Is Potent Better When It Comes to CBD Oil?
Because of the bell-shaped dose-response, products with high concentrations of CBD may yield less potent effects than those with lower cannabidiol concentrations.
Written by Cathy Rozyczko
Edited by Jason Brett on
September 27, 2021
When you first decide to use CBD oil, it can be hard to know where to start. With so many different concentrations available, what potency should you choose? Is potent better when it comes to CBD oil?
While CBD oil is generally gentle by nature, it still has what experts call a “bell-shaped dose-response.” This means that, up to a point, increasing the dose of CBD oil can provide greater alleviation of symptoms but once that threshold has been crossed, the effectiveness plummets and symptoms can actually get worse.
How Potent CBD Oil Can Cause Complications
Some people experience complications when taking CBD oil because of the way it inhibits the cytochrome P-450 pathway, or because they aren’t used to its biphasic effect.
The cytochrome P450 enzyme is found in the liver and is responsible for the metabolism of certain medications like antidepressants and antibiotics. CBD can inhibit the cytochrome P450 system’s ability to process these medications, resulting in higher than desired amounts in the bloodstream. When more of an unmetabolized medication is present in your body for a longer period of time, it increases the chances you’ll experience that medication’s side effects.
Biphasic drugs produce different effects depending on the amount present in your body. For example, alcohol can act as a stimulant up to a certain blood-alcohol content (BAC). Once the BAC threshold is reached, typically from consuming more alcoholic drinks, alcohol acts as a depressant, bringing down energy and sometimes mood as well. When it comes to cannabidiol (CBD), in low concentrations CBD can promote wakefulness and alertness, while in higher concentrations, CBD can have a calming and relaxing effect.
Before you go shopping for a more potent CBD oil product, it’s important to keep the above in mind. If you’re already taking medication and/or have never used CBD before, consider speaking with your doctor before adding it to your regimen to be sure you won’t experience any complications. You can also talk to a cannabis doctor who specializes in helping patients find the right CBD products—and potencies—for treating their specific condition.
How Is Potency Determined with CBD Oil?
When it comes to CBD oil, potency is not as cut and dry as it may be with pharmaceutical drugs. There are many variables in the cannabis industry that can impact potency including how the hemp is grown, the hemp strain, and the processing and extraction of the CBD itself.
You can go by the amount of cannabidiol, typically given in milligrams (mg), listed on CBD products to determine differences in potency, but this is not a flawless strategy. There is no standard labeling practice across the industry. Some vendors may label their product as containing “1000mg of hemp extract” and others may say “1000mg of CBD.”
These sound similar but can mean very different things. Some vendors use CBD isolate, while others opt for a full-spectrum product. CBD isolate is exactly what it sounds like: cannabidiol in its purest form, isolated from all the other cannabinoids, terpenes, and compounds of the hemp plant. Full-spectrum CBD oils are extracted using the whole hemp plant, and so contain a wide array of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other phytonutrients. So, for example, if you’re using a full-spectrum product containing “1000mg of hemp extract,” it could equate to containing only 50mg of actual CBD amongst all the other compounds contained in the extract.
Complicating the matter further is the entourage effect. The entourage effect is a widely accepted theory that says CBD isolate is less effective at delivering benefits than a full-spectrum CBD oil product. According to the theory, ingesting the other cannabinoids and terpenes found in the whole hemp plant increases the therapeutic benefits of the CBD, as all the organic compounds amplify each others’ effects. So, while a product made from CBD isolate will deliver the most accurate information on potency, a full-spectrum product may deliver the most effective results.
Finally, different delivery methods have different bioavailabilities, meaning different amounts of CBD may be active in the body depending on how you take it. For example, water-soluble CBD oil products have greater bioavailability than standard oil-soluble products, and are absorbed and used by the body more effectively.
While this seems like a long list, it still does not capture all the variables that can impact CBD oil potency. Other factors include the freshness of the product, how it is packaged (glass vs plastic, Miron glass vs standard glass), and individual genetic and biological factors.
Look at the Certificates of Analysis
So, with so many different variables, what is your North Star? Currently, a Certificate of Analysis (COA) is your best bet.
Certificates of Analysis are laboratory reports measuring the purity and potency of any given batch of a CBD product. Reputable CBD companies will typically have an independent lab generate their Certificates of Analysis to ensure there’s no bias.
A complete COA should include the exact percentages—down to the decimal—of CBD and THC content, along with all the other cannabinoids and terpenes contained in the product. COAs will also tell you whether there are harmful pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, or chemicals present in the CBD oil.
Certificates of Analysis are currently the sole form of “regulation” and reporting in the CBD industry. If you’re looking for a more potent CBD oil and the company you’re shopping with does not provide COAs, there will be no way for you to verify the concentration of CBD in the product, let alone if the product is totally safe for you to consume.
Is Potent Always Better When Taking CBD?
Because of CBD oil’s bell-shaped dose-response, taking a large dose or using an especially potent product may prove to be ineffective and counterproductive. It’s important, at least in the beginning, to keep a mindful, balanced approach to your timing and dosages to ensure you are getting the results you’re after.
Consider this: Would you rather take one serving of an especially potent CBD product and hit your daily dose? Or would you prefer to take several doses of a less potent product throughout the day? The first option allows you to knock out your CBD oil consumption for the day in one fell swoop, but you will feel the effects of the CBD especially strong when you first take the product, and see them taper off as time goes on. With the second option, you will need to remember to regularly dose, but the effects will be more consistent throughout the day.
Another factor to consider is pricing. In general, the more potent the CBD oil product is, the more expensive it will be. However, you’ll likely need to use a high-potency CBD oil less frequently than a less expensive and less potent CBD product, as the effects will last longer. Therefore, you may not have to restock your high-potency CBD product as often as your low-potency products.
Do some research first and then you can determine which direction will give you the greatest return on your investment.
Potent CBD Oil Dosage
When you’re looking for your ideal dosage, is always best to follow the serving suggestions listed on the package.
If you’re still in need of guidance, we at CBD Oil Review have created the following serving standard after reviewing hundreds of CBD products:
The CBDOilReview.org (COR) Serving Standard is 25mg of CBD, taken twice daily.
From there, you can adjust the amount slowly, increasing by 25 mg every 3-4 weeks until you find positive results. Keep in mind that you may hit a plateau or reverse in effects when you get into higher dosages—that’s when you know to decrease the amount you’re taking.
For more information on dosing, see our our complete dosage guide.
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