One of the questions we get asked most often is “Can you overdose on CBD?” It’s not surprising that this question keeps coming up because CBD is still often (and erroneously) associated with marijuana. Yes, CBD is extracted from hemp, yes, it’s safe, no, it can’t make you high – but that’s a topic for another day.
Before we start digging into the research, let’s take a moment and put your fears to rest: you can’t overdose from CBD. CBD is known to have very few side effects and is considered non-toxic and the WHO’s report concluded that CBD is well-tolerated in humans, even at a dose of 1500 mg per day. Their findings are supported by a number of associations and research bodies, with the National Cancer Institute finding that: “Cannabinoid receptors aren’t found in the brain stem, there is no way it can change our key functions like breathing. Drugs like opioids, on the other hand, are located in the brainstem — which means it has the potential to interrupt things like blood circulation and breathing that can result in serious injury or death.”
How much CBD is dangerous?
As the popularity of CBD continues to grow, and people use the cannabinoid to treat conditions from nerve and joint pain to anxiety and insomnia, it helps to have a good idea of how much CBD to take, and how much is too much.
There are few studies that have looked at CBD and overdose levels, concluding that a person would need to ingest over 20,000mg of CBD within a very short space of time. If you consider that the strongest CBD on the shelves is only at around 5000mg (most are much less), you’d need to drink four bottles one after the other before things would start getting problematic. But since the highest dose you are likely to take is a dropper full of CBD oil, or a handful of gummies, you’re very unlikely to even get close to taking an overdose.
Is CBD oil addictive?
Along with concerns about overdosing, there is also the valid worry that CBD might be addictive. With research showing the addictive nature of other pain-relieving treatments (such as opioids), and CBD’s link to marijuana, many people want to know whether it is possible to get addicted to CBD.
CBD doesn’t have any mind-altering effects because the psychoactive compound THC is present in levels below 0.2% (but even THC isn’t considered addictive.) In addition to having no psychoactive effects, CBD is also non-addictive. In fact, it’s being trialled as a recovery aid for drug addictions, including opiates and heroin.
Can you build up a tolerance to CBD oil?
One of the most problematic side effects of many types of medication is that you can build up a tolerance so, over time, they become less and less effective. This means that you then need to take higher doses to have the same effect, which will amply any negative side effects that they have. CBD is different in that studies show you don’t build up a tolerance, and many people take CBD for years without altering their dose (and in some cases, they are even able to reduce the dose). Known as reverse tolerance, many users decrease their dose over time and experience the same or better relief for their symptoms. As one researcher commented in a review of CBD studies: “In the past five years, an increasing number of publications have focused on the discovery of the anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and neuroprotective effects of CBD…The cerebroprotective action of CBD is CB₁ receptor-independent, long-lasting, and has potent anti-oxidant activity. Importantly, CBD use does not lead to tolerance.”
This happens because CBD interacts with cannabinoid receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system, without binding to them, which has the effect of stimulating your body’s natural ability to produce endocannabinoids. Higher levels of endocannabinoids in your system mean that you need less CBD to get symptom relief.
Does CBD have side effects?
While CBD won’t give you a high or lead to an overdose, if you take too much, you may experience some minor side effects such as a dry mouth, drowsiness, lower blood pressure, a change in your appetite and diarrhoea.
What about interactions with other medication?
Similar to eating grapefruit while on medication, CBD interacts with an enzyme called Cytochrome P450 that breaks down the active ingredients found in prescription and non-prescription medication. If you are taking any of the following medications, talk to your doctor about possible interactions:
- Angiotension II Blockers
- Calcium channel blockers
- HIV antivirals
- HMG CoA reductase inhibitors
- Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
- Oral Hypoglycemic Agents
- Proton-Pump Inhibitors
- Steroids and corticosteroids
What is the best way to safely consume CBD?
The quality of your CBD oil will have an impact on its safety and while you might not be able to overdose, poor quality oil can have a negative impact on your health. Recently, there have been a few studies and reports that analysed the contents of CBD oil from leading brands, and the results were concerning. Penn State University’s study found that almost 70% of the CBD extract products they tested were mislabelled, while forensic toxicologists from Virginia Commonwealth University found harmful compounds in the extracts that they tested. These two studies were supported by a Californian company research which identified very high levels of dangerous compounds and misleading labels on the CBD products that they tested.
The product you choose should offer:
- Traceability, the CBD should be made from organic non-GMO industrial hemp, free from pesticides, herbicides and other harmful chemicals.
- Safe extraction, CO2 extraction offers a safe, effective extraction process that doesn’t require additional heat or solvents
- Third-party lab testing and reports, the labs analyse each batch of CBD, checking for unwanted or dangerous additives.
With no cases of fatal CBD overdoses to-date, it seems clear that CBD is safe and effective. The two major considerations to keep in mind, therefore, are the quality of the CBD as it may contain dangerous compounds, and possible interactions with other drugs, which makes it important to consult with your doctor if you are on any medication.