Science of Hemp: Dosage and strength

At first glance, measuring the strength of a CBD product seems simple. But between the recommended doses, processing techniques, carrier oils, and the quality of the plants used, you can see pretty quickly that all droppers-full are not made equal.

Investigate the CBD label

Some labels may tell you the percentage of the CBD in a package, and others will let you know how many milligrams of CBD is included. To determine the product’s potency, you’ll need to divide the milligrams by the recommended serving size, to find the recommended starting dose.

This can be used across many brands to compare price points, or within one brand to find the best strength for your needs.

To dive into this further, here’s a breakdown from Weedmaps News’ a science adviser, Adie Rae, an academic researcher with a Ph.D. in neuroscience who has been studying cannabinoids since 2004:

“You could have two CBD oils, both in 30 milliliter bottles. But one contains 300 milligrams of CBD and the other contains 600 milligrams of CBD.
In this example, the stronger oil is the one with 600 milligrams of CBD per 30 milliliter container.”

But mg/mL is only part of the ideal dosage equation.

Your ideal dose is also affected by the type of CBD used. Is it full-spectrum? Isolate? Something in between? The combination of terpenes, cannabinoids, and flavonoids (or lack thereof) can help determine your ideal dose, too.

Most experts agree that CBD on its own (isolate) is less effective overall than a full-spectrum product containing roughly the same amount of CBD, likely due to the “entourage effect.”

Full-spectrum CBD includes all the cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes of the plant, including trace amounts of THC (up to .3%), rather than an extraction of pure CBD in an isolate, or the removal of THC in broad-spectrum CBD.

Scientists believe that synergistic properties between the components result in an “entourage effect,” with minor cannabinoids helping CBD bind more effectively to the receptors in our bodies. Following that theory, you may need less of a full-spectrum product to produce the results you’re looking for than an isolate.

How you take CBD matters, too.

You may have heard the term “bioavailability,” which is how much of the active form of a drug or supplement reaches systemic circulation without being altered by your body’s natural processes.

There are a number of factors that can affect how you break down CBD, like your individual metabolism, what you’ve eaten, what else you’re taking, how you’re taking it, and more. But what does it mean for dosage?

CBD has low oral bioavailability, so we know that capsules are not the ideal product for, say, a pulled muscle. Because the CBD has to travel through your digestive system and the rest of your body before reaching that muscle, you’d likely need a much larger dose than if you treated the spot itself with a salve.

Some other dosage variables to consider:

  • Cannabis experience and tolerance.
  • What are you treating? Are you trying to manage chronic symptoms or treat a one-off issue.
  • Your overall health: diet, exercise, sleep patterns, day-to-day stress, and genetics.
  • For people as well as pets, dosage is variable and personal.

Based on the latest research, CBD appears relatively safe at various doses. However, experts have not pinpointed a specific dose or range of doses that work for everyone.

If you’re interested in CBD products, consider experimenting with different routes of administration to see what works best for you, and for the ailment you’re trying to treat. And be sure to discuss it with your doctor or healthcare provider as it might interact with other medications.