It’s possible to overdose on CBD and experience uncomfortable side effects, but there is no known lethal dose, which means the compound is considered safe.
Is it possible to overdose on cannabidiol (CBD)?
The short answer is no — not in the way you’re thinking — even in high doses, CBD is a non-lethal compound.
It is possible to take too much CBD where you can feel some undesirable effects like lightheadedness, nausea, and drowsiness that may increase your risk of accidental injury, but there are precautions you can take to avoid this.
How much CBD you’ll need to take in order to cause an “overdose” varies from person to person.
In this article, we’ll dive into the safety of CBD for pets and humans, the potential adverse reactions, and how to avoid side effects from taking too much CBD.
While the World Health Organization (WHO) considers CBD a safe and well-tolerated compound, even in high doses, it doesn’t mean that it’s without risk .
Even water, for example, can become lethal to humans if you drink large quantities in a very short amount of time.
When determining the safety of a compound used in medicine, researchers look at how much of a compound is needed to show toxic effects. The most widely used indicator for understanding the toxicity of a drug is the LD50.
LD50 stands for the median “lethal dose” of a substance, when given all at once, will kill 50% of the group test animals.
Currently, there has not been a single well-documented case of human death attributed to an overdose of cannabis or its components, and there is no official LD50 for CBD in humans .
However, a 2011 study found that 200–300 mg of CBD/kg of weight is lethal in some rhesus monkeys, causing respiratory arrest and cardiac failure .
If we were to compare this study on rhesus monkeys to potential CBD toxicity in humans, assuming the average weight of 150 Lbs or 68 kg, you would need 13,600-20,400 mg of CBD within a very short amount of time to result in potentially fatal effects.
For reference, recommended high doses of CBD products on the market are no more than 100 mg for an entire day — 200 max. And studies have observed participants taking upwards of 1500 mg of CBD in a day without any dangerous outcomes .
Consuming 13,000 mg of CBD or more within a short amount of time would require an absurd amount of effort and a lot of money, and it’s still not guaranteed to produce any lethal outcomes.
Yes, you can overdose on CBD—but not in the way you’re likely imagining.
For most people, the term “overdose” conjures up images of taking deadly amounts of illicit drugs that can cause heart failure, internal bleeding, or organ failures like overdosing on alcohol or opioids, but this doesn’t happen with CBD.
We’ve just gone over that it takes an absurd amount of effort to reach potentially lethal doses of CBD in humans, but it doesn’t mean you can’t overdose on CBD.
To “overdose” on a compound means to take more than the ideal dose your body can handle before you start experiencing adverse effects. When you overdose or take too much CBD, you may start to feel sick, but it’s not life-threatening.
While CBD is considered safe, you could experience discomfort and undesirable side effects if you take too much.
The most common side effects of taking too much CBD include:
These adverse effects should subside on their own as your body metabolizes the CBD through the liver, but it can last anywhere from 3–8 hours.
If you experience any of these symptoms, the best thing you can do is wait out the effects and try to make yourself as comfortable as possible — lay down, drink water, perhaps go to bed and call it a night if you need to.
There’s not much you can do but wait for your body to process the active compounds. Now you know for next time that you should ease up on that dose of CBD to avoid unwanted effects.
Related: How long does CBD remain in the body.
“Too much” CBD will depend on the individual, as there are a variety of factors that can determine your threshold or tolerance to CBD.
Factors can include your genetics, metabolism, experience with CBD, and underlying health conditions.
For example, people with no experience with CBD won’t have any tolerance, which means their endocannabinoid system (ECS) may not be used to elevated levels of cannabinoids. Therefore, it may take smaller doses of CBD to make them feel like they’ve had too much compared to a more experienced user.
You can build a tolerance to CBD, just like any other compound. Regularly drinking coffee, for example, will increase your tolerance to caffeine.
A tolerance occurs when your body loses sensitivity to a compound to elicit the effects.
With continued CBD use, it’s possible for your endocannabinoid system to get used to the increased levels of cannabinoids. You may need stronger doses of CBD to achieve the desired effects — but this is different from having an addiction to CBD.
CBD is non-psychotropic, meaning it doesn’t get you high, and it doesn’t build a drug addiction dependence.
Dependence occurs when you need the substance to function. Without it, your body undergoes physiological withdrawal symptoms that can be as mild as headaches, moodiness, or lethargy (like caffeine withdrawal) to more life-threatening effects like depression, pain, and increased heart rate.
Severe withdrawal symptoms with CBD are highly unlikely to develop, even in those who use CBD long-term. The most severe CBD withdrawal symptoms observed in a clinical trial where long-term CBD participants abruptly stopped taking high doses of CBD were headaches and diarrhea .
One study investigated the potential of dogs to overdose on CBD and found there weren’t any dangerous outcomes when compared to the group given the standard amount of CBD .
Is it possible to give your pet too much CBD oil?
The simple answer to this is yes, but there is no known lethal dose of CBD for cats or dogs.
Just like if humans take too much CBD in a short amount of time, your pet may experience mild side effects, but nothing life-threatening.
It’s important to remember that every compound has a lethal dose, but some of these take an absurd amount that it’s not attainable.
In rat studies, it takes an astronomical ratio of CBD to kg to show any lethal outcomes. Chances are you don’t have this much CBD stored at your house to cause even an accidentally dangerous CBD overdose in your pet.
With that being said, our pets don’t require as much CBD as we do. You’ll find CBD oil products for pets with much lower strengths to suit their smaller body weight. When giving your pets CBD, always start with smaller doses and build their tolerance up before administering full doses.
Our pets can’t tell us when something is not feeling right, so keep an eye on your pet and monitor their behavior to CBD — but before giving your pet CBD to manage a health condition, speak with your vet to make sure it’s the right compound, and there won’t be any negative drug interactions with your pet’s prescribed medications.
It’s a good thing that our bodies tolerate CBD quite well. It’s only toxic in extremely large doses, which means it’ll be hard to go overboard with CBD products to the point where it becomes life-threatening.
Still, if you’re not careful, it’s possible to experience a CBD overdose that brings on a range of uncomfortable side effects.
Dosing CBD is a personal affair as the effects of CBD can vary from person to person. The rule of thumb is to start low and go slow.
Try out our CBD dosage calculator that suggests doses based on your body weight and how potent you’d like the effects to feel. Start with the lowest recommended dose and work your way up over the course of a few days until you reach the desired effects.
It may be helpful to keep track of your doses and how you’re feeling on an app on your phone or a physical journal. This can help you keep accurate records of the doses and any changes in symptoms or experiences when taking CBD.
From the decades of research available, there isn’t an accurately defined lethal dose of CBD or any other cannabinoid compound for human beings, which is why CBD is considered safe and non-toxic by the WHO.
This and the fact that researchers have found profound therapeutic uses of CBD on a variety of conditions has led to its removal of controlled substances and the implementation of the US Farm Bill on hemp-derived CBD.
While CBD is considered safe, it is still possible to experience negative side effects when taking higher doses of CBD. Luckily, these side effects are mild and last for several hours. To avoid experiencing negative effects from a CBD product, moderation and quality of CBD are key.
Always look at the CBD product’s third-party lab tests to verify the CBD content and safety for accurate dosing. You want to take CBD in lower doses when you’re just getting started before accidentally taking too much all at once.
You can build your tolerance and adjust your doses to suit until you find an ideal dose that delivers your desired effects.