From probiotics to biotin, you can practically get any supplement in gummy form now — and that includes cannabidiol (CBD). The therapeutic ingredient is known for easing anxiety and improving sleep (among other health perks), but before you take any, it’s important to ask yourself: How many CBD gummies should I take?
Compared to other ways to take CBD, gummies have longer -lasting effects than tinctures, the latter of which get immediately absorbed by the body, says Melissa Davis, director of Education at CBD brand Elixinol. While there’s only preliminary research on the many purported benefits of CBD gummies, addiction psychiatrist Dr. Kevin Hill, M.D. says CBD has been shown to have anti-anxiety properties, can help lull you to sleep if you’re one to toss and turn at night, and can help ease muscle inflammation. And, much like many tinctures, you can buy CBD gummies specifically formulated to help with these issues, whether it’s to improve sleep or to alleviate pain. Just be sure to look for full- or broad-spectrum CBD products to get the most effective results (this means it’s formulated with a wide range of cannabinoids that work together in giving you relief).
Once you pick out a gummy that’s right for your needs, how much you actually take depends on your specific product. Generally, dosage for CBD gummies can vary, and it depends on a range of factors, from your medical background to how much CBD is in each bite — here’s what the experts have to say.
How Many CBD Gummies Should You Take?
According to Hill, the typical dosage for CBD gummies can range anywhere from 10 to 30 milligrams, though you can sometimes find 5 milligram formulations. The best rule of thumb, regardless of which gummies you have, is to start small. Davis says to begin with a small amount and work your way up.
CBD gummies can take upwards of 20 minutes to have an effect, she says, so how many you take also depends on what you’re trying to achieve. And, according to Hill, you often won’t feel the relieving effects in low doses, so he suggests starting with 25 milligrams twice a day for treating general pain, boosting sleep, and reducing anxiety. Space out your second dose to eight hours later, he says. A SAGE Journal study found that taking 25 to 100 milligrams of CBD a day is a safe amount to treat headaches, pains, and insomnia, so starting off with 25 is a good ballpark.
If you felt a little too relaxed from your CBD gummies, Davis says to cut your dosage down by half the next time you take them. In that same vein, if you’re using these gummies to aid your sleep and it didn’t do the trick, she recommends upping your intake as needed. A standard, safe serving size Davis typically suggests for sleep aid is 30 milligrams before bed, and you can increase by 5 milligrams if you need more.
Just be careful before taking CBD gummies if you’re taking prescription medication — Hill notes that CBD could have potential risks when interacting with other meds. His suggestion? Always speak to your doctor first. A recent study (conducted by Hill) found that you should also be cautious when taking over-the-counter drugs like acetaminophen since an increased dose of that and CBD can lead to liver impairment when taken excessively. To make sure you’re in the clear, Davis says you could also call Leaf411, a free hotline run by nurse practitioners trained in cannabis.
Can You Take Too Many CBD Gummies?
While CBD gummies (and all gummy supplements for that matter) may taste like candy, that doesn’t mean you can eat a bunch for a sweet treat. When it comes to CBD, it’s important to practice moderation. Growing research has found CBD can impair liver function when taken in large doses over a long period of time: A recent study shows that some patients who took CBD in the hundreds of milligrams daily for 2 to 4 weeks experienced increased measures of liver function, a sign that could lead to liver damage.
While you can’t acutely overdose from CBD gummies, Hill warns to be aware of some minor side effects that may occur if you eat more than you typically do in one day. Davis says you might feel fatigue, while Hill says you may also feel gastrointestinal discomfort — but that can be from the flavor oils within the formulation. Your best bet? Follow the guidelines on the specific CBD product you’re using, and don’t eat them as if they’re Sour Patch Kids.
Balachandran P, Elsohly M, and Hill K, (2021), Cannabidiol Interactions with Medications, Illicit Substances, and Alcohol: a Comprehensive Review, Journal of General Internal Medicine, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11606-020-06504-8.
Bonn-Miller MO, et al, (2017), Labeling Accuracy of Cannabidiol Extracts Sold Online, JAMA Network, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5818782/.
Corroon J and Phillips J, (2018), A Cross-Sectional Study of Cannabidiol Users, Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6043845/.
Gallily, R., Hanuš, L. O., Yekhtin, Z. (2015, February). Overcoming the Bell‐Shaped Dose‐Response of Cannabidiol by Using Cannabis Extract Enriched in Cannabidiol, https://file.scirp.org/pdf/PP_2015021016351567.pdf.
Iffland K and Grotenhermen F, (2017), An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies, Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5569602/.
Russo E, (2008), Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain, Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2503660/.
Shannon S, et al (2019), Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series, The Permanente Journal, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6326553/.
Stohs S and Ray SD, (2020), Is cannabidiol hepatotoxic or hepatoprotective: A review, Sage Journals, https://doi.org/10.1177/2397847320922944.
Watkins PB, et al, (2020), Cannabidiol and Abnormal Liver Chemistries in Healthy Adults: Results of a Phase I Clinical Trial, Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics, https://doi.org/10.1002/cpt.2071.
Dr. Kevin Hill, M.D., Director of the Division of Addiction Psychiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.
Melissa Davis, the Director of Education at Elixinol.