate dose, you do see the intended effect. And at high doses, you go back to seeing no effect,” says Jeff Chen MD, a director and founder of the UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative.
It’s easy to take too much—like 20mg per kilogram of body weight (a really high dose)—without realizing it, and suffer side effects discovered by other clinical trials, like decreased appetite, diarrhea, vomiting, and fatigue.
“At the end of the day, the dose is going to come down to what condition you’re trying to treat, your method of ingestion, and what else is in the product,” says Dr. Chen.
Samantha Miller is the president and chief scientist of Pure Analytics, a lab that tests cannabis out of Northern California. “Make sure you know what it is you’ve been taking that works and look for that when you’re researching new product.” She agrees with Dr. Chen in saying that “There’s so much variability between people, so it becomes important to have good observations of what works for you.”
There still isn’t a whole lot of research regarding CBD in a human context. The only thing that’s really been studied is CBD’s effect on children with rare forms of epilepsy, and cases of multiple sclerosis. So just like starting a new diet, we have to make some judgement calls as to what works the best. It’s on us to maintain a good balance and listen to our bodies, just as we would for any other self-care routine.
So how can we find the right dose for you—once and for all? We have some tips for the right amount of CBD for you (and hey, some products to kick off your dosing journey).
Ask a doctor
You should stop by a doctor’s office before you include CBD into your routine. They would know the most about how CBD could affect your health. There could always be issues regarding your current medications and previous medical history. Make sure to go in for follow-up appointments any time you switch up your practices.
CBD may not be the same in every circumstance. Be sure to educate yourself on the various methods of CBD extraction, as traces of terpenes (different plant and cannabis oils that create the signature scent) could work alongside the CBD to increase its effects.
Some states may have different regulations on extraction, so it’s important to know what you’re putting in your body before you do it. There are many sources (like Miss Grass, hello) that can help you find the right products for your needs.
What do you want from CBD?
Do you want to address pain? Are you trying to help with a specific condition like epilepsy? Maybe it’s just to re-balance your bodily self? Regardless of the intent, make sure you know what you want out of CBD. It’s not a miracle cure, but it can be a great asset to your usual self care routine if used responsibly.
If you want CBD to help you out with sleep, it’s useful to experiment with the time of day, along with the dose, to achieve the best results. Everyone sleeps differently, so CBD will not work the same way for everyone.
Do some journaling! It can be beneficial to write down the different variables that go into your CBD usage. Things like brand, purity, CBD concentration, presence other ingredients, time of day, and how close you consume it to meals can be nice to keep track of.
Test it first. You don’t necessarily have to dive right in to a full dose. Using a new skin care or makeup product requires the same kind of trial and error, like putting a dab on your skin before applying the whole thing. Miller suggests finding the desired effect by raising the dose by 10mg after starting at 10-20mg.
CBD doesn’t do too well at being digested on its own. Eating it with fats and food helps the body break down the compound and distribute it into your system. Some CBD tinctures can help with the process, as many are made with MCT or coconut oil. One of my favorites is 2Rise Naturals CBD Oil Tincture, which is made with turmeric.
I know I talked about CBD as a sleep aid earlier in this article, but it might be best to avoid trying it for this purpose immediately.“For some people, CBD has an alerting effect, like having had too much coffee,” Miller says. “Anecdotally, 25 percent of people seem to have this effect. It can give them trouble sleeping if they take it too close to the end of the day. For others, CBD can be sedating or calming.”
You could try consuming it midday, or even morning, to see how it makes you feel. If you’re not wired and bouncing off the walls then you can start taking it for bedtime purposes.
Topicals topicals topicals
Dose doesn’t matter nearly as much when applying CBD in the forms of lotions, balms, and serums. You could probably bathe in a tub of CBD lotion if you really wanted, but you know, it might get a little expensive.