Is It Possible To Overdose On CBD Oil?

For first-time users and those who have just started using CBD oil to get relief from pain, anxiety or other difficult-to-treat ailments, this may be quite a confusing and disconcerting issue. 

Can you overdose on CBD oil? 

Short answer: Not Really!

But that does not mean more the better. In fact, a little CBD oil is usually enough to alleviate your symptoms and it is usually recommended that you start with a small dose

Nevertheless, CBD oil is quite safe. In fact, you would need a huge amount of CBD to overdose on it, like maybe 2000 mg at one go! But even then, the adverse effects that it may produce will never be lethal. In fact, no fatalities have been reported among CBD users so far. 

Instead, CBD can be used safely to treat ailments and manage symptoms without the risk of overdosing, especially at a time when around 72,000 people die each year in America due to drug overdose [1]. 

CBD Is Non-Intoxicating

With addiction and substance abuse so common in this country, concerns about a controversial substance like CBD oil is but natural. This is particularly so given the fact that CBD is, after all, a cannabis extract.

But, this confusion and concern are all because of insufficient awareness about what CBD really is and what it does to our system.  And also because many do not understand the actual composition of cannabis or marijuana and what each component does in its natural composition and what they do in isolation. 

CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid that doesn’t create the much-famed marijuana “high”. It is a non-psychoactive chemical compound that forms a key part of a group of cannabis plants, which include marijuana and hemp

While hemp is predominantly CBD, containing less of the intoxicating substance, marijuana, on the other hand, contains a high content of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC in short, which is, in fact, a cannabinoid that is responsible for the euphoria that people experience when they smoke or consume it. 

THC & its Role In CBD Oil

CBD oil extracted from these cannabis plants can be isolated to contain only CBD and some terpenes (which are beneficial on their own and also act as a booster to CBD). However, different compositions of CBD oil are available in the market. 

It is often believed that a full-spectrum variant of CBD oil, i.e. a CBD extract that contains all the other components of cannabis in its natural composition is far more beneficial to humans than an isolate. Apparently, these components, including THC (as long as its proportion is within a certain limit) can ideally enhance the effects and benefits of cannabidiol. 

So long as the THC content is within 0.3% (in weight) of the whole extract, CBD oil can be safely taken and benefitted from for treating and getting relief from different kinds of physical and mental symptoms and disorders like pain, stress, anxiety, nausea, insomnia, attention deficit, etc. 

Studies corroborate claims of CBD’s non-addictive nature

Quite a few studies and research have been conducted on the subject of CBD’s non-psychoactive properties. Since 2010, researchers have time and again studied and confirmed the role of CBD in treating different symptoms of diseases and disorders without causing any kind of intoxication. [2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]

While both CBD and THC have quite similar molecular composition, their atomic structures are quite different, setting their effects distinctly apart. 

While CBD isolates have been found to help us manage different physical and mental issues, full-spectrum CBD oils have performed better, as long as their THC levels were kept modulated. 

THC levels higher than 0.3% can be troublesome. However, many medical marijuana products have slightly higher THC content. While they may create a bit of euphoria or sleepiness, they are still safe.

Safety & Toxicity Of Cannabis Extract CBD

CBD is not only non-toxic; it has very few adverse side-effects. CBD is rather quite a beneficial substance with many therapeutic properties. 

There are hundreds of anecdotal evidence of people benefiting from CBD oil, without any fatal overdoses. [8] In fact, CBD oil is a safer option compared to opioids or other prescription or illicit drugs. 

So much so, owing to the fact that the body does not build up dependence or tolerance to CBD, it has also been found to be not only a good alternative to the above categories of drugs but also an efficient means to overcome the dependence and addiction. [9, 10, 11, 12 & 13, 19]

Studies into CBD’s properties have found no evidence of a fatal overdose. The National Cancer Institute, under the Adverse Effects of its official website, posted: “Because cannabinoid receptors, unlike opioid receptors, are not located in the brainstem areas controlling respiration, lethal overdoses from Cannabis and cannabinoids do not occur.” [14]

It’s true that CBD is extracted from cannabis plants. However, as mentioned above, it is usually extracted from hemp that has below 0.3% THC content. 

CBD oil, admittedly almost always contains THC, but a 0.3% does not actually give you euphoria or have any detrimental effects. All it does is it enhances and improves the quality of effect of CBD.

Marijuana-based CBD oil

If you use CBD extracted from marijuana, another member of the cannabis sativa species, you may experience a “high”. That’s because of the high level of THC in that plant. 

So what happens if you use CBD extracted from marijuana? You could overdose on it. But, that, fortunately, does not include fatality. 

A marijuana overdose may lead to:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion
  • Paranoia
  • Panic attacks

As per data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are no records of fatalities associated with marijuana use [15, 16, 17 & 18]. 

Fatal Dosage Of Marijuana

In “Weed: The User’s Guide”, author David Schmader quoted experts as saying that a fatal overdose would require the ingestion of at least 1,500 lbs of marijuana within 15 minutes.

To put this in perspective:

  • 88,000 people die from alcohol-associated eventualities each year
  • 28,000 Americans died from prescription opioids in 2014
  • 0 cases of deaths recorded from the ingestion of marijuana

But, this is only about overdosing. This, by no means, refers to deaths caused by the influence of weed. Driving under its influence is as risky as drinking and driving. 

How Much is Too Much CBD?

CBD oil is generally a well-tolerated substance. While it is advised to start with a small dose, it has been seen that doses of even up to 1500 mg on a daily basis is quite safe and therapeutic for humans. 

These are some of the well-researched dosages:

  • Doses of up to 300 mg a day can be used safely for up to 6 months
  • Doses of around 1200-1500 mg a day can safely be used for up to 4 weeks
  • 2.5 mg/day under-the-tongue sprays can be safely used for up to 2 weeks

So how much are small doses and large doses?

Doses of around 1 – 20 mg can be considered as small doses, whereas anything above 50 milligrams can be safely considered a large dose. But the fact remains that the size of a dosage really depends on the user’s weight, physical condition, the period of usage, etc. 

Someone may need at least 50 mg of the substance to have any therapeutic effect at all. In such a user, sedative effects may start to kick in only after consuming a dosage above 100 mg. In fact, most clinical tests on human subjects are conducted with a much higher dose of CBD (1000 mg), with almost no side effects at all. 

A 2011 study has found evidence that CBD dosage of up to 1,500 mg a day is quite well tolerated by humans. [21]

What Happens If You Take Too Much?

Unlike the adverse effects of THC, the side effects of CBD oil [20] are far more rare and mild. You may experience a mild headache or little lethargic as the effect wears off. All you need to do to avoid these undesirable effects is lower your dosage. But remember never to change the brand. That only makes it more unpredictable. 

The usual side-effects of CBD oil are:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhea
  • Changes in appetite

But remember, CBD dosage always varies from person to person, as each user responds differently to CBD oil. You can use this dosage calculator to calculate your initial dosage.

Why is CBD known to be Bi-Phasic?

We have already established that users react differently to CBD, depending on different factors like body weight, current physical condition, predisposition, the period of usage, etc., studies have shown that CBD is bi-phasic.

What is bi-phasic?

Significantly high and low doses for any particular user have different effects on him or her.  

When taken in small doses, users generally experience a somewhat energizing effect, whereas when taken in higher doses, the effects are significantly that of a sedative.

Our Takeaway

Just because CBD oil is non-intoxicating and potentially safe, it does not mean you buy it from anywhere and keep using it in large amounts, hoping to alleviate your symptoms faster. 

That will be a wrong move. 

Not every CBD vendor is reliable. Neither is CBD oil is absolutely legal everywhere. They are still quite a few restrictions and conditions. 

First, find out the exact legal conditions applicable to CBD in your area.

Second, make sure to buy from only the big brands

Third, don’t forget to check out the reviews, if you’re buying from an online store. If you’re getting it from an offline store, make sure they are authorized by the government. 

Fourth, look for the product certification codes. There are a few certification authorities that approve certain products only after tough screening tests. 

Fifth, verify the company claims about their products’ potency from the third party lab reports. 

Sixth, consult a doctor who is experienced in CBD use before you go ahead and buy your first bottle. 

After all, when it comes to matters of your health, there is no place for complacency. It is always better to be safe than sorry!

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse; Overdose Death Rates’ https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates 
  2. Non-psychoactive cannabinoids modulate the descending pathway of antinociception in anaesthetized rats through several mechanisms of action; British Journal of Pharmacology; February 16, 2011, Sabatino Maione, Fabiana Piscitelli, Luisa Gatta, Daniela Vita, Luciano De Petrocellis, Enza Palazzo, Vito de Novellis, and Vincenzo Di Marzo; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3041249/ 
  3. An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies; Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research; June 1, 2017; Kerstin Iffland, and Franjo Grotenhermen; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5569602/ 
  4. The non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) attenuates pro-inflammatory mediators, T cell infiltration, and thermal sensitivity following spinal cord injury in mice; Cell Immunology; March 8, 2018; Li H1, Kong W, Chambers CR, Yu D, Ganea D, Tuma RF, Ward SJ; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29784129 
  5. Cannabis sativa L. and Nonpsychoactive Cannabinoids: Their Chemistry and Role against Oxidative Stress, Inflammation, and Cancer; BioMed Research International; December 4, 2018; Federica Pellati, Vittoria Borgonetti, Virginia Brighenti, Marco Biagi, Stefania Benvenuti, and Lorenzo Corsi; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6304621/ 
  6. Psychoactive constituents of cannabis and their clinical implications: a systematic review; Adicciones; April 15, 2018; Casajuana Köguel C, López-Pelayo H, Balcells-Olivero MM, Colom J, Gual A; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28492950 
  7. Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series; The Permanente Journal; January 7, 2019; Scott Shannon, MD, Nicole Lewis, ND, Heather Lee, PA-C, and Shannon Hughes, Ph.D.; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6326553/
  8. Does cannabis use increase the risk of death? Systematic review of epidemiological evidence on adverse effects of cannabis use; Drug and Alcohol Review; May 29, 2010; Calabria B, Degenhardt L, Hall W, Lynskey M; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20565525 
  9. Cannabidiol as an Intervention for Addictive Behaviors: A Systematic Review of the Evidence; Substance Abuse: Research & Treatment; May 21, 2015; Mélissa Prud’homme, Romulus Cata, and Didier Jutras-Aswad; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4444130/ 
  10. Cannabidiol Oil for Decreasing Addictive Use of Marijuana: A Case Report; Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal (Encinitas); Dec 14, 2015; Scott Shannon, MD and Janet Opila-Lehman, ND; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4718203/ 
  11. Unique treatment potential of cannabidiol for the prevention of relapse to drug use: preclinical proof of principle; Neuropsychopharmacology; March 22, 2018; Gustavo Gonzalez-Cuevas, Remi Martin-Fardon, Tony M Kerr, David G Stouffer, Loren H Parsons, Dana C Hammell, Stan L Banks, Audra L Stinchcomb, and Friedbert Weiss; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6098033/ 
  12. Early Phase in the Development of Cannabidiol as a Treatment for Addiction: Opioid Relapse Takes Initial Center Stage; Neurotherapeutics; August 13, 2015; Yasmin L. Hurd, Michelle Yoon, Alex F Manini, Stephanie Hernandez, Ruben Olmedo, Maria Ostman, and Didier Jutras-Aswad; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4604178/ 
  13. Cannabidiol reverses attentional bias to cigarette cues in a human experimental model of tobacco withdrawal; Addiction (Abingdon, England) June 3, 2018; Chandni Hindocha, Tom P Freeman, Meryem Grabski, Jack B Stroud, Holly Crudgington, Alan C Davies, Ravi K Das, William Lawn, Celia JA Morgan, and H Valerie Curran; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6099309/ 
  14. Cannabis and Cannabinoids (PDQ®)–Health Professional Version; National Cancer Institute; Adverse Effects; https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/hp/cannabis-pdq#link/_11 
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  19. Cannabidiol for the Reduction of Cue-Induced Craving and Anxiety in Drug-Abstinent Individuals With Heroin Use Disorder: A Double-Blind Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial; The American Journal of Psychiatry; May 21, 2019; Yasmin L. Hurd , Ph.D., Sharron Spriggs , M.A., Julia Alishayev , R.P.A., Gary Winkel , Ph.D., Kristina Gurgov , R.P.A., Chris Kudrich , D.H.Sc., Anna M. Oprescu , M.P.H., Edwin Salsitz , M.D.; https://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/appi.ajp.2019.18101191 / https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/study/NCT01605539 
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