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Dr. Lewis JasseyMedical Director - Pediatric Medicine
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Many people use CBD to deal with insomnia or the pain associated with health conditions like lupus, fibromyalgia, arthritis, and more. If you use it daily, you’ve probably wondered whether you can overdose on the compound.
So, just how much CBD is too much? Well, there’s limited research on CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the most abundant cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. The general consensus, however, is that the human body tolerates high doses of CBD well; the cannabinoid has little potential for abuse and harm.
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Can You Overdose on CBD?
To understand whether one can overdose on CBD, we must look at what this word means. According to Merriam-Webster’s definition, an overdose is a lethal or toxic amount of a drug.
Depending on the type of drug consumed, body weight, and tolerance to the substance, an overdose may adversely affect one’s health and, potentially, life.
These are some of the most common symptoms of an overdose:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of consciousness
- Severe abdominal cramps
- Loss of balance and coordination
- Being awake but unresponsive
- Paranoia and hallucinations
- Having difficulty breathing
- Agitation, seizures, and fits
- Loss of life
Although it’s advisable only to take the recommended dose of CBD, taking more is unlikely to result in a lethal overdose as studies indicate that doses up to 1500 milligrams a day have been well-tolerated by humans.
This doesn’t mean, however, that taking large doses of CBD is without negative effects.
Side Effects of Too Much CBD
Although it can’t cause a lethal overdose, taking too much CBD has some side effects, many of which are associated with taking too much THC-rich cannabis (and are much less likely to occur with CBD alone). Some side effects of too much CBD include:
CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system in your salivary glands and inhibits the release of saliva, causing a dry mouth or “cottonmouth.” One may also get dry eyes as well. This only occurs if you take CBD sublingually, vape it, or smoke it. To relieve the problem of dry mouth and dry eyes, ensure to drink lots of fluids.
Anxiety and Panic Attacks
Taking a lot of CBD could make you anxious, especially if the CBD product has some THC. This often happens since many CBD products are made and stored in places that handle THC.
If this happens to you, go to an area with good aeration and do some breathing exercises. Drinking water will also help.
You may also opt for CBD isolate, as this has zero THC, minor cannabinoids, or terpenes. Broad-spectrum CBD is another alternative. This type of CBD does not contain THC but does contain other cannabinoids and terpenes. It allows you to benefit from the entourage effect — when various compounds work together synergistically — without experiencing the high associated with THC.
CBD impacts adenosine levels in the blood. Adenosine is a key neurotransmitter that makes one feel tired and peaks in the evening.
When you take too much CBD, adenosine levels rise higher and higher, making you extremely sleepy and lethargic.
This may be advantageous for CBD users who are using it to deal with sleeplessness but not ideal when you want to remain awake and active, like during working hours. Low-to-moderate doses may be ideal for those needing CBD during the daytime as it has more uplifting effects.
Taking too much CBD may make you nauseated and cause you to vomit. It may also lead to loose bowel movements and diarrhea. If this happens when you overdose on CBD, drink as much water as possible to replace the fluids you lose.
Low Blood Pressure
CBD has vasodilatory effects and may temporarily cause low blood pressure. This may make you feel lightheaded and drowsy.
While CBD’s vasodilatory properties may come in handy for people with high blood pressure, you may not appreciate it if your blood pressure is already low or normal.
If you’re already on blood pressure medication, consult your doctor before trying any CBD products.
CBD and Drug Interactions
Although CBD is generally safe with few minor side effects, it can interact with some medications and treatments, particularly opioids, sedatives, some types of anti-depressants (especially tricyclic antidepressants), MAOIs, blood thinning medications like warfarin, and immunotherapy.
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How It Works
When you take a drug or medication, your body metabolizes it. A family of enzymes called cytochrome p450 (CYP450) converts foreign substances, such as drugs, so the body can easily get rid of them.
Research shows that the enzyme CYP3A4, a member of the CYP450 family, is responsible for metabolizing CBD and about 60% of clinically prescribed medications.
During this process, CBD may inhibit CYP3A4, meaning it can’t effectively break down the drugs or medications in your body. The reverse is also true. Other medications may interfere with CYP3A4, preventing your body from processing CBD.
If your body is taking too long to metabolize medications, you may have more foreign substances in your body at a time than intended. This would lead to unwanted or harmful side effects. Therefore, don’t take CBD while on other medications without consulting your doctor first.
Also, CBD affects how the immune system behaves. Although CBD has shown no interactions with vaccines, it can interfere with other immunomodulating treatments like immunotherapy.
If you’re using any CBD products to control the symptoms of a health condition, make sure your doctor provides you with the dose you should take based on your body weight and health history.
How Much CBD Should I Take?
If your doctor hasn’t provided you with a recommended dose, starting with a lower dose and working your way up to your ideal dose would be a good idea. You can note how you feel each day as you increase your dose; this way, you’ll be able to figure out the most suitable amount for you.
The usual starting dose is 5 mg, increasing by 2.5 mg as needed until a “therapeutic zone” is reached (i.e., enough CBD to provide benefits with no major adverse side effects).
The amount of CBD you should take will depend on factors such as your body weight and metabolism rate, the severity of the symptoms you’re medicating, and your overall body tolerance. You should also pay attention to the concentration of CBD in the specific product you use. This information will be included in the packaging.
CBD Oil Dosage
If you’re using CBD oil or a CBD isolate product that comes with a dropper, you may be confused about how many drops you should take. One drop is about 0.05 milliliters (mL). A 10 mL bottle of CBD, therefore, contains about 200 drops. If the packaging says the product has 1,000 mg of CBD, this means each drop contains 5 mg. To get a 40 mg dose, you’ll need to take eight drops.
CBD Edible Dosage
If you’re taking CBD edibles like CBD gummies, the label will typically include the amount of CBD per gummy. If you need 40 mg of CBD per day, and your gummies have 20 mg of CBD each, then you know exactly how many gummies you need to take per day — two.
The Bottom Line
In 2017, the World Health Organization recommended that CBD should no longer be classified as a controlled substance internationally. Just a year later, the growing of industrial hemp was legalized, and CBD was made accessible to consumers, provided it contained only trace amounts of THC (less than 0.3% THC).
Half a decade later, CBD is a favorite among many people, especially those living with insomnia, anxiety, and chronic pain. But when taken in larger doses, CBD may have some mild, inconvenient side effects. These include vomiting, nausea, dry mouth, and anxiety.
Therefore, paying attention to the recommended dosage of CBD is essential. This figure should be informed by your body weight and metabolism rate, general tolerance, and prevailing health conditions.
If you’re taking CBD as a prescription medication, ask your doctor how many milligrams you should take at once. This way, you’ll avoid consuming too much CBD.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Can my pet overdose on CBD?
CBD is not only great for humans but for cats and dogs as well. This cannabinoid has been found to relieve our furry friends from inflammatory issues, anxiety, seizures, insomnia, and more.
Just like humans, animals can tolerate CBD quite well. If they take too much, they may experience diarrhea, drowsiness, and other mild side effects.
Can you overdose on THC?
Although taking a lot of THC isn’t lethal, it does have adverse side effects. Many users have reported feeling hyper-paranoid and anxious after taking too much THC. You may also experience nausea or vomiting, rapid heart rate, high or low blood pressure, and poor coordination. CBD can have similar adverse effects, but a much higher dose is needed for such an effect compared to THC.
Most people accidentally take too much THC when they eat edibles. Check the packaging to know the amount of THC in the product; this will help you determine how much you should take. The effects may take a while to set in. Be patient; don’t add to your dose, as this will result in stronger effects than desired. And remember, it will take at least two hours for you to come down from the high.
When do the effects of CBD wear off?
The effects of CBD generally last from two to eight hours. However, this will depend on how much you take, your body’s metabolism rate, and how you take it. For example, CBD edibles will take longer to kick in, and their effects will last longer (12 hours or more if a lot are eaten) than smoking some flower or swallowing CBD oil drops.