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CBD Overdose: Is It Possible, and What Are the Risks?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is the main non-psychoactive compound in hemp — and authorised products are legally available over the counter in the UK. 

Those two facts may make it seem like adding CBD products to your wellness routine is risk-free, but that’s far from true. People who take CBD, or are interested in trying cannabidiol, should be very careful about the doses they ingest. 

What happens if you take too much CBD? How much is too much? What should you do if you notice any side effects, and what should you look out for? Keep reading for answers. 

What Is an Overdose? Can You Overdose on CBD?

Many CBD-curious people ask if it’s possible to overdose on cannabidiol. The answer is tricky, because “overdose” can be defined in more than one way. 

Many people think of life-threatening alcohol or drug overdoses when they hear the word. 

However, the word “overdose” can also be used to simply mean “excessive intake” — using a higher dose than you should have. Depending on the substance in question, such excessive intake can have a variety of consequences, ranging from mild side effects to life-threatening complications. 

It is certainly possible to take too much CBD, so in that sense, you can “overdose” on it. 

This excessive intake can happen:

  • As a one-off 
  • Over time, after using too much CBD routinely

CBD: How Much Is Too Much?

A 2017 review of available research described CBD as “having a favourable safety profile”. In addition, the review noted that “chronic use and high doses of up to 1500 mg per day have been repeatedly shown to be well tolerated by humans”.

That is a very high dose — more than you would find in many 100-ounce bottles of CBD oil, and definitely more than you would find in a single CBD gummy or capsule. 

However, this finding shouldn’t be taken as a green light to consume anywhere near as much CBD! 

One case study sheds light on the fact that even significantly lower doses can lead to serious side effects. A man in his 50s was taken to the hospital after eating CBD gummies containing a total of 370 mg of cannabidiol. He suffered from slurred speech, vomiting, and “bizarre behaviour”. 

The man fully recovered after being offered IV fluids and other treatments. He reported that he believed CBD was completely safe. This man was unaware of any potential side effects of cannabidiol — because none were listed on the package of the CBD product he took.

This case illustrates the dangers of taking high doses of CBD and the importance of responsible use.

People who are new to cannabidiol should always start with the lowest possible dose. That may mean 2 to 5 mg of CBD oil administered under the tongue or up to 25 mg in a single CBD gummy. Consumers can even decide to start with half a gummy. 

What Are the Potential Side Effects of CBD?

Taking CBD isn’t risk-free, and excessive intake increases the risk of experiencing side effects or toxicity (an overdose). 

The most commonly-reported non-serious side effects of CBD products are:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Appetite loss
  • Drowsiness
  • Mood changes, including irritability

However, more severe complications can also occur. Excessive CBD intake may result in liver injury and impair male fertility. Seizures and breathing difficulties have also been reported.

CBD can also interact with other substances, including alcohol and some medications. If you are using prescription or over-the-counter medications, it is best to consult your doctor before you use CBD products, as CBD may cause your medications to stop working as effectively.

By the same token, pregnant and lactating women should not use CBD products — because not enough is known about the effect of cannabidiol in these situations.

Although CBD has been reported to have a favourable safety profile, it’s important to remember that all substances can have side effects. In the case of CBD, researchers are still learning about potential adverse effects.

How to Avoid Excessive CBD Intake

CBD consumers should recognise that much remains unknown about CBD, a novel food product that has appeared on the market relatively recently. 

That includes optimal dosing. Many factors impact how your body will respond to CBD — including your age, weight, and general health. 

Consult your GP if you have any specific questions, and always start with the lowest possible dose. Never follow that dose up with more on the same day if you are not noticing any effects. Instead, (very) gradually build your dose of CBD up if you so desire.

Listen to your body (pay attention to how you feel), and take a break from consuming CBD if you experience any side effects. 

What to Do if You Think You Took Too Much CBD

If you think you, or someone with you, took too much CBD, promptly seek medical attention. Take the CBD product and its package with you, and explain how much you took. 

Serious side effects of excessive CBD intake include seizures, breathing difficulties, and losing consciousness. If this happens, going to the doctor isn’t enough — you’ll need to call 999 or head for A&E. 

Excessive CBD Intake: A Final Word

Cannabidiol is often described as a safe product, and not everyone is aware of the fact that this non-psychoactive cannabinoid can indeed cause side effects. 

Anyone using CBD products may experience some side effects, with diarrhoea, vomiting, and drowsiness being the most commonly-reported ones. 

However, taking too much CBD (either as a one-off or over longer periods of time) can also lead to more serious complications. They include liver injury and seizures. 

Consumers who have decided to take CBD products should always start with the lowest possible dose available to them, and keep an eye on how they feel. People with preexisting medical conditions can always ask their GP about CBD and its potential to interact with any medications they take, as well.

If you believe that you took too much CBD, and are experiencing side effects, seek medical attention right away. 

Use cannabidiol responsibly!

Sources:

  1. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007287.htm
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7233499/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7052834/
  4. https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/what-you-need-know-and-what-were-working-find-out-about-products-containing-cannabis-or-cannabis

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