Can You Overdose On CBD?

Anthony Pellegrino
September 28, 2021

The information is provided for informational purposes only and does not relieve readers of their obligation to obtain qualified medical, legal or other professional advice.

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CBD has exploded in popularity in recent years in the aftermath of marijuana legalization throughout the country. It's being used more than ever by millions of every demographic. New users, however, may be wondering about its effects on their health, especially any potentially negative ones -- and that is perfectly understandable! You should always do your due diligence before you start taking any new medications, supplements or herbs. 

Can you overdose on CBD? Science says it's not easy.

A common question many first-time CBD users have is: can you overdose on CBD? How much is too much? Ultimately, this is a difficult question to answer. 

Let's take a closer look at what is known. 

Is It Possible To Overdose On Cbd?

Currently, the research into the effects of CBD is still in its early stages. Much more research is needed before we can offer a definitive yes or no on the topic. Nevertheless, it does seem theoretically possible to overdose after taking monstrous doses. An entire liter of CBD concentrate, for example, will most likely get you very sick. Consuming this much CBD, however, would be a Herculean task in itself.

Most CBD products are so low in dosage that it would be difficult to take enough to overdose.

Even with impossibly huge dosages, it's still unclear how severe these side effects may be. No matter what, you should always be smart with the CBD doses you decide to take. Feel free and welcome to consult your primary care or licensed medical marijuana doctor if you need help with your CBD treatments.

READ ALSO: A Visual Guide to Cannabis Measurements

Current Estimates Of A Toxic (Not Lethal) Cbd Dose

A "toxic dose" is defined as any dose that will cause negative effects. Toxic doses are not the same as lethal doses. Everyone's body is different. Therefore, as you can expect, the estimated doses differ dramatically depending on the source. However, one number appears rather consistently. That is 20g. Be aware that most CBD products are not sold by the gram. Usually, they are sold by the milligram. 20g is the equivalent of 20,000mg

Needless to say, you would need to undergo a dedicated effort to get yourself anywhere close to a toxic dosage of CBD. In the end, it very well may be impossible to do it, practically speaking. 

  • Most CBD users will find CBD products sold in dosages between 20mg and 1,500mg.
  • Many CBD oils are sold with suggested dosages of 15 to 30 mg/ml. This means that you would need to consume hundreds, if not thousands of doses to reach a potentially toxic amount of CBD in your system.
  • Many typical bottles of CBD contain about 300mg. You'd have to consume 67 300mg bottles to consume over 20,000mg of CBD.
  • With most CBD oils ranging from 15 mg/ml to 30 mg/ml, you’d have to consume somewhere around 0.7L to 1.3L of CBD oil to reach this theoretically toxic dose.

Considering CBD oil is generally administered with a small syringe or eyedropper, you’d really have to go out of your way to drink anywhere near a liter of it. Not to mention the likelihood of your body rejecting your consumption of a liter of oil!

The World Health Organization’s Report

The World Health Organization has released a report called the Cannabidiol (CBD) Critical Review Report. In it, they state: 

“It has no effect on a wide range of physiological and biochemical parameters or significant effects on animal behavior unless extremely high doses are administered (e.g., above 150 mg/kg iv as an acute dose or above 30 mg/kg orally daily for 90 days in monkeys).”

In other words, the WHO suggests that a person weighing 170lb (or 77.11kg) would require a dose of over 12,000mg (at least) to start approaching potentially adverse reactions. Not only that, but the human body can only absorb and metabolize so much CBD. This means that a required dosage for potential toxicity, practically speaking, would need to be at least 20,000mg injected intravenously. 

The body only absorbs between 6 and 19% of CBD when eaten.

The bioavailability of CBD, the percentage of CBD that is actually absorbed by the body, is only approximately 6-19%. This means that only 6-19% of the CBD can be metabolized after consumption. Translating this into real-world scenarios that involve eating CBD, rather than injecting it, the figure of 20,000 mg may actually be too conservative. A person might need to eat five times this amount to approach toxicity.

One Study Found A Lethal Dose Of CBD In Rhesus Monkeys

One piece of research did appear to narrow down a lethal dose of CBD in rhesus monkeys. This study, which appeared in Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, administered varying dosages intravenously. Keep in mind that rhesus monkeys are significantly smaller than the average human. This study does give us a clue regarding lethal dosages. 

These researchers found that one dose of 212 mg/kg given intravenously was lethal in 50% of their test subjects. If you were to imagine something comparable for a 170lb person, this would be an intravenous dose of 16,347mg. The realistic figures for human consumption would be much larger. 

As we mentioned, this study consisted of intravenous CBD in rhesus monkeys, not humans, and not oral consumption. Not only that, there are many other variables when it comes to how a person will respond to CBD. Ultimately, we cannot draw any truly concrete conclusions from this study. There's a massive difference between lab-controlled, intravenous doses in rhesus monkeys and the CBD sold at your neighborhood dispensary.

This also demonstrates the practical difficulty of overdosing on a typical amount of CBD. The quantities necessary for an even potentially lethal dose are enormous; much more than can be consumed by accident. 

*Don't try to inject CBD. It's highly dangerous

This Isn’t A Green Light To Start Experimenting! 

Just because the evidence for any severely dangerous effects of CBD is limited, this doesn't mean you shouldn't take any precautions. A lot more must be understood before any definitive answers can be given on the health effects of CBD and its overdose potential. So no one is implying you should throw caution to the wind as a result of these studies. 

Starting any new medication or herbal treatment requires care and due diligence. This goes for CBD treatments too. Do not hesitate to speak with your medical provider if you have any questions. CBD can even interact negatively with some medications, so it never hurts to ask!

If you'd like to talk to a doctor entirely online about CBD and how it may affect your health, NuggMD is always here to help! No appointments are ever needed and staff is available from 8AM till 10PM, even on the weekends.

Anthony Pellegrino
Anthony Pellegrino is a freelance journalist, writer, and content marketing strategist. He is currently studying to get his B.A. in philosophy at Fort Hays State University. He is a content creator for several marketing agencies, brands, and tech startups. His writing is focused on content marketing, technology, philosophy of mind, metaphysics, politics, career planning, and of course, cannabis. Academically, Anthony is focused on A.I., Consciousness, Social Sciences, and Philosophy.

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