How much should I take? The Hemp Extract dosing question.
Updated: Oct 25
If you ask any retailer of Hemp Extract products, by and far they will tell you that one of the most common questions that their customers ask is: "How much of this stuff should I take for (insert condition here)?"
That is also one of the most difficult questions to answer. Hemp Extracts have only recently begun to receive serious study by researchers and physicians. It is also not yet heavily regulated by the FDA (or truly, regulated very much at all). Still fewer physicians and medical practitioners possess knowledge of the product, and in an over-abundance of caution, steer clear of recommending it since it has undergone such little study. (It is also not controlled by large pharmaceutical companies, but that is a subject for another article.)
The result is, consumers tend to rely on the purveyors of these products for dosing recommendations. The truth is, that retailers are not doctor's, and cannot legally recommend any specific dosage for any given medical issue. In fact, we will refer the buyer to ask their personal physician or medical professional for their advice.
However, that doesn't mean that we have nothing to say on the matter. Retailers do not (and should not) speak to specifics, but they can make GENERAL recommendations about how to determine the optimal dose for each person. In fact, if a retailer speaks like a medical expert (and they are not a licensed practitioner), then you should take that advice with a grain of salt and seek a second opinion. It's not as if there is a shortage of REPUTABLE Hemp Extract dealers nowadays!
In today's article, we will be discussing some of those generalities and common concerns and questions you should have when determining your personal dosage.
Before we begin
Before starting, we need to understand that this article is written specifically thinking about CBD (Cannabidiol). Whether Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum or Isolate is of little importance to these dosing determinations. (it might effect how much you ultimately need, but not the method of determining it). There are many new forms of Extract products entering the market, it would seem daily, such as CBG, CBN, and even individual Terpenes. Determining how much of any given product should follow the same general rules we set out for CBD.
We also can't emphasize this enough; Discuss the product and dosage with your medical provider. They need to be aware of what you are taking and are better informed and equipped to know if it will interact with other medications or affect your systems than someone in a retail store or website.
Also, these recommendations DO NOT apply to Hemp Extract products used with pets and animals. Those have specific recommendations that are based upon the animals weight. Since your pet cannot tell you what effects they are, or are not feeling from using the product, you have to rely upon observation, etc.
There are over a hundred reasons, also, that one might seek to use Hemp Extract products to treat. From general health concerns to Mental Health issues and chronic pain. Although, you will read later, this may be a factor in determining dosage, it is generally unimportant to determining the dose. That is to say, there exists NO chart, table or graph that lists any condition and references it to a specific recommended dosage. You might find some charts recommending a dose based upon weight, however, these are not the product of any serious research or study (as of right now), so these should be taken with a grain of salt and have their sources scrutinized.
Ultimately, this means the general methods of this article apply across the myriad of reasons to consume, types of extract products and methods of ingestion for Hemp Extracts. Note, however, the methods we describe herein generally apply to the consumption of Hemp Extracts by ingestion through the mouth and digestive system (or in the case of tinctures, sublingually) that transit thee bloodstream.
Why should I determine my appropriate dosage?
Essentially, for the same reasons your physician doesn't just prescribe to you the strongest version of any given medication. They take into consideration several factors and determine the appropriate strength of the medication. You should have some of the same considerations as well. A couple of these include:
Tolerance- Hemp Extracts are chemical compounds, and although this factor is generally discussed for recreational substances and painkillers (i.e., it takes more to have the same effect), prolonged use of them may lead to the build up of a certain level of "toleration" for that substance. It is best to find the dose which works for you at the lower end so that if you do develop some tolerance to it, you have room to increase the dosage as necessary.
Less Waste- By determining the amount you need, and not just purposefully overdosing yourself, you do not use excess product when unnecessary. That is important considering the next item.
Expense- Hemp Extracts are gathered through the process of extraction. Depending upon the method and amount of the extract used (the strength) in the product, it can become more and more expensive at higher strengths. If you are willing and able to incorporate Hemp Extracts into your routine, you do not want to waste any that doesn't do you any good. In effect, you will be wasting money.
The Short List of Factors Used to Determine Dosage
There are many factors that come into play when determining an optimal dose. Here is a list of some of the more important ones.
1. Type of Condition you are treating- Not the actual condition or disease, but more general. Is this problem Chronic or Acute. Chronic conditions are present the majority of the time. For example, Arthritic joint pain, Depression, etc. These are present everyday in the person's life and may cause lifestyle changes or effects. This sort of issue may require a larger initial dose at the start of the cycle to determine how much to take. An Acute condition is just a short term issue that will eventually go away. It may be repetitive, but usually only lasts for a short time, or may be caused by something specific that can be altered. For example, a headache from stress or the pain of a pulled muscle or twisted ankle.
Weight/Body Mass - As a general rule with a lot of substances, the bigger you are, the more you need to achieve the same results.
Concentration/Potency/Strength - This refers to the strength of the individual dose of the product. It is generally expressed in milligrams. It is important to note that (generally) most strengths are listed on packaging for ALL the doses inside the package. For example, a bottle of 30 Gummie Candies may have a label strength of 750 milligrams. This means that EACH candy is 25 milligrams. Tinctures are usually expressed as milligram/milliliter. Since a typical bottle is 30 milliliters (1 Ounce) just divide the label strength by the volume to determine the strength of a single dropper (most droppers contain 1 milliliter of fluid).
Form of the product - Or Method of Ingestion - Basically, what TYPE of product are you using. Is it a traditional tincture, or a capsule/GelCaps, or even a Gummie candy product. Each product type has a different Bioavailability, which we will discuss below.
Synthetic or Natural - Although few and far between on the market, there exists synthetic forms of CBD. Much like a similar synthetic Cannabinoid, THC, the artificial version will have slightly different side effects and results associated with it.
Prior Experience/use - Have you used Hemp products in the past? If so, has it been recently enough that you may still have some in your system that can affect your needed dosage?
Other Medications - Pharmacists and Doctors are often concerned about "drug interactions." They can cause anything from minor itching and annoyance to potentially fatal consequences. To date, there has been nothing this severe noted about Hemp Extract usage. However, as we said earlier, Cannabinoids are in their infancy with regard to serious scientific research. This is why it is VERY important to keep your doctor in the loop about your usage of Hemp Extracts. They would have better and quicker access to any research that expressed concerns about the Extracts and anything else you may have been prescribed.
Can I Take Too Much?
Hemp Extracts are generally considered safe and easily tolerated by humans and animals in the scientific community. Despite there being relatively little research, a 2011 Review of NIH studies, and a 2017 Update to it seems to reinforce these findings.
However, with respect to Extract's interactions with other drugs, a 2019 study of mice drew some concerns about potential liver damage due to interactions with several drugs. This sort of published study is an example of research that is published, and your doctor should be aware of so they can better counsel you on your medical issues and Extract usage.
Although, in history, there has never been a documented instance of an overdose of Cannabinoids, you might still want to be aware of the source of your extract product. In a separate article, we will discuss selecting a product, but suffice it to say, you should research your purchase and look to buy from a reputable retailer that uses reputable suppliers that can source their products to reputable growers and use third party labs to test their products for potency and safety. But that amounts to simple common sense, really/ If you are going to put something into your body, you should be aware of where it came from, right? (after all, would you rather buy your meat from a grocery store, or out of the back of a hot car on the corner?)
Important Principles for Determining Dose
Everyone is different! There is, like mentioned above, no "one-size-fits-all" chart for dosing CBD. All of the factors listed above, and others, come into play when determining your optimal dose. And what works for you, may be too weak for your twin, even though on the surface, everything may be the same.
Getting the dosage correct is an important part of success with the product! The goal is relief, so it may take a little bit of time to get it right, or to feel effects. Remember, your body has been the way it is for however long, and it's not going to restore a precious balance overnight. As a side note, in the overwhelming majority of cases where a customer complains "well, I tried it and it didn't work for me!", it can easily be determined that they did not follow any type of dosing program, or use it for long enough, to show an effect.
Related to that, PATIENCE is key to the program! Not everyone will have relief in a very short term, so continuous use is the way to find out how much you need. Along with patience, LESS IS MORE when it comes to finding your optimal dose. In other words, start with less than you probably need, and gradually increase dosage until you achieve the desired results.
Please note, this is only a recommendation based upon experience and there are others that are equally as valid available. In fact, you can find some CALCULATORS for determining dosage (we do not endorse these nor can we speak to their efficacy) at FarmaHealth.com and IDWeeds.com and also at CBDOilUsers.com.
Make sure you know how to read the dosage on the product and determine the dose per serving amount.
Determine a starting point. In general, when treating a Chronic condition, usually a higher starting dosage is recommended. Acute conditions dosing is slightly different since these are expected to go away with or without Extract product usage.
Set up and keep a log Keep a record of usage so you can analyze trends over a longer period. Simply keep track of when, how much, and how you take your daily dose. If you are computer savvy, you can even create a spreadsheet with fancy charts and graphs to help out.
Pick a daily time to take your dosage and try to stick as close to that as possible. (or twice a day if you want to split it up).
Begin taking your selected starting dose. Take the same amount daily for approximately a week. Keep track of any effects you notice in your log. If no effect is noted, for the next week, increase your dose by a percentage (5 or 10 is typical), and continue this weekly until you begin to notice an effect. Once you begin to notice an effect on your condition, then still continue to increase your dose, just not by as much as with no effect (about half the amount of increase).
Continue this increase until the desired effect you are seeking is achieved then maintain at that amount.
Since it is possible to develop a tolerance to Extract products, it is still necessary to maintain your log. If you begin to notice a lesser effect, or some return of your problem, then begin increasing the dose as you did above, until it achieves the effect desired again.
If you desire, or if necessary, take a break from your daily dose for a short time (say, a week or two) in order to reduce your tolerance and to achieve a lower dose again. When you start back, just start at the previous Optimal Dose achieved, and increase as necessary to re-establish the desired result. (Note, this principal also applies if you stop taking your routine dosage for a time for any reason. For example, a vacation where you can't take CBD products along.)
You may need to go through these steps again if you change types of products (ex. Full Spectrum to Isolate) or method of ingestion (ex. Tincture to capsules).
Two Final Concepts
There are a couple of related concepts that you should understand. They are covered more in detail in other articles, but we will list them here for you to understand and consider.
BIOAVAILABILITY: This refers to each products ability to reach the users bloodstream. Measured in percentage and varies for each different method of ingestion. This is the concept behind the factor (#4) above. The largest availability is with Sublingual Drops (tinctures), since they pass through a membrane under the tongue DIRECTLY into the bloodstream. Other methods, like capsules and candies, are lower because they have to go through the process of digestion first.
MICRODOSING: This method of dosing is gaining popularity and can provide a desired effect with a lower, more controlled dose. The idea is to spread the dose out over more uses and a longer period of time to maintain a higher concentration of Cannabinoids in the bloodstream at all times of the day.
Getting your Optimal Dose correct is essential to the success of any wellness program using Hemp Extracts! If you have dreams of getting some of the pills from your daily regimen, you need to have your Dosing program established and working for you properly. There are many schools of thought and resources on the matter. Do your research, speak with your doctor and be informed. Knowing your correct dose is important to finding relief, and not wasting money and resources while doing so. There is a lot to take in here, and a staggering amount of information online, but if helping your pain, or state of mind, or whatever your goal, it is important to understand this concept before embarking on a Hemp Extract Journey!
CBD Dosage – Ultimate Dosing Guide & Calculator; CBDOilUsers.com, Brian Peterson June 16, 2020
CBD Dosage: How Much to Take for Pain, Anxiety & Sleep; CFAH.org, Written by Livvy Ashton, Last Updated: July 23, 2020
The Right Dose For You: CBD Dosage Calculator; DepressionAlliance.org, Written by: Depression Alliance Staff, Updated: 01/03/2019
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