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Cbd oil concentration levels for therapy

What Is CBD Oil?

This cannabis extract may help treat nerve pain, anxiety, and epilepsy

Cathy Wong is a nutritionist and wellness expert. Her work is regularly featured in media such as First For Women, Woman’s World, and Natural Health.

Verywell Health articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and healthcare professionals. These medical reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.

Meredith Bull, ND, is a licensed naturopathic doctor with a private practice in Los Angeles, California.

Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is an extract from hemp plants called Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa . You might be more familiar with cannabis plants because they are grown for marijuana. However, CBD is not the same thing as marijuana.

CBD oil contains CBD that’s mixed with a base (carrier) oil, like coconut oil or hemp seed oil. These are called tinctures. You can get tinctures in different concentrations. The oil can also be put into capsules, gummies, and sprays.

People who support using CBD oil say that it can treat pain and anxiety; can help stimulate appetite and may help manage some types of seizures.

This article goes over what CBD is used for, the possible side effects, and what you should look for if you choose to buy CBD.

CBD vs. Marijuana

CBD is one component (called a cannabinoid ) that’s found in a hemp plant. Marijuana is a separate plant but it’s from the same species that hemp belongs to. Marijuana has CBD and hundreds of other compounds in it.

The main difference between hemp plants and marijuana plants is how much of a compound called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is in them. Hemp is grown to have less than 0.3% THC, while marijuana has more.

THC is what’s responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis—in other words, it’s what makes you feel “high.”

CBD oil generally does not have THC in it; however, a very small (trace) amount might be in products sold in certain states.

What Is CBD Oil Used For?

We’re not sure exactly how CBD works. Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t have a strong connection with the molecules in the brain that THC binds to create psychoactive effects. These are called cannabinoid receptors.

Instead, CBD works on other receptors, like the opioid receptors that help control pain. It also affects glycine receptors that control a brain chemical called serotonin which helps control your mood.

People that support the use of CBD claim that CBD oil can treat a variety of health problems, including:

  • Acne
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic pain
  • Depression
  • Drug use and withdrawal
  • High blood pressure
  • Muscle spasms
  • Poor appetite

As CBD has gained popularity, researchers have been trying to study it more. Still, there has not been a lot of clinical research to look for evidence in support of these health claims.

CBD is not a safe option for everyone. Talk to your healthcare provider if you want to try it for managing a health condition.

Anxiety

A 2015 review of research that was published in the journal Neurotherapeutics suggested that CBD might help treat anxiety disorders.

The study authors reported that CBD had previously shown powerful anxiety-relieving effects in animal research—and the results were kind of surprising.

In most of the studies, lower doses of CBD (10 milligrams per kilogram, mg/kg, or less) improved some symptoms of anxiety, while higher doses (100 mg/kg or more) had almost no effect.

The way that CBD acts in the brain could explain why this happens. In low doses, CBD might act the same as the surrounding molecules that normally bind to the receptor that “turns up” their signaling.

However, at higher doses, too much activity at this receptor site could produce the opposite effect.

There have not been many trials to look at CBD’s anxiety-relieving effects in humans. However, one was a 2019 study published in the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry.

For the study, 57 men took either CBD oil or a sugar pill with no CBD in it (placebo) before a public-speaking event.

The researchers assessed the participants’ anxiety levels using measures like blood pressure and heart rate. The researchers also used a reliable test for mood states called the Visual Analog Mood Scale (VAMS).

The men who took 300 mg of CBD oil reported less anxiety than the men who were given a placebo; however, the men who took 100 mg or 600 mg of CBD oil did not experience the same effects.

Addiction

CBD oil might help people with substance use disorder, according to a 2015 review published in the journal Substance Abuse.

The review looked at the findings from 14 published studies. Nine of the studies looked at the effects of CBD on animals, and five studies looked at the effects on humans.

The researchers reported that CBD showed promise for treating people with opioid, cocaine, or psychostimulant use disorders.

However, the effects of CBD were quite different depending on the substance. For example, CBD without THC did not decrease withdrawal symptoms related to opioid use.

On the other hand, it did reduce drug-seeking behaviors in people using cocaine, methamphetamine, and other similar drugs.

Some experts suggest that CBD could help treat cannabis and nicotine dependence, but more research is needed to provide this theory.

High Blood Pressure

A 2017 study found that CBD oil may reduce the risk of heart disease because it can lower high blood pressure in some people.

For the study, nine healthy men took either 600 mg of CBD or the same dose of a placebo. The men who took CBD had lower blood pressure before and after experiencing stressors like exercise or extreme cold.

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The study also looked at the amount of blood remaining in the heart after a heartbeat (stroke volume).

The stroke volume in the men who took CBD was lower than in was in the placebo group, meaning their hearts were pumping more efficiently.

The study suggested that CBD oil could be a complementary therapy for people with high blood pressure that is affected by stress and anxiety.

However, there is no evidence that CBD oil can treat high blood pressure on its own or prevent it in people at risk. While stress can complicate high blood pressure, it does not cause it.

Seizures

In June 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a CBD oral solution called Epidiolex.

Epidiolex is used to treat two rare forms of epilepsy in children under the age of 2: Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. These are very rare genetic disorders that cause lifelong seizures starting in the first year of life.

Other than for these two disorders, CBD’s effectiveness for treating seizures is not known. Even with Epidiolex, it’s not clear if the anti-seizure effects are from CBD or another factor.

However, there is some evidence that CBD interacts with seizure medicines like Onfi (clobazam) and raises their concentration in the blood. That said, more research is needed to understand the link.

Possible Side Effects

Clinical research has shown that CBD oil can cause side effects. The specific side effects a person has and how bad they are varies from one person to the next and from one type of CBD to another.

Some common side effects people report from using CBD include:

  • Anxiety
  • Changes in appetite
  • Changes in mood
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

CBD oil may also increase liver enzymes, which is a marker of liver inflammation.

People with liver disease should talk to their healthcare provider before taking CBD oil. They may need to have their liver enzymes checked regularly if they are using CBD.

Can You Use CBD If You’re Pregnant?

You should not use CBD oil if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Even though the effects of CBD are not fully understood, it does pass through the placenta.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) further states that pregnant people should not use marijuana because of the potential risks to a developing fetus.

Do not drive or use heavy machinery when taking CBD oil—especially when you first start using it or switch to a new brand. Remember that some products do contain THC, even in small amounts.

Interactions

CBD oil can interact with medications, including many that are used to treat epilepsy. One of the reasons for this has to do with how your body breaks down (metabolizes) drugs.

Cytochrome P450 (CYP450) is an enzyme your body uses to break down some drugs. CBD oil can block CYP450. That means that taking CBD oil with these drugs could make them have a stronger effect than you need or make them not work at all.

Drugs that could potentially interact with CBD include:

  • Anti-arrhythmia drugs like quinidine
  • Anticonvulsants like Tegretol (carbamazepine) and Trileptal (oxcarbazepine)
  • Antifungal drugs like Nizoral (ketoconazole) and Vfend (voriconazole)
  • Antipsychotic drugs like Orap (pimozide)
  • Atypical antidepressants like Remeron (mirtazapine)
  • Benzodiazepine sedatives like Klonopin (clonazepam) and Halcion (triazolam)
  • Immune-suppressive drugs like Sandimmune (cyclosporine)
  • Macrolide antibiotics like clarithromycin and telithromycin
  • Migraine medicine like Ergomar (ergotamine)
  • Opioid painkillers like Duragesic (fentanyl) and alfentanil
  • Rifampin-based drugs used to treat tuberculosis

Always tell your healthcare provider and pharmacist about all the medicines you take, including prescription, over-the-counter (OTC), herbal, or recreational drugs.

The interactions between these medications and CBD are often mild and you might not have to change your treatment.

However, in some cases, you might have to change medications or space out your doses to avoid a reaction. That said, never change or stop medication without talking to your provider.

Dosage and Preparation

There are no guidelines for using CBD oil. Each product works a bit differently, depending on the form.

For example, putting the oil under your tongue can produce effects more quickly than swallowing a capsule that needs to be digested.

Here are a few ways that you can take CBD oil:

  • Placing one or more drops under your tongue and holding it there for 30 to 60 seconds without swallowing. You can also use a spray that is spritz in your mouth/under your tongue.
  • Taking a capsule or chewing a gummy

There’s no “correct” dose of CBD oil. How much you take and the form you choose will depend on your needs and what you hope to get for effects. The average dose range is from 5 mg to 25 mg.

Most oils come in 30-milliliter (mL) bottles and include a dropper cap to help you measure.

That said, it’s hard to figure out the exact amount of CBD per milliliter of oil. Some tinctures have concentrations of 1,500 mg per 30 mL, while others have 3,000 mg per mL or more.

How to Calculate CBD Dose

To determine an exact dose of CBD, remember that each drop of oil equals 0.05 mL of fluid. This means that a 30-mL bottle of CBD oil will have about 600 drops in it.

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If the concentration of the tincture is 1,500 mg per mL, one drop would have 2.5 mg of CBD in it. The math to figure that out looks like this: 1,500 mg ÷ 600 drops = 2.5 mg

What to Look For

CBD oil comes in different forms: isolates, broad-spectrum, and full-spectrum.

  • Isolates contain only CBD
  • Broad-spectrum oils nearly all of the components of the plan (e.g., proteins, flavonoids, terpenes, and chlorophyll), but does not have THC oils have all the compounds including THC (up to 0.3%)

Alternative medicine practitioners believe that the compounds provide more health benefits, but the is a lack of evidence to support these claims.

Remember that CBD oils are unregulated. There’s no guarantee that a product is what it claims to be on its packaging. You also can’t know for sure that it’s safe and effective.

A 2017 study reported that only 31% of CBD products sold online were correctly labeled. Most had less CBD in them than was advertised, and 21% had significant amounts of THC.

If you are interested in buying CBD products, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Buy American: Domestically produced CBD oil might be a safer option than those that have been imported.
  • Go organic: Brands certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are less likely to expose you to pesticides and other harmful chemicals.
  • Read the product label: Even if you choose a full-spectrum oil, don’t assume that every ingredient on the product label is natural. CBD products can also have preservatives, flavorings, or thinning agents in them. If you don’t recognize an ingredient, ask the dispenser what it is or check online.

Summary

Hemp plants can be grown for different purposes. Some species are made for marijuana but others are used to make CBD products.

Unlike marijuana, CBD oil does not “get you high.” Instead, it may help relieve stress, anxiety, drug withdrawals, and nerve pain.

While there are many claims about the health benefits of using CBD oil, the evidence is lacking. A lot of studies were done with animals, not humans.

If you want to try CBD oil, you should learn about the different dosages and preparations first.

You should also know that the products are not regulated, which means you can’t know for sure that a product will work and be safe.

Before you use CBD oil, talk to your provider. If you take certain medications or have a health condition, you may not be able to use these products.

Frequently Asked Questions

It would be hard to overdose on CBD oil. Research has shown that human tolerance for CBD is very high. One study reported the toxic dose would be about 20,000 mg taken at one time.

It depends on where you live, the type of product, how it was sourced (e.g., is it from hemp or marijuana), and its intended purpose (medical or recreational). In many states, you must be 18 or 21 to buy CBD oil. Check your state’s laws.

Not necessarily. While the names are sometimes used interchangeably, hemp oil can also refer to hemp seed oil, which is used for cooking, food production, and skincare products.

CBD oil is made from the leaves, stems, buds, and flowers of the Cannabis indica or Cannabis sativa plant. It should contain less than 0.3% THC.

Hemp oil is made from the seeds of Cannabis sativa and does not have TCH in it.

Concentration Level

One of the variables to take into consideration when evaluating CBD products is potency.

CBD potency specifically refers to how strong it is. If a CBD extract is rated at 300mg, it’s going to be about half as strong (potent) as the same amount of a CBD extract rated at 600mg CBD. These potencies also rely on the actual size of the bottle! The total CBD listed in mg refers to the dose contained IN THE ENTIRE BOTTLE. If you have a smaller bottle, the potency will increase, so 300 mg in a 15 mL bottle will be twice as potent as a 300 mg oil in a 30 mL bottle.

The majority of CBD companies sell oil tinctures in three different potencies:

• 300 mg
• 600 mg
• 1000 mg

Each of these potencies can come in a 15, 30, 50, or 60mL bottle. These are the most common, but there are also more potent 2000 mg and 4000 mg CBD options available too.

The most important thing to remember when you buy CBD oil is to keep in mind that the bottle size matters. There’s a simple calculation you can make to determine the strength of a CBD oil. It goes like this:

[AMOUNT OF CBD IN MG] ÷ [BOTTLE SIZE IN ML] = STRENGTH IN MG/ML

• Anything below 5 mg/mL (10%) is considered low strength
• Anything between 15 and 30 mg/mL (15-30%) is medium strength
• Anything between 30 and 60 (30-60%) is high strength
• Anything else (60+%) is considered ultra-high strength or classified as a concentrate

CBD oil, like most products, can be watered down. Although concentrations of CBD vary across a wide range, quality products will provide between 250mg and 1,000mg per fluid ounce. An effective dosage can range from as little as a few milligrams of CBD oil to a full gram or more, depending on several individual factors and the condition you are interested in treating.

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Always start with a small dose, especially if you have little or no experience with cannabis. Less is often more with regard to cannabis therapy; the compounds in CBD oil have biphasic properties, meaning that low and high doses often produce opposite effects. Small doses of CBD oil tend to stimulate; large doses sedate. CBD has no known adverse side effects, but an excessive amount of CBD is likely to be less effective than a moderate dose.
Though there are seemingly endless different CBD manufacturers to choose from, most will offer products in at least two or three different potencies or concentrations. Starting with the lowest potency lets you adequately gauge how much CBD is needed to relieve your specific condition. You can gradually increase the dose to see how that works for you, simultaneously reducing the likelihood of developing a tolerance to the product.

Low-potency CBD oil (300 mg):

Relatively low-potency oil (300 mg) is likely to be a good option for people who may be sensitive to CBD, and some individuals’ endocannabinoid systems are more active than others, so naturally they won’t need as much CBD as others. Many people use a 300 mg oil for things like mild to moderate anxiety, or minor aches & pains. A single serving from a 300 mg (30 mL) bottle is equivalent to 15 drops of oil, which translates to a 7.5 mg dose of CBD. However, plenty of people won’t even use a full dose, as they’re able to achieve relief with as little as 5-7 drops of oil, or about a 3.5 mg dose. CBD has long been recognized as an effective anti-inflammatory with specific properties that reduce the risk of cancer, metabolic disorders, and nerve cell degeneration. Some studies on mice have actually shown CBD to promote the creation of new nerve cells, which could potentially be highly relevant in numerous age-related neurodegenerative diseases. For example, CBD has been proven to block certain specific enzymes known to inhibit marrow-producing tissues, making it an excellent preventative treatment for age-related bone diseases like osteoporosis and arthritis.

A huge body of research supports the idea that using CBD as a simple, daily supplement provides natural disease-prevention qualities. A low-strength, 300 mg bottle of CBD oil is a good option for a daily supplement; many people take a single daily dose to increase immune health, increase homeostatic balance, and as general disease prevention. CBD oil can be used as a daily treatment to lower the risk of everything from mental disorders and diabetes to obesity and heart disease. Research has shown that the specific antioxidants found in CBD are more powerful than vitamins E and C in terms of physiological function. When used in serums and tinctures, this translates to a wealth of disease-preventing characteristics.

Top CBD researchers and physicians are starting to draw connections between CBD’s influence on brain-to-body communication. For example, Harvard University experimental psychologist and one of the world’s leading CBD researchers, Dr. Bradley E. Alger claims that the core of medicinal cannabinoid treatment lies at the chemical “matrix” between brain and body. According to Alger, CBD likely involves a chemical mechanism that interconnects brain activity and bodily homeostasis: “… the endocannabinoids are literally a bridge between body and mind. By understanding their function, we begin to see a mechanism that could connect brain activity and states of physical health and disease.”

In all honesty, it’s appearing more and more likely that daily small doses (less than 5 mg) of CBD oil may be an extraordinary means of long-term disease prevention. Also, considering the fact that excellent quality, low-concentration oils (300 mg or less) are available for less than $30, it appears that a 100% natural disease-preventing therapy is now a practical means for individuals of all income types – regardless of whether or not they have health insurance.
Preventative medication is likely the key to developing a happier, healthier, and more productive society, and CBD oil very well may be the necessary link that’s been missing for generations on end.

Mid-potency CBD oil (600 mg):

The 600 mg oil is a good “step-up” option for people who find that they’re having to take larger or multiple doses of the 300 mg in order to get effective results. In general, a lot of people use this strength for more moderate cases of anxiety, pain, inflammation, and digestive issues. A single dose is still the same 15 drops of oil, but instead of containing 7.5 mg of CBD, a 600 mg bottle will contain 15 mg per dose.

High-potency CBD oil (1,000 mg):

1,000 mg CBD oil is the highest-strength option. People have used it successfully treat insomnia, depression, anxiety/panic attacks, chronic pain, and/or as a buffer while weaning off drug or alcohol addiction. We do no recommended that first-time users start with this strength tincture.
Just like the 300 and 600 mg products, it comes in a 30 mL bottle, but a single 15 drop serving equates to a heavy 24 mg dose of CBD; unless your condition is fairly severe, you likely won’t need this high-strength tincture.

The main thing to consider when deciding the right strength of CBD oil is to realize that each person’s biochemistry is different. It’s important to start with the smallest possible dose and work up from there.