CBD products are generally accepted as safe – does that mean you can’t overdose on CBD? Learn about what happens if you take too much.
Thinking about picking up some cannabidiol (CBD) gummies to enhance your evening chill or ignite your morning focus? As a responsible consumer, you want to know the safe upper limit for any substance you consume, including CBD.
Plenty of people use CBD to manage stress, but you definitely don’t want to overdo it in a situation where you could be stranded for 8 hours without a place to lay down. (Nap under the desk? Hell no!)
Cannabidiol is a phytocannabinoid—a chemical that comes from the cannabis plant. It’s a big part of what gives medical marijuana its signature chill, as well as how different extracts from hemp plants do it. In fact, one of the best-known uses of CBD is taking the edge off of nervousness and negative thoughts.
If you’ve ever used too much marijuana and experienced bad side effects, it was most likely because of the THC (delta-8 or delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol), not the CBD. In high doses, THC can cause less-than-desirable effects like paranoia and racing thoughts, but those issues don’t seem to happen to CBD users. If anything, the prime side effect of taking too much cannabidiol is usually feeling sleepy.
So, what’s the safe upper limit for CBD? That’s a complicated question, but it’s very high, in most people. In a report that explores health concerns around cannabis, the World Health Organization (WHO) cited study results that say:
- CBD has “relatively low toxicity.”
- CBD “failed to produce significant effects in a human study of abuse potential.”
- Pure CBD had “no significant psychoactive, cardiovascular or other effects.”
Does that mean you can’t overdose on CBD? Again, it’s a complicated question because everyone is different—but you’re unlikely to have problems with this generally safe substance. Let’s take a closer look:
What’s the toxic dose of CBD?
The simplest way to figure out whether you can overdose on something is by finding its toxic dose. Researchers assign substances an LD50, or the lethal dosage (LD) it takes to kill 50% of test subjects.
There isn’t an established LD50 for CBD in humans. Part of the reason is that it’s obviously not ethical to test LD50 estimates on people, so those tests are usually done on mice.
A more significant reason is that it’s apparently really hard to experience toxic effects from CBD, even in animal studies—the WHO says that its toxicity is “relatively low.” As of 2020, there aren’t any reports of CBD causing death.
What’s the highest safe dose of CBD?
A 2017 research review shows that people can safely use CBD doses up to 1,500 mg per day—but don’t start that high just because it shouldn’t harm you!
Instead, start low and slow at 20 to 40 mg, then increase the amount every week until you’re at your ideal dose. This is the sweet spot where you achieve the best benefits without any effects like marked drowsiness. The research shows that CBD’s right dose is highly variable, so even if your bestie swears that 500 mg is golden, you might find that you feel great at 80 mg or so.
What are the side effects of CBD?
The most common side effects of CBD don’t need medical attention. They might be troublesome but aren’t usually harmful, and they typically lessen and go away as your body gets used to CBD and you dose correctly.
- Dry mouth
- Low blood pressure
A less common side effect is:
- Inhibition of hepatic drug metabolism, “which is responsible for breaking down most pharmaceutical drugs. To be more precise, CBD temporarily neutralizes the enzyme cytochrome P-450.”
If you find that you have significant side effects, lower the dosage, and talk to your doctor. Most people tolerate CBD well without any side effects, but everybody is different!
What are the health risks of CBD?
CBD has very few risks for most people, especially if you’re healthy overall. The World Health Organization says that CBD:
- Has few health risks
- Is well-tolerated by most people
- Has a good safety profile
Rarely, and related to its potential inhibition of hepatic drug metabolism, high liver test values (elevated hepatic transaminases) can happen in people taking CBD.
You’re more likely to develop this problem if you have liver problems already or if you take the medications valproate or clobazam. You’re also more likely to experience it if you use high doses of CBD (over 1,000 mg) on a daily, long-term basis.
Can pets overdose on CBD?
Pets seem more sensitive to the effects than we are, but these issues may be from trace THC in the hemp oil. Most pets experiencing overdose signs after eating CBD products have problems that look similar to THC overdose. Those signs include:
- Hypersensitivity to light, sound, or other stimuli
Pet product companies can label their products “THC-free” if they contain less than 0.03% THC, which is a threshold so low that it doesn’t cause psychoactive effects in humans… but it might affect Fluffy, who’s way more sensitive and much smaller than you.
Call your vet if you think your pet is overdosing on CBD or THC. Most of the time, you can treat Mr. Snookums at home by offering extra fluids and comfort, but severe symptoms may benefit from IV fluids or anti-nausea medications. It’s better to be safe!