Can You Overdose on CBD - What Happens If You Take Too Much
This is a very common concern for people new to CBD.
Let's look at the research to get a better hand on it.
We'll also cover how higher amounts of CBD can have different effects as other pathways get turned off.
Maybe, more importantly, we'll see what research says about peak levels of CBD for specific effects such as neurogenesis (brain repair in short).
This whole discontinuation on CBD overdose gets to the heart of how CBD works in the body and we'll cover that as well.
Remember...Tylenol is the leading cause of liver failure in the US!
Overdose of over-the-counter very safe medications is a serious issue not to mention the various prescription medications (benzos, SSRIs, opioids, etc).
These are the areas we'll cover:
- Can you overdose on CBD
- What happens if you take too much CBD
- How does CBD work in the body without causing overdose
- Peak levels of CBD from research
Let's get into it.
The part on how CBD works is really fascinating and underlines why it's exploding in popularity.
Can you overdose on CBD
Let's get right to the heart of it.
First, we should establish a range to understand amounts.
A low-level introductory dosage is generally around 25-30 mg.
For a 1000 mg bottle, that's about one dropper's worth. (usually, 30 ml bottle and 1 ml per dropper so divide bottle total by 30).
Studies are showing benefits for sleep at about 160 mg which is mid to high-level dosage.
There's a great deal of research right around 300 mg per day (can be broken up) which we'll look at below.
This may be a sweet spot for effects.
More serious issues were tested at 600-800 mg doses.
This includes social anxiety, schizophrenia, etc.
Studies on drug withdrawals were generally in the 300-600 mg range.
So a summary:
- Low dose level - 30 mg
- Mid-level dose - 80-150 mg
- Higher-level dose - 300 - 800 mg
Generally, 800 mg is on the higher side in studies and can be found more serious issues.
This range (from research) is why we get so frustrated with the junk CBD on the market.
There's a giant brand out there that sells millions of bottles and when we enquired, they said each bottle had 80 mgs of phytocannabinoids (we asked for CBD).
We estimated that's about 8 mg of CBD per dropper. Good luck with that.
They're just taking advantage of people and charging quite a bit for it!
A few caveats.
Many different aspects can affect a dose's effect for a given person:
- Liver function (liver processes CBD)
- Underlying state of different systems (serotonin, GABA, etc)
All of the studies we've seen up to 800 mg of CBD have very strong safety profiles.
Very similar profiles actually (i.e. comparing 300 mg to 800 mg) which is telling and very unique.
For example, benzos can have increasing effects as dosages go up:
That last one is the overdose phase when things slow down so much (benzos pump up GABA, our nervous system's brake pedal - see CBD and GABA here).
So how high have they tested CBD?
There are studies with 1.5 grams or 1500 mg. That's almost double the 800 mg high end we looked at above.
Chronic use and high doses of up to 1500 mg per day have been repeatedly shown to be well tolerated by humans.
Beyond that amount, we don't see good research but the fact that 1500 mg has a similar safety profile to 600 or even 300 mg is key to how it works.
What happens if we do take too much CBD for our system?
What happens if you take too much CBD
First, it's important to understand that CBD affects different pathways:
- 5HT - serotonin (See CBD and serotonin)
- PPAR - regulates gene expression - cellular growth/death cycles, metabolism
- TRPV - a family of channels with a wide range of effects
- Opioid receptors - actually blunts this pathway which may allow to reset (like low dose naltrexone)
- GPR 55 and others - see CBD and GPR55
- GABA -our primary brake pedal - key to anxiety, seizures, and almost all nervous system function
- Glycine - under-appreciated cousin to GABA with similar inhibitory effects
Goodness...that's just what we know but some of those are master regulators.
The serotonin and GABA effect alone could stand on their own.
Serotonin is involved in all human behavior. That's all.
We did deep dives on serotonin and GABA for this reason.
Why bring all of this up?
The doses can affect which channels are turned on.
For example, with anxiety, lower levels are shown to reduce anxiety (see CBD and anxiety) while higher levels turn on other channels which may have an opposite effect.
Given TRPV1 receptors have anxiogenic effects, this may indicate that at higher doses, CBD’s interaction with TRPV1 receptors to some extent impedes anxiolytic actions, although was notably not sufficient to produce anxiogenic effects.
It wouldn't cause anxiety (anxiogenic) but it dampened CBD's ability to reduce anxiety (anxiolytic).
In our peak levels discussion below, we'll focus on a sweet spot in research for long term effects.
As for the question at hand, there is not one documented instance of overdosing on CBD.
How can this possibly be if other drugs that affect these same pathways (benzos for GABA, SSRIs for serotonin, etc) definitely can cause overdose with excessive doses?
We have to get to the heart of how CBD works
How does CBD work in the body without causing overdose
Bring that chart up:
Let's first explain the actions of CBD versus say...THC.
A quick intro:
- Agonist - something that increases activity for a given pathway
- Antagonist - something that reduces activity for a given pathway
- Inhibitor - something that blocks a pathway
- Negative Allosteric Modulator - what????
The last one is intriguing and only CBD has it among the cannabinoids.
Look at THC (which can cause overdose - negative effects at high levels).
It's an agonist of CB1 and CB2 activity (our two main endocannabinoid receptors).
It essentially boosts anandamide levels in one direction. Up up up and away.
That's an agonist.
- Benzo - agonist of GABA receptors
- SSRIs - agonist of serotonin receptors
- Opioids - agonist of opioid receptors
- Alcohol - agonist of GABA, serotonin, and others - inhibitor of glutamate (brains gas pedal)
- THC - agonist of CB1 activity or anandamide, our "bliss" molecule
- Nicotine -agonist of acetylcholine
- Amphetamine -agonist of glutamate and NDMA receptors
See a pattern? One direction effect which is why the brain tries to offset, leading to tolerance and withdrawals (see CBD and withdrawals).
CBD has a range of effects but never an agonist.
The most interesting facet is the allosteric negative modulator. That's a mouthful...what does it mean?
Essentially, it's a neuronal feedback system.
Most signals jump from neuron A to neuron B to create activity.
An allosteric negative modulator goes the other way, from neuron B to neuron A.
- "Stop sending...we're all good here"
- "Send more...we're running low".
It's a constraint and speaks to the beauty not really of CBD, but the endocannabinoid system that it supports.
THAT'S why you don't see overdoses.
If the given pathway is within bounds, there's no action.
Check out the review of CBD and schizophrenia to see how powerful this effect can be on neurotransmitters.
There's no better example than with cancer.
Remember the PPAR and TRPV channels? They're involved in tumorigenesis...the birth and more importantly, death of cancer cells.
CBD's documented effect:
- Healthy cell - low inflammation - CBD has no effect (within bounds)
- Healthy cell - high inflammation - CBD reduces inflammation
- Cancerous or pre-cancerous cell -CBD INCREASES inflammation
Wait, what?? Read that again.
Three different effects depending on the state of the system.
Keep in mind that the body has a natural system (apparently governed by the endocannabinoid system) that kills cancerous (broken) cells all the time.
The primary natural weapon against wayward cells?
It does this by increasing inflammation to destroy it.
In fact, chemo and radiation are just massive amounts of inflammation that kill indiscriminately.
CBD boost this effect while leaving healthy cells alone.
After what we just looked at, you could argue that our modern suite of diseases (auto-immune, metabolic, cancer, etc) are really failures in the endocannabinoid system.
CBD boosts the endocannabinoid's system natural function as described by the various pathways above.
There's no other way to explain a tri-phasic (three different outcomes) effect such as with cancer.
It also explains why overdose is not seen. It doesn't build up or keep pushing in one direction.
That's the high range with the overdose question.
What about the ideal range.
Peak levels of CBD from research
We've written over 1 million words on CBD and reviewed dozens of NIH studies.
The sweet spot appears to be around 300 mg per day.
This is the best amount for neurogenesis, how our nervous system repairs and rebuilds following the daily assault of various injuries.
It's also key to "rewiring" around broken pathways (addiction, PTSD, anxiety, depression, etc).
We covered it in detail here:
The last one is important as it's the star of this show. BDNF is our nervous system's fertilizer!
After 300 mg, the effects on neurogenesis decrease even if other pathways continue up to the 600-800 mg commonly found in research.
So...short term, 600-800 mg was effective (think of CBD and public speaking study).
Long term, 300 mg may be ideal for actually building change into the systems.
This brings up a great point.
CBD is expensive (see CBD cost comparison here).
A 1000 mg bottle essentially has 3 doses at the 300 mg.
That's why we priced our 6000 mg bottle at the lowest on the market (around 3 cents per mg of CBD) with discounts available on top of that.
People need to be able to afford this to get the levels shown in research.
Just a head's up...there's plenty of junk CBD on the market with 250 mg in a bottle at very high prices.
They're just ripping people off if NIH research is any guide.
Also, there's full spectrum versus CBD isolate question (review here).
Look, out of the dozens of NIH studies we've looked at, how many were for full-spectrum CBD?
ALL on CBD isolate. The original entourage effect spoke to how CBD would counter the negatives of THC (see CBD is a must if you use cannabis here).
Then there's the histamine issue with 40-60% of the population having allergy or histamine issues.
This is why some people can have bad reactions to full-spectrum CBD (even increased anxiety which counter to everything that research shows).
That's why we focus on CBD isolate with the following protections.
- Organically grown in US at an FDA registered farm
- CO2 processed
- 3rd party tested (ours is available at top of every page)
- No THC (THC can increase anxiety and has addiction issues itself)
- No Solvents
- No Heavy Metals
- No Pesticides
- No Bacteria
We actually test ours twice since our whole family uses it (including 2 teens).
Hopefully, this provides guidance on why CBD doesn't cause overdose and a general range of CBD doses.
Make sure to work with your naturopath with any supplement and the general rule is to take it at least 4 hours away from medications (see CBD and medications here).
Always work with a doctor or naturopath with any supplement!
The information provided here is not intended to treat an illness or substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified healthcare provider.