One of the difficult-to-navigate areas of using cannabinoids can be identifying an appropriate dose for ourselves. There are several enmeshed reasons for the lack of common understanding on the subject, relating to biology, legality, stigma, and technology. The legal restrictions against cultivating hemp that were in place from 1937-2018 constituted an impediment to our knowledge of this plant-based medicine. Even the foundational research that propelled the 1997 medical cannabis program in California was largely restricted to the analgesic properties of the more overtly affecting, psychotropic cannabinoid THC (which has been subsequently determined state-by-state to have a recommended dose of 5-10mg, with a daily limit of about 30mg). Scientists are forming a clearer picture of how different cannabinoids interact with the ECS, while simultaneously developing isolation and extraction methods to observe them more directly, leading to a surge in curiosity about CBD, CBN, and CBC.
Now that cannabis’ medical applications are being more closely studied and the compound is available to the public in a variety of formats, it is imperative to establish guidelines. Though the ability to isolate or differentiate cannabinoids is a modern advancement, humans have been using cannabis for millennia with the knowledge of its potency. We are now in the age of discovering how and why it works, and developing new, targeted forms of ingestion that move beyond inhalation as primary mode of delivery, as well as looking to other cannabinoids and terpenes. The past few decades of research since the discovery of the endocannabinoid system (ECS), present in all mammals in their brains, tissues, organs, and cells, are proving it to be one of the most important regulators for overall health.
How to find your dose
In the 2017 report The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research, researchers acknowledge “inherent difficulties in accurately assessing the exposure in terms of dose, specific type of cannabis product used, mode of intake, duration, frequency, and other variables.” In other words, there is no universal dose, and where you do land milligram-wise will depend on the format you’re choosing.
In addition to the traditional tincture format of cannabis medicine, CBD is available in formulas of most beauty, body, and wellness products. The efficacy is not uniform across formats, and we are still learning how different methods and compounds interact with the ECS, or which receptors they trigger. That said, there are some stigmas around certain formats. You may have heard of an experience of someone dissatisfied with ingestibles like tinctures of chocolate in the past. It’s possible that poor timing could have been the culprit, as onset time of ingestibles can sometimes take 90 minutes. That same report highlights: “edibles have been tied to the ingestion of excessive amounts of cannabis under the misperception that the initial dose had not produced the desired effect.”
From CBD: A Patient’s Guide to Medical Cannabis: “‘Titration’ is a term borrowed from chemistry that means taking small steps over time to allow for adjustment slowly. This process lowers the risk of problems such as overdose, overwhelm, or over-reaction.” Titration, or micro-dosing, is the commonly recommended approach to finding your standard dose, and CBD establishes that a medicinal microdose, coupled with your body weight, is in the range of .5mg to 20mg CBD/day, with a gradually increasing dose over a two-week time frame.
When it comes to determining your regimen, remember:
- Variables including your biology, product formulations, and the specific effects you desire should influence your product choices. A celebrity using a balm for their sore, arched feet may opt for a different formula than someone looking for a balancing tincture to help with emotional wellbeing. Experiment with formats.
- There is no universal dose, and what works for you may depend heavily on the source and format of the CBD. The best way is to find your standard dose is to start low in dose and proceed slowly.
- Daily use of CBD at consistent, regular times can increase its effectiveness