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When using CBD products, there can be great variation between people in what works best for each individual. 

This is because our bodies have a wide range of natural differences – genetically and biologically – in how we respond to plant compounds, break them down, and metabolize them.

To find your own “sweet spot” in terms of portion size and product type, savvy CBD consumers use a process of self-titration: optimizing your own individualized regimen.

While self-titration is a process, the good news is that it’s straightforward. A guiding principle is “start low and go slow,” gradually building up to a portion size that gives you the effects you’re seeking.

The major steps in self-titration are to find your ratio, find your dose, and find your frequency. 

Find Your Ratio

Finding your ratio generally means determining what proportion of the product is CBD and what proportion is THC. 

With hemp-based products, the range of how much THC can be included is much smaller than with products sold in dispensaries. However, product formulation is still an important consideration. Options include: 

  • Full-spectrum products – the least processed and contain the greatest possible range of source plant components, including small legal amounts of THC

  • Broad-spectrum products – a bit more processed and contain a fairly wide range of source plant components, but THC has been removed

  • Distillate-based products – highly processed, containing mostly CBD and a small number of other plant components

  • Isolate-based products – intensively processed and the plant has been reduced to just the CBD molecule itself

In determining your own appropriate ratio, consider which effects you’re seeking, and then which product type(s) would best support achieving those effects. For example, THC is a very helpful tool for managing pain. 

There is no reason to “push” your comfort level with THC, but rather to find the ratio that best suits your needs. In fact, some studies indicate that THC could have beneficial effects even at a microdose – a sub-perceptual level that isn’t consciously felt (Steffens et al, 2005). However, in the process of titration, it is also common to be able to steadily increase THC intake in small increments without experiencing negative side effects.

An important note: Although highly processed CBD extraction methods are often marketed as being more “pure”, this language is misleading. 

Though technically accurate – as “pure” in a chemical context just means containing a higher proportion of CBD and less of other components – there is evidence indicating that CBD works more effectively in combination with the rest of the plant matrix. 

Researchers have stated that full-spectrum products offer the greatest range of potential therapeutic effects. In addition, studies have found that full-spectrum products generally require much lower doses or portion sizes than isolate to get the same level of effects, making them a stronger and more efficient option.

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Find Your Dose

Once you’ve determined which product type(s) you’d like to use, it’s time to dial in your dose. 

Health professionals and researchers strongly encourage cannabis consumers to “start low and go slow” to find their “minimum effective dose”. This is the smallest portion that is effective for one’s needs. This approach also saves you money because it creates a system for using products most efficiently.

Self-titration is the best way to get the effects you’re seeking with the least risk of experiencing any unwanted side effects. If at any time you do feel unwanted side effects, simply back off to the last portion or dose that felt good. That amount might be your optimal portion size, or you might need to increase a bit more slowly.

Luckily, CBD does not impair mental or physical function in most consumers, even at very high doses. Most people can still work and drive with no issues.

Another consideration is that CBD is a “bi-phasic” or even “multi-phasic” compound. This means a substance that can have opposite or different effects at different dose sizes. For example, in small amounts CBD is stimulating and alerting. However, in larger amounts, many people report that it helps them to sleep better. 

Once you’ve honed your own personal “standard” regimen, it can be useful to experiment with bigger and smaller portions to understand how those affect you, and then to achieve particular effects. 

Find Your Frequency

A general rule is that taking smaller amounts throughout the day is often more effective than taking one large daily dose. This divided approach also allows for more customization. 

When taking CBD orally (in oils, tinctures, or edibles), many people find that 2-3 times a day is best to suit their needs. With topicals, they can be applied “as needed” – product makers share that using small amounts frequently seems to yield the best results. When smoking or vaporizing CBD flower or oil, effects will be felt most rapidly, so the process of titration happens in real time and can easily be adjusted.

You may want to track your usage and take some notes during the process of self-titration. CBD requires a personalized approach, but that also means that it’s a very versatile tool in supporting and optimizing health.

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