CBD is generally regarded as a mild, nearly 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, and if you have any experience using hemp, you know how incredibly difficult it would be to ingest this much CBD during the time window necessary to induce toxic effects.
Throughout this guide, we’ll flesh out the details surrounding CBD toxicity to help you choose an ideal dose and better understand how this cannabinoid affects the human body. We’ve just covered the most important fact you need to know, however: CBD is only toxic in doses so large that the average consumer will never even come close to using too much CBD oil.
Is CBD toxic?
Pretty much everything on planet Earth is toxic in the right quantities. In human biochemical research, toxicity is generally defined as the amount of a substance that can harm the body. There are no such things as inherently “toxic” substances—even substances that are considered the most potent poisons, such as cyanide, are not harmful in extremely low concentrations.
When judging the relative toxicity of CBD, therefore, it’s necessary to consider the concentration at which CBD is considered to be toxic and compare this toxicity threshold to similar substances. While this information is hardly definitive, preliminary lab studies have shown that CBD appears to exert toxic effects in humans at concentrations of 20,000mg and above. To be clear, this means that you would need to ingest 20 full grams of CBD isolate at once for this cannabinoid to exert toxic effects.
Since CBD fully metabolizes in the human body within 8-32 hours, you would need to ingest 20 grams of CBD within a single day for this cannabinoid to become toxic. Not only would the cost of this experiment be prohibitive for most consumers, but the commonly reported side effects of this cannabinoid, such as sleepiness and nausea, would likely prevent the ingestion of such an incredibly large dose of CBD over such a short period.
So, is CBD toxic? Hardly. Reaching the toxicity threshold for CBD appears to be nearly impossible, and studies indicate that doses of up to 1,500mg of 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?
Now that we’ve established that CBD can only become toxic under the most extreme and absurd circumstances, it’s natural to wonder if you can still take too much CBD without this cannabinoid becoming toxic. The short answer is that since everyone experiences CBD differently, it’s certainly possible to experience negative effects when using this cannabinoid in high quantities even if your ingestion of CBD doesn’t reach the established threshold for toxicity.
For most people, however, the term “overdose” brings to mind the horror stories that are set into motion when you 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 that have been established in popular culture and news stories 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, diarrhea, or other mild symptoms that may occur as your body purges itself of this mild, non-intoxicating substance.
Even without using more than 20g of this cannabinoid in a single day, your body may react negatively to extremely large doses of CBD. As with all things, it’s important to use CBD with moderation, but according to the available scientific evidence, using toxic concentrations of this cannabinoid will not result in the severe symptoms that are commonly associated with the idea of “overdose.”
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 100-200mg may be “too much.”
The most commonly reported negative effects of CBD are sleepiness, nausea, and dry mouth, and when you take too much of this cannabinoid, it’s reasonable to expect these negative effects to become more accentuated. New CBD consumers may note these effects at lower doses, and for CBD users who have become accustomed to this cannabinoid, negative effects may only set in at higher doses.
It’s worth noting again that most studies agree that doses of up to 1500mg CBD per day are well-tolerated in human subjects. Especially if you’ve used CBD for a while, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll experience any negative effects when ingesting this cannabinoid at 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 reached in certain 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, so it is difficult to say whether CBD is lethal in people and which concentrations of this cannabinoid are required to achieve human lethality.
It’s important to note that 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 an incredibly mild cannabinoid that is very unlikely to become lethal at any concentrations that a consumer may use. Compared to many pharmaceutical drugs, which become lethal at surprisingly low concentrations, CBD appears to be significantly safer for this cannabinoid’s intended consumers and any children or pets who may accidentally get their hands or paws on CBD tinctures, capsules, edibles, or other cannabidiol-infused products.
Differences between CBD and THC toxicity
There are many salient differences between CBD and THC. While THC is highly intoxicating and can cause hallucinations, paranoia, and delusions of grandeur, CBD is only mildly intoxicating and does not cause any significant “head changes.” THC is also both psychologically and biologically addictive while CBD does not appear to cause any dependency issues.
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.”
Regardless, we should take a close 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 that 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, which makes THC at least 5 times more toxic than CBD. While organizations like the WHO make assurances that it would be extremely hard to ingest more than 4g of pure THC, it’s now become a common practice among THC users to vaporize dabs of marijuana concentrate weighing more than 1g that contain 80-90% THC. If THC users knew that they were ingesting nearly a quarter of the fatal dose of THC with every “gram dab,” perspectives on the safety of this intoxicating cannabinoid might change.
Why CBD quality matters
Over the course of this article, we’ve covered a variety of reasons that CBD appears to be safe even if you routinely ingest quantities of 1500mg cannabidiol per day or higher. The CBD market is anything but perfect, however, and depending on the types of CBD products you ingest, the cannabidiol concentration in your system might be the least of your worries.
Many CBD producers, for instance, 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. Plus, many finished CBD products are combined with potentially 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, only do business with hemp brands that use organic, non-GMO hemp, and other ingredients.
Enjoy CBD safely in moderation
Just because CBD is only toxic in extremely large doses and the lethality of CBD still hasn’t been established in humans doesn’t mean you should go overboard with this cannabinoid. While the results are still out regarding the ideal dose of CBD for adults, the evidence we have accumulated so far seems to indicate that using more than 1,000mg of CBD per day fails to provide any increased benefits.
In fact, most CBD users find that their ideal dose of this cannabinoid is between 200-500mg per day. As you get used to everything that CBD has to offer, feel free to experiment to your heart’s content safe in the knowledge that this cannabinoid is remarkably non-toxic, but remember that wisdom and moderation are the keys to success in any situation.