In recent years, CBD has exploded in popularity, with roughly 64 million Americans taking it for a variety of reasons. One of the main reasons so many people take CBD is because of its potential health benefits, including pain relief, anxiety reduction, and better heart health.
However, since CBD comes from cannabis and hemp plants, many negative associations with marijuana still persist. Coupled with the fact that while CBD is federally legal the industry is largely unregulated, this means there’s often a significant knowledge gap surrounding CBD which leads to a number of misunderstandings and myths about these products.
One of the common misconceptions about CBD is that since it’s a cannabis product, it can be dangerous, especially when taken in large quantities. However, this isn’t true – CBD is largely safe, even in very high doses, and rarely produces any serious side effects.
If you’ve had doubts about CBD over safety concerns, this guide covers everything you need to know to give you peace of mind.
Is CBD addictive?
Put simply – no. CBD is a non-psychoactive product recognized by the World Health Organization as displaying no qualities of physical dependence – in other words, it’s not addictive. In fact, not only is CBD non-addictive, but it may also hold benefits in treating addiction to other substances.
A 2019 review found that CBD may help to reduce the chances of methamphetamine and cocaine addiction and could help recovered addicts from suffering a relapse, although current research into this area is limited so it’s hard to tell the exact impact CBD may have. A 2015 study also found that CBD may hold benefits for treating cannabis and tobacco addictions.
Can you overdose on CBD?
As the name suggests, an overdose is defined as taking more than the recommended or safe amount of a drug or other substance. Overdoses are commonly associated with negative side effects, or depending on the substance could even lead to hospitalization or death.
Thankfully, it’s not possible to overdose on CBD in any meaningful way. While CBD can become toxic at extremely high levels – as noted in a 2011 study which found that CBD becomes toxic at levels higher than 20,000mg – normal use will fall nowhere near the level required for any serious harm to occur.
For comparison, a regular starting dose for CBD usually falls between 5 and 20mg, meaning you would have to take between 1000 and 4000 times more CBD to reach toxic levels. In other words, overdosing isn’t something that the average CBD user has anything to worry about.
That said, taking larger amounts of CBD may still result in some fairly mild side effects. For the most part, however, CBD won’t result in any serious side effects unless taking enormous amounts all at once.
Side effects of taking too much CBD
While not usually dangerous, taking larger amounts of CBD may still lead to occasional mild side effects. Most commonly, these include:
- Dry mouth – CBD works by binding with CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS) which regulate various bodily functions. One of the functions that may be impacted by CBD in this way is saliva production, which may be slowed and cause a dry mouth.
- Loss of appetite – CBD has been reported to induce loss of appetite, again as a result of its effects on CB2 receptors in the ECS.
- Nausea and/or diarrhea – in a 2018 study into CBD tolerability, nausea and diarrhea were two of the most commonly reported side effects, although none of the cases observed were severe.
Aside from taking too much CBD, another risk factor is taking it alongside certain prescription medications; for example, CBD can act as a blood thinner, so if you already take prescription blood-thinning medication, it may cause more serious side effects than normal.
If you take other medication for any health conditions, then it’s best to consult a doctor before beginning to use CBD alongside other medicines to avoid potentially harmful drug interactions.
Can pets overdose on CBD?
As well as being used by people, many pet owners are now beginning to give CBD oil to their pets due to the range of potential health benefits it offers them. Unlike humans, there is a slightly higher risk when giving CBD to animals, but again, severely harmful overdoses only occur from quantities far in excess of a normal dose.
For example, the same study that found levels above 20,000mg to be toxic also found that when doses of more than 200mg per kg of body weight were given to monkeys, they experienced cardiac arrest and respiratory failure.
This may sound alarming, but these doses are far in excess of the recommended starting dose of 1-6mg per 10lbs of body weight for pets taking CBD. A potentially lethal dose of 200mg/kg would therefore be between 150 and 910 times stronger than a normal dose – so even if you give your pet too much CBD by accident, there’s very little chance of giving them enough to be fatal.
That said, too much CBD may cause side effects when given to pets, just like in humans. However, these tend to be fairly mild.
Potential side effects in pets
If you give your pet too much CBD, then they may experience unpleasant albeit mild side effects. Most commonly, these include nausea, vomiting, a dry mouth, or stomach pains. These symptoms will usually go away on their own after a little while, but if they persist it may be advisable to take your pet to a vet to get them checked out.
A bigger risk for pets taking CBD is potential drug interactions with other medications. CBD may reduce liver enzyme production, which can increase risk factors from other medication, and as with humans, its potential as a blood thinner can cause adverse effects if your pet is already on other blood-thinning medication.
Finding the right CBD dose for you
The right CBD dosage can be hard to find – not only is there fairly limited research into dosage recommendations at present, numerous personal factors such as age, weight, and metabolism can also impact the way your body processes CBD and the effects it has on you. The right dose also depends on what effect you want to achieve with CBD.
A basic guideline for first-time CBD users is to start with 0.25mg of CBD per pound of bodyweight if you want a weaker effect or 0.5mg per pound for stronger effects. You can then experiment by increasing this dosage incrementally each time you take CBD until you find the dosage that delivers the results you want from it.
Can you build a tolerance to CBD?
When taking drugs, medicines, or stimulants regularly over a long period of time, your body often builds up a tolerance to it, diminishing its effects or requiring more of the substance to be taken to achieve the same effect as when you first started taking it.
Research into CBD tolerance is fairly limited – however, initial studies seem to show that you’re less likely to build a tolerance to CBD than other substances. In fact, long-term use of CBD may lead to a mechanism known as “reverse tolerance” which essentially has the opposite effect: the longer you take CBD, the less you may need to take to feel the effects.
This is linked to the way it interacts with the body’s ECS, particularly CB1 receptors. CBD may act to reduce the activation of CB1 receptors, which in turn may inhibit the ECS from desensitizing itself to CBD. As a result, initial research suggests that CBD exhibits much lower tolerance-building than other drugs.
However, tolerance doesn’t just stem from our biology; it can also be psychological in nature. This means that while biological tolerance may be limited when it comes to CBD, if you become psychologically accustomed to its effects then you may build a behavioral tolerance, needing to take more to experience the same results.
Conclusion: can you overdose on CBD?
Overall, CBD is largely safe, despite its association with cannabis which leads to some misconceptions around its effects and the possibility of overdose. It’s extremely hard to overdose on CBD since the levels at which it becomes toxic are far in excess of ordinary dosages.
However, it may still cause some mild side effects if you take too much, and if you take prescription medication you should always consult a doctor before taking CBD in case it may cause adverse interactions with other medicines.