It turns out CBD is more effective than we thought.
“We” means the entire scientific community, pharmacological and cannabis experts included. Practically no one saw it coming—certainly not the medical establishment or its places of learning.
“Dosing cannabis is unlike any therapeutic agent to which I was exposed in my medical training,” says Dr. Dustin Sulak, an osteopath from Maine who specializes in the plant.
What makes CBD so different from conventional medical solutions? Well, many things . . . but in this article, we’ll be focusing on just one of them: the fact that small amounts of CBD, a molecule that binds weakly to most of its molecular targets, nonetheless shifts our biology enough to make an exponentially large impact.
CBD shouldn’t work this well, but it does. And that makes an unusual technique called microdosing possible. Here’s an overview of what we’ll be covering:
CBD microdosing is a technique where you take small doses of CBD, usually consistently throughout the day, in order to get the best health and wellness benefits.
While many people take a large dose of CBD once or twice daily, microdosing is different. It calls for breaking one’s daily CBD intake up into much smaller parts. In other instances (as when someone is very sensitive to CBD), microdosing might mean taking just one or two small daily doses. “I’ve seen [some] adult patients achieve therapeutic effects at 1 mg of total cannabinoids daily,” Dr. Sulak explains on his clinic’s website.
To summarize: microdosing always entails taking smaller amounts of CBD than usual . . . and usually means taking more frequent doses than usual.
Though microdosing can be done with any delivery method (oils, edibles, vapes, gummies, etc.) it tends to work best with oils and tinctures. That’s because these products lack a lowest common denominator: taking a single drop of CBD oil is just as easy as taking 20.
The same can’t be said about the alternatives. Microdosing with a vape pen might mean only inhaling a little bit . . . but how would you know if you’ve inhaled deeply enough or too much? And microdosing with gummies might mean cutting each gummie up into precise sections. For more reasons than one, microdosing CBD with a premium CBD oil is the best choice.
Another thing about microdosing: it’s getting more popular, fast. Like we said, the fact that CBD would be effective at such low doses kind of took everyone by surprise! Now that people are catching on, however, the microdosing trend is here to stay.
Microdosing works based on a simple premise: that it takes only a small amount of phytocannabinoids to boost our body’s endocannabinoid system. In other words, many times just a little bit of CBD is needed to get the body’s internal equivalents going full steam ahead again.
Microdosing takes some of its principles from homeopathy, a field of medicine based on the premise that the body is innately capable of restoring itself. Another major tenet of homeopathy is that “like cures like.” By giving yourself just a little bit of full spectrum CBD oil, you might be helping out the endocannabinoids most like it. Microdosing may also help your endocannabinoid system (ECS) stay more sensitive to cannabinoids, given that microdosing never overwhelms the flow system. This concept is far from fully proven . . . but it’s a possibility.
Let’s consider how practicing microdosing actually works. Maybe you’ve been taking a full dropper of 500 mg CBD oil every morning—about 17 milligrams of CBD per day in total. Let’s also say you take CBD primarily for relief from chronic pain.
But what happens when that 17 milligrams begins to wear off towards the end of the day? You might opt to take another large dose of CBD, a dose you don’t actually need. You might reach for a few aspirins out of desperation; you might search for a quick fix because you’re behind the metaphorical curve.
Or you could try microdosing and stay on top of your symptoms. Making the transition to microdosing is straightforward: you’d simply divide your existing daily dose into 4 separate ~4mg doses taken throughout the day.
And that’s just the first step, depending on how far you want to take microdosing’s principles. Some experts believe microdosing allows for reductions in total daily dosing, too. Contrary to what we’ve been taught to believe about, well, everything, more isn’t always better! You might feel so good from more frequent CBD intake that you’re able to transition down to taking ~2 mg of CBD 4 times a day (half of what you started with) as your ECS gets healthier.
Because microdosing involves such subtle shifts and changes, it might be worth the effort to start tracking how you feel. Keeping a dosing journal where you record your CBD doses, frequency, and experiences is a great idea! You only have to use the journal for as long as you’re dialing things in and making changes. Besides, journaling about your health might just trigger benefits in other areas of your life.
Speaking of benefits . . . science is just starting to unveil the many benefits associated with microdosing. A 2005 report looked at THC microdosing and found that just 1 milligram of the cannabinoid per day was correlated with “significant inhibition of disease progression” for atherosclerosis. Other benefits may include reduced inflammation, improved mobility, and better sleep.
Among the many groups benefiting from microdosing, one of them might surprise you: endurance athletes. “A lot of ultra-endurance athletes who aren’t necessarily competing in events that require fine motor skills or balance” are taking to the technique, performance sports coach Ben Greenfield explains in a recent podcast. For these athletes, microdosing presents the best of both worlds: pain relief without sedation.
Another group that’s come to love microdosing? Those who suffer from chronic anxiety. That’s because even small amounts of CBD are able to bind to certain types of serotonin receptors and create a sensation of calm. This is actually one of the first things people notice about CBD—whether they have anxiety or not. And microdosing is one of the very best ways to experience it.
There are other practical benefits as well. Because it often results in a lower total daily dose, microdosing is likely to save you money. In addition, microdosing will likely spare you from the drowsiness that sometimes comes with higher-than-needed CBD dosing. That’s because CBD dosing is biphasic—and low doses are stimulating and invigorating.
On the flipside, one of the only downsides of microdosing is that you’ll need to keep CBD oil nearby throughout the day. But we’ll get to some potential solutions for that below.
Most people do well taking 10-30 milligrams of CBD per day. (This is usually enough for the average person in good health, but keep in mind that those with health challenges may require more.) Since microdosing can allow a person to thrive even on the lower end of the dosing spectrum, it makes sense to be conservative. The 4 milligrams 4 times daily example from earlier is actually a pretty good baseline—who knows, from there you might even be able to work yourself down!
Just note that only premium CBD oils work well enough to make microdosing worthwhile. It’s true: a 2015 study comparing CBD isolate to full spectrum extracts found that only “the therapeutic synergy observed with [whole] plant extracts results in the requirement for a lower amount of active components.” Mg for mg, CBD isolate just isn’t strong enough to impact the ECS at small doses.
Let’s say you’re taking microdoses of CBD 4 times per day . . . and want to change things up a little. Instead of changing your dosing frequency, consider moving your dose a single milligram up or down.
Making subtle changes like this is often referred to as titration. If you need a little more relief, titrate each of your 4 daily doses up by a milligram so that you’ll be taking 4 additional milligrams per day. If you feel you could get by with less, titrate each of your 4 daily doses down by a milligram. As you get more comfortable with microdosing, you’ll likely become more sensitive to the subtle shifts it produces in your body. And don’t forget that keeping a dosing journal won’t hurt!
CBD is one of the safest natural substances out there. Even the World Health Organization readily admits it has a good safety profile!
And CBD’s margin of safety only gets better when microdosing is brought into the picture. The very fact that microdosing CBD works at all is a testament to the compound’s safety; in other words, the difference between a therapeutic dose of CBD and a lethal dose of CBD is huge. Maybe immeasurably so—no one has ever passed away from taking too much CBD.
All that said, there are still a few things you can do to keep your microdosing experience dialed in. Don’t take CBD in conjunction with pharmaceuticals without talking to your doctor first, as the CBD can alter liver enzymes, which in turn alter the side effects of pharmaceuticals. And always remember to titrate your dose and make changes slowly.
For those who want to incorporate microdosing into their daily lives, we have good news: CBD oil is extremely versatile. You can add it to baked goods, homemade bread, favorite meals, and salad dressings. If you have a water-soluble CBD product , you can even add it to beverages like coffee, tea, sports drinks, or cocktails.
Want to take your microdosing to the next level? Add the water-soluble CBD oil of your choice to your water bottle of choice. If you drink a few shaker bottles of water a day while at work, for example, just add a few milligrams of CBD to each one. Instant low-dose CBD! Plus you won’t even have to think about it.
As you might imagine, the best CBD product for microdosing is probably CBD oil. Only CBD oil allows you to make precise changes in dosing—changes as precise as +/- a single drop.
There’s one exception, though. Those with high daily CBD requirements can also microdose with low-dose edibles, like CBD gummies, as long as each gummy comprises no more than a quarter or third of that daily total. With CBD there aren’t any one-size-fits-all-solutions . . . it’s largely subjective.
So, that’s how microdosing is done. If you haven’t tried the technique yet . . . what is holding you back? You just might find yourself a lower-stress baseline; you might even save money on CBD in the process. And who knows? Maybe you’ll come to love the experience of biohacking your way to optimal health, one tiny course correction at a time.
We already knew CBD is a gateway into the world of plant medicine. But perhaps CBD also presents a gateway into the world of listening to one’s body and knowing one’s self.
To Your Health,