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How Much is Too Much CBD: Can you Overdose on CBD?

With a large portion of the ongoing research on the effects of Cannabidiol offering hope to millions of people worldwide, people are increasingly trying to make most of this natural substance that seems to have far-reaching and intense effects on our body and mind.

CBD has been proven to possess neuroprotective effects on epilepsy and Alzheimer’s patients. It is also effective in helping manage difficult-to-treat chronic pain. Besides, this cannabinoid also has some anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties.

It has proven to be an effective therapeutic agent against anxiety disorders, depression, among other psychological conditions. It’s also seen to influence the human immune system. CBD is also known to help lower cholesterol and also have cardioprotective properties.

CBD’s effects have also been found to be much safer than most other medications.

A lot of people across the world also claim to have benefited from this cannabinoid too, the evidence of which may be found abundantly on public forums.

From time to time, though, people still look up for more information on the various aspects of CBD – as they should. One such question that often pops up on internet searches is:

“Can you overdose on CBD?”

If we have to give a straight answer, it would have to be – ‘No, you can’t overdose on CBD.’ However, this does not mean you won’t experience any side effects after taking too much CBD.

So, how much is too much CBD?

To answer that, we must first answer another question:

What is the right CBD dosage?

Since CBD is yet to get FDA approval and it has been seen to have variable effects on people, it is always advised to begin with a very low dose and gradually titrate upwards until you find the perfect dose.

This should be the highest dose at which you do not experience any side effects, but experience significant improvement in your health conditions.

Doesn’t exactly answer your question, does it?

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Well, CBD has a complex pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic profile. It can interact with many different kinds of neurotransmitters and receptors and has a wide range of effects on the mind and body. That is why determining an exact dosage is impossible without taking certain into account first.

Factors Impacting The Optimum CBD Dosage

CBD acts differently on people, at different times, and with different conditions. It is even difficult to determine the exact dosage for people suffering from the same medical condition. The behavior of CBD, like most cannabinoids, differ widely. Additionally, CBD is not approved by the FDA.

Even the studies conducted to establish this couldn’t arrive at a satisfactory conclusion.

Here are what the researchers have discovered so far…

  • A 2020 review, published in the Journal of Dietary Supplements, discussed how Epidiolex®, a mucosal spray, containing purified CBD that is, so far, the first and only FDA-approved prescription CBD drug used to treat seizures associated with two rare forms of epilepsy, is usually administered in a sesame seed oil carrier “in doses ranging between 5 mg/kg/day to 25 mg/kg/day”. As per the drug’s official website, 10 mg/kg/day is the maintenance dose. However, increasing the dose to 20 mg/kg/day reduces the rate of seizures, but also increases side effects. This has also been confirmed in the paper submitted to Dietary Supplements. The review indicated that the drug elevates liver enzymes and increases the risk of hepatocellular toxicity, i.e. drug-induced liver damage.
  • Another 2020 review, published in Epileptic Disorders, titled “Adverse effects of cannabinoids”, showed Epidiolex® to be tolerated up to 20 mg/kg/day by the subjects. Most of the patients, who developed any adverse effects, were mostly of mild to moderate nature and during the two-week escalation period, which subsided within a month.
  • According to a 2014 study, published in Epilepsy Currents, CBD doses of up to 200 mg to 300 mg, taken continuously for 30 days, yielded positive results in a small group of patients, with no adverse effects.

However, these trials were mostly on children of a certain age. This dosage may vary from person to person, depending on numerous factors that include:

  • Your Body Weight: Bodyweight and CBD dosage are directly proportional to each other. People with 130 pounds of body weight, will need much less than those around 130-230 lbs, and even lower than those above 230 pounds.
  • The Disease/Condition Being Treated: If you have a mild headache or slight nausea, a small dose should be sufficient. The dosage may be increased when you’re suffering a more severe or complex condition. Similarly, the dosage needed for a person having a headache and another person experiencing epileptic seizures would also vastly vary.
  • Your Age: People aged between 18 and 75 years can consume CBD safely. It has been observed that CBD is well tolerated even by young children above the age of 1 (as in the case of Epidiolex test subjects). However, you’d need a doctor’s prescription for that. When it comes to children, infants, and elderly patients, CBD’s uptake rate is higher than young adults and middle-aged people. That’s why they need much lower doses.
  • Sex: Dosages also differ based on the sex of the patient. Men and women differ vastly in their genetic makeup and hormonal built. It has been seen that women require much less CBD compared to their male counterparts.
  • The Body’s Internal Chemical Balance: The patient’s prior exposure to cannabinoids and the underlying tone of the endocannabinoid system in an individual also helps in dose determination.
  • CBD Strength: The concentration of CBD as well as the strain of cannabis used to extract the cannabinoids impact the overall effects on the body.

Extract Type:

  • Full-Spectrum products are far more potent, as they include all-natural cannabinoids, terpenoids, fatty acids, minerals, proteins, and vitamins. All of these compounds act synergistically to enhance CBD’s effects, in a process known as the “entourage effect”. In this case, the dosage required is usually lower than other extract types. However, owing to the presence of trace amounts of THC, when taken in high doses, it raises the overall THC content in the bloodstream, leading to mild side-effects, besides failing you on a drug test.
  • Broad-Spectrum CBD extracts have all the advantages of full-spectrum products, without the ill-effects of THC – even at high doses.
  • Pure CBD Isolates contain only pure CBD. Mostly available in crystalline form, CBD isolates have very few side effects. However, its effects are much less potent than when used in combination with the other phytonutrients.

How Much is Too Much? Overdosing

CBD can be toxic, leading to some mild to moderate adverse effects. Most of these effects often usually subside soon enough. But it is never lethal. No case of overdosing causing death has been recorded so far among humans consuming CBD.

However, studies in mice, conducted in 2019, showed at the higher end of the doses (i.e. 2460 mg CBD/kg of body weight) can lead to death in 24 hours. At 615 mg/kg, subacute toxicity, like liver damage, was observed.

That is why it is recommended that humans stick to a maintenance dose of 10-20 mg/kg.

The amount of CBD available in a single bottle of CBD tincture isn’t enough to exhibit any adverse effects. So, even if you end up consuming an entire bottle of CBD oil at one go, you won’t experience any severe effects, except maybe feeling a bit queasy or sleepy. But no one does that. After all, CBD is so very expensive!

Research on CBD Overdosing

Apparently, you need to consume a massive quantity of CBD for it to have a toxic reaction – around 20,000 mg dose taken almost at once.

Most medical professionals, as well as the World Health Organization, believe that CBD does not cause any severe impact on the body and that even when taken in extremely high doses, it will likely cause nothing more adverse than drowsiness, lethargy, upset stomach, nausea, and diarrhea – and definitely not death like in the case of most drug overdoses.

  • According to a 2011 study, published in the Current Drug Safety, 3mg of oral CBD per kg of body weight per day for 30 days is well tolerated by healthy participants, whereas for epileptic patients, a dosage of 200-300mg/day for 135 days showed no adverse effects were exhibited in the neurological and physical examinations, blood and urine analysis, or EKG and EEG – all of which were performed at weekly intervals.
  • In a 2020 study, published by Stat Pearls, concluded that CBD toxicity effects are far less significant than its excessive enhancement of the endocannabinoid system. This “immoderate stimulation” is what causes such adverse effects and toxicity, and not the CBD itself. Usually, it is ingested CBD products and synthetic cannabinoids that tend to cause such toxicity.
  • Another study, conducted in 2017 and published in the Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research confirmed that a high dose of CBD could be safely used to treat schizophrenia and dementia. However, they also concluded that toxicological parameters, like effects on hormones, need to be confirmed, along with the impact of longer chronic administration on the body.
  • A 2019 study, published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, reviewed the doses administered in different clinical populations of different studies to assess the “active range of CBD”. On analysis of these studies, researchers deduced that patients could easily tolerate cannabidiol doses of up to 15 mg/kg/day without exhibiting any significant adverse events. They also added that a Phase-III trial to determine the effective plasma concentration of CBD in the subjects’ blood needs to be performed.
  • In another retrospective review, published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine Research in 2020, no adverse effects were found at acute doses, and only some mild to moderate adverse events were recorded at regular, chronic dosing of 25 mg/day up to 150 mg/day for 12 weeks. Formulations, dose, and dosage schemes varied significantly among studies reviewed from five countries.
  • In a 2019 study, submitted with the Current Neuropharmacology, confirmed that CBD’s therapeutic efficacy was evident even in complicated conditions, like Dravet Syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome. Yet, the researchers weren’t in favor of doctors recommending it frequently as an off-label medication, without considering the latest research on drug interactions with CBD.

Parting Thoughts: Can You Take Too Much CBD?

Cannabidiol is generally considered as a safe substance, with none of the ill-effects expected from a cannabis extract. Instead, studies, conducted over the past five decades, have placed CBD in a rather good light.

If 20,000 mg of CBD taken at once is what is needed to make you sick, then this is probably one of the safest chemicals known to man so far. Generally, 10-20mg/kg/day has been seen to be adequately safe for chronic use.

However, if one exceeds that amount, he/she may – repeat may – experience some adverse effects, like diarrhea, drowsiness, dry mouth, and lowering of blood pressure. And none of these is that serious an effect as to be scared. All you need to do in such a case is to stay at home.

Nevertheless, if you’re planning on using CBD to help treat some ailment or medical condition, it is best to check with a certified medical practitioner first – just to be the safe side!

You should also call up your doctor if you experience any adverse effects mentioned above or if you experience some other symptom that you think is related to your CBD oil.

It’s possible the brand of CBD oil you bought is of poor quality or contains some synthetic chemicals.

Ivan writes about Cannabis at The Cannabis Radar. He has a degree in Nutrition Sciences from University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Centre. He likes to spend his spare time reading to his daughter or spending time with his wife.

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