Some of the common worries around cannabidiol are that you can take too much CBD, overdose, or become addicted to it. Fortunately, there’s no evidence that consuming an excessive amount is seriously harmful, or that it’s physically or psychologically addictive (as we looked at in more detail, here).
The use of legal over-the-counter CBD products is often confused with both medical cannabis products, and the illegal drug trade. While you might experience some mild side effects from starting to take CBD, or accidentally consuming more than your usual amount, there’s no risk of becoming intoxicated or seriously unwell.
Why start taking CBD?
As a supplement, CBD is being used by an increasing number of people to compliment their health and wellbeing. It’s a natural compound found in hemp and cannabis plants which interacts with the endocannabinoid system within your body, and research is looking at how it may benefit people with a range of mental and physical conditions.
It’s also quick and easy to add to your daily routine. You can take capsules or a few drops of CBD oil in the morning, and again later in the day, and let the potential positive effects build over time. A WHO report states that CBD is generally well-tolerated with a good safety profile, and there’s no evidence of any public health problems associated with the use of pure CBD.
Can you take too much CBD?
We always recommend that anyone starting to take CBD begins slowly with small amounts and low concentrations. This allows you to build up to the right individual amount and should reduce the risk of any side effects. You should also check with your doctor if you’re on any existing medication or if you’re worried about adding CBD as a supplement to your diet.
There’s no benefit in suddenly ramping up the amount of CBD you’re taking, as your body needs time to process and adjust to it. So, you wouldn’t feel any additional benefit, but you’re more likely to experience effects like tiredness, changes in appetite, or diarrhoea.
Scientific and medical trials tend to use higher concentrations of CBD to produce results more quickly, but again, these are conducted over a set period of time to allow the nervous system to acclimatise to any changes.
It’s also worth noting that full, or broad spectrum, oils can contain trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the compound in cannabis which causes you to feel high. But the amount legally allowed in CBD products for sale in the UK is so small that you could consume an impossibly large amount, and not feel intoxicated. Just tired and nauseous.
So, there’s no benefit in taking too much CBD, but it’s also unlikely to cause serious issues if you accidentally bump up your dosage. The only exception is if you’re taking existing medication, which may lead to an unexpected interaction with CBD, so always check with your doctor or medical professional in those situations.
Is it possible to overdose on CBD?
An overdose is defined as taking ‘an excessive and dangerous’ amount of a substance. And while you could potentially consume an excessive amount of CBD, it’s unlikely to ever become dangerous.
The amount judged to become toxic is around 200mg per kg of bodyweight, which would mean potentially consuming hundreds of bottles of CBD oil at a typical concentration. Even then, it’s unlikely to be a lethal amount, although you would feel pretty unwell. And animal testing would suggest a normal adult would need to be consuming a bottle or more every day for months to overdose.
Given that the recommended dose for CBD oil is 2-3 drops, it’s highly unlikely that you could have any overdosing issues by accident. Obviously, we recommend keeping any CBD products stored safely away from children, and not to use it while pregnant, or without medical advice if you’re on medication for existing conditions.
Can CBD become addictive?
We’ve previously published a dedicated article to look at whether you can become addicted to CBD, but the short answer is that there’s no evidence it’s psychologically or physically addictive. And our personal experience, and that of our customers, is that a short break doesn’t trigger any addiction-type issues like cravings or withdrawal. You may have a resurgence of problems which were being managed while you’re taking CBD, but that’s about it.
And medical studies have looked at a role CBD might play in actually helping people reduce and recover from other addictions without giving them a new dependency.
What to do if you have a bad reaction to CBD?
The majority of people consuming CBD have no side effects. If you do experience mild symptoms of lethargy, diarrhoea or nausea etc, they should pass in a few days. And if you’re concerned, then you can pause or lower your dosage until you feel more comfortable.
It’s unlikely to have a more severe reaction to CBD, but if that happens, you shouldn’t hesitate to contact medical help. It’s legal to buy and use CBD in the UK as long as you’ve purchased from a reputable supplier, so there’s no reason not to get professional advice, especially if you’re also using prescription medication, for example.
With millions of people regularly taking CBD around the world, there have been no reports of issues with people taking excessive amounts to date. Long-term implications have not been ruled out, due to the relatively recent introduction of CBD products, so no-one can claim that CBD is 100 per cent safe in every respect. But one thing you won’t need to worry about is taking too much.