In today’s blog post, we are going to talk about the importance of dose titration in finding your cannabis “sweet spot”, ie. the optimal dose of CBD / THC to help you achieve the desired effects. Whether you are using cannabis for recreational or medicinal purposes, the information in this post will help you to get the most benefit from this incredible medicinal plant.
The biphasic effect of cannabinoids – why sometimes “less is more”
Cannabinoids such as THC and CBD have biphasic effects, which means that low and high doses can produce opposite effects. For example, if you are using cannabis to help with anxiety / stress, a dose that is too low will have no benefit, while a dose that is too high could result in the opposite effect (ie. increase anxiety). In a 2017 study at the University of Chicago, it was found that THC at low doses (7.5 mg) reduced stress in healthy volunteers, while slightly higher doses (12.5 mg) had the opposite effect, underscoring the importance of dose when it comes to THC and its effects. The optimal dose for experiencing maximum benefit (ie. anxiety relief) will be somewhere in the middle. For first time users, it is always best to “start low and go slow”. This process is referred to as “dose titration”.
Guidelines for dose titration
Dose titration refers to the process of adjusting the amount of cannabis you consume to achieve maximum benefit without side effects. When a drug has a narrow therapeutic index, titration is especially important, because the range between the dose at which a drug is effective and the dose at which side effects occur is small. Since everyone’s physiology is unique, there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach when it comes to dosing cannabis. This is something that you need to experiment with through trial and error, until you find a dose that works for your individual needs.
In a 2021 article in the Journal of Cannabis Research, recommendations on dosing and administration of medical cannabis to treat chronic pain are provided. As can be seen in Fig. 2 below, it is recommended to start with a CBD-predominant strain at a dose of 5 mg CBD twice daily and to titrate the dose upwards by 10 mg every 2 – 3 days until you reach your goals. If symptomatic relief is not achieved at 40 mg CBD per day, you can start adding THC at 2.5 mg per day and titrate up by 2.5 mg every 2 – 7 days until a maximum dose of 40 mg THC per day is reached.
While smoking and vaping are the most popular ways to consume cannabis, sublingual oils (liquid extracts administered under the tongue) and edibles with known CBD or THC concentrations are the easiest ways to experiment with dose titration..
The majority of sublingual CBD oil products currently on the market contain 150, 300 or 600 mg CBD per 30 ml bottle/container. In our experience, the 600 mg CBD per 30 ml strength works best for dose titration, as it equates to 20 mg CBD per ml. Standard CBD oil droppers usually contain 20 drops per ml, which means you are getting 1 mg CBD per drop if using the 600 mg CBD per 30 ml strength. If you want to try the dose titration recommendations above, you can start by taking 5 mg (5 drops) of CBD twice daily, and then titrate up until you reach a dose of 40 mg per day (40 drops per 2 full droppers).
If you already have CBD oil at home with a different dose you just need to do some additional math to calculate how many mg of CBD is present in each drop, so that you know how much to take. Once you are done with the CBD titration and feel like you are ready to start introducing THC, you can do so in doses of 2.5 mg per day until you reach your desired effects. As soon as you start to notice any side effects, return to the previous, best tolerated dose.
Once you have found your cannabis “sweet spot”, you can start trying other product formats (ie.smoking or vaping cannabis flower with a balanced THC:CBD ratio) to see what works best for you.
To calculate how much THC is in a joint, you need to multiply the weight of the joint (eg. 500 mg) by the potency of the cannabis flower used (eg. 20% THC): 500 mg x 0.20 = 100 mg THC.
The next challenge is trying to figure out how much of the joint you need to smoke to reach your optimal dose (ie. 20 mg THC as determined during your dose titration experiment). The following factors all play a role:
- The composition of the cannabis flower (ie. the ratio of THC to CBD)
- Your puff technique
- The amount of THC lost in sidestream smoke
- Bioavailability (the amount of THC which enters the body and is able to produce effects).
Bioavailability is highly variable for inhalation and ranges from 2% – 56% depending on the person and their puff technique. The bioavailable THC in a 500 mg joint with 20% THC can range between 2 and 56 mg. Similar to the dose titration protocol explained above, we suggest starting low and taking it slow – ie. start with 1 puff and wait 15 min before deciding whether you want to take another puff.
In the next post, we will talk more about the different cannabis product formats and how they compare in terms of onset time and duration of effects.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us, we are here to help you get the most out of your cannabis experience.
Image Credit: Leafwell.com