What is CBN – The Better Sleep Cannabinoid

by Haley Mills · November 21, 2022

If you’re looking for a natural way to improve your sleep, look no further than CBN. This cannabinoid has many benefits that can help you get a good night’s sleep.

woman in bed wearing sleeping mask after a restful night using CBN

If you’re looking for a natural way to improve your sleep, look no further than CBN. This cannabinoid has many benefits that can help you get a good night’s sleep.

The cannabis industry is seeing more and more cannabinoids come through the market in different products like vapes, concentrates, and edibles. If you’ve seen CBN products in your local dispensary, you may wonder what it is and if you should try them. 

While we recommend always discussing new cannabis products with experienced budtenders and your MMJ healthcare provider, we can provide insight on this newly-popular cannabinoid and how CBN compares to other cannabinoids below. 

What is a Cannabinoid? 

Cannabinoids are found in the cannabis plant and are produced naturally by the human body. We have an endocannabinoid system (ECS) that internally produces cannabinoids. These compounds are crucial to maintaining internal balance through many body systems.

Cannabinoids interact with our ECS to help maintain functional balance through a system of messenger molecules and receptors. Sleep, energy, cardiovascular function, reproduction, stress, chronic pain, motivation, appetite, digestion, and more are some of the body functions that cannabinoids impact.  

The two most commonly known cannabinoids found in cannabis are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). The word cannabinoid can refer to THC or any chemical that acts on cannabinoid receptors.

Types of Cannabinoids

The two most commonly known cannabinoids in cannabis are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). The word cannabinoid can refer to THC or any chemical that acts on cannabinoid receptors. 

Cannabinoid Types
  • The human body produces endogenous cannabinoids.
  • Cannabis plants produce exogenous cannabinoids
  • There are over fifty different Phytocannabinoids found in the Cannabis Sativa plant.
  • cannabichromene (CBC)  
  • delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)  
  • tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV)  
  • delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (Δ(8)-THC)  
  • cannabidiolic acid (CBDA)  
  • cannabicyclol (CBL)  
  • delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol propyl analog (Δ(9)-THCPP or Δ(9)-TPCP) and delta 9 – tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ(9)-THCT Δ(9)-THC-C4)  

How do they react in the body?

Cannabinoids essentially mimic the body’s endocannabinoid system, such as anandamide. Anandamide is a fatty acid that activates the receptors. Cannabinoids bind themselves onto fat-soluble molecules to enter a cell’s lipid bilayer.

Cannabinoids attach themselves to CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are found in the areas of the brain that control pain perception, movement, memory, cognition, emotion, and autonomic functions. CB2 receptors are typically found in immune system cells. When the proper connection between cannabinoid and receptor is made, the body is stimulated to have a specific response.

When inhaled, cannabinoids found in the body are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream through the lungs. They move quickly to the brain and interact with the cannabinoid receptors throughout our bodies, so the effects are faster when smoking weed.

Cannabinoids vs. Terpenes

Cannabinoids and terpenes are both active chemical compounds found in cannabis plants. While cannabinoids are considered primarily responsible for the euphoric effects and medicinal benefits associated with cannabis Sativa, terpenes remain the source of the cannabis plant’s aroma and taste.

However, when cannabinoids and terpenes combine, they create a synergistic effect on the human endocannabinoid system. The two complement and enhance the sum of their therapeutic or euphoric properties.

What is CBN?

Cannabinol (CBN) was the very first cannabinoid to be revealed. A British chemist named Robert Sidney Conn discovered it in 1930. CBN forms as THC degrades due to age or exposure to heat and oxygen.

CBN effects

High CBN cannabis is commonly known as a less potent version of THC. THC components in the cannabis plant break down as they age, forming a less potent cannabinoid called CBN. 

It’s about 25 percent as effective as THC, and CBN products offer milder effects. CBN increased in dosage can produce mild psychoactive reactions because CBN acts similarly to THC cannabinoids when activated. CBD and CBN can produce psychoactive results if they are derived from marijuana plants. 

A few of the potential benefits include the following:

  • Sleep aids
  • Pain relief
  • Neuroprotective properties
  • Works as peripheral analgesics

How does CBN work? 

Cannabinol (CBN) is a cannabinoid. Cannabinoids essentially mimic the endocannabinoid system, such as anandamide. Anandamide is a fatty acid that activates the receptors. Cannabinoids bind themselves to fat-soluble molecules to enter a cell’s lipid bilayer.

Cannabinoids attach themselves to CB1 and CB2 receptors. However, CBN seems to only interact with CB1 receptors causing the sedative properties.

CB1 receptors are found in the areas of the brain that control pain perception, movement, memory, cognition, emotion, and autonomic functions. CB2 receptors are typically found in immune system cells. When the proper connection between cannabinoid and receptor is made, the body is stimulated to have a specific response.

CBN works by binding to CB1 cannabinoid receptors, where it’s thought to strengthen the function of anandamide. This neurotransmitter enhances pleasure and motivation, regulates appetite and sleep quality, and alleviates chronic and myofascial pain. 

Can it get you High?

No, unlike THC , the CBN that cannabis plants produce won’t get you high. CBN is a non-psychoactive minor cannabinoid. CBN interacts with the psychoactive properties of THC to offset its effects, however, it can be used as a sleep aid due to the sedative effects.

Is CBN Legal? 

Per the Federal Controlled Substances Act, CBN sourced from marijuana is federally prohibited. Still, CBN from hemp is legal thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized all hemp plant derivatives. As hemp-derived products contain 0.3% or less THC, retailers can legally sell them in licensed dispensaries.

CBN and ALS

Recent scientific evidence from clinical trials and transgenic mouse models of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis suggests that cannabinoids have some therapeutic benefits for ALS patients. Scientists tested whether cannabinol (CBN) influences progression and survival in the SOD1 mouse model of ALS. CBN was delivered via implanted osmotic mini‐pumps over a period of twelve weeks. The study found that cannabinol delays symptom onset by over two weeks without affecting survival. Human clinical trials are needed to further investigate these potential benefits. 

CBN vs. CBD

CBD is used daily for various therapeutic benefits, from digestive aids to helping calm mental disorder symptoms. CBD’s benefits have been shown to have positive effects in regulating seizures. Epidiolex is the FDA-approved CBD prescription-strength medication that is used for certain forms of epilepsy. 

Cannabis and hemp have been used historically for pain management for long-term pain sufferers and those with diseases such as cancer to manage the symptoms after chemotherapy and during the early stages of other cancer treatment options. CBD is non-intoxicating and has been shown in some cases to counteract the impact THC, and other stimulants like alcohol may have on the body. 

Human research suggests the Benefits of using CBD include the following:
  • chronic pain relief
  • reduce inflammation
  • helps relieve cancer-related symptoms
  • can alleviate mood and mental disorder symptoms
  • Promote healthy sleep patterns

Both CBN and CBD interact differently with the body’s endocannabinoid system. CBG interacts with CB1 receptors, while CBD engages with them indirectly.

The two cannabinoids have similar effects. CBD oils are generally better for physical ailments such as chronic pain and inflammation, while CBN works better for cerebral issues like stress, anxiety, focus, and attention span. There is a significant amount of research to support claims of medicinal benefits for CBD; however, CBG studies are still scarce.

Producing CBD takes exponentially less cannabis plant matter than creating the same amount of CBG, lowering CBD prices. Until a breakthrough in CBG production, it likely won’t reach the popularity levels of full-spectrum CBD oils.

What is CBG? 

Cannabigerol (CBG) is a cannabinoid obtained from young cannabis plants. All other cannabinoids are derivatives of cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), an acidic form of CBG. Commonly seen cannabinoids include cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). 

CBG is found in smaller quantities, and in most strains, just one percent of CBG can be seen compared to twenty to thirty percent of CBD or THC content. Cannabis products derived from Cannabigerol cannabinoids are hard to come by and are usually very expensive. However, CBG is becoming more popular recently due to its medically researched health benefits however it is difficult to breed cannabis plants to produce more of it.

What is THCA?

THCA is a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis plants and is the natural form of THC. It is not yet activated and does not produce psychoactive effects when ingested until heated. THCA has many therapeutic benefits, including relieving pain, fighting cancer cells, and reducing muscle spasms. THCA is also a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.

When you inhale marijuana, the heat from smoking converts THCA into THC. If the cannabis flower is dried and cured, THCA slowly breaks down into THC. The method described is called decarboxylation and is a chemical reaction that enhances the body’s response to cannabinoids. THCA and THC must go through decarbing to produce psychoactive effects.

Medical Benefits of CBN

CBN could be used as a medical treatment for the following issues:

  • chronic Pain 
  • anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-epileptic 
  • appetite stimulation
  • nausea relief
  • antibacterial 
  • insomnia
  • neuroprotectant
  • glaucoma

Potential Side Effects

There needs to be more research to determine the potential side effects of CBN. However, CBN, like other minor cannabinoids, has very low toxicity and is well tolerated by humans. It is important to note that it can cause you to be extremely sleepy so do not operate vehicles or use sharp objects after use.

What is CBN Oil?

CBN oil is the purest version, with no other cannabinoids or compounds from the hemp plant. You can use CBN extract by taking it sublingually, topically, or orally.

How to Spot High-Quality CBN Oil

There are three categories to check when looking for high-quality CBN oils: sourcing, testing, and labeling.

Sourcing

Reputable cannabis brands take pride in where they get their hemp because they know a high-quality product begins at the source. Nutrient-rich soil, proper sunlight, and pH-balanced water contribute to cannabinoid quality and content.

Because cannabis plants are so efficient at absorbing nutrients, they’re also susceptible to absorbing environmental contaminants, such as pesticides, heavy metals, and radiation. Be sure to purchase CBN products from clean and trusted industrial hemp sources.

Testing 

While it’s not a mandatory industry practice, third-party lab testing has become a standard among cannabis cultivators. Companies send samples to unbiased third-party labs to test for cannabinoid potency and potential contaminants.

Labeling

When it comes to cannabis labels, you want to choose a brand you trust first and foremost. Next, you’ll want to ensure safety and dosage information along with cultivation dates, license information, quantity, cannabinoid content, and location.

Where can I find CBN products? 

Many online and brick-and-mortar dispensaries sell CBN extracts and gummies.

Here are some popular methods for using CBN: 

  • CBN tincture is liquid, potent, and effective. You can consume it under the tongue or mixed with food and beverages. 
  •  CBN crystals come in powder form that can be melted under the tongue or blended into a smoothie as a supplement.
  •  CBN supplements can be added to your daily supplement regimen in a convenient tablet format. 
  •  Topical CBN products are applied directly to the affected area or as a general treatment to heal the skin. 

Last Updated: January 30, 2024

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