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In the past several years, it seems like we hear more about CBD’s remarkable therapeutic benefits everywhere we turn. Most of us know someone who CBD has helped or has even experienced health improvements ourselves.
But isn’t it possible to have too much of a good thing? Can you OD on CBD?
Join us, and we’ll answer these questions and many more.
What Causes Drug Overdoses?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 70,000 deaths result from drug overdoses each year. Although ODs can occur with many pharmaceuticals, the majority of fatal drug overdoses can be attributed to the use of synthetic opioids and psychostimulants like methamphetamines.
Opioids, benzodiazepines, and alcohol have a depressant effect on the central nervous system. In small quantities, depressants can be useful as temporary anxiety and pain relievers. However, CNS depressants are highly addictive and can lead consumers down a path of consuming increasingly higher doses.
Depressants act to slow down or lower several vital functions, including:
- blood pressure
- body temperature
Combining different depressants is especially hazardous as they will have a compounding effect. When taken in high doses, depressants can lead to respiratory failure, coma, or death.
Stimulants like amphetamines and cocaine have the opposite effect on the CNS. These types of drugs speed up and increase involuntary functions like heartbeat, respiration, blood pressure, and body temperature. Stimulant overdoses can lead to strokes, cardiac arrest, and cardiovascular collapse.
What is CBD, and How Does It Work?
Hemp and cannabis plants contain hundreds of active ingredients, only one of which is cannabidiol (CBD). CBD belongs to a group of compounds called “cannabinoids.” Cannabinoids like CBD, CBG, and THC have the ability to stimulate receptors in our body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The ECS, which evolved over 600 million years ago, helps most animals, including humans, maintain homeostasis. Instead of speeding up or slowing down body functions, the ECS works as a master regulator to help keep our essential systems in balance. The endocannabinoid system plays a part in regulating a wide range of functions, including:
- body temperature
- immune response
The ECS functions by responding to natural endocannabinoids that bond to the receptors in much the same way neurotransmitters work. When we lack sufficient endocannabinoids, particularly anandamide and 2-AG, our bodies can manifest a host of issues.
Extremely low endocannabinoid levels can lead to a serious condition called Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency Syndrome (CECD). Researchers have found an association between CECD and difficult-to-treat disorders, such as fibromyalgia, migraines, and irritable bowel syndrome.
Plant cannabinoids like CBD boost our levels of internally-produced endocannabinoids and help us achieve balance by interacting directly with ECS receptors.
Can CBD Cause an Overdose?
In the thousands of years humans have consumed cannabis, there has never been a case of anyone dying from an overdose. The National Cancer Institute confirms that a fatal overdose cannot occur as a result of consuming cannabinoids, including CBD:
“Because cannabinoid receptors, unlike opioid receptors, are not located in the brainstem areas controlling respiration, lethal overdoses from Cannabis and cannabinoids do not occur.”
According to a 2011 research review published in the peer-reviewed journal Current Drug Safety, even extremely high CBD doses of 1500 milligrams per day are well-tolerated in humans. Most experts agree that you would have to consume a whopping 20,000 milligrams of CBD in a day to experience toxicity, although even such an absurdly high dose wouldn’t result in death.
Not only is it theoretically impossible to die from a CBD overdose, but CBD may also help people recover from overdoses caused by hard drugs. For example, a 2015 study found that CBD rescued rats from cocaine-induced seizures and acute liver toxicity.
What Happens if I Take Too Much CBD?
Higher doses of CBD can cause mild to moderate side effects, such as:
- Dry eyes
- Temporary drop in blood pressure
- Appetite changes
If you notice any uncomfortable symptoms, stop taking CBD for a few days. When you feel ready, try taking CBD again at a reduced dosage.
How Much CBD Should I Take?
When it comes to consuming cannabinoids, including CBD, the cardinal rule is to start low and go slow.
CBD Edibles and Oil Dosage
Most sources suggest that beginners start with around 20-30 milligrams of CBD per day. CBD oils and edibles need to be processed by the digestive system, so the effects take a while to kick in.
The best procedure is to take a 10-15 milligram dose and wait for two hours to see how you feel before consuming more. Keep in mind that the effects of CBD edibles can last for 6 hours or more. If you take too much CBD before bed, you could feel groggy the next day.
CBD Vapes and Hemp Flower
It’s considerably easier to gauge the correct dosage with inhaled forms of CBD as the effects kick in quickly. You can start by taking a small puff from your CBD vape or hemp pre-roll and gauging the effects within around 10 minutes.
Is CBD Addictive?
In a 2017 report, the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that “CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential.” CBD doesn’t produce the “high” associated with addictive drugs and alcohol.
In fact, preliminary research suggests that CBD may even be helpful in treating people in recovery for addictions.
Can I Mix CBD and Alcohol?
Now you understand that CBD can’t cause a fatal overdose, but you’re probably still wondering what happens when you combine CBD with alcohol, a depressive substance that can provoke a fatal overdose.
While researchers still need to conduct more studies into the subject, here’s what we know so far:
- CBD may act to lower blood alcohol levels: An early peer-reviewed clinical study found that administration of CBD in conjunction with alcohol significantly reduced participants’ BAC levels.
- CBD and alcohol combined can amplify sedative effects: The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning that mixing alcohol and CBD can increase drowsiness, which can lead to accidents and injuries.
- CBD mixed with alcohol can cause a drop in blood pressure: Since both alcohol and CBD are vasodilators, taking them together can cause lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting.
- CBD may reduce some of alcohol’s harmful effects: Preliminary studies have found that CBD has the potential to combat some of the adverse effects of alcohol consumption, such as neurodegeneration, chronic inflammation, and oxidative stress.
- CBD may help ease hangover symptoms: Research has shown CBD’s potential to help with alcohol-induced headaches, nausea, and anxiety.
Can I Take CBD with My Prescription Medications?
While taking CBD won’t cause a fatal overdose, consumers may experience complications due to CBD interacting with certain prescription medications. The liver uses the same enzyme, cytochrome P450, to metabolize both cannabinoids and prescription drugs. When you take CBD and medications together, they may compete for the enzyme, leaving more of the prescription drug in your bloodstream.
Many of the pharmaceuticals that carry a grapefruit warning also interact with CBD, such as:
- Blood pressure medications
Consumers should seek a trusted physician’s advice before adding CBD to their health regimes, especially if they regularly take prescription drugs. As with most supplements, CBD isn’t recommended for pregnant or nursing women.
Additional CBD Safety Precautions
While CBD itself won’t cause an overdose, contaminants in untested CBD products can be dangerous. Cheap, black market CBD extracts often contain pesticides, fertilizers, heavy metals, residual solvents, cutting agents, or other harmful additives. You can avoid many undesirable ingredients if you get your CBD from lab-tested, organic hemp flower.