How Much CBD is Enough CBD?
That is a question I get asked a quite frequently and, up until recently, I have never been comfortable answering it. In my gut, I’ve always felt like the amount of CBD in existing tinctures, salves, and balms was always just too meager to be effective.
The standard answer I hear (and read) all the time seems to be, try a little bit and if it doesn’t work, then take some more. The good news is that the research pretty much supports that approach, its safe, and it allows you to adjust your dosage up to the level you feel is effective. The bad news is that it could be time consuming, expensive to experiment on yourself to see what works, and you may never get to the point where the dosage is right, particularly if you start too low
The published data generally says three things about CBD:
- CBD appears to be effective for treating a wide range of neuropsychiatric disorders, including, chronic pain, nausea, epilepsy, psychosis, and anxiety.
- CBD appears to be effective over a “large therapeutic window”. Translation: CBD has been shown to be effective and safe from doses as "low" as 2.85 mg/kg up to 50 mg/kg per day. To put that in perspective, for a 176-pound (80kg) man, that range is somewhere between 200 mg and 4,000mg per day.
- Persistent and long-term usage of CBD at doses up to 1,500mg seems to be pretty well tolerated.
So back to the original question: How Much CBD Is enough CBD?
Well of course it depends on the study, the methodology, and the desired results. I’ll share and summarize some research that you can review for yourself.
In a 2015 paper titled Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders the authors concluded “Evidence from human studies strongly supports the potential for CBD as a treatment for anxiety disorders: at oral doses ranging from 300 to 600 mg, CBD reduces experimentally induced anxiety in healthy controls, without affecting baseline anxiety levels, and reduces anxiety in patients with SAD.”
The same paper referenced above links to research on two sleep studies. One that demonstrated that 160mg of CBD increased duration of sleep and the second one demonstrated that 300-600mg of CBD resulted in lower plasma cortisol levels (lower is better for sleeping).
There is less data available for CBD and pain than there is for THC and pain with most of the CBD data being preclinical (i.e. animal testing). The best study I’ve found is a study with rats to evaluate the impact of topical CBD on inflammation and pain. The results of the study showed that the topical CBD does reduce inflammation and pain at doses of about .18mg of CBD per cm2. For perspective, a male human hand has a surface area of about 400-500cm2. So, for topical application of CBD, that would be roughly equivalent at 50-100mg for an area the size of your hand. I’ll leave it to the reader to determine their proper hand to rat surface area ratio.
I personally believe that some of the most powerful potential benefits of CBD are going to come from its anti-inflammatory benefits. Unfortunately, almost all of the current data about inflammation response are from preclinical studies with animals. In a recent study the authors came to the conclusion that the preclinical data overwhelmingly support the notion that CBD is immune suppressive (i.e. anti-inflammatory). On average the dose of CBD used on the rats would roughly be equivalent to 800-1600mg!
What is clear from the research is that your standard 1 mL tincture dropper with less than 20mg of CBD is probably a bit on the low side and not going to give you the intended benefit that you want. Conversely, it also says you can probably drink that whole tincture bottle in one sitting without any adverse impact except maybe coconut oil poisoning. (Please don't drink your tincture bottle, that was a joke.)
The amount of data about CBD continues to grow and there is a lot more work to be done looking at long term impacts (both positive and negative) of consuming CBD.
This is just a primer that hopefully gives you something to think about and points you in the direction of some good research. It is incumbent on the reader to go out educate yourself and review the published data and decide for yourself. At BSX we believe in the power of CBD because the data has shown us all its potential benefits. We also believe in the power of an educated consumer, so please don’t just take our word for it.