Can you overdose on CBD?

by Edward J. Ross

Can you overdose on CBD?

If you haven’t been living under a rock, chances are you’ve heard of Cannabidiol (CBD) recently. It has been in the news a lot lately due to its legalization and how effective it is when used to treat, cure, or prevent common ailments. CBD’s connection with Cannabis is well known.

It is one of many useful compounds (called cannabinoids) found in the plant. CBD differs from THC, the other well-known cannabinoid, in that it doesn’t give you that ‘high’ feeling you can get from marijuana. CBD’s connection with Cannabis (you get them from cannabis and/or hemp plants)leads to a lot of questions, one of the most pressing being: can you overdose on CBD oil? The answer is yes but it isn’t that simple.

To clarify the issue, an overdose simply means taking too much of a drug or substance. So, yes. As with most substances, you can take too much CBD. However, how much CBD can one take.

A study published in 2011 found that the toxic dose for CBD is about 20000 mg, taken almost at once. This implies that overdosing on CBD to toxic levels is near impossible (for scale, most CBD oil bottles contain between 100 and 1500 mg of CBD). The 2011 study previously mentioned showed people taking doses of 1500 mg per day without any adverse effects.

How much CBD oil is too much?

If you can take as high as 1500 mg of CBD oil per day without negative effects, how much is too much? The dosage of CBD depends on a variety of factors, including genetics, weight, and so on. We recommend starting with small doses and gradually building up till you find the dosage that works best for you. 

The average user doesn’t need to worry about taking too much CBD oil. They’d have to ingest 200 100 mg bottles or about 13 1500mg bottles almost instantly for it to have serious negative effects.

CBD and THC

While they are both cannabinoids, THC and CBD vary greatly. THC is the cannabinoid responsible for the ‘high’ associated with the traditional use of marijuana. Unlike THC, CBD lacks toxic, potentially lethal side effects. The adverse effects of THC include; hypotension, anxiety, delirium, reduced memory function,  muscle spasms, panic, respiratory depression and distress, increased heart attack risk, and lethargy.

The CBD industry is not really evaluated by the Food and Drug Adminsitration and as such, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not currently have many standards that CBD drugs must pass before they are sold.

This means that some CBD products might contain a higher level of THC (or other potentially toxic ingredients) than advertised. Currently, CBD products must contain a THC percentage of 0.3 or lower to be considered legal in most states. This means caution is necessary when using CBD oil. Use only products from trusted companies. You can verify a company’s claims by requesting they send you a Certificate of Analysis.   

Is it lethal if you take too much CBD oil?

The toxic dose of CBD (20,000 mg) is not considered lethal. Lethal doses have been achieved in monkeys according to some studies, but it is unethical to carry out similar studies on humans.

Even the World Health Organization (WHO) agrees that CBD in extremely large doses will likely cause drowsiness, upset stomachs, nausea, diarrhea, lethargy, and a host of other unpleasant effects but not death.

Also, the following findings made by the WHO and a 2011 study state:

  • In large doses, CBD affects tumor cells and has little effect on non-tumor cells.

  • The limited research available shows that it does not affect embryonic development.

  • CBD has interactions with some drugs, but the research is not yet conclusive.

  • CBD is one of few substances deemed to have no risks of dependency or major side effects.

Can pets overdose on CBD oil?

The CBD market for pets (especially dogs) is one of the fastest-growing markets for CBD products. A 2019 Newswire report stated that pet and animal product sales are expected to reach $125 million annually by 2022.

There are very few CBD studies involving dogs and other pets. However, anecdotal evidence suggests CBD oil is effective in the treatment of pain, inflammation, and seizures in dogs and humans alike. It also reportedly improves appetite and promotes heart health.

This leads to the all-important question: can my dog/pet overdose or take a lethal dose of CBD oil? There is little evidence of that. However, some people report that giving their dogs too much CBD oil can lead to a dry mouth, drowsiness, and lower blood pressure.

Due to the dearth of published studies on CBD and pets, there is no evidence to indicate what dosage is considered “too much”. However, the American Kennel Society recommends starting with small doses and monitoring the effects on your dog to make sure you don’t give your dog too much CBD oil.

CBD oil and children

The fact that CBD oil offers many health benefits can make it attractive to parents with children suffering from pain, inflammation, and other ailments. While CBD has proven effective in the treatment of a lot of these ailments, giving CBD to a child requires you to account for the child’s smaller body, less developed body.

Also, because childrens’ bodies might react differently to CBD oil than an adult’s, we recommend you err on the side of caution when administering CBD oil to a child. Choose carefully the CBD product you use with children, and wherever possible, start with small doses and build up to the ideal dose.

If you are concerned your child has consumed too much CBD, contact poison control immediately.     

How long before the effects of CBD wear off?

The short answer, as with most questions concerning CBD, is it depends. The factors that could affect how long the effects last are: the dosage applied, the person’s metabolism, and the method of application. Vaping is the fastest method of getting CBD to the bloodstream while topicals are the slowest.

Vaping can cause effects to manifest as quickly as 5 minutes after use, though the effects will dissipate quicker. Topicals take longer to start manifesting but their effects take longer to wear off. The effects of CBD oil could last anywhere between 2 to 4 hours.

Final thoughts   

CBD has proven to have extremely useful benefits. It has been successfully used in the treatment of chronic pain, inflammation, depression, anxiety, and a host of other ailments. You can take too much CBD.

A higher-than-normal dose of CBD can cause you unpleasant effects but it is highly unlikely to be fatal. CBD oil is safe to use with pets and children. We recommend you err on the side of caution though, start with a small dose and slowly build up until you reach the ideal dose for you, your pet, or your child.

CBD is considered safe, has numerous health benefits, has no major side effects, does not promote dependency, and is completely natural.

Everyone's body is different though, so you should start with a small amount of CBD and monitor the effects before moving to a larger dose if needed. Also, we recommend you contact your doctor, especially before starting any new medication.

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