CBD is generally regarded as a mild, practically harmless substance. Unlike THC, this hemp constituent is non-intoxicating, and unlike many mainline pharmaceutical treatments, CBD does not appear to have any serious side effects.
As with anything, however (you can even overdose on water), there is a limit to how much CBD you can take safely. According to the available evidence, the toxicity threshold of CBD appears to be around 20,000mg or 20g.
If you have any experience using hemp, you know how incredibly difficult it would be to ingest this much CBD during the brief 24-hour time window necessary to induce toxic effects.
We’ve just covered the most important fact you need to know: CBD is only toxic in doses so large the average consumer will never come anywhere close to using too much CBD oil. Let’s flesh out the details surrounding CBD toxicity to help you choose an ideal dose and better understand how this cannabinoid affects the human body.
Is CBD toxic?
Pretty much everything on planet Earth is toxic in the right quantities. In human biochemical research, toxicity is defined as the amount of a substance that can cause bodily harm. There are no such things as inherently “toxic” substances — even cyanide, widely considered to be one of the most potent poisons, is not harmful in extremely low concentrations.
To judge the relative toxicity of CBD, therefore, it’s necessary to compare the concentration at which CBD is believed to be toxic with the toxicity threshold to similar substances. While hardly definitive, preliminary lab studies indicate that CBD may exert toxic effects in humans at concentrations of 20,000mg and above.
To be absolutely clear, this means you would need to ingest 20 full grams of CBD at once for this cannabinoid to exert toxic effects. Since CBD fully metabolizes in the human body within 8-32 hours, you would furthermore need to ingest these 20 grams of CBD within a single day for this cannabinoid to become toxic.
The cost of this experiment is prohibitive for most consumers. Even more importantly, the commonly reported mild side effects of CBD, such as sleepiness and nausea, would likely prevent you from ingesting such an incredibly large dose of CBD to begin with.
So, is CBD toxic? Hardly.
Reaching the toxicity threshold for CBD appears to be nearly impossible, and studies indicate that doses up to 1,500mg CBD are well-tolerated in human subjects. Turning CBD into a toxic substance by ingesting more than 20,000mg of this cannabinoid would require nearly superhuman feats of dedication and incredible economic expenditure.
Can you overdose on CBD?
We’ve established that CBD can only become toxic under the most extreme and absurd circumstances. Can you still take too much CBD, however, even if you don’t take enough to make this cannabinoid toxic?
Even without using more than 20g of this cannabinoid in a single day, your body may react negatively to extremely large doses of CBD. According to the available scientific evidence, however, using toxic concentrations of this cannabinoid will not result in the severe symptoms that are commonly associated with overdose.
For most people, the term “overdose” brings to mind horror stories set into motion when people ingest dangerous quantities of prescription or illicit drugs. It’s important to clarify that even when taken in quantities around 20,000mg, CBD will not cause heart failure, internal bleeding, or any of the other terrifying consequences of ingesting too much alcohol or overdosing on opioids or stimulants.
The hallmarks of overdose as they have been established in popular culture will not occur even if you take CBD in concentrations that have been established as toxic. In all likelihood, ingesting unreasonable quantities of CBD will only result in vomiting or diarrhea as your body purges itself of this mild, non-intoxicating substance. The main concern would be dehydration, which could easily be treated with basic hospital equipment.
What are the effects of taking too much CBD?
Even though scientific research has established the toxicity threshold of CBD at 20,000mg over the course of around 24 hours, the definition of “too much” CBD will vary from person to person. A variety of factors can affect the way that a person’s body interacts with CBD, and the threshold at which CBD’s effects become uncomfortable changes in response.
People who are new to CBD, for instance, have not built up any tolerance to this cannabinoid, and there’s also some evidence that it takes multiple doses for your endocannabinoid system to become accustomed to CBD. For new CBD users, therefore, even reasonably small doses of CBD, such as 50-100mg may be “too much.”
The most commonly reported negative effects of CBD are sleepiness, nausea, and dry mouth. When you take too much of this cannabinoid, it’s reasonable to expect these negative effects to intensify.
New CBD consumers may note negative effects at lower doses. Ffor CBD users who have become accustomed to this cannabinoid, negative effects may only set in at higher doses.
Most studies agree that doses up to 1500mg CBD per day are well-tolerated in humans. Especially if you’ve used CBD for a while, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll experience any negative effects when ingesting this cannabinoid in concentrations under 1500mg CBD.
Regardless of how accustomed to CBD your body may be, the worst effects you should expect from taking too much of this cannabinoid are nausea, diarrhea, dry mouth, fatigue, or sleepiness. In cases of extreme overdose, CBD may cause tremors, convulsions, trouble breathing, slow heart rate, and other serious negative effects. You would need to significantly exceed the 20,000mg/day toxicity threshold of CBD, however, to experience these severe side effects.
Can CBD be lethal?
Lethal doses of CBD have been achieved in animal studies. In most cases, CBD achieved lethal results in animals via cardiac failure.
Due to obvious ethical concerns, similar experiments have not been conducted in humans. It is difficult to say whether CBD is lethal in people and at which concentrations this cannabinoid would achieve human lethality.
Even though CBD becomes toxic at concentrations of 20,000mg per day, this concentration is not considered to be a lethal dose. Rather, this is simply the threshold at which CBD predictably exerts negative effects in human subjects.
While the lethal dose of CBD in humans has not been established, it’s likely that cannabidiol’s toxicity threshold would need to be significantly exceeded before lethal effects ensued. In short, CBD is a remarkably mild substance that is incapable of becoming lethal at concentrations an average consumer could use.
Pharmaceutical drugs commonly become lethal at surprisingly low concentrations. CBD appears to be significantly safer for both this cannabinoid’s intended consumers and for any children or pets who accidentally get their hands or paws on CBD tinctures, capsules, edibles, vapes, or flower.
Differences between CBD and THC toxicity
While THC is highly intoxicating and can cause anxiety or paranoia, CBD is only mildly psychoactive and does not cause any significant “head changes.” THC can also be habit-forming while CBD does not appear to cause dependency of any form.
It comes as no surprise, therefore, that the toxicity of THC is significantly different than that of CBD. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the median lethal dose of THC is 4,000mg (4g), which this prestigious medical organization assures us is still “very low compared to most other recreational and pharmaceutical drugs.”
Let’s take a look at these THC toxicity figures in comparison to the toxicity of CBD. Recall that the 20,000mg toxicity threshold reported for CBD is not this cannabinoid’s lethal dose — lab studies indicate you would need to ingest significantly more than 20g of pure CBD to die from this substance.
A mere 4g of THC, however, is enough to kill an average 150lb person, making THC at least 5 times more toxic than CBD.
The WHO and other authorities assure us it would be extremely hard to ingest more than 4g of pure THC. It’s now reasonably common among heavy THC users, however, to vaporize dabs of THC concentrate larger than 1g that contain more than 60% THC. As a result, a “gram dab” can contain nearly a quarter of the fatal dose of THC.
Why CBD quality matters
Cannabidiol appears to be safe even if you routinely ingest quantities of 1500mg CBD or higher per day. The CBD industry is anything but perfect, however. Depending on the CBD products you ingest, the cannabidiol concentration in your system might be the least of your worries.
Many CBD producers fail to practice basic quality control oversight over their production processes. While CBD-rich hemp is often grown using safe, organic, and sustainable methods, just as much hemp on the market is contaminated with heavy metals, pesticides, fertilizers, and other substances that are hundreds of times more toxic than CBD.
CBD extracts are sometimes combined with dangerous ingredients, such a PG, VG, artificial flavors, and chemical preservatives, that could also overshadow the benefits of CBD and cause contamination hazards.
While the toxicity of CBD itself hardly seems to be cause for concern, some of the sub-par ingredients in CBD products could be extremely dangerous. To protect yourself from contaminants in CBD products, choose hemp brands that use hemp and other ingredients that are organic and non-GMO.
Enjoy CBD safely
CBD is only toxic in extremely large doses and the lethality of CBD still hasn’t been established in humans. Still, that doesn’t mean you have to go overboard with this cannabinoid.
The results are still out regarding the ideal dose of CBD for adults. The evidence we’ve accumulated so far, however, seems to indicate that using more than 1,000mg of CBD per day fails to provide any increased benefits.
In fact, most CBD users report find their ideal dose of this cannabinoid is around 100-250mg per day. Feel free to experiment with CBD to your heart’s content safe in the knowledge that this cannabinoid is remarkably non-toxic.
Just remember — moderation is the key to success with any substance.
CBD overdose FAQ
Anything else you’d like to know about the toxicity and overdose potential of CBD?
1. Can CBD oil kill you?
The simple answer is no. Anything — including oxygen and water — can kill you at the right concentrations, however.
In studies, CBD has been well-tolerated even at extremely high doses. Experts suggest that doses of CBD as high as 1500mg per day may be safe, but there isn’t enough evidence to draw conclusions.
Compared to substances like opioids, which are fatally toxic at remarkably low doses, it looks like you would have to try extremely hard to kill anyone with CBD.
2. Can you take too much CBD before bed?
Some users report grogginess the next morning when they use unusually high doses of CBD the night before. Taking too much CBD before bed does not appear to be harmful in any other way, however.
If a small dose of CBD is not enough to provide the bedtime effects you’re looking for, don’t be afraid to use a little bit more.
3. Can CBD oil make you jittery?
CBD is only known to cause tremors, jitters, or shakiness at extremely high doses. This cannabinoid must be administered in concentrations well exceeding 1500mg per day to result in these extremely rare CBD side effects.