Can you overdose on CBD?Common questions about CBD

Cannabidiol (CBD) has become one of the most popular products in the entire cannabis industry, showing up in local coffee shops, pharmacies, and dispensaries. Despite the explosive popularity of CBD, there is still a lot of confusion about what CBD is and how it affects humans. 

CBD oil dropper
CBD stands for cannabidiol, a non-intoxicating substance found in cannabis.
Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

CBD is recognized as having a number of anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, and neuroprotective qualities, many of which can have positive effects on a broad range of health conditions. However, it's still important to fully grasp not only the positive ways CBD can affect you but also any of the potential side effects.

Can CBD make you sick?

If you consume pure CBD, you are unlikely to get sick or experience unpleasant side effects. A 2017 World Health Organization report concluded that CBD is “generally well-tolerated with a good safety profile,” and further stated that “in humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential.”

However, people participating in CBD-related studies have at times reported several side effects, including extreme sleepiness, decreased appetite, diarrhea, fatigue, convulsions, vomiting, and some abnormal results on liver function tests. These side effects usually happen with doses much larger than most people usually consume.

Can CBD interfere with other medications?

Yes, CBD can interfere with medications that carry a “grapefruit warning.” Because CBD is processed in the liver, along with the majority of prescription medications in the US, adverse interactions are possible. If you take any prescription medication, talk with your doctor before trying CBD.  

CBD can interfere with medications that carry a “grapefruit warning.”
Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

Can CBD oil kill you?

A 2017 review of clinical research published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research confirmed that CBD is generally very safe, particularly when compared to other drugs. In general, the biggest risk you likely run if taking a huge dose of CBD may be getting sleepy as the cannabinoid can have tranquilizing effects in large doses.

However, the journal Case Reports in Ophthalmological Medicine reported a CBD-linked fatality in 2019. According to the report, a 56-year-old woman presented with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, a rare but serious disorder of the skin and mucous membranes. The patient had begun using a CBD extract spray one week prior to being admitted to a hospital emergency room, where she later died of septic shock. 

The woman had reported consistent use of other CBD products over a 5-year period prior to this incident and it is unclear whether the new spray caused her to develop Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, though the authors of the report suspect that it did. The patient, however, had a complex medical history including coronary artery disease and hypertension, so linking her death directly to CBD may not illustrate the full picture.

The bottom line is that CBD appears unlikely to be fatal, but exceptions may exist and collaboration with your physician is essential before starting a regimen. 

Can a dog overdose on CBD oil?

Within the rapidly growing pet CBD market, products for our furry friends are especially popular, which has led many pet owners to wonder, can a dog overdose on CBD oil? According to the American Kennel Club, there is not a lot of definitive evidence on how CBD affects dogs.

cbd dog treat
CBD may help improve appetite and promote heart health in dogs, and many CBD-infused dog treats and CBD oil for dogs are readily available on the market.
Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

Anecdotal evidence suggests that CBD oil may help treat pain and seizures in dogs and that it has beneficial anti-inflammatory, anti-nausea, and anti-anxiety properties, just as has been observed in humans. CBD may also help improve appetite and promote heart health in dogs, and many CBD-infused dog treats and CBD oil for dogs are readily available on the market.

So far, anecdotal evidence suggests that side effects of CBD overconsumption by dogs include dry mouth, lower blood pressure, and drowsiness. Without definitive evidence, it's hard to say whether dogs can overdose on CBD. Recognizing that “we do not know what size dosage would be toxic,” the American Kennel Club suggests “to start out with small amounts and then closely monitor the effects” to make sure you don't inadvertently give your dog too much CBD.

What is the right amount of CBD?

To avoid side effects with any medication, it's important to take the smallest effective dose. So far, scientific research has not pinpointed any clear limits to how much CBD is too much. Dosages in studies cover a very broad range, from as little as 1 milligram to as much as 1,500 milligrams per day. Currently, no dosage has been identified as hazardous, but it is possible to abuse cannabis and you should seek medical intervention if CBD is interfering with how you function in daily life.

The key to dosing is figuring out how it affects your unique body. Every person is different, and since researchers have not identified any precise doses, the best thing to do is start slowly and pay attention to how your body reacts.

Fortunately, you can experiment with CBD confidently knowing you are unlikely to overdose or get sick from taking too much. Instead, you can focus on figuring out the lowest dose of CBD that will give you the type of experience and health benefits you seek. 

CBD oil drop
CBD oil usually comes with a dropper to allow consumers and patients to measure out their dose.
Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

First-time consumers should start with a minimal dose (as small as one drop of oil or 5 milligrams per day) and gradually increase the dosage over time while paying attention to the effects of different amounts. This process should be continued until the most effective dosage for your specific condition or ailment is achieved. 

If you reach a point where you don't feel significantly better by adding to your dosage, or you feel worse, then scale back the CBD and discuss your dosing options with your physician. 

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The information contained in this site is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical or legal advice. This page was last updated on November 4, 2021.