Can you take too much CBD oil?

The short answer is yes, it’s safe, and no, you can’t take too much.

Now here’s the long answer. With the recent widespread use of CBD as a new health trend, it’s possible — though unlikely — that problems may appear as more people begin to incorporate CBD into their personal-care routines. However, with a few exceptions (noted below), CBD is considered safe in any dosage — as long as it’s also high-quality and reputably sourced.

For people used to the standardization imposed by the pharmaceuticals industry, where you can just take a pill and know what to expect (more or less), knowing how to take CBD, and how much, can be a challenge. Fortunately, since it’s such a gentle and non-toxic substance, CBD has the potential to be a highly customizable aid to general wellness. 

It’s always recommended to start with a very low dose to make sure you don’t react poorly to any of the product’s ingredients. Try one or two drops of an oral CBD formulation or a tiny puff off a CBD vaporizer. This should be well below the recommended serving guidelines listed on the product.

Then, allow a long interval before trying a slightly higher dose. Wait at least an hour for vaporizers, and 6+ hours for an oral formula. You can take more sooner, but any effects you feel will be the cumulative result of both doses.

Users can feel confident experimenting to figure out what dose feels best to them. Just remember, you can always take more, but you can’t take less. 

CBD Oil: Evidence of Risks?

It may seem as though cannabidiol came out of nowhere. From college campuses to retirement homes, everyone’s talking about CBD. But is it all too good to be true?

CBD, and its infamous sister molecule THC, have been extensively studied since the 1970s. For the past few decades, lawyers, doctors, patients, and politicians have all been investigating the medical potential of cannabis and its risk for recreational abuse. (Considering how cannabis has been demonized over the years, if it did have significant harmful attributes, we’d have heard about them by now.) 

All the while, evidence mounted that CBD offers similar therapeutic benefits without the downside of a “high” from THC. Even a critical review by the World Health Organization (WHO) recently reported that

  • CBD is a promising treatment for a number of medical conditions, 
  • CBD is well-tolerated, is generally safe, and doesn’t appear to be a risk for abuse, dependence, or other public health-related problems

Overall, it’s difficult to find any evidence of dangerous side effects or contraindications with CBD. The areas of greatest concern are the effects of very high doses and interactions with other drugs.

Side effects in high doses

One of CBD’s known clinical applications is for combating seizures in children with epilepsy. During clinical trials, young people between the ages of 2 and 18 were prescribed high daily doses of CBD for 14 weeks. The daily doses were equivalent to 1,360 mg for a 150-pound adult — more than is typically found in an entire bottle of CBD oil. It’s unlikely that anyone using CBD for the usual wellness applications would take anywhere near that much, but in any event, the subjects of this high-dose study reported the following side effects most often:

  • Tiredness
  • Decreased appetite
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Altered liver enzymes (see section on contraindications for more about liver enzymes)

Again, these side effects occurred at very high doses. And even still, the symptoms typically subsided after the subjects’ bodies adjusted. If you’re experiencing similar side effects after beginning to take CBD, consider lowering your dosage, trying a different product, or simply giving your body time to acclimate. The best time of day to take CBD may also vary from person to person, and if drowsiness is a concern, you might want to take your dose in the evening or right before bed.

CBD Contraindications: preliminary conclusions

Although CBD has been deemed safe by the WHO and other health organizations, few experiments have been done to identify if there are any specific populations for whom CBD is unsafe. Again, CBD at any dosage is considered mostly harmless, but there are still some conditions that might deserve special consideration. 

CBD and prescription drugs

Pharmaceutical drugs interact with the systems of the body in myriad ways, which accounts for the “don’t take if you are also taking xyz” warnings that sometimes come with your prescriptions. CBD, similarly to grapefruit, can interfere with the enzymes that your body uses to process certain drugs. If you currently take prescription medications, particularly those that carry warnings about grapefruit (warfarin, some HIV medications, some antidepressants, some chemotherapy drugs, etc), speak with your doctor before beginning a CBD regimen. 

Potential liver complications

In the high-dose CBD study mentioned above, the young subjects were more likely to report elevated liver enzymes. The same children were also very ill and taking other medications known to elevate liver enzyme counts, so it’s unclear whether CBD played a causative role, or whether it meaningfully affects the liver at all. Just to be safe, if you have liver problems or are taking other drugs that are hard on the liver, it can’t hurt to monitor your liver enzyme levels when beginning to take CBD.

CBD and low blood pressure

Some studies report that CBD lowers blood pressure – which is usually considered a benefit. People who already cope with unusually low blood pressure (hypotension) may want to be cautious about dosage, to mitigate any hypotensive effects.

CBD and pregnancy

The jury’s still out on whether cannabinoids have any bearing on fertility or healthy pregnancies, but if you’re pregnant or trying to conceive, consult with your doctor about anything you’re taking. 

Replacing a current treatment with CBD

The internet is full of glowing testimonials from people who have achieved wellness results they never thought possible with the aid of CBD oils, tonics, and potions. Many even report being able to cut back on pain and anxiety medications and other pharmaceuticals. 

That said, please do not substitute any current medications or prescribed treatments with CBD unless it’s with the approval of a medical professional. CBD products are intended to provide you with extra support, not to replace the supports you already have in place. Life can be difficult to manage alone, and in times of need, it’s important to seek all the medical and emotional assistance available.