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CBD | Science

CBD Overdose: Can You Take Too Much?

Dr Abraham Benavides


Dr Abraham Benavides

Medical Doctor

“Can you overdose on CBD?”

“How much CBD is too much?”

The short answer is: Yes. Just like THC, it’s possible to overdose on CBD. But, giving an exact figure around a dose is difficult. 

Why? Let’s find out!

CBD Illustration

Can You Overdose On CBD Oil? The Science

With every substance, there are associated risks and possible gray areas. And many of these tend to remain little-known to most people. 

Yes, even those who use cannabis products regularly, as opposed to the newbies.

“Does CBD have a limit?”

“Can you take too much CBD oil?”

Yup, as with anything, you can take too much. Pretty much a common scenario that occurs when something doesn’t seem to feel as you expected.

Certainly, you can also take too much CBD. However, something as simple as a caffeine overdose is potentially more easily possible than an overdose of CBD. Still, this doesn’t mean you should just CBD-lose-yourself to the point of dealing with adverse side effects.

What does this mean in practice? 

A 2020 case study report offers more food for thought. It involved children who accidentally consumed a bunch of CBD products. 

While this led to breathing problems, none of the children experienced lasting negative effects.

However, the related drug test in the report actually showed high THC consumption, a signal of illegal or contaminated products – and we do not know what was taken nor how much.

As a result, children should exercise caution in line with the studies conducted on Epidiolex (a purified CBD medicine), which reported that a few children suffered from respiratory issues.

health benefits of hemp

CBD Safety And Toxicity Research

A 2011 study on the safety and side effects of Cannabidiol brings about invaluable insights.

It was published in the journal Current Drug Safety. Noted that up to 1500mg are “reportedly well-tolerated in humans”.

Another more recent piece of research following up on the earlier study confirmed the findings from 2011. 

Meanwhile, your average CBD dose often falls within the 30 – 200mg range. As a result, it’s highly unlikely a user would need to consume over the suggested tolerable limit of 1500mg per dose. 

However, side effects can happen to anyone at any CBD dosing level. The odds of experiencing side effects may increase with increasing doses and other factors.

To illustrate this better, most CBD tinctures and CBD oil products contain about 100 – 1500mg of the active cannabinoid CBD. That’s the average CBD content in an entire bottle. CBD gummies usually contain between 10 – 30mg of CBD per dose.

However, a 2019 study with mice suggested that very high doses of CBD could result in liver damage. The dosage here was 615mg per kg of body weight, which is exceptionally high, but nonetheless, it does raise some concerns around the potential to overdose on CBD. 

This finding is also supplemented with evidence from research conducted on Epidiolex. Where 1 of the 137 children taking part in the study suffered liver damage. Although, this was reversed with a reduction of concurrent medication or CBD.

While there is some evidence here on issues with the liver, it clearly needs more study to reach a definitive conclusion. So, “Can you take too much CBD?” is not the most important question. The real question is…

How Much CBD Is Too Much?

As noted above, in clinical settings, doses of up to 1500mg have shown to be well-tolerated with few side effects in research settings.

Ultimately, how much CBD is too much depends on the individual and the reasons why they’re using CBD.

For example, a study on cannabidiol as a potential treatment for anxiety disorders highlights 300 to 600 mg of CBD as a suitable dosage. 

Another example comes from a study on CBD for sleep aid.

In this case, the participants took 25mg each day and reported improved sleep quality. But the results were not consistent across the cohort. Suggesting that each individual may need to try a different dose based on the reason they want to use CBD. 

cbd oil being dropped from a bottle

More broadly, a report from the World Health Organization outlines that CBD is one of the very few substances claimed to possess no major risk of dependency or side effects.

At the time of writing, there are no currently reported fatal CBD doses in humans. However, an early study documented a 20,000mg dose as being lethal in primates.  

As a result, the compound has been defined by the World Health Organisation as a substance that is:

  • “generally well tolerated with a good safety profile.”
  • “Reported adverse effects may be as a result of drug-drug interactions between CBD and patients’ existing medications.”
  • “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential.”

Important Content Note 

People with pre-existing health conditions that require specific medications must be extra careful with the use of CBD. Special populations like children, pregnant women, and the elderly must talk to their doctor first and use extra precaution as CBD may not be appropriate for everyone.

Always consult your physician or healthcare professional before using CBD.

CBD Oil & Liver Toxicity

As outlined earlier, there has been some discussion on the potential of CBD to cause liver damage in high doses. 

This was also reported in the FDA trials for Epidiolex, a CBD-based pharmaceutical drug. However, it was reversible in two-thirds of patients with a reduction of seizure medication, CBD dose, or both.

A recent 2019 study reveals that “CBD is not risk-free.” and that high doses could result in an elevated count of liver enzymes. 

Researchers highlight that the examined CBD toxicity effects in animals relate to investigations of administration “at doses higher than recommended for human pharmacotherapies.”

Finally, Validcare released a breakthrough 2021 study. It involved 839 participants over the course of 7 months. The participants ingested oral forms of hemp-derived CBD for a minimum of 60 days.

The preliminary findings reveal that the CBD safety testing participants showed:

  • “no increase in the prevalence of elevated liver function tests,”
  • “no evidence of liver disease”, 
  • “almost 70% of study participants reported having a medical condition and taking medications for those conditions, without an increase in reporting of adverse events.”

Nonetheless, even with current evidence, more research is needed to clarify interactions between medications. In particular how seizure drugs (such as clobazam) may need to be reduced to liver enzymes.

Does CBD Have A Limit?

CBD dosages in studies cover a very broad range of 20-1500mg.

Thus, the correct amount of CBD oil for individual A may not be fitting for person B. This has to do with the unique body chemistry of each individual. This can be attributed to the fact that the endocannabinoid system (ECS) functions differently among people.

So far, research cannot provide any clear limits about the “right” amount of CBD an individual should take. Officially, outside of the licensed medication Epiodiolex, there isn’t a documented dose for CBD. 

Documented CBD Dosages At A Glance Guide  

Based on the available research, here are some practical numbers regarding CBD dosing that may be helpful for you.

Please, note that the dosing shared below are from documented studies and preliminary research.

These are provided for informational purposes only, and you should consult your physician to define the right dose for you. These cannot substitute personal medical advice, nor are they intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, cure, or mitigate any disease.

Possible Negative Effects Of Taking CBD Oil VS Potential Health Benefits: The Golden Thread? 

Whether it comes to CBD oil or any other form of CBD, the possible side effects are common. Then again, studies show that CBD doses of up to 1500mg a day are well-tolerated in general. It is more likely to experience side effects with increasing doses of CBD.

Some of the most common CBD side effects include dry mouth, nausea, fatigue, irritability, reduced appetite, drowsiness, diarrhea. 

Users must remember that CBD, like any other cannabinoid, may interact with other prescribed medications. This includes but is not limited to blood thinners, antidepressants, and antiepileptics. It may also cause more sleepiness if taken with sedating or drowsiness-inducing medications, as noted in research.

Meanwhile, according to a study published in JCI Insight, CBD may reduce high blood pressure. However, a comprehensive review of current evidence didn’t show any physiologic changes.

So, you see, the correct CBD dosage to help avoid any negative side effects is a variable. 

As a result, it’s best to titrate your CBD dosage to find your sweet spot when beginning to use Cannabidiol. 

Yes, this process can take time, but it ensures you can find what works for you relatively easily without overdoing it. 

The Hidden Hazards Of Low-Quality CBD Products

One of the main concerns with CBD? The cannabinoid serves as both an active pharmaceutical agent in licensed medication and in CBD products you pick up online or in a gas station, which do not undergo the same level of quality assurance.

The FDA classifies CBD products as supplements. Moreover, it does not regulate the purity of these products. Consequently, there is no guarantee that the label of the product lives up true to the content inside.

For instance, the active ingredients listed may not be at the exact doses as printed on the label.

Furthermore, the product may contain various other substances, such as pesticide leftovers, among other toxins and impurities. In terms of consumer use, some of these may pose serious health risks, even more so than potential overdosing.

All of this is highlighted in a recent 2020 study. It reveals that contamination, medical fraud, and mislabeling are “all common in CBD products.”

As a result, you should always look for a Certificate of Analysis (COA) to remove some of the related ambiguity. 

The Bottom Line

By taking a few simple steps, you can avoid the common footfalls associated with a potential overdose on CBD. 

Only using third-party tested CBD oil and any other forms of CBD can be considered safe. But you still need to be disciplined enough to find your sweet spot.

The general takeaway to avoid an overdose on CBD? Start low, go slow, be patient, stay curious.