Drug overdose is a scary thing. Although you might immediately think of illegal drugs and illicit substances, overdose can also occur with prescription medications and things you don’t necessarily think of as harmful. Painkillers are an extreme problem when it comes to overdose, and prescription meds are becoming an increasing cause for concern.
But what about CBD? Many people are taking CBD as a natural food supplement to support health and wellbeing. It is often used daily as part of a healthy, active lifestyle. CBD is thought to support a vital system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which in turn helps to keep your body balanced and well.
Sometimes, people use CBD to relieve minor chronic pain; the U.S. government has a patent on it as an anti-inflammatory, so this use makes sense. If you’re using CBD regularly for things like this, it’s sensible to wonder if it could ever harm you.
Today, we will be investigating whether CBD can cause an overdose. The quick answer is ‘no’, but there are some other things you need to consider.
What Is CBD and Is It Addictive?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is an active compound found in cannabis and hemp plants. It is used as a food supplement by many, and it is completely legal in the United Kingdom. Unlike its cousin THC, CBD is considered to be safe and non-toxic. This was even found by the World Health Organisation in a report from 2017.
Coming from cannabis, many people wonder whether CBD is addictive. This is a tough question to tackle, because it depends what you mean by ‘addiction.’ Really, anything can be addictive if it causes you some sort of reward. Many behaviours and substances can become addictive depending on the individual.
In the case of CBD, you might become reliant on it if using it for a particular problem. For example, if you have back pain, you might not want to stop taking it for fear of the pain resurfacing.
But CBD is not addictive in the traditional sense; you will not crave it if you don’t take it. Some heavy users experience withdrawal in the form of headaches if they stop taking it, but these symptoms don’t last long.
Symptoms like this become more of an issue if you have built up a tolerance.
Can You Build Up a Tolerance to CBD?
Some people have reported building up a tolerance to CBD and needing more of it to feel the same effects. This can then be a problem if you decide to stop taking it, because your body will have stopped producing endocannabinoids naturally since it knows the CBD is coming.
A way around this is to take short tolerance breaks from time to time, or to change up your consumption method or schedule.
CBD tolerance does not tend to be a major issue, but if you experience it then you may just need to take a break and deal with the symptoms for a few days. The main worry is, of course, what high doses of CBD will do to you. If you have a high tolerance and take a lot of CBD oil, what happens?
What Are the Side Effects of CBD?
Like anything, CBD does have some side effects. Nothing is perfect, and that is true of cannabidiol.
Usually, side effects appear in the first few days of taking CBD as your body adjusts. They don’t usually last long, and none of them are severe. In fact, the side effects of CBD are much more manageable than the long list of problems that often accompanies prescription medication.
Here are some of the most common side effects:
- Drowsiness and lethargy
- Dry mouth
As you can see, these are all pretty minor. The dizziness and lethargy can be a problem if you regularly operate heavy machinery or are driving; if this is the case, then you should take CBD oil for the first time when you don’t plan on doing anything.
Nausea, headaches and a dry mouth can be unpleasant symptoms, but they are nothing serious and can be managed. As we said, the side effects usually wear off after a few days, too.
Sometimes, side effects can be experienced as a result of taking ‘too much’ CBD oil. But how much is too much?
How Much CBD Oil is Too Much?
The correct dosage of CBD oil will differ from person to person. It is dependent on factors such as age, gender, weight, pre-existing conditions, tolerance, and more. Therefore, it is hard to say how much CBD oil is too much.
Generally, the average user takes 5-25mg of CBD per day. Some, however, need a lot more. It is extremely unlikely you will need a dose of 1000mg, for example, but you may want to buy a potent bottle of CBD oil if you are taking fairly high doses every day.
Luckily, an overdose with CBD has never been reported. In fact, an overdose with cannabis has never been reported, either. As such, it is pretty safe to take high quantities of CBD without concern. Taking too high a dose will simply result in the above side effects, which will obviously worsen the higher the dose.
If you take a massive quantity of CBD, you might experience vomiting, diarrhoea, and a splitting headache. Obviously, this is something you want to avoid, so you need to make sure you are taking the right dose of CBD.
Experts recommend starting out low. Some users have told us that they used a high dose on the first day (about 50mg) to get the side effects out of the way. Then, on the second day they went right down to a low dose of 3-5mg. If you experience no positive effects, then you can increase the dose after a couple of days, going up slowly until you hit that sweet spot where the CBD takes effect.
Bear in mind that you’re not looking for a sudden rush of euphoria and your whole world to change. CBD will simply make you feel more balanced and give you a sense of feeling better. It’s hard to explain, but if you take note of how you’re feeling, you’ll notice it.
CBD Oil in Conjunction with Medication
An important thing to consider is that CBD could potentially cause an overdose with other medications. It’s a strange thing to say this, because it causes the exact same reaction as grapefruit!
Both CBD and grapefruit inhibit the actions of a liver enzyme called cytochrome P450 (CYP450). This enzyme is responsible for breaking down (metabolising) many prescription drugs we take. When pharmacists are figuring out the right dose of a drug, they have to work out how long it will take to be broken down by this enzyme in order to know how long it will stay in the system. This is especially important if you take multiple doses per day.
If the CYP450 enzyme is inhibited, drugs are not metabolised in the same way. Therefore, if you continue taking the same dose but it is not being broken down, the drug will build up in your system and could potentially cause negative effects.
If you have been told by a doctor to avoid grapefruit, then you’re better off avoiding CBD. But if you take a prescription medication and aren’t sure about what effects CBD might have, then you should always speak to a professional. See your doctor and ask about it. You might have to adjust your dose, or you might have to avoid CBD. Whatever the outcome, it’s better to check with a physician first.
Final Thoughts: Can You Overdose on CBD?
CBD itself is non-addictive and won’t cause an overdose. To date, there has been no reported fatal overdose with cannabis and CBD is considered to be very safe. Nevertheless, it is natural to have some concerns about the compound.
Side effects can sometimes occur if you take a high dose of CBD. In order to avoid these side effects, you should find the ‘minimum effective dose’ by starting out with very little CBD and building up to a dose that works for you. If you stick to this, you will avoid having an overdose. Of course, an overdose with CBD has not yet been shown to be fatal, but it’s still something you should avoid.
If you are being prescribed a medication, you should check with your doctor about how CBD may affect it. CBD’s inhibition of the CYP450 enzyme can lead to an accumulation of drugs in your system, which can be dangerous. This kind of overdose may be more troubling.
In general, CBD is safe, so you have nothing to worry about. Nevertheless, if you are concerned, then don’t be afraid to speak with your doctor. After all, CBD is completely legal in the UK and you won’t get into any trouble.