Cannabidiol (CBD) brings relief to many. But is it possible to have too much of a good thing? Taking too much CBD won’t cause lasting harm or death. But under certain circumstances, and for certain consumers, overloading on a favorite CBD-infused product can have some consequences.
CBD began making headlines for its seemingly endless health benefits and effects on the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). Since then, numerous studies have looked at whether CBD’s safe to consume and at what levels, if any, it becomes toxic.
The research shows that although CBD can produce toxins when heated to very high temperatures, in general, this common cannabinoid can be considered nontoxic and safe to consume in any of the typical forms, such as oils, tinctures or edibles. There haven’t been any recorded fatalities from consuming CBD.
On the other hand, opioid drugs and similar medications can provide pain relief like CBD can, but they can also cause unconsciousness and death. This is because they depress activity in the autonomic nervous system. This is the system that regulates breathing, heart rate and other functions that aren’t consciously regulated.
But the brainstem, which houses the autonomic nervous system, has virtually no cannabinoid receptors. This means cannabis compounds can’t severely depress these autonomic functions, like breathing, in the same way that opioids and other medications can.
What constitutes too much CBD is highly variable, depending on factors like the kind of CBD product you’re taking and individual tolerances.
CBD-infused edibles can take longer to produce an effect since they have to be processed through the digestive system and metabolized in the liver before they become available in the body. Because this kind of product works more slowly, and because CBD-infused foods are actual foods, it’s tempting to treat them as such and end up taking more than you intended.
Tinctures, lozenges and oils taken orally become bioavailable relatively quickly since the mucus membranes in the mouth absorb them. Because they’re concentrated, a higher-than- normal dose of these can have fairly rapid effects.
Topical CBD products can also take effect relatively quickly, because they’re absorbed through the skin. But these products may contain less CBD than others do, so using more of them than usual may not have much of an effect.
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Besides the different types of CBD products, individual tolerances for CBD can vary widely. Some research has shown that this could be linked to the amount of endocannabinoid receptors a person naturally has.
Genetic factors that affect the way both natural and cannabis-derived cannabinoids are processed in the body can also play a role. This can help explain why the same amount of CBD can affect two people very differently, and also why some people need to take large amounts of CBD to achieve a certain effect, while others can get similar results from a much smaller dose.
Although CBD is considered a safe and nontoxic substance, this doesn’t mean that it can’t cause some physical reactions when taken in larger amounts.
People who overload on CBD have reported symptoms such as:
Still rarer effects include:
But these symptoms don’t last long, and they don’t appear to have lingering effects after CBD is processed out of the body.
Though you may not experience any of these symptoms, taking high doses of CBD can interfere with other medications you’re taking. This is because CBD can inhibit the activity of a liver enzyme called P450, which plays a major role in metabolizing a wide variety of prescription drugs.
Many people are told not to consume grapefruit while on a course of certain medications for the same reason—an enzyme in grapefruit has the same effect on P450.
When a large dose of CBD inhibits the activity of the liver’s enzyme P450, medications aren’t processed properly. This means that while CBD is active in the body, less of the medication becomes available to the system.
Figuring out the right dose of CBD for your circumstances can be tricky. So it’s possible to end up accidentally taking too much, especially if you’re new to the world of cannabis.
If you find that you’ve taken more CBD than you’re used to, give it time to leave your system. The compound should work its way out of your body with no lasting effects. To counteract symptoms such as diarrhea or other gastric issues, consider over-the-counter remedies that resolve the discomfort.
When you’re starting out taking CBD, it’s wise to begin with a small amount and gradually increase your dose until the effects feel right.
The same advice applies if you’re changing from one kind of CBD product to another. For example, if you’ve been taking CBD in edible form and switch to a tincture or oil, it may be a good idea to try small amounts at first, since these two forms of CBD are processed differently in the body.
Many people are turning to CBD products for relief from the symptoms of major and minor health conditions, or just to stay healthy. And research reveals that under most circumstances, this potent cannabinoid compound is safe and nontoxic—even if you take too much.
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