This article was vetted for scientific accuracy by:
Dr. Thaisa Sandini

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What is an overdose?

An overdose can occur when someone takes a large dose of any drug. Anyone using prescribed controlled drugs such as opioids, sedatives, stimulants or other drugs at higher doses than recommended could experience an overdose. Also, overdose may occur when you combine different prescription or illegal drugs with alcohol.

Can You Overdose on CBD?

Currently, there are no known reports of fatal overdose caused by CBD oil or CBD products.

Usually, drug overdose is related to substances that can cause dependence or abuse, and this is not the case with CBD. Indeed, preclinical studies demonstrated that CBD appears to lack potential for abuse and does not induce reinforcing properties. Also, in humans, CBD exhibits no indicative effects of any abuse or dependence potential. In general, CBD is well tolerated with a good safety profile.

Importantly, there is no evidence that oral CBD administration in humans triggers clinically relevant negative physiological effects. However, there are two report cases describing accidental CBD toxicity/overdose; one involving a pediatric patient that consumed CBD oil to treat epilepsy, whereas a 56-year-old man ingested too many CBD gummies for pain and anxiety. However, in the pediatric case, the exact constituent which caused the overdose was not conclusive due to many confounding variables. Furthermore, in both cases, after a deep anamnesis, physical and toxicological analysis it was possible to conclude that the CBD-labeled product was consumed in higher quantities than recommended.

The patient history of the 56-year-old man that ingested CBD gummies revealed that he had consumed two entire packages of CBD gummies, totaling 370 mg total of CBD (serving size on the package was 30 mg). When you take CBD edibles the oral bioavailability of CBD is affected by low absorption and large first pass effect. In this case, you need to wait at least one or two hours after ingestion to experiment some therapeutic effect.  If you ingest a lot of CBD edibles at once you may experience some adverse effects.

What happens when you take too much CBD?

There isn’t a perfect answer for this question, however it is known that what happens when you take too much CBD can vary between each individual and is also related to the ingested dose.

For example, in the gummy intoxication case; the man ingested a 370 mg total of CBD and he experienced a drop in respiratory rate and blood pressure. Importantly, in this case there was a spontaneous recovery around 18-26 hours later without any intervention other than supportive care.  It is important to clarify that the man ingested more than the amount recommended on the product label. Also, an individual response can be considered in this case; maybe this man is more sensible to CBD effects than the general population.

Indeed, a recent clinical study showed that acute CBD doses at 150, 300 and 600 mg may decrease anxiety without any sign of toxicity. In this case, the authors observed that the CBD response produced an inverted U-shaped dose-response curve. In other words, the lowest or highest doses of CBD had little or no effect on simulated public speaking tests – induced anxiety and a significant response was only achieved with an intermediate dose.

Importantly, clinical studies have described that even high doses of oral CBD do not generate THC-like effects (e.g., impairment, increased heart rate/tachycardia, dry mouth). In general, CBD has been shown to be a safe compound, well tolerated and with very few adverse effects.

Can you die from taking CBD?

Currently, there are no reported deaths from CBD use/overdose. Some studies state that cannabinoids in general are not lethal, because of the sparse expression of CB1 receptors in the brainstem regions responsible for respiratory and cardiovascular control. In severe addiction cases, the major cause of the death is respiratory depression.

What’s a safe dosage of CBD?

Determining a person’s CBD dosage is one of the more challenging tasks for a CBD user. If a doctor recommends CBD for the management of specific symptoms, they need to help you develop an effective dosage.

Unfortunately, there is no right answer for this question yet because the dosage can vary between each medical condition and individual (age, sex, genetics factors, weight, metabolism).

In general, patients with no prior experience with CBD and initiating CBD therapy for the first time are cautioned to begin at the very lowest possible dose and to stop therapy if unacceptable or undesirable side effects occur.

The dosage effect can vary between each formulation; for example, CBD oromucosal preparations, such as sprays, ensure fast absorption, because it avoids hepatic metabolism, which happens in oral administration. The oromucosal formulation can be used to quickly alleviate symptoms, while oral administration is more recommended for patients that need symptomatic relief for a long period of time.

The selection of safe dosage for any drug is based on several preclinical toxicological studies. In general, it is necessary to establish an acceptable daily intake (ADI), which represents a daily intake level of a chemical in humans associated with minimal or no risk of adverse effects.  ADI is derived from an experimentally determined no observed adverse effect level (NOAEL). NOAEL is an experimentally studied dose that demonstrates no statistically and biologically significant indication of toxic effects.

A recent study on CBD rich hemp extracts showed that the NOAEL in the 90-day study was concluded to be 800 mg/kg bw/day and 400 mg/kg bw/day for female and male Sprague Dawley rats, respectively. These findings indicated that chronic use of CBD can be safe for humans at high doses.

However, the best person to ask about CBD dosage is a healthcare professional, mainly if you are taking prescription medication. It is important to consult your doctor to check if CBD can interact with other pharmaceutical therapies. Furthermore, the healthcare professional can provide a professional dosage recommendation for your situation, considering how your body will react to CBD.

There are, however, some factors you can consider that would help you determine the right dosage.

  1. Bodyweight: – This is as much a determinant as it is in all other medicines and supplements.  The concentration of CBD in the body will be determined by the strength of CBD per unit weight. The heavier the person, the higher the dosage they need.
  2. The condition being treated: – Some diseases are more severe than others. More severe conditions require higher dosages than their less severe counterparts.
  3. CBD formulation: – The product you use to deliver the CBD into the body usually determines how much of the CBD will eventually be absorbed into the body. When CBD needs to be swallowed, like in CBD capsules and CBD gummies, you will need to take higher dosages. If, on the other hand, you take a water-soluble tincture sublingually, the absorption rate is higher. This means that you will not need to take as much of it.

Can CBD make you sick?

CBD is used to treat your sickness and not to make you sick. However, if you are taking other medications, adverse effects may occur as a result of drug-drug interactions between CBD and your existing medications, specifically drugs metabolized by the liver. Also, there are some signs that you need to pay attention while using CBD such as changes in alertness, most commonly experienced as sleepiness; gastrointestinal distress, most commonly experienced as diarrhea and/or decreased appetite; and changes in mood, most commonly experienced as irritability and agitation. These effects should improve when the CBD dosage is reduced or stopped.

How to Take CBD Oil

It is important to note that the body of research on CBD is still developing, and there is still a lot of unknown information on how best to take CBD. CBD oil is one of the most popular formulations in which the supplement comes.

To take CBD oil, you need first to shake the bottle well to ensure it is well constituted. Then put in the dropper and squeeze it to fill it with the oil. Virtually all manufacturers now have droppers as part of the packaging. Once you have sucked in the oil, put as many drops as your dosage requires under the tongue. Most of the manufacturers inform you of the amount of CBD in mg for every drop.

Hold the oil there for about 60 seconds to allow for its absorption in the mucus membrane. After 60 seconds, you can proceed to swallow what remains in the mouth.

Final thoughts

In general, the potential therapeutic effects of CBD are well tolerated, with a good safety profile. It is important to highlight that the dosage of CBD, like any other medications, needs to be appropriate for every individual and every disease. Thus, it is important always to talk with your healthcare provider when you begin CBD therapy.