Using cannabis as medicine is only intimidating until you’ve gained a little experience. This general guide to calculating a dose of one of the world’s oldest, most effective and safest medicines will walk you through the basics of establishing a cannabis regimen.
First, a few important considerations:
- You have your endocannabinoid tone, and I have mine. Everyone’s endocannabinoid system is an individual expression. My reaction to my dosing may be completely different from yours, even if we have many other things in common and are treating the same condition.
- There’s no basic formula for mg/kg. The weight of the patient can have little to do with how effectively cannabis works as a medicine. You start at low doses because you don’t know precisely how an individual will react until you’ve tried.
- Age has more relevance to dose levels than weight. Younger patients can often tolerate dosing that would be much too high for an adult. Senior patients without cannabis experience can respond well to lower doses.
Some special concerns about dosing CBD:
- Low dosing may cause a slightly manic reaction.
- A moderate dose may be alerting.
- High dosing of CBD can cause drowsiness.
- Very high doses (in the hundreds of milligrams) can cause uneasiness and digestive distress.
- Taking CBD at bedtime can make you less sleepy. Try to keep that last CBD dose for the day scheduled for a few hours before heading to bed.
SPECIAL ALERT: Dosing CBD in the hundreds of milligrams can interfere with medications that follow the same pathway to metabolization at the cellular level. This can cause those pharmaceutical medications to back up in your system, and that can become a problem.
How will you know if your meds are ones to be concerned with? They’ll have a label like this:
This is usually a problem with formulations made with CBD isolate, where a full-plant extraction rich in entourage components will be more happily accepted by the body.
Controlling the buzz of THC
Euphoria has a valuable place in cannabis therapeutics, but often there’s a need to keep the mind clearer to meet social obligations or personal goals. Thankfully, this is easily achieved by one of the following suggestions:
- Limit your THC volumes to 10 mg per dose.
- Use CBD and THC together. CBD will tamp down the euphoric effects of THC to make it more manageable. A dose of CBD-rich cannabis will have a positive effect on an overdose of THC.
There will be an incredible number of component molecules available in cannabis-based medicines. Until you start a regimen and can observe the effects, you won’t know how your body will react to that molecular entourage.
Thoughtful, methodical dosing increases are the only way to find your minimum effective cannabis dose, and it can be done without fear because cannabis has an unmatched safety profile as a medicine.
There’s no standard for cannabis therapies because cannabis expresses so individually patient to patient, but the basic approach is always the same:
Start Low, Go Slow, Stay Low
Cannabis dosing in five steps
The success of a cannabis therapy, as with any other therapy, rests on getting the dosing right. With cannabis medicines this means you’ll have to pay attention to what your body is feeling as you introduce cannabinoids and gradually increase their volumes, until you find what works for you, individually.
- Start low. To reduce the chances of overdosing begin by picking a low, sub-therapeutic starting dose of total cannabinoids (both CBD and THC). If possible, break the daily dose into 2 or more doses, evenly spaced across the day. For a novice cannabis patient, a starting dose of 5 -10 mg or less of total cannabinoids per day seems to be a comfortable fit. The older the patient, the lower the starting dose. With a dose that small, you can do one dose a day. As the dosing volume increases you can add other times in. An experienced cannabis consumer can typically start with 10-25 mg total cannabinoids per day and work up from there.
- Be patient. Use that starting dose for a week before increasing. Give your body the time it needs to incorporate the components found in cannabis oil that are going to increase cellular signaling and enhance your healing potential.
- Listen to your body. Be alert for any discomfort or negative reactions. If any occur, cut the dose by half and stay there for at least a week before trying to increase again.
- Go slow. Keep dosing increases to a maximum of 20%, and stay with it for at least one week before increasing.
- Stay consistent. Follow the pattern of 7-days minimum holds and maximum 20% increases until you believe you’ve found your personal sweet spot of relief.
When do I stop increasing the dose?
You’ll feel out of sorts. The initial goal of a cannabis regimen is relief, so the easy answer is to stop increasing the dose when you find relief. However, there may come a point where you notice either diminishing results or a less-than-comfortable reaction that may not be anything more than an unfamiliar sense of “too much.”
This is the moment to reduce your dosing.
- Drop back to the previous dose level and hang tight there for four days.
- At day 5, with mindful awareness, try that step up again.
- If your body tolerates it this time, stay there. If not, drop back to that last step you felt comfortable with.
When you find your relief, pat yourself on the back for locating your personal sweet spot, your minimum effective dose. Some day you may decide it’s time to carefully increase or decrease the dose. A good way to see the pattern suggesting change is to keep records of your cannabis therapy.
Document the adventure
Keeping records from the first about what you’re taking, how you’re taking it, and how your body reacts to the dosing level will help you make adjustments to the regimen with greater confidence. It’s possible to wing it and not be hurt, since cannabis has an enviable safety profile, but you were hoping for a smoother path to relief, weren’t you?
Do yourself a favor. Keep records. When you have that moment of relief, you’ll be thankful you documented. As an added bonus, those records will make it easier to share ideas with others you’ll meet along the way, looking for their own relief.
The fundamental rule
In the end, cannabis therapeutics comes down to one little rule:
Start Low * Go Slow * Stay Low
Follow that recommendation and before you know it you’ll turn around one day and realize that the relief you were seeking has arrived.
So take your time. Step the dose up slowly. Be amazed at how little it can take to get to your goal of finding relief.
Enjoy the journey and dose responsibly.