Usually, prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs come with the risk of overdose. Clinical studies and human trials have meticulously calculated the ideal dosages of commonly used drugs to find the balance between efficacy and safety.
But because CBD (cannabidiol) is not approved by regulatory agencies as a medicine but rather as a food supplement, many wonder if the same level of safety testing has been applied to CBD products to ensure that people won’t overdose on CBD.
Ultimately, CBD is widely considered to be very safe. In fact, the World Health Organization has even gone on record to say that “CBD is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile.” Still, because CBD is relatively new on the scene, there is always the potential for negative side effects when taking it – especially if you take too much.
We’ll look at whether you can actually overdose on CBD, what potential reactions to expect when taking CBD, and the best methods for finding the right dose for your wellness goals.
What is the Difference Between CBD and Prescription Medications?
CBD is made from the hemp plant using natural extraction processes. After extraction, CBD is diluted with a carrier oil like coconut oil or hemp seed oil to create CBD oil. This final product can be taken in many ways, including CBD topicals, oral drops, edibles, and vape liquids.
On the other hand, prescription medications are most often made using synthetic ingredients. These drugs are designed to target specific receptors in the body to produce a desired effect, and they usually come in pill form that is taken orally.
CBD products do not require a prescription because they are not considered to be medications. Instead, CBD supplements are classified as food supplements by various agencies like the FDA in the USA and the MHRA in the UK.
CBD products are made from hemp plants and when correctly filtered, contain no psychoactive or intoxicating properties. Additionally, research has shown it to be a non-addictive substance with little to no adverse effects on the body.
The biggest difference between CBD products and medications is the amount you can take. While some CBD products taken in too high of a dose may cause minor side effects that won’t necessarily be harmful, it’s generally harder to overdose on CBD – even if you take substantial quantities.
This isn’t the case for prescription medications such as opioids, which can be fatal even in small doses if you have a low tolerance for them. So, if you’re wondering whether you can overdose on CBD the same way you can on other drugs, the answer is no – it is simply not possible due to how CBD interacts with the human body.
What Happens If I Take Too Much CBD?
While you can’t overdose on CBD, it is still possible to take too much – especially when it’s your first time and you are still trying to figure out the right dose of CBD for your needs.
Because CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system differently in everyone, the ideal dose of CBD will be different for each person. Factors that play a role in this include:
- current health/wellbeing
Because of these factors, what is considered too much isn’t measured by going over the recommended dose as much as by the side effects of CBD being caused.
For example, the most potent CBD product is usually considered to be CBD oil tinctures. When taking a CBD oil tincture, you place a few drops under your tongue and hold it there for 30-60 seconds before swallowing.
This method of taking CBD oil is considered to be one of the most effective because it bypasses the digestive system and goes directly into the bloodstream. However, because it’s so concentrated, it’s also easy to take too much.
If you do take too much, the most common side effects you may experience include:
- dry mouth
- reduced blood pressure
If you are concerned or they are interfering with your daily activities, it’s best to speak with a healthcare professional.
Additionally, while there have been no reports of fatal overdoses from taking CBD, it is possible that taking too much could cause unwanted drug interactions with other medications you’re taking – especially if they are designed to thin the blood or lower blood pressure.
If you are taking any medications, it’s always best to speak with a healthcare professional before starting CBD – even in small doses. This is the only way to ensure that CBD won’t interact with your other medications and cause any adverse reactions.
In some instances, the side effects of CBD you experience from taking too much may manifest themselves as digestive issues such as:
- stomach cramps
These minor side effects typically happen more often when a CBD user has eaten too many edibles, such as CBD gummies or chocolates. Side effects like these can be avoided by lowering your dosage, halting use for a few days, or taking other types of CBD products.
So, while you may not be able to overdose on CBD, taking too much could cause the minor side effects mentioned above. And going way over the tolerated dosage for someone your size, age, or gender may increase the duration or intensity of these effects. So, again, if you do experience any of these side effects, it is best to discontinue use, switch CBD products, and/or talk to a healthcare professional.
How Much CBD Should I Take To Avoid Side Effects?
Because CBD is classified as a food supplement, vendors cannot provide specific dosing instructions. This leaves people with a few ways to determine the type of CBD they should use and the dose of CBD they should take.
A CBD dosage calculator is one of the most trusted methods of determining the best CBD dose for your wellness needs. This calculator collects information related to your body weight, the condition you’re treating, and the severity of your condition. It then provides a range of CBD doses that are considered to be safe for most people.
It is important to note that these calculators may not be accurate for everyone. This is because each person metabolizes CBD differently based on genetic traits and overall health. However, these calculators can give you a good starting point when determining the best CBD dose for your needs.
Trial And Error
Another way to find your ideal dose is by starting with a low dose (< 10 mg of CBD) and slowly increasing (or decreasing) it until you find the amount that works best for you. This method may take some time, but it’s often the best way to find the perfect dose for your individual needs.
If you aren’t sure which product to trial and error first, consider starting with CBD gummies or CBD capsules. These CBD products are easy to dose and offer a fixed amount of CBD per serving. This makes it easy to know how much CBD you’re taking, which can be helpful when starting out. CBD oil tinctures are also a good starting point, but the accuracy of measurement using the built-in dropper can be tricky for some people.
Because official medical claims can’t be made about CBD products, many find that reading through online reviews is the best way to determine which product and dose is right for them. Several third-party websites are dedicated to CBD product reviews, which can be a great resource when starting your CBD journey.
When looking through these reviews, try to find patterns in terms of the type of product being used and the dosage being taken. This can help you to zero in on a particular product or dosage that may work well for your needs.
Can I Overdose on Low-Quality CBD Products?
Many argue that the key to experiencing optimal stimulation of cannabinoid receptors in the body and avoiding any adverse side effects when taking CBD is to only use high-quality products. Low-quality CBD products risk wasting money, triggering side effects, and causing overdose-like symptoms such as non-responsiveness, vomiting, and severe abdominal or head pain.
However, it isn’t the CBD itself that can cause low-quality CBD products to make you feel like you are overdosing – it’s actually the processes used to grow hemp and make CBD products, as well as other contaminants that may be present in the final product.
Inferior CBD products are often made using hemp that was grown with the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. These chemicals can end up in the final product, and they can cause a range of adverse effects when used in large doses. Additionally, low-quality CBD products may be extracted using harsh chemicals that can also end up in the final product.
Furthermore, low-quality CBD products may contain more THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) than they should. THC is the psychoactive compound in cannabis that gets people “high”. While CBD products are only supposed to contain trace amounts of THC (<1mg per product), some low-quality products may actually contain higher levels. This can cause people to experience a range of adverse effects including paranoia, anxiety, and even feeling like they are going to die.
To avoid these issues, it’s essential to only purchase CBD products from reputable sources that use high-quality ingredients and extraction methods. Ideally, you should only purchase CBD products that meet the following health and safety standards to avoid any potential issues:
- The product is made using organic hemp that was grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides.
- The product is non-GMO (genetically modified organism).
- The product is third-party lab tested for potency, purity, and contaminants.
- The product contains less than 1 milligram of THC.
- The CBD was extracted using a safe method, such as CO2 extraction.
- The product is manufactured in a GMP (good manufacturing practices) certified facility.
You can verify a lot of this information by reading lab reports detailing the results of third-party testing and checking for certifications from organizations like the UK Cannabis Trades Association (CTA), European Industrial Hemp Association, or US Hemp Authority on the product packaging or website.
How Much CBD Should I Take To Avoid Issues?
Even with the varying effects of CBD on each person, there are commonly accepted dosage guidelines that can help you to avoid any potential issues. When starting out with CBD, it’s best to begin with a low dose and increase gradually as needed.
Most commonly consider low doses of CBD to be anything under 10 mg per dose. So if your bottle of CBD oil contains 1000mg of CBD, one dose would be 1ml of oil (1000mg / 1000 = 1).
At lower doses, CBD is not likely to cause any adverse side effects or overdose-like symptoms. However, it’s important to keep in mind that everyone reacts differently to CBD, so it’s possible that some people may experience some side effects even at low doses.
Mid-range doses of CBD are commonly accepted to be above 10mg but below 25mg of CBD. Therefore, mid-range dosages are often considered to be a “sweet spot” by many people who use CBD.
Like low doses, CBD is not likely to cause adverse side effects or overdose-like symptoms at these levels, but that will depend on each person’s reaction.
High doses of CBD are anything above 25 mg per dose and are preferred by those with extreme wellness goals.
Overdose on CBD – Not Likely
Even with limited human and animal studies, most people still consider CBD safe and well-tolerated, with little-to-no risk of causing any serious side effects or overdose symptoms.
If you are considering taking CBD, remember to start with a low dose and increase gradually as needed. Also, be sure to purchase your CBD products from a reputable source that uses high-quality ingredients and extraction methods to ensure safety and efficacy.
1. CBD and Other Medications: Proceed With Caution, https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/cbd-and-other-medications-proceed-with-caution-2021011121743