If you’ve been struggling to find clear information on how to use and dose CBD oil, the tips in this guide will help you find the most effective ways.
Most CBD oil users have no clue that:
There are ways to increase the bioavailability of CBD and potency of your CBD oil …
We analyzed over 40 scientific articles to look for dosage guides and optimal methods of use. Plus, we reviewed over 50 CBD oils to see what doses and methods worked best for us.
The results we found are a must-read for anyone that wants to maximize the benefits that CBD oil has to offer.
The best part?
You’re going to learn what specific dosage guides were found effective for different conditions according to scientific studies.
The Different Methods to Take CBD Oil
You can take CBD oil only in two different ways:
- Orally (this includes both oral ingestion and sublingual ingestion)
- Through vaping it.
Both of these methods have their pros and cons, which we’ll talk about next.
The Benefits and Downsides of Using CBD Oil Orally
The biggest benefit of using CBD oil orally, assuming you’re taking a full-spectrum CBD oil (which you should as you’ll learn later) …
Is that you’re taking CBD closest to how nature intended it to be.
This isn’t some woo-woo stuff.
Science has proven that the compounds found in the Cannabis plant (including CBD) are more effective when taken together. This process is called ‘the entourage effect’.
The entourage effect refers to the process of all the different cannabinoids, terpenoids, and flavonoids in Cannabis influencing each other’s pharmacological effects. Sometimes they enhance each other’s effects, other times they mitigate each other’s (negative) side-effects.
Although science has found that CBD as an isolated compound is greatly beneficial for your health as well, taking CBD as part of a full-plant extract will have more potent effects.
A recent study found that epilepsy patients which used CBD in the form of a full-plant extract CBD oil reported an effective dose of CBD (in mg) that was 4-times less than patients that used a purified CBD product. If for epilepsy patients a full-plant extract CBD oil is 4-times more potent than a purified CBD product, chances are that for other conditions you’ll find similar results.
Now, when talking about taking CBD oil orally, we include any method of taking CBD oil that goes through the mouth, and this also includes taking CBD oil sublingually.
Swallowing CBD oil and taking it sublingually are not mutually exclusive. In fact, to get the strongest effects from your CBD oil, these methods should be used in combination with each other.
Starting with the sublingual method to take CBD oil …
How to Take CBD Oil Sublingually and the Benefits of This Method
To take CBD oil sublingually, drop a few drops of CBD oil under your tongue and leave them there for at least 60 seconds.
The mucous membrane beneath your tongue stands in direct connection with your bloodstream. Any substance that easily dissolves in saliva can be taken sublingually, and directly diffuses into the bloodstream.
CBD oil is a substance that easily dissolves in saliva and the CBD can effectively pass through the mucous membrane beneath your tongue.
Taking CBD oil sublingually has a major benefit vs immediately swallowing it:
You avoid the ‘first-pass effect’.
The first-pass effect refers to the metabolization of drugs and other substances before they reach the bloodstream. Metabolization leads to loss of potency.
When you swallow CBD, before entering your bloodstream and giving you its beneficial effects, it goes through the gastrointestinal tract and liver. The gastrointestinal tract is a hostile environment for CBD because it hosts many different enzymes and acids that are specialized in breaking down compounds like CBD.
The liver as well is specialized in metabolizing compounds like CBD. Any time a drug or substance passes the gastrointestinal tract and the liver, the bioavailability and effectiveness of the drug/substance is significantly reduced. This is called the first-pass effect.
When you take CBD oil sublingually, it doesn’t have to go through the gastrointestinal tract and the risk of it being broken down and degraded, is thus significantly reduced.
Another main benefit of taking CBD oil sublingually is that because the CBD directly enters your bloodstream, the effects will be felt quicker compared to when you simply swallow it.
Keep in mind that when taking CBD oil sublingually, it’s still recommended to swallow it, after holding it under your tongue for at least 60 seconds. This way you ensure that you get the benefits of all the compounds found in your CBD oil, even the ones that might not be very susceptible to sublingual absorption.
For a current list of CBD oils that we recommend taking orally/sublingually, click the link below:
Dietary Lipids Increase Bio-Availability of CBD Taken Orally
Although most CBD oil manufacturers add edible oils to their formulations, when taking CBD oil through oral administration (sublingual and swallowing), we recommend taking your CBD oil with a teaspoon of olive oil (or any other healthy and edible oil for that matter).
Recent research has shown that CBD has a higher bio-availability when taken together with other dietary lipids (like olive oil).
Swallowing CBD oil without the sublingual method doesn’t have any benefits. That’s why you should always take your CBD oil sublingually before swallowing it.
Unheated CBD Has Better Uptake and Metabolism vs. Heated CBD
A study which looked at the differences in peak plasma concentrations of CBD when taken in the form of two different extracts:
- Heated cannabis extract, and;
- Unheated cannabis extract,
found that peak plasma concentrations of CBD were 4-times higher when the cannabis extract was taken in its unheated form.
The unheated CBD extract contained:
- A much higher concentration of CBDA than the heated CBD-extract, and;
- A lower CBD concentration than the heated CBD-extract.
In other words the CBDA:CBD ratio was higher in the unheated CBD extract.
CBDA is the precursor of CBD. It's the acidic form of CBD. And although CBDA is associated with health benefits as well, 95% of CBD research is about CBD and NOT CBDA. The health benefits associated with CBD don't automatically extend to CBDA.
That said …
According to this study, you can increase the CBD concentration in our blood, when there's more CBDA in your CBD oil.
Currently, it's thought that CBDA only turns into CBD when it gets exposed to heat and decarboxylates.
Based on this study we must then either conclude that:
- CBDA turns into CBD through a physiological process in the human body.
- CBDA massively increases the bioavailability of CBD.
Further research should confirm the results of this study and determine what mechanism causes unheated CBD-extract to result in such a significantly higher concentration of CBD in the blood.
When talking about CBD oils, unheated CBD extracts are very rare, but cold-ethanol-extracted CBD oils and subcritical CO2-extracted CBD oils sometimes are sold in their unheated form.
Other names for this type of CBD oil are ‘raw CBD oil', ‘raw CBD extract'.
The Benefits and Downsides of Vaping CBD Oil
Although some CBD oils can be vaped, most edible CBD oils are not suitable for vaping.
That’s because edible oils, in general, aren’t suited for vaping.
When you inhale edible oils over an extended period, you risk getting exogenous lipid pneumonia, an inflammatory lung disease that in some cases causes severe damage to your lungs.
That’s why when you vape CBD oil, you have to make sure that your CBD oil is specifically manufactured to be vaped.
One simple way to make sure that your CBD oil is, in fact, vapeable, is to look for ingredients like vegetable glycerin (VG) and/or propylene glycerol (PG). Both VG and PG are ingredients used to make CBD oil vapeable.
In general, unless explicitly stated that your CBD vape oil is edible as well, I don’t recommend ‘eating’ your CBD vape oil.
Although both VG and PG are considered safe for consumption (within certain limits, for PG it’s 11.4 mg/lbs of body weight or 25 mg/kg of body weight per day), PG is not a natural substance and I personally would avoid eating it if I can.
Also, CBD vape oils sometimes contain other ingredients like flavorings that can be made of chemicals, that I personally don't recommend eating.
The main benefit of vaping CBD vape oil is that you’ll feel the effects of the CBD very fast and sometimes even immediately.
Another benefit of vaping CBD vape oil is that it has a higher bio-availability than eating it, meaning, theoretically, you’ll need fewer milligrams of CBD to feel the same effect. In practice, however, this effect is dampened by the fact that CBD vape oils never full-plant Hemp-extracts. This means that with CBD vape oil, you won’t experience the ‘entourage effect’ to its maximum potential.
Another benefit of vaping CBD vape oil is that it’s discreet. When you vape CBD vape juice with a regular vape pen, no one will associate your vaping with CBD use. Vaping has become a somewhat of a socially accepted behavior, and CBD doesn’t have a particular smell, which means you can easily stay under the radar while you’re puffing away on your CBD vape juice.
The main downside of vaping CBD vape oil is that there aren’t many CBD vape oils that are full-plant extracts.
Full-plant extract CBD oils contain many other beneficial compounds that are found in the Hemp plant (other cannabinoids, terpenoids, flavonoids). With CBD vape oil, it’s hard to benefit from the aforementioned ‘entourage effect’ that makes CBD more potent.
For our current recommended CBD vape oils, check out the article below:
How Much CBD Oil Should You Take? CBD Oil Dosage Guidelines
First things first:
CBD and CBD oil are not medicines. There's little scientific evidence that CBD can cure anything.
There's some scientific evidence that CBD can provide relief with symptoms of various conditions.
There are no official dosage guidelines related to effective CBD use. All we can do is look at CBD doses used in studies, scrutinize anecdotal reports and look at our own experiences with CBD oil.
It’s also important to note that because different methods of CBD oil consumption come with different levels of CBD bioavailability, an effective dosage is also highly dependent on the method of use.
Add to that the fact that there are large differences between individuals in:
- The metabolism of CBD, and;
- Other physical characteristics like weight and body mass,
and you’ll quickly understand why it’s difficult to give a general dosage guideline for effective CBD oil use.
That said, based on the latest scientific research, we can come up with guidelines that have at least somewhat of a scientific basis.
The Maximum Known Dose of CBD That’s Considered Safe
Currently, it’s unknown whether you can overdose with CBD.
The maximum dose of CBD ever taken in a study, without any serious side effects is 1500mg of CBD.
Taking 1500mg of CBD means clearing a big bottle of CBD oil in a gulp. CBD oil is not meant to be taken in that way, usually, you drop 10-20 drops of CBD oil under your tongue. Noone will ever recommend finishing a big bottle of CBD oil in a single gulp.
CBD Dose for Epilepsy
One study that looked at the effects of CBD on patients with epilepsy found that 200-300mg of CBD taken daily had a positive effect on the occurrence of convulsive crises in 7 of 8 patients.
One survey-based study that looked at CBD use among epilepsy patients found that 73% of patients that used CBD, used a daily dose between 10–25 mg/kg. If you weigh 70kg, this amounts to 700-1500mg of CBD. As you can see this is a very high dose and for most people, it’s financially impossible to use such large doses of CBD, without their health insurance backing them up.
Important to note here is that the patients in this study used purified CBD or CBD Isolate. A recent study that looked at the differences in effects and doses between epilepsy patients that used CBD-rich Cannabis extract vs. purified CBD products, found that CBD-rich Cannabis extract not only was more effective in treating epilepsy symptoms …
But was more effective with a dose that's 4-times smaller than the reported average effective dose for purified CBD products.
The average daily dose reported by the patients for purified CBD was 25.3 mg/kg/day, while the average daily dose of CBD equivalent reported for CBD-rich Cannabis extract was only 6.0 mg/kg/day.
As you can see, it’s still quite expensive to take CBD at a daily dose of 6.0 mg/kg/day in the form of a CBD-rich Cannabis extract. But it’s quite a bit cheaper than taking CBD at a daily dose of 25.3 mg/kg/day in the form of a purified CBD product like CBD Isolate.
Further studies should show whether you can achieve the same beneficial results for other conditions like anxiety and pain, with 4-times less CBD when taken in the form of CBD-rich Cannabis extract compared to when taken in the form of a purified CBD product.
CBD Dose for Psychosis
There haven’t been any large-scale studies that looked at the effects of CBD on psychosis in humans. And the few studies that looked at the effects of CBD on psychosis found limited evidence for its use.
For example, in a case study, a 19-year old woman with schizophrenia got a successful treatment with a dose of 1200 mg/day of purified CBD.
In another study that compared the effects of CBD vs. a traditional antipsychotic named ‘amisulpride’, researchers found that a daily dose of 200mg CBD, increased stepwise by 200mg per day to a daily dose of 200 mg four times daily (total 800 mg per day), was as effective as the traditional antipsychotic medicine amisulpride. CBD also had a superior side-effect profile (fewer side-effects).
Although the researchers in this study don’t explicitly state that they used purified CBD, I think it’s safe to assume that unless stated otherwise, when talking about CBD, researchers use a purified form of CBD instead of a CBD in the form of a full-plant extract.
Again, these doses of CBD are high and unless your insurance company covers your CBD purchases, it might be financially impossible to supply yourself with these large amounts of CBD.
CBD Dose for Anxiety
A 2015 study that reviewed the results of 25+ human experimental, clinical, epidemiological and chronic studies found that the current evidence strongly supports the potential for CBD as a treatment for anxiety disorders at oral doses ranging from 300mg to 600mg.
There’s especially strong evidence for CBD reducing experimentally-induced-anxiety like public speaking tests, and for reducing social anxiety disorder.
Important to note here is that the respondents used a purified form of CBD and not a full-plant extract. This means, unfortunately, no dose recommendations can be given with regards to taking CBD in the form of a full-plant extract for anxiety.
But IF the study that compared the effectiveness of full-plant extract CBD products vs purified CBD products in epilepsy patients is in any way indicative for anxiety as well (a full-plant extract CBD product needing 4-times less of CBD compared to a purified CBD product for the same effects), the recommended dose of full-plant extract CBD oil to treat anxiety would be equivalent to 75mg to 150mg of CBD.
CBD Dose for Pain
Most studies that found painkilling effects with cannabis-based medicines used a combination of both THC and CBD. Unfortunately, the doses used in these studies can therefore not be translated to recommendations for a CBD-only dose.
There is however one recent study that found painkilling effects of CBD in some kidney transplant patients, with an initial dose of 100 mg/day and a progressive increase up to 300 mg/day (spread out over the day in smaller doses).
An interesting note here is that this same study found that more CBD is not always better. One of the patients experienced stronger painkilling effects with lower doses of CBD (it’s unclear how much lower than 300 mg/d).
CBD Dose for Sleep
Studies that specifically looked at the effects of CBD on sleep in healthy patients are rare. Most studies that looked at the effects of CBD on sleep had subjects that suffered from conditions like PTSD or Parkinson’s Disease and therefore the results of these studies bear little relation to the average person who’s looking to use CBD for sleep.
That said, there’s one study done in 1981 that looked at the effects of CBD on sleep in otherwise healthy insomniac volunteers.
The researchers tested 3 doses with purified crystalline CBD: 40mg, 80mg, and 160mg of CBD. The volunteers reported significantly less dream recall with all 3 doses of CBD (compared to placebo), which could indicate fewer sleep disruptions. With the dose of 160mg CBD, all volunteers significantly increased the numbers slept.
Important to note here is again that the researchers used a purified form of CBD, and it’s possible that you’ll get the same effects of 160mg of purified CBD when you take fewer mg of CBD in the form of a full-plant Hemp-extract.
CBD Dose for General Health
Studies that look at the effects of CBD always look at the effects of CBD on a specific condition or the effects of CBD on the symptoms of a specific condition.
That said, CBD has strong anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant characteristics. You don’t need a specific condition to reap the benefits of CBD oil. Anyone can benefit from food with strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Our unscientific and unofficial recommendation for taking CBD oil for general well being is 25mg of CBD daily, in the form of a full-plant extract/full-spectrum CBD oil.
Now that you've learned what's the best way to take your CBD oil, and learned what dosages of CBD oil potentially work best for specific conditions (based on the latest scientific articles), you have a better chance of using your CBD oil effectively.
If you're still looking to find a potent CBD oil, the CBD oils in the article have all submit their oil to third-party analysis and offer certificates of analysis checking for contaminants like heavy metals and pesticides, sometimes even on a batch-by-batch basis:
If you're interested in a more convenient (but less potent) way to use CBD, check out our list of:
If you want to read up on the potential benefits of CBD oil, check out the article below where we review the most important scientific articles about the effects of CBD on health:
If you want to read a full consumer's guide on what CBD oil exactly is and what types of CBD oils are being sold (including their pros and cons), check out:
If you want to learn more about how CBD Oil could be beneficial specifically for pain or anxiety, check out the articles below: