What is CBD? A Complete Guide to CBD Oil

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol—CBD for short—is a cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. Over 100 cannabinoids have been discovered in the cannabis plant. THC is the cannabinoid responsible for the intoxicating effects of marijuana. Unlike THC, CBD does not induce a “high.”

CBD is rapidly growing in popularity because it may provide some of the medicinal benefits of cannabis but without the “high” or loss of mental clarity.

Benefits of CBD

The only FDA-approved use for CBD is for a rare form of epilepsy. There’s a ton of preliminary research on CBD and a variety of conditions, but it’s all considered anecdotal by the FDA. Nevertheless, CBD has flooded the market with people who swear by it (myself included).

According to a recent Gallup poll, 14% of Americans say they use CBD products. The top reasons for CBD use were pain, anxiety, sleep, arthritis, migraines (which I wrote a whole book about), headaches, stress, muscle relief, pet care, and more.

CBD oil for pain

CBD is considered by consumers to provide extraordinary pain relief. An extensive survey reported in Forbes found that nearly half of CBD users said they had stopped using over-the-counter and prescription medications in preference of CBD products. A study by researchers from the University of California found that nearly 90% of cannabinoid users preferred cannabinoids over their opioid prescriptions.

Although a growing number of CBD enthusiasts report high levels of pain relief, more clinical research is needed to support those claims.

CBD oil for dogs and pets

CBD pet products are soaring in popularity. Pet products are among the fastest-growing sectors of CBD sales despite a lack of CBD pet research. Yet, people are claiming in public submissions to the FDA that CBD is helping their pets overcome seizures, anxiety, pain, and more.

CBD oil for pets is often the same CBD oil that is sold to humans. The packaging is what needs to be different, according to the FDA. Products for pets must have different labels with different suggested serving sizes because a human-size dose of CBD may be too large for a pet. While the FDA has not approved any cannabis-derived products for pets, it also has not directly received any reports of adverse effects.

Many of the CBD brands that we have reviewed for authenticity also sell products for pets. Make sure you take a look at our independent lab tests and company reviews to make sure the CBD company is trustworthy.

Other CBD uses

Research is underway on the treatment of CBD for a variety of conditions. It’s critical to remember that this CBD research, aside from CBD epilepsy research, is preliminary and in no way conclusive. Project CBD has gathered dozens of CBD studies on acne, ADD and ADHD, addiction and alcoholism, ALS, Alzheimer’s disease, anorexia, antibiotic resistance, anxiety, arthritis, asthma, atherosclerosis, autism, autoimmune diseases, bipolar, cancer, colitis and Crohn’s disease, depression, diabetes, endocrine disorders, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, glaucoma, heart disease, HIV, AIDS, Huntington’s disease, inflammation, IBS/IBD, kidney disease, liver disease, migraines, mood disorders, motion sickness, MS, nausea, neurodegeneration, obesity, OCD, osteoporosis, pain, Parkinson’s disease, mad cow disease, PTSD, rheumatism, schizophrenia, sickle cell anemia, skin conditions, sleep disorders, spinal cord injury, stress, stroke, TBIs, weight loss, and wellness.

What does CBD feel like?

The response of your endocannabinoid system to CBD is highly individualized. The feelings people get from CBD are also highly unique to the individual, but there are a few common responses.

Here are a couple of responses on Reddit to the question, “What does CBD feel like to you?”

  • “CBD feels like a cup of warm chamomile tea and a couple ibuprofen.”
  • “A sigh of relief, felt all over my body.”
  • “CBD feels like normal. It makes me feel like I did before I was in constant pain! It makes me feel normal again.”
  • “Helps me feel like I did when I was a kid, before all the anxiety and depression and manual labor.”

Source: Reddit

A common theme is that CBD makes people feel relaxed, free of pain, or normal again. Although, some people claim it does not affect them at all.

Things you should know BEFORE you buy CBD

We've reviewed and lab tested over 100 CBD products. We also took a deep look at current CBD markets, reports, and studies. Below are a few key things you need to know about CBD products.

1.  Mislabeled CBD

Many CBD products are mislabeled, inaccurate, or completely fake. CBD products are not regulated and multiple studies and investigations (including our investigation) have found that you can’t trust all CBD companies.

2.  “No THC” in your CBD, think again

Many CBD products that claim to have “no THC” do have THC.

3.  COAs are unreliable

Third-party tests or certificates of analysis (COAs) are unreliable when provided by a manufacturer. We found that the majority of companies that sell grossly inaccurate CBD products provided a COA. You can’t trust the COA provided by a manufacturer because anyone can send a quality CBD sample to a third-party lab and then sell something completely different.

4.  How to find real CBD

The only way to know if a CBD product is authentic is to send it to an independent lab to test it for cannabinoid levels. You can also look at the lab results of independent investigations from trustworthy sources such as news investigation teams, consumer advocacy groups (like ours or consumerlab.com), or published studies.

5.  Gas station CBD is a problem

Always purchase directly from a trustworthy CBD company or an authorized distributor. Counterfeit CBD products are sold in places like smoke shops, gas stations, Amazon.com, and more.

6.  Fake CBD reviews

You can’t trust most CBD product review sites. Most product reviews are funded by referral links, where the reviewer gets a commission for each sale. CBD product reviews are no exception. We found that most CBD reviews are nothing more than a sales funnel to earn a commission and they neglect to mention serious problems with a said CBD company. For example, Hemp Bombs has excellent ratings across the internet. However, our lab tests found that it contained only a fraction of the advertised CBD, as did multiple other investigations.

7.  Toxic CBD vapes

Certain CBD products have tested positive for dangerous compounds, such as synthetic marijuana, lead, pesticides, or other toxins. The vast majority of problems are found in unestablished companies selling counterfeit or illegal vape products. However, one large CBD company did test positive for a dangerous compound in their vape pen. CBD oils (for sublingual or oral use) have a significantly lower risk.

8.  How do I find a good CBD company?

Do a background check on a CBD company before you make a purchase. Along with an independent lab test, we do an extensive internet search for each CBD product review to get an idea of the CBD company. We look for things like the year the company was founded, where they are located, whether they have real people on their “about us” page, and whether their products are sold in retail stores. We also look at all articles about the company on Google News, whether they have awards, what people say about them on Reddit, whether they have a Better Business Bureau rating, and whether they are GMP certified. In addition, we search for investigations on accuracy, toxicity, pesticide levels, FDA warnings, and more.

How does CBD work?

CBD influences the body’s natural endocannabinoid system. Cannabinoid receptors are located throughout the human body and control the immune system, inflammation, energy, stress response, sleep, and more. CBD indirectly influences these cannabinoid receptors and increases cannabinoids that the body naturally makes, which are called endocannabinoids (“endo” meaning “within”).

CBD also activates some of the most essential systems within the human body. CBD binds with serotonin receptors, which may produce its anti-anxiety effects. CBD also binds with TRPV1 receptors, which are receptors that can relieve pain and inflammation. CBD activates PPAR receptors, which can reduce cancer growth and degrade the plaque responsible for Alzheimer’s disease. CBD also enhances GABA receptors, which may induce relaxation.

While scientists have documented how CBD interacts with these critical systems, more research is needed to understand how CBD will affect human health.


  • CBD is found in both marijuana (high THC) and hemp (low THC) strains of cannabis. CBD does not elicit a high.
  • THC is found in marijuana strains of cannabis. THC is also found in hemp strains, but only at a potency of 0.3% or less. High doses of THC can elicit a high.

CBD oil with THC

Many CBD oils contain THC, which are often referred to as “full-spectrum hemp extracts.” Research suggests that combining CBD with THC may increase the medicinal benefits of CBD. Many consumers claim that CBD is not as effective without THC, or they need a higher dose of pure CBD to achieve similar results.

There are several reasons that people may choose to avoid the additional benefits of THC. Anyone who needs to pass regular drug tests should avoid any product with THC. THC is the psychoactive component of cannabis and many people are uncomfortable with altering their mental state. Some hemp extracts come with enough THC to cause side effects such as fatigue or mental sluggishness in sensitive individuals.

Note: We found through lab testing that many CBD products that claim to have “no THC” tested positive for THC.

Hemp vs. marijuana vs. cannabis

  • Hemp is any cannabis plant with low levels of THC (less than 0.3% THC). Hemp is federally legal. While hemp is a strain of the cannabis plant, it’s labeled as hemp so that consumers do not mistake it for marijuana. People generally do not get “high” from hemp products because of the low levels of THC, although multiple doses of potent hemp extracts may cause side effects in sensitive individuals.
  • Marijuana is any cannabis plant with high levels of THC (over 0.3% THC). Marijuana is only legal in states that allow medicinal or recreational marijuana. People often refer to marijuana as cannabis.

Can CBD oil make you high?

Yes, and no.

Hemp typically does NOT cause psychoactive effects. Research shows that doses as low as 2 to 3 mg of THC can cause impairment of attention, memory, and functioning—or a “high.” Most hemp extracts contain THC levels that are far below 2 mg. However, some of the hemp extracts that we tested had over 2 mg of THC per dose.

Without a doubt, sensitive individuals could become high from multiple doses of a hemp extract or from a potent hemp extract. Start with low doses of hemp extract to avoid an altered state of mind. You can also look for products with low levels of THC or no THC (all of our CBD reviews include independent lab tests for THC levels).

Is CBD addictive?

According to the World Health Organization, “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential.”

Will I fail a drug test from CBD oil?

It’s possible. CBD alone should not cause you to fail a standard drug test but there is one test still used to today that can’t tell the difference between CBD and THC (you can read my full article on CBD and drug tests here). Employment or legal drug tests typically measure THC in the urine or blood. However, CBD products come with a risk because many contain THC. People have failed drug tests from CBD products that did not list THC on the label. We’ve also lab tested CBD products that claim to have “zero THC,” but they still tested positive for THC.

The research isn’t clear on the minimal levels of THC that could trigger a failed drug test. Some hemp companies reference a study that found that only one person out of 15 had detectable levels of THC after consuming 0.6 mg of THC per day for over a month. The THC level found in the subject’s blood was also less than a third of what federal tests use to confirm a failed drug test. Many hemp extracts are under 0.6 mg of THC per dose and many people using hemp extracts pass drug tests.

The problem with relying on current research is that everyone metabolizes THC at different rates. Smoking or sublingual use (under the tongue) will also metabolize more THC than digesting hemp food. THC can also build up in the blood over extended use, which makes research on a single smoked marijuana cigarette and a failed drug test irrelevant. Hemp products can fluctuate in THC levels and there isn’t enough research to know the exact amount that could cause a failed drug test.

You should avoid all CBD products that contain THC if you require a drug test for any reason.

Check out our article and video:

Does CBD Show Up on a Drug Test?

Is CBD safe?

According to the World Health Organization, “To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.” Cannabis has been used for thousands of years and there have been no documented deaths from direct use, according to the DEA.

While no hard evidence suggests that moderate doses of CBD are unsafe, they could interact with certain medications or health conditions. It’s vital that you speak with your doctor about your specific health before using CBD.

Is CBD safe in ultra-high doses?

A recent study on mice found that ultra-high doses of CBD may cause liver damage, but the study had flawed methods and was debunked. Liver damage only occurred after mice received daily CBD doses of over 615 mg/kg—a massive amount. The dose used in mice translates to 61,500 mg of CBD per day for a 220 lb. man, which is an absurd amount of CBD. The study cautioned that 2,000 mg of CBD per day in humans could potentially cause liver problems, which is the maximum dose used to treat epilepsy. A CBD dose of 2,000 mg should only be prescribed by a doctor who can monitor liver health.

Most consumer CBD products suggest a dose between 5 mg and 100 mg of CBD per day. 100 mg of CBD is minuscule in comparison to the CBD doses used in research. “Chronic use and high doses of up to 1,500 mg per day have been repeatedly shown to be well tolerated by humans,” according to research published in 2017. While there is no research to suggest that doses of CBD under 1,500 mg are unsafe, we need more research to confirm that high doses or ultra-high doses of CBD are safe.

Err on the side of caution and use the CBD manufacturers’ suggestions. It’s critical that anyone with potential liver problems or on any medications speak with their doctor before taking CBD.

CBD side effects

According to the Mayo Clinic, “though it’s often well-tolerated, CBD can cause side effects, such as dry mouth, diarrhea, reduced appetite, drowsiness, and fatigue. CBD can also interact with other medications you’re taking, such as blood thinners.”

Drowsiness or mental sluggishness is probably the most common complaint from the average CBD consumer. However, larger doses of THC from a potent hemp extract are likely the culprit when consumers discuss the side effects of CBD. Some CBD users claim the opposite and say that CBD oil increases mental clarity, possibly from improved sleep or relaxation.

How to use CBD

Below are the four ways to absorb CBD: sublingual, oral, inhalation, and topical. Take CBD with or after a meal because research shows that people absorb three to five times as much CBD after eating compared to fasted states. This is likely due to increased CBD absorption from healthy fats (see below).

Category Sublingual Oral/edible Inhalation/vape Skin/topical
Type CBD oil held under the tongue for 30 to 90 seconds CBD pills, capsules, extracts, foods, and drinks CBD from vapor or smoke, absorbed by the lungs CBD creams and oils absorbed through the skin
Absorption rate High Lowest Highest Effective, but does not enter the bloodstream
Speed Fast: absorption may start within a minute, high levels in the blood in 15 min, peak levels at 1 hour Slow: 30 to 90 min for absorption to start, with peak blood levels from 1 to 6 hours Fastest: CBD blood levels skyrocket in just a couple of minutes Fast: 5 to 15 minutes for relief, according to multiple manufacturers
Relief time Up to 8+ hours of relief Up to 8+ hours of relief 1 to 4 hours of relief 4 to 8 hours of relief
Concerns None. Best all-around method Has the lowest absorption rate, gut issues can make absorption worse Safety concerns, needs more research to be deemed safe CBD topicals are only for targeted skin, muscle, and joint pain relief

Note: In general, sublingual CBD absorbs significantly better (in many cases 2x) than edible CBD. CBD vapor can have triple the bioavailability of edibles. Research shows that topicals also absorb better than edibles, but do not enter the blood. I did not include the exact percentages of absorption rates (bioavailability) because studies range widely on absorption rates due to multiple variables (e.g. the size of an inhale or CBD taken with food). The above chart is a general guideline.

Sublingual use: CBD oils, hemp extracts, or tinctures

CBD oil is best used sublingually by placing it under the tongue for 30 to 90 seconds before swallowing the remainder of the liquid. Sublingual absorption bypasses the gut and rapidly absorbs CBD through the capillaries in the cheek and under the tongue. The sublingual method absorbs cannabinoids fast and efficiently because it skips the “first-pass metabolism,” a phenomenon where a drug’s potency is partially lost in the gut and liver. Sublingual absorption can begin in just a couple of minutes and can last for hours. It’s the best all-around method for CBD absorption.

Oral: CBD edibles (CBD gummies), pills, and capsules

Oral administration is the least effective method of CBD absorption. It’s slow. Digesting CBD takes 30 to 90 minutes to absorb through the gut. It also has the poorest absorption rate because you lose CBD in the gut during what’s called first-pass metabolism.

Edibles create another degree of uncertainty because some products are not evenly distributed. It’s common for one CBD gummy to have less CBD than another CBD gummy in the same batch. Ensuring accurate levels of cannabinoids is also a problem in edibles because things like honey or chocolate can interfere with testing.

Inhalation: vaping

Inhalation is the fastest way to increase CBD in the blood, taking only a couple of minutes to absorb fully. Inhaling cannabinoids has greater absorption than oral and sublingual routes. However, inhalation provides the shortest time of relief, approximately one to four hours.

Rates of CBD absorption can be as low as 2% and as high as 60% based on factors such as depth of inhalation, how long your breath is held, and the temperature of CBD vapor (plus individual absorption rates).

Warning: There are over 400 cases of a mysterious lung disease linked to vaping. Most of the cases are linked to counterfeit THC vaping cartridges that are illegally sold. However, medical experts can’t pinpoint the cause. Investigations and studies have also found multiple CBD vapes that contain synthetic or dangerous compounds.

CBD and THC vapes do not have enough research to suggest that they are safe for long-term use. The counter-argument made by vape enthusiasts is that you shouldn’t purchase counterfeit products off the street and there also isn’t enough research to conclude that legally purchased vapes are unsafe.

The sublingual method of CBD absorption is recommended over vaping because of these unknown risk factors of vapes.

Skin absorption: CBD topicals and CBD cream

Topical hemp creams have become increasingly popular for easing skin, muscle, and nerve pain. Perhaps CBD cream’s popularity aligns with its ability to absorb through the skin. Research shows that topical CBD absorbs well, with ten times the absorption rate of topical THC. People can still benefit from topical hemp extracts with THC because small amounts of THC are extremely anti-inflammatory.

Hemp extracts have another advantage: topical application of THC does not pass the blood barrier. Cannabis topicals (both hemp and marijuana) can directly target pain without any of the risks associated with cannabinoids entering the bloodstream. You won’t need to worry about drug tests or mental clarity with any form of cannabis topicals.

Transdermal patches are a different story. Transdermal patches are designed to give a consistent dose of THC or CBD to the bloodstream over an extended period.

Get a fat increase in CBD absorption

Consuming healthy fats can significantly increase the amount of CBD that you absorb. One study found healthy fats increased absorption of CBD by 14 times. You can think of cannabinoids as fat-soluble vitamins. CBD is highly lipophilic, which means that it tends to combine or dissolve into liquid fats. Researchers also speculate that healthy fats may be the reason that CBD blood levels increase when CBD is administered with food or after a meal.

Healthy fats can also increase the endocannabinoids that your body naturally makes. Healthy fats such as omega-3 fatty acids are the building blocks of endocannabinoids. CBD works in part by increasing the body’s natural endocannabinoids and stimulating the endocannabinoid system. It seems that healthy fats achieve the same goals as CBD.

Healthy fats are a two-for-one deal: they increase your body’s natural endocannabinoids and increase the absorption of the cannabinoids that you get from outside of the human body.

Many hemp extracts are mixed with carrier oils that provide healthy fats, such as hemp seed oil, olive oil, or MCT oil.

CBD dosage

There is no one-size-fits-all dose for CBD. How CBD affects you is based on the reaction of your individual endocannabinoid system. I’ll briefly discuss some of the CBD doses consumers use and give you a quick idea of how to start using CBD. However, you’ll want to continue reading below about the factors that influence your CBD dosage and success.

The CBD doses used in research and the doses recommended for CBD consumers are all over the place. Below is an example of a CBD chart that you might find online.

CBD dose chart (example only – do not use)

Weight Mild effects Moderate effects Strong effects
100 – 150 lbs. 3 to 30 mg 30 to 50 mg 50 to 90 mg
150 – 200 lbs. 10 to 40 mg 40 to 75 mg 75 to 120 mg
200 lbs. plus 15 to 50 mg 50 to 100 mg 100 to 160 mg

Search for “CBD dose chart,” and you’ll find hundreds of examples like the chart above. None of them is backed by hard science because conclusive CBD research doesn’t exist. There are too many factors involved in CBD absorption for a chart like the one above to be accurate.

The doses recommended by CBD products range from 3 mg per day to over 160 mg per day of CBD. CBD doses in research also start with just a few milligrams of CBD per day and “high doses of up to 1,500 mg per day have been repeatedly shown to be well tolerated by humans.” However, the high CBD doses used in research should never be used by consumers without guidance from a doctor.

In addition, there’s not enough research to claim that a high dose of CBD is necessary for any given condition (except epilepsy, possibly). For example, multiple studies have used 300 to 600 mg of CBD per day to treat anxiety. However, a study published in 2019 found that 25 mg of CBD per day to 175 mg of CBD per day was adequate—with most patients benefiting from only 25 mg of CBD per day. Just because high doses were used in research in the past does not mean that a high dose is ideal or will make you feel good.

On top of all the different doses recommended, the type of hemp extract used and the individual absorption factors will change your ideal dose. But don’t worry, finding your CBD dose doesn’t need to be this complicated. There’s an easy way to find your ideal CBD dose that doesn’t involve arbitrary CBD dose recommendations.

How to find your CBD dose: start off slow

There’s no one-size-fits-all CBD dose. There are too many variables in an individual’s absorption rates, conditions, and tolerance that make a set dose impossible. Endocannabinoid levels are a reflection of health and that means CBD needs could change. Plus, the cannabinoid levels of each CBD oil are different. So, how do we find the perfect CBD dose for you?

There’s a simple system that cannabis physicians and researchers have used for a long time and it’s called titration. Titration is the administration of small incremental doses of a drug until a desired clinical action is observed. Key takeaways from the current research are to start low and to go slow, and the correct dosage is the lowest dose that produces therapeutic effects.

You could start with a small amount of CBD and increase that amount every couple of days until you feel optimal. For example, start with a CBD dose of 5 mg per day and increase that dose by 5 mg every two days. If you experience unwanted side effects, such as drowsiness, consider lowering the dose. If you feel no side effects or any effects at all, you may want to try a much larger dose on a day that you can afford to relax. For example, if 10 mg of CBD did nothing, you may want to try 25 mg and continue to adjust as necessary.

Keep in mind that products with THC can have side effects that start at just 1 mg. Isolated CBD has been used in research with well over 100 mg with no observable side effects. A product that contains THC or high levels of THC should be increased with more caution than a pure CBD product.

Work with your doctor or a physician who specializes in cannabis to help you find your CBD dose.

Give it time

CBD researchers will often give patients daily doses of CBD for a month or more. Many CBD companies recommend that you try a given potency for four to six weeks. Some people say that CBD helped them immediately, others claim that it takes weeks, and some people say CBD never helped their condition.

CBD helps influence your body’s natural endocannabinoid system. Naturally controlling things like inflammation or oxidative stress can take time. For example, omega-3 fats also help promote the endocannabinoid system. Multiple studies have shown that omega-3 fats reduce inflammation in a period of weeks to months.

Improving your health with natural measures can take time.

Factors that can change your CBD dose

The type and strength of your CBD will change your ideal dose. An individual’s body weight, tolerance, and conditions will also play a factor in your perfect CBD dose, which are discussed below.

Type of CBD will change your dose

The type of CBD you choose to use will change your dose. You can choose to use a full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or CBD-only dose.

Full-spectrum dose (most powerful and most side effects)

A full-spectrum hemp extract contains CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids. Researchers have found that full-spectrum hemp extracts increase the medicinal effects of CBD with something called the entourage effect. Full-spectrum hemp extracts are more powerful and you’ll probably require a lower dose than you would with a pure CBD product. There’s also a significantly higher risk of side effects from a full-spectrum hemp extract (with THC) than from pure CBD. For example, you might take 25, 50, or even 100 mg of pure CBD without experiencing any side effects. However, a 25 mg dose of full-spectrum hemp extract could contain as much as 2 mg of THC, which research shows may cause side effects such as mental sluggishness or fatigue.

Broad-spectrum dose (extra benefits and few side effects)

A broad-spectrum hemp extract contains CBD and other cannabinoids, but no THC. The addition of other cannabinoids may slightly increase the benefits of a broad-spectrum hemp extract over pure CBD. However, most broad-spectrum hemp extracts contain low levels of other cannabinoids and will likely have a similar dosage to pure CBD. There’s also no risk of THC side effects and you can take higher doses of a broad spectrum than of a CBD product that contains THC.

CBD-only dose (minimal side effects, but may require higher doses)

CBD oils can be made with CBD isolate, which is nearly pure CBD that contains no THC or undetectable levels of THC. The CBD oil will typically list CBD isolate in the ingredients and state “no THC” on the label. CBD isolate does not come with the benefits of other cannabinoids, and you may need larger doses than a full-spectrum hemp extract. However, some people prefer pure CBD because it’s possible to use larger doses than a product that contains THC since the side effects are minimal.

CBD strength affects your dosage size

The strength of a CBD product makes a difference. It seems obvious, but most CBD companies do a horrible job of telling you how many milligrams of each cannabinoid are in a product. It’s even harder to determine how many milligrams of each cannabinoid are in a serving size. If you don’t like math, you can skip this section and take a look at our product reviews because we break down this critical info in each product analysis. We also break down the lab results from our independent lab.

The serving info of any CBD product should tell you exactly how many milligrams of CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids are in each drop, dropper, or milliliter (mL) serving. But most CBD products don’t give you this basic info. You can have a tiny bottle with a lot of CBD milligrams or a big bottle with almost no CBD. Even the droppers may have different mL serving sizes with different amounts of CBD in every drop. CBD products can be confusing, to say the least.

Most CBD consumers just take a few drops or a dropper without knowing exactly how many milligrams they are taking. Don’t be average; know what you’re putting in your body.

How to find the CBD milligrams of each serving

There are three things that can help you get an idea of how many cannabinoids are in each serving: concentration (mg), size (mL), and serving size (dropper, drops, or mL).


Concentration is typically referred to as the milligrams of total CBD or cannabinoids found in a CBD product. The concentration is usually displayed on the front label (e.g. 1,000 mg), but you need to verify if that number is total CBD, cannabinoids, or hemp extract (which means nothing). Companies often provide a certificate of analysis (COA) that can give specific quantities of each cannabinoid found in their product (just make sure the company is trustworthy because many COAs are fake).

Product Size

The size of the bottle is typically found on the front label of a CBD product (e.g. 1 oz. or 30 mL).

Serving size

The serving size may be listed on the back of the bottle. The serving size may specify the number of drops (e.g. 5 drops), droppers (e.g. 1/2 dropper), or milliliters (1 mL) in each dose. It may also give you total servings per container.

Basic math: concentration/product size = serving size

You can find the total milligrams of CBD in each serving if you have the total milligrams, the size of the bottle, and the serving size. For example, a 30 mL bottle of a 300 mg CBD will have 10 mg of CBD in each 1 mL serving. A 300 mg CBD product with a serving size of 1 drop and 300 total servings per container will equal 1 mg CBD per drop. It gets more complicated with odd milliliter or dropper sizes, but you get the idea.

Perhaps the most important cannabinoid level to know in each serving is the amount of THC. It’s also the most difficult to find on a CBD label. Many CBD companies only list the THC quantity on their third-party tests (COAs), which you can request or find on the manufacturer’s website. Look for the amount of THC in each milliliter on the test or in each product and do the math to convert it into a serving size. A good CBD company will make this easy for you.

If you trust the company, you can just email them and ask for cannabinoid serving info. We lab test each product to know for sure and make the info easy to view.

Bottom line: CBD strength affects the size of your dose and can help you find the amount of cannabinoids in each dose.

Body weight

Body weight can play a factor in your ideal CBD dosage. Some manufacturers and online sources recommend a CBD dosage based solely on body weight. However, there’s simply not enough research to recommend a CBD dosage in adults based solely on body weight. In addition, the unique conditions or cannabinoid tolerances of an individual can have a larger impact on CBD needs than weight alone. For example, a 100-pound woman may prefer a larger dose of CBD than a 200-pound man due to how cannabinoids interact with her individual endocannabinoid system.

Using body weight to determine CBD dosage can be detrimental. There’s a lot of preliminary CBD research based on animal weight, which doesn’t translate to humans due to vastly different metabolisms. There’s also cannabinoid research on children, but the same CBD dosage per kilogram of body weight can’t be used for adults. Dr. Bonni Goldstein, a cannabis expert and physician in California, explains that children can have higher tolerances to cannabinoids than adults. An effective CBD dose for a child could unexpectedly be too large for a much larger adult. Body weight plays a role in your CBD dose, but that role is often overexaggerated by CBD companies.


People build a tolerance to most pain killers, where the substance becomes less responsive over time. THC is a substance that people can build a tolerance to, where it may become less effective with repeated exposure but also results in fewer side effects. This is one reason why people new to THC should start off slow with a full-spectrum hemp extract and increase the dosage over time.

Research shows that humans do not build a tolerance to CBD, however. Some researchers suggest the need for CBD may even go down over time because CBD enhances your natural endocannabinoid system. CBD also may reduce your exposure to things that hurt your endocannabinoid system, such as pain or stress. If you take away the stressor and improve endocannabinoid signaling, your endocannabinoid system may be better adapted to take on future health problems. The reverse-tolerance theory of CBD needs more research but CBD doesn’t seem to have the same problem as other pain killers that end up being less effective over time.

Tolerance is also defined as the capacity to endure a substance (with or without previous use). People absorb CBD and THC at vastly different rates and naturally have different tolerance levels. There are many different factors that come into play, including the reaction of cannabinoids to an individual’s unique endocannabinoid system and the conditions that those cannabinoids are aiming to treat.


Specific conditions or ailments may change your ideal dose. For example, people with IBS, fibromyalgia, or migraines are more likely to have an endocannabinoid deficiency. It’s likely people with endocannabinoid deficiencies may benefit from CBD because CBD stimulates the endocannabinoid system.

The severity of a condition may also change the ideal CBD dose. High levels of anxiety could require higher doses of CBD and those needs could change on a daily basis as someone is exposed to varying levels of stress.

However, there isn’t a reliable list of CBD dosages for specific conditions. The “CBD dosage calculators” that you can find online can give you an idea of what other people take but they are not accurate. First, there’s not enough research to conclude CBD dosages for any given condition. Second, the need for CBD will change based on how each condition interacts with an individual’s endocannabinoid system. Furthermore, the cannabinoid absorption rate and endocannabinoid function of individuals differ.

The important thing to know is that conditions can change your CBD needs. However, take any CBD dosage recommendations for a specific condition with a grain of salt.

CBD terms

There are numerous marketing terms used to describe CBD and you shouldn’t trust any of them. Several studies and our testing at CBD Examine have revealed that many companies are not honest about what’s in their CBD products.

Full spectrum

Full spectrum is the strongest hemp extract that you can buy. Full-spectrum hemp extracts suggest the inclusion of CBD, THC, many other cannabinoids, terpenes, and other nutrients found within the hemp plant. Full-spectrum products come with the entourage effect, which researchers suggest adds or enhances the medicinal benefits of CBD. However, many CBD companies claim that their products are “full spectrum” when the products don’t contain other cannabinoids or contain levels of cannabinoids that are too low to have an effect.

Broad spectrum

Broad-spectrum hemp extracts suggest that the product contains CBD, many other cannabinoids, terpenes, and other nutrients found within the hemp plant. However, broad spectrum should NOT contain THC. “Broad spectrum” is basically a weaker version of “full spectrum.” It is missing THC and probably has low levels of other cannabinoids.

Our testing found that some broad-spectrum products contain THC even though they claim not to. A high percentage of broad-spectrum hemp extracts also don’t contain sufficient amounts of other cannabinoids to be useful. This is because the removal of THC often removes some of the rarer cannabinoids.

CBD isolate or pure CBD

CBD isolate is over 99% pure CBD. All other nutrients and cannabinoids are removed from the hemp extract. CBD isolate should have no THC or levels so low that they are not detectable. CBD isolate is often mixed with MCT oil or hemp seed oil to create a CBD oil that has no THC.

No THC or zero THC

Products that don’t contain THC should be labeled with “no THC” or “zero THC.” Unfortunately, many CBD products do not state whether they contain THC. In addition, many CBD products make false claims about THC content.

CBD oil

CBD oil is the generic name for any hemp extract that contains CBD.

Hemp Oil

Hemp oil is a generic term for any oil that comes from the hemp plant. Many hemp oils are from hemp seed oil and do not contain CBD. CBD is derived from the flower and leaves of the hemp plant. Many CBD companies list their CBD product as “hemp oil” and avoid the usage of the word “CBD.” CBD companies purposely create this confusion to sell products in places that don’t allow CBD or to market CBD on platforms that don’t allow the word “CBD.”

Hemp seed oil

Hemp seed oil is from the seeds or stalks of the hemp plant and does not contain sufficient amounts of CBD or THC. Hemp seed oil is often mixed with CBD or hemp extract.

Hemp extract

Hemp extract is a misleading term. CBD products will sometimes list the milligrams of “hemp extract” on the front of the bottle or in their serving info. Do not confuse the milligrams of hemp extract with CBD or cannabinoid levels. For example, some CBD products will list lots of hemp extract on the front label, say 1,000 mg, but their product will only contain a few mg of CBD or other cannabinoids. “Hemp extract” doesn’t mean anything specific and is often used to trick customers into thinking that they are buying more CBD than they actually are.

Entourage effect

The entourage effect is what researchers refer to as the synergy of multiple nutrients found within the hemp plant that increases medicinal benefits, counters side effects, and maintains benefits at high doses. CBD companies generally claim the entourage effect when a CBD product includes CBD, THC, and multiple other cannabinoids and nutrients found within the hemp plant. However, many companies claim to have the entourage effect when their product has nothing more than CBD or extremely low and insignificant levels of other cannabinoids.

The endocannabinoid system

The endocannabinoid system is an integral part of human health, with or without the use of cannabis. It plays a role in the immune system, inflammation, energy, stress response, sleep, and more. Cannabinoid receptors are located throughout the human body and transmit your body’s natural endocannabinoids (“endo” meaning “within”). These cannabinoid receptors can also be influenced by the cannabinoids you get from outside of the body. While THC can directly activate cannabinoid receptors, CBD is known for increasing the endocannabinoids that your body makes naturally. More research is needed to fully understand how the endocannabinoid system impacts health and how cannabinoids from the cannabis plant can influence this system.

This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Our content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Read the disclaimer.
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