CBD Potency: % and mgs

Products come in a range of different forms, sizes, strengths and concentrations. Most commonly this is labelled either as mg or percentages. However, what do these numbers actually mean?

Milligrams – The absolute amount of cannabinoids

The number of mg typically refers to the total absolute amount of cannabinoids in the product. The other variable that needs to be taken into account is the volume. If you have a 1000mg product in a 10ml and a 20ml container then the products will be different strengths. The 20ml product will be half the strength of the 10ml product drop for drop. This is where percentages come in.

Percentages – The concentration per drop

The percentage given represents the concentration, i.e. the true measure of the drop-for-drop strength of the product. For example 1000mg of CBD in a 10ml bottle is a concentration of 10%. Therefore 1000mg in a 20ml bottle is 5% concentration, as it is diluted by twice the volume, drop for drop. As a beginner you may want to start with around 2-3%, if you have a product of a larger volume that offers less than this, you just need to take it slightly more often, or use slightly more of it. Depending on how and why you are using the product, this will be down to personal choice. 

CBD Oil Strength Conversion Table
mg on label

(*You’re unlikely to find any oil that is 60% strength, it’s very hard to dissolve that amount of CBD in the given volume.) So in summary, if you already measure your doses by calculating the exact milligrams of CBD that you’re taking then you don’t have to worry about percentages because you’ll already be adjusting your dose with stronger or weaker CBD products by taking a lesser or greater volume of the product respectively. Therefore instead of measuring your doses in drops, droppers or mls, start by considering how much absolute CBD you would like to be taking per day, e.g. 20-30mg a day (this will depend on things like body weight etc), and then depending on what product you use, adjust accordingly.

Mg and Absolute Cannabinoids in Full Spectrum vs. Isolate

CBD Isolate = CBD has been isolated from the extract and the other cannabinoids have been removed, making the CBD more concentrated

Full / Broad Spectrum = CBD + other Cannabinoids

This is a complex issue, because the strength is not just determined by the concentration of CBD itself, but may also be strengthened by the Entourage Effect when all cannabinoids are present. A 1000mg (10%) CBD Broad Spectrum CBD oil might in fact contain 600mg CBD, and 400mg of another cannabinoid like CBDa. In spite of the possible entourage effect, some would argue that this is important to know because cannabinoids like CBDa may have far fewer proven benefits than CBD itself.

The main thing is that it’s important to know what you’re taking, so that you can accurately reflect on the effects of different compounds and their strengths on you, at any given time. Just to make matters even more confusing – bioavailability also matters. Just because you are taking a 20mg dose, does not mean this is the amount that will end up being metabolised and absorbed by your body! If you smoke it, around 40-60% will be absorbed, sublingually around 16-30%, and orally or topically even less! This is why it is so important to trial different products and routes of administration to find what works for you, depending on what you want it for and when you need it, by getting in tune with your body.

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