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“The key to using CBD effectively, as with any medicine, is consistency and dosage,” says integrative holistic physician Rav Ivker, DO, noting that determining the right dose often requires some experimentation. Because clinical research on CBD is in its infancy, most of what’s known about effective dosages is based on anecdotal evidence.

What little we do know suggests that an effective dosage ranges widely from person to person, even for similar symptoms and conditions. Eileen Konieczny, RN recommends recording symptoms, dose, time and method of delivery, and response.

Practitioners typically advise CBD users to “start low and go slow.” Michael Moskowitz, MD advises beginning with about 5 mg a day and noting how you feel. “Increase as needed until you start noticing improvement in your symptoms,” he says. “As your symptoms start to get under control, you can back off again and use less.”

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should steer clear of any cannabis products, and those taking prescription medications should consult with their healthcare provider to ensure they avoid potentially harmful drug interactions: At high doses, CBD can interact with an enzyme in the liver that affects how certain drugs are metabolized.

But for most, low to moderate doses of CBD seem to be safe. Even high doses of hundreds of milligrams don’t carry the same risks as many over-the-counter and pharmaceutical drugs, though they may cause sleepiness, changes in appetite, and digestive upset.

There are no known instances of toxic or fatal overdoses. A comprehensive 2011 survey of clinical studies on CBD, as well as a 2017 follow-up, confirmed its favorable safety profile for humans, though it also noted that more research is needed on the effects of long-term use.

Safe and effective, CBD is an appealing option as a natural, plant-based remedy for a wide range of conditions. It’s important, however, to talk with your healthcare provider before trying it.

“We don’t yet have the research to fully support CBD’s use as a treatment of many health conditions,” notes Tiffany Lester, MD, adding that she’s hopeful that will change in the near future as the stigma surrounding cannabis continues to fade.

This originally appeared in “Understanding CBD” in the July/August 2019 print issue of Experience Life.

Illustration by: Alex Williamson

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