This article was medically reviewed by Anthony Fanucci, Pharm.D.
In recent years, cannabidiol (CBD) has taken center stage in the wellness industry, eclipsing many other popular supplements. But a question many people have is: Can I overdose on CBD?
Let’s start with why this is a popular question. CBD awareness and consumption has exploded in the last couple years. It can now be found in everything from skincare products to CBD pills to chocolate and is marketed as a wonder drug that can treat everything from anxiety to seizures to skin conditions.
Because of all that good “buzz” (pardon the pun), CBD sales are through the roof. There were five billion dollars in CBD sales in 2019 alone.
Despite CBD’s popularity, people still have a ton of questions. While research into its effects is still ongoing, there are a few questions we can answer with certainty.
Can You Overdose on CBD?
Though cannabis, in general, was vilified throughout much of the 20th century there is no evidence that overdose is possible. According to a 2017 World Health Organization report, CBD is “generally well-tolerated with a good safety profile.” It shows no potential for abuse or dependence.
In terms of toxicity, a 2019 study found that CBD can become toxic if taken at levels far beyond the recommended amount. While CBD is safe at the recommended levels, this serves as a great reminder to always follow the directions and consult your doctor.
Similarly, a 2017 study published in the Journal of Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research found positive results in the treatment of conditions like epilepsy and psychotic disorders. CBD was not only very effective but also safer than other drugs commonly used in the treatment of these conditions.
As you can see, 2017 was a great year for CBD studies.
What are the Side-Effects of CBD?
While there are known known cases of someone overdosing on CBD, some people do experience some unpleasant side-effects. Though rare, cannabis hyperemesis syndrome — a condition that causes uncontrollable vomiting after consuming cannabis or cannabis derivatives — has been diagnosed in some patients. Often, though, taking a huge dose of CBD just makes people very drowsy.
While it is unlikely you will have an adverse reaction, it’s good to remember that CBD isn’t a benign chemical. It’s generally safe, but even the safest chemicals aren’t safe for everyone. Some adverse effects noted in the WHO report include sleepiness, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and abnormal liver function test results.
How Much CBD Should You Take?
The dose range for CBD is wide and varies by condition. One example is the dose of prescription CBD medication Epidiolex. Epidiolex, which is used to treat seizure disorders, can be dosed up to several hundred milligrams per day. Most over the counter CBD is dosed in the 10-50 milligram per day range. Those just beginning a CBD regimen should start low and go slow, based on your doctor’s recommendations. A dose of 10-15 milligrams for a week is often a good starting point. It can then be titrated to effective levels if there was no discernable change in symptoms.
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The Take Home
Cannabidiol, like other cannabinoids, can be consumed by most people without the concern of severe side effects.
But that doesn’t mean you should be chugging it like water. Be mindful whenever you try a new product or brand. And always follow the golden rule: Start low and go slow.
While no one has ever overdosed on CBD (that we know of), it’s important to listen to your body. Try a small dose based on your doctor’s recommendations at first and see if it makes you more tired than you’d like to be. If it’s not providing the intended effect, then you may need to work your way up and increase the dosage. But the increase should be incremental — don’t go whole hog right away. And as always, Be sure to discuss adding CBD to your wellness regimen with your healthcare provider before beginning.
Kristi is a skilled researcher and writer — covering health, wellness, cannabis and neuroscience over many years. She has written for Healthline, The New York Times, Washington Post and Everyday Health to name a few.