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    by Sebastiano Battaglia October 17, 2023 9 min read


    Following the 2018 Farm Bill and the approval of Epidolex by the FDA, cannabidiol, also known as CBD, has experienced a surge in popularity as a wellness product for anxiety, pain or other known medical conditions. But while anecdotal information seldom reports side effects, many still ask the question: can you take too much CBD? Many believe it can alleviate some mental health issues, provide pain relief, enhance sleep quality, and even improve skin conditions. Consequently, more and more individuals are integrating this natural remedy into their daily regimens, consuming it in various forms like gummies, oils, or capsules.

    Despite the growing interest in CBD's health benefits and the accompanying surge in research, there remain numerous unanswered questions regarding its usage. One common concern is determining the appropriate dosage: Can you overdose on CBD? Does CBD tolerance exist? What is the right dosage?

    This article aims to address these inquiries and offer a comprehensive understanding of CBD tolerance while highlighting the potential risks associated with excessive consumption, and what a potential dosage range could be. The goal is to offer simple and easy education on CBD uses and dosage. By delving into the scientific aspects of CBD and its interaction with the body, we will equip you with the knowledge needed to safely incorporate it into your routine.

     

    How To Determine the Right CBD Dosage?

    Navigating the ideal CBD dosage is like walking a tightrope. It’s not one-size-fits-all, but rather an individualized benchmark that shifts depending on personal health factors and how you’re taking CBD. CBD is known for being non-intoxicating and having a high safety profile, but too much can lead to unwanted feelings, such as dizziness or an unexpected bout of the jitters.

    The golden rule? Start low and go slow, adjusting as needed, while paying attention to how your body reacts. People with existing health conditions or who are taking other medications should talk to their doctor first.

    While there isn’t a definitive danger zone when it comes to CBD dosing, users may want to consider tracking their intake in milligrams. This isn’t about being rigid; it’s about reaping the benefits while avoiding drawbacks. So as you explore the world of CBD, stay attuned to what your body is telling you—and stay in control of your journey.

     

    Can You Build a Tolerance to CBD?

    Tolerance refers to the body's diminishing response to a substance, requiring larger amounts to achieve the same effect. While some individuals may experience a reduced response to CBD over time, research suggests that it is not due to the development of tolerance but rather a result of individual variations in metabolism.

    The body may simply become more efficient at processing and utilizing CBD, leading to a lesser effect. Different people (and pets) also tolerate CBD differently, just like aspirin works for some and not for other, CBD is the same.

    Additionally, it is important to note that CBD does not bind directly to the body's cannabinoid receptors like THC, the psychoactive compound found in marijuana. Therefore, the mechanisms of tolerance associated with THC do not seem to apply to CBD. However, further research is needed to fully understand the nuances of CBD tolerance and its potential implications. 

     

    How Much CBD is too much?

    The information about taking too much CBD, with a specific dose being lethal, or close to lethal, is not readily available, but there are studies that investigated the toxicity of CBD, CBD maximum dose, and its side effects. 

    In an old study published in Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, scientists gave high doses of CBD to monkeys and evaluated its potential toxicity. A single dose of 212 mg/kg of CBD, was lethal for a few animals and researchers observed cardiac, neurological, and respiratory problems. Yet, animals that survived recovered within a few days. To provide context, a dose of 200 mg/kg of CBD is equivalent to giving roughly 16,000mg of CBD at once to a 185lb (80kg) adult...that's a lot of CBD!

    When monkeys were treated for 30 days up to 300mg/kg per day, equivalent to roughly 20,000 mg of CBD for a grown adult, most animals still survived, and fully recovered within 30 days from the last treatment.

    These results suggest that a CBD overdose is not quite easy to achieve in the average adult, given that the average bottle contains around 1,000 mg of CBD.

     

    Can you take too much CBD? Or overdose on CBD?

     

     

    Another interesting article was published in Neuropsychopharmacology (Neuropsychopharmacology (2020) 45:1799–1806) and presents data from across 13 different clinical trials, with concentrations of CBD ranging from 200mg to 3000mg per day.  

    When participating in a clinical trial, if patients get too sick or have adverse events, they can leave the trial and go back to the original treatment plan. In this study, researchers found that there was a non-significant trend indicating that the higher the dose of CBD, the higher the number of patients that left the trial. 

     

    Paraphrasing the original article:

     

    At high doses (1400–3000 mg) 12.9% (35/272) of participants withdrew, compared with 8.8% (14/160) at medium doses (600–1000 mg), and only 4.3% (2/46) at low doses (20–400 mg), a similar rate to placebo (3.5% [12/344]). Meta-regressions indicated that there was a trend for an effect of CBD dose on withdrawal (β = 0.0014; p = 0.077). 

     

    In layman's terms, an average bottle of CBD oil contains around 1500mg of CBD. The highest amount of CBD from the studies was 3000 mg per day. This means that to reach that dose you should take two bottles of 1500mg of CBD each day (!!!)...that’s a lot of CBD to drink, way above what average users have available! 

     

    What Are the Side Effects of Taking Too Much CBD?

    The side effects of taking too much CBD are limited, and CBD seems to be very well tolerated in most people by people who take it for recreational use or under medical directions. 

    To look into the weeds, most of the adverse effects reviewed in a meta-study across 13 clinical trials with CBD were observed in groups that were taking CBD for epilepsy, and at very high doses (Neuropsychopharmacology (2020) 45:1799–1806). In fact, the median dose was 1200 mg, and only a fraction of the participants were taking doses under 400 mg of CBD per day.

    Paraphrasing from the published study:

    A key consideration in interpreting our findings is that the doses of CBD used in the trials we studied were relatively high (median dose 1200 mg/day; mean dose 1132 mg): only 46 of 822 participants received doses at or below 400 mg/day or 5 mg/kg/ day . The doses of CBD provided by health and food supplements are typically much lower (5–20 mg/day), so the incidence of adverse events is likely to be lower. 

    When looking at the side effects of CBD in pets, a recent article published in Frontier Veterinary Science (Front. Vet. Sci., 15 September 2023,Sec. Anesthesiology and Animal Pain Management, 10 - 2023) investigated the safety and efficacy of CBD for canine osteoarthritis. Compiling data from 117 dogs enrolled in different studies, the team reported only a few cases of hypersalivation (ptyalism), somnolence, and vomiting. The latter is probably attributed to the activity of CBD in the intestine.

     

    Is CBD Addictive?

    In short, CBD is not addictive, and person will not get hooked to it!

    An interesting report was published in 2018 by the Expert Committee on Drug Dependence at the World Health Organization (WHO) in which they summarize:

    While the number of studies is limited, the evidence from well controlled human experimental research indicates that CBD is not associated with abuse potential.

    In two separate studies, researchers evaluated the potential addictive effect of CBD by measuring physiological and behavioral changes associated with addiction (Neuropsychopharmacology, 2016. 41(8): p. 1974-1982, Drug and alcohol dependence, 2017. 172: p. 9-13). In all studies, CBD produced no such effect, supporting the fact that CBD has no addictive potential and is safe to use for humans and pets.

    Is Therea Potential Maximum Dose of CBD?

    The CBD doses used in the clinic and in over-the-counter products are generally very different, and CBD is generally safe with no noticeable side effects if taken correctly. 

    To investigate this further, a 2023 medical study published in the Clinical and Translational Science journal (CTS,Volume16, Issue1,January 2023, Pages 10-30) analyzed data from 29 double-blind, placebo-controlled trials and six open-label studies. They divided patients into five groups who received daily CBD at less than 60 mg, between 60-100 mg, 100–200 mg, 200–300 mg, and 300–400 mg. Additionally, they looked at 45 other studies to evaluate the safety and pharmacokinetics of CBD and various blood values.

    Interestingly, while they did not observe any side effects in the trials analyzed, they also did not report a strong overall signal coming from the association between CBD and pain. This may be due to the specifics of each study where patients were also using other medicines. 

    Overall in terms of safety, CBD seems to be very safe at doses recommended in over the counter CBD products.

     

    What To Look For If You Think You Have a CBD Overdose?

    While no study has reported an overdose on CBD oil and it is considered safe, there can be cases of users accidentally taking excessive amount of CBD, or calculating the wrong concentration. If you take too much CBD, you may experience drowsiness, dizziness, dry mouth, or changes in appetite. 

    And to be safe, if you ever think you are in danger, please contact your health care provider and seek medical advice ASAP!!

    If you have consumed a large amount of CBD and taken more CBD than your body can handle, start by drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated and help flush out the excess CBD from your system. Should you not observe any improvement and/or feel sick, you must contact a health professional immediately to decide on the best plan of action. 

    As you probably know, we provide crafted CBD products for pets, and it is important to consider what to do even in case your dog or cat has too much CBD. If you believe that this happened, closely monitor your pet for potential adverse events, as pets can experience side effects similar to those in humans. If your pet doesn't improve, it is best to consult a health care professional (e.g. a veterinarian) for advice on the best course of action.

     

    CBD Can Interact With Other Drugs

    CBD affects a family of enzymes known to process numerous drugs. More specifically, the CYP450 group of enzymes is responsible for metabolizing about 75% or more of the drugs on the market. This means that for people who take CBD together with other medicines, CBD can change the way in which they are processed by your body, making them less active or more potent (it's bi-directional).

    If you are in a situation where you are using other drugs, prescribed or over the counter, make sure to consult with your physician first, to ensure that you are not altering the function of life-saving medications. Conversely, you could observe unwanted side effects due to the presence of CBD and a second drug in your system.

     

    How About Taking CBD while sick? 

    When you're sick, you might wonder if you can use CBD or not. Although CBD health benefits are well-known as it can help with pain, stress, and nausea, it is a little different when you are sick. It depends on what's making you ill. For example, in the case inflammation is part of what makes you sick, CBD is generally helpful. But CBD alone is not able to kill viruses or bacteria! 

    Here's why: CBD works with a system in our body called the endocannabinoid system. This system helps our bodies stay balanced and can affect how your intestine works, how your immune system acts, and how your body perceives pain. But interestingly enough, the effect on common maladies is not fully known (yet). So, we need to be careful.

    Also, as mentioned above if you take other medicine, or if you have other medical conditions, be extra cautious. CBD is broken down in the liver and it uses the same pathway as many other drugs. This means that CBD can cause serious changes in how your medicines work.

     

    You Should Make Sure to Buy Only The Best CBD!

    By now you know that CBD is safe whether you or your pets use it as edible or take it as CBD oil. Yet, with many products on the market, how can you ensure that you are buying high-quality pure CBD products?

    • Sourcing and extraction methods. You want to make sure that companies are transparent about their CBD extraction process and manufacturing.
    • Third-party lab testing. Just like you shouldn't buy food without knowing what's inside, you shouldn't buy CBD oil or CBD edibles without reading the results from independent third-party labs. Many CBD products will have a QR code that sends you to the lab results, if you don't see it...don't buy it!
    • Full spectrum CBD vs. Broad spectrum CBD. Full spectrum is used when CBD products contain less than 0.3% THC, while broad spectrum is reserved for CBD products where THC is completely removed. 
    • Origin. CBD and THC are the two main molecules in hemp and marijuana. However, hemp-derived CBD products are naturally higher in CBD and lower in THC, so make sure that you only use products derived from hemp!

     

     

    Sebastiano Battaglia
    Sebastiano Battaglia

    Seb has been a research scientist for the past two decades and is the founder and owner of My Blissful Pet. Seb grew up with cats and dogs and married his passion for science and animals with My Blissful Pet by wanting to help dogs and cats live healthier lives.

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