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The safety and long-term health effects of using e-cigarettes or other vaping products still aren’t well known. In September 2019, federal and state health authorities began investigating an outbreak of a severe lung disease associated with e-cigarettes and other vaping products. We’re closely monitoring the situation and will update our content as soon as more information is available.

Figuring out how much CBD, or cannabidiol, to take is more complex than it sounds. While cannabis has been around for forever, CBD products are relatively new. As a result, there aren’t any evidence-based dosing guidelines yet.

Most experts agree that if it’s your first time using CBD, starting with the lowest dose and gradually working your way up is the best way to go.

Here’s a look at what you should know before trying CBD for the first time.

For starters, your body weight and individual body chemistry affect how you tolerate CBD.

Here are some other factors that play into how much CBD you should use.

How you take it

There are a few different ways to use CBD. The form matters when it comes to how much you should take, how it’s absorbed by your body, and how quickly it takes effect.

The different forms include:

Doses vary among forms. For instance, a standard dose in CBD gummies is around 5 milligrams (mg) per gummy, while tinctures and oils contain about 1 mg per drop.

Capsules and edibles can also take longer to kick in than a spray or tincture.

What you’re using it for

People use CBD to treat everything from nausea to arthritis pain. What you’re using it for matters when deciding how much you should take.

For instance, the Arthritis Foundation recommends starting slow with just a few milligrams of a sublingual form of CBD twice a day and increasing the dose by the same amount after a week if you don’t get enough pain relief.

That recommendation may not be the same if you’re using CBD for another condition.

Other medications

If you’re on any other medications, it’s important to know exactly how much, if any, CBD you should take.

CBD is usually well tolerated, but there’s still limited data on drug interactions. CBD could change the way a drug is metabolized, and there’s some evidence that it may interact with blood thinners, immune suppressant drugs, and antidepressants.

If you’re taking any other medications, speak to your doctor before using CBD.

It depends on how you take it.

Edibles, such as gummies, have to go through your digestive tract before they’re absorbed. By the time this happens, the actual amount of CBD that ends up in your system could be fairly low.

Another form, such as a tincture that you take sublingually, gets absorbed directly into your bloodstream, meaning it kicks in faster.

CBD onset time

Here’s a look at how long it generally takes to feel the effects of different forms of CBD:

  • Edibles: up to 2 hours
  • Tinctures sublingual sprays: 15 to 45 minutes
  • Topicals: 45 to 60 minutes
  • Vape products: 15 to 30 minutes

Not so fast!

Re-dosing is one of the most common reasons why people end up taking too much of anything. If you take more too soon, you could end up with unwanted effects.

Again, CBD is generally well tolerated, even at high doses, but that doesn’t mean it’s harmless.

Taking too much could result in:

A recent animal study also showed that high doses of CBD may cause liver damage.

Start low and slow, and make sure you give the CBD ample time to work before taking more. The general rule of thumb seems to be sticking with a low dose for about a week before increasing it.

In general, the effects of CBD last from 2 to 6 hours, depending on how you use it, how much you use, and your tolerance.

To better understand how your body reacts to it, take some general notes when using CBD, including:

  • the amount you took and how you took it
  • when you started feeling the effects
  • how strong the effects were
  • how long the effects lasted

This information can help you decide how much to take next time, as well as when to take it.

Ready to dip a toe into the world of CBD? These tips will help to unsure your experience is as comfortable, safe, and effective as possible:

  • Shop smart. CBD products are largely unregulated in the United States. Mislabeling and poor quality control, including significant discrepancies in strength and undeclared THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, are an issue. Only shop from trusted, licensed dispensaries.
  • Ask a professional. A healthcare provider who knows your medical history is the best person to go to for advice about how much CBD you take. As knowledgeable as sales staff may be when it comes to CBD products, they aren’t healthcare providers. Your best bet is to consult both.
  • Use it before bedtime. Drowsiness is one of the most common side effects of CBD. Unless your healthcare provider advises otherwise, using CBD at bedtime — or when you have time to chill if you need to — is a good idea, at least until you know how your body responds to it.
  • Avoid vaping. Vaping has been linked to serious lung infections and even death, though it’s not exactly clear how or why. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are investigating the risks of vaping, most government health agencies recommend avoiding vaping until we know more.

CBD is typically safe and well tolerated, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. There are several factors that play into how much and how often you should use it.

Until experts come up with clinical guidelines, your best bet is to talk to your healthcare provider, especially if you’re using CBD to manage a specific condition or regularly take a medication for a specific condition.

Is CBD Legal? Hemp-derived CBD products (with less than 0.3 percent THC) are legal on the federal level, but are still illegal under some state laws. Marijuana-derived CBD products are illegal on the federal level, but are legal under some state laws. Check your state’s laws and those of anywhere you travel. Keep in mind that nonprescription CBD products are not FDA-approved, and may be inaccurately labeled.


Adrienne Santos-Longhurst is a freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and lifestyle for more than a decade. When she’s not holed-up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals, she can be found frolicking around her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand-up paddle board.