What is CBN?

Yep, you read that right. CBN, not CBD. 

CBD has made its mark on cannabis consumerism, emerging as a top natural medicinal for at-home holistic healthcare.

Understanding the available benefits of and uses for CBD remain at a surface level, so it can be hard to imagine switching gears and making way for another up-and-coming cannabinoid. 

But not only has CBN assisted in increasing our understanding of cannabinoids, but it has also altered how we make and take CBD products.

Here’s what you need to know about the next cannabinoid craze.


CBD and CBN are both cannabinoids or chemical compounds found within the Cannabis Sativa plant. 

The cannabis plant is most well known for its phytocannabinoid called tetrahydrocannabinol. 

Also known as THC, this psychoactive compound is found in the cannabis subspecies marijuana and induces the “high” associated with weed.  

CBD or cannabidiol is also found in the marijuana plant but is much more abundant in a sister subspecies called hemp, which only contains trace amounts of THC.

The CBD extraction process involves CBD being soaked with ethanol, mixed with carbon dioxide or other liquid substances, or infused with oil to separate it from the cannabis plant. 

Unlike CBD, CBN or cannabinol is not extracted from different parts of the cannabis plant but is derived directly from THC. 

Instead, CBN is retrieved through the oxidation of THC

During THC oxidation, the THC is subjected to heat, light, or air and falls away, becoming less potent and bringing about CBN.

Because of this process, CBN is considered a psychoactive cannabinoid but does not render the same effects as THC. 

If anything, CBN has been said to ward off ill effects of THC, including anxiety, and at most will cause a more subdued or relaxed feeling for consumers.  

Once CBN has been sourced, it is paired with a carrier oil and manufactured into natural, homeopathic products that are aptly applied to various illness symptoms and ailments, much like CBD.  

Cannabinol and the Endocannabinoid System  

Our bodies process cannabinoids, including CBD, CBN, and THC, through our endocannabinoid system or ECS. 

The ECS is a biological pathway that harmonizes bodily functions and states such as emotions, mood, sleep, appetite, pain, stress, and anxiety, among others, with our organs and other systems like the central nervous system (CNS). 

The ECS itself is a communication network responsible for transmitting and translating signals.

This occurs when endocannabinoid neurotransmitters bind with endocannabinoid receptors. 

Once bound, the receptors are broken down by enzymes and directed to your bloodstream, where they are dispersed throughout your body. 

This process allows cannabinoids like CBD and CBN to affect your body and why they significantly affect pain, sleep, and other physiological states. 

Two receptors, in particular, are pertinent to cannabinoid collaboration with the ECS: CB1 and CB2 receptors.

CB2 receptors are located in the peripheral nervous system, and they help enable or restrict digestion, immunity, or inflammation, in addition to other homeostatic roles and responses. 

CB1 receptors regulate neurotransmission, pain, appetite, memory, and more and are found in your CNS.

CB1 receptors also monitor and induce sleep, for which CBN serves as an activating agent.

CBN’s binding effects on CB1 receptors foster sedative reactions, making its agonist abilities highly effective in targeting sleeplessness. 

CBN for Insomnia

CBN is best known for its use as a sleep aid

Due to its somewhat-sedating abilities, people often use CBN as a sleeping aid if they suffer from sleep disorders and conditions. 

Such sleeping issues include insomnia and anxiety-induced sleeplessness, both of which are characterized by difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep.  

CBN receptor actioning promotes rest and helps regulate sleep cycles while also encouraging relaxation and a sense of inner calm. 

CBN taken for sleeplessness is most often found in sleep formulas. 


Sleep Formulas: CBD and CBN


Typical CBN sleep formulas include CBN, CBD, other hemp extracts, carrier oils, and even melatonin or sedative terpenes.


Terpenes are naturally scented compounds found in plants and are present in both full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD extracts.

Some formulas, however, may contain CBN as the sole cannabinoid, while others still combine CBN and THC

Combining CBN’s sleepy properties with CBD or THC makes for powerful sleep aid formulas. 

CBD sleep products are often available in oils, tinctures, or vaping devices, and CBN sleeping soporifics are the same.

CNB sleep formulas that come as an oil or tincture should be taken sublingually, meaning users apply the product under their tongue. 

Once under the tongue, the sleep formula is held there for approximately 30 seconds before being swallowed.

This is enough time for your mouth’s capillaries and cells to absorb the liquid into your blood vessels and send the CBN into your bloodstream. 

 Sleep formulas that are vaped are inhaled and travel through the lungs before entering the bloodstream. 

Vaping CBN sleep formulas will provide some users with a near-instantaneous effect, as respiratory interaction provides concentrated dosing.

Sublingual ingestion also affords almost immediate application, as well as a secondary onset once the swallowed portion of CBD makes its way through the digestive system. 

Sublingual absorption isn’t as potent as inhaled CBN. 

Still, it is the most efficient way to consume sleep formula, as it offers consistent dosing over a more extended period – an optimal choice for those looking to stay asleep throughout the night. 

However, both ingestion methods cause the formula to take effect fairly quickly and should be taken 15 to 30 minutes before bedtime

CBN for Pain Relief and Inflammation

In addition to sleep, CBN shows promise as a pain reliever and anti-inflammatory

Research has shown that CBN reduced muscle pain and inflammation in rats, linking CBN to analgesic properties.  

CBN could also benefit chronic pain disorders such as arthritis and fibromyalgia, potentially influencing our body’s pain signals and responses through neuron activity.  

CBN’s pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects are not completely surprising, as CBD is most widely known and used for pain relief and anti-inflammation. 

CBD has been found to aid multiple sclerosis, arthritis, some cardiovascular diseases, and even acne, and its application continues to expand.  

Together, CBD and CBN offer patients enhanced relief

Neuroprotection and CBN 

CBN may offer neuroprotective action against Alzheimer’s disease (AD), a neurodegenerative disease that causes memory loss and mental dysfunction.

Similarly, an experiment was performed to evaluate CBN’s impact on slowing amyotrophic lateral sclerosis disease progression

Also known as ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis affects motor function and the nerves in the spine and brain.  

The extent of CBN’s therapeutic effect on neurodegenerative diseases and its potential neuroprotective properties is not yet fully understood. 

However, studies on cannabinoids and their interaction with our endocannabinoid system, central nervous system, and learning and memory continue to support CBN as a neuroprotective agent. 

The Effects of Cannabinol on Appetite  

There are conflicting findings on CBN’s effects on appetite.

Some studies have found that, much like THC, it can cause an increase in appetite, while others have concluded the opposite, citing a decrease in appetite.

Regardless, it can be said that CBN has some impact on appetite, as that is one of the components overseen by our endocannabinoid system.

CBN’s place in the family medicine cabinet – or nightstand drawer – has miles to go before its properties and potential are completely understood.

But this doesn’t mean you should sleep on taking or using CBN -the best indicators of CBN’s benefits come from anecdotal evidence.

So write your own bedtime story and discover your comfort level by seeing what CBN can do for you.

author avatar
Lynette Garet

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