The Complete Guide to CBN (Cannabinol)

If you haven’t heard of the cannabinoid called cannabinol (CBN) yet, then you will soon. You’re most likely familiar with THC and CBD, but these are far from the only cannabinoids found in marijuana. There are over 100 of these compounds contained in every joint you light, including some lesser-known but nevertheless important ones like cannabinol (CBN). If you’ve visited your local dispensary lately, you may have already seen CBN oil on the shelves. Depending on what you’re looking to achieve from your cannabis use, this up-and-coming extract may be just what the doctor ordered.

What Is Cannabinol?

Like the aforementioned CBD and THC, CBN is a cannabinoid—a compound found in cannabis that binds to and interacts with the natural endocannabinoid receptors in the body. Most of the known effects of cannabis—from intoxication to pain relief and appetite stimulation—are the result of cannabinoids influencing the brain and central nervous system.

Though some cannabinoids are present from the earliest stages of the growth cycle, cannabinol exists primarily in older cannabis. It’s a byproduct of THC, and it’s created as the THC ages. Older cannabis is known for having high concentrations of cannabinol.

Does CBN Get You High?

There’s some debate as to whether cannabinol is actually psychoactive. CBN products aren’t designed to get you high; they’re designed for therapeutic purposes. Some clinical researchers have specifically identified cannabinol as being non-psychoactive, but other studies have found cannabinol to heighten the psychoactive effects of THC—if only slightly.

Because CBN is a byproduct of THC, it’s bound to have some lingering psychoactive effects. But it’s estimated to be only 10 percent as potent as its parent compound, so the effect is marginal at best. If you’re purchasing CBN oil derived from hemp, you’re not likely to notice any effect at all, as industrial hemp contains no more than 0.3% THC.

What Are the Benefits of CBN?

Although cannabinol has received less clinical attention than other cannabinoids like THC and CBD, there are nevertheless a few noteworthy studies that reveal significant wellness potential. CBN is most commonly promoted as a sleep aid, but the research involving other conditions has been more conclusive.

Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis may benefit from using CBN oil. Researchers have found that cannabinol effectively reduces collagen-induced arthritis in rodent subjects, and these findings may have implications for human beings as well. More research is needed, but the conclusions echo the findings of other studies in relation to cannabinoids and inflammation.

Antibacterial Effects

Cannabinoids have been studied extensively in recent years for their potential antibiotic effects. At least one study has specifically highlighted cannabinol as a potential antibacterial agent. Under clinical observation, this cannabinoid was found to have potent effects against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria strains.

Anticonvulsant Effects

Cannabinoids have been widely recognized for their seizure-fighting effects. In fact, the only FDA-approved cannabinoid drug (Epidiolex) is designed for seizures. THC has demonstrated particular effectiveness against convulsant activity in clinical trials, and researchers are now examining whether CBN may be an even more effective cannabinoid for this purpose—given that it’s a THC byproduct but far less psychoactive.

Neuroprotectant Effects

Researchers are examining whether cannabinol may provide protection against neurodegenerative conditions like ALS, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. The existing research is limited to animals, but one ALS study involving rats found that CBN significantly delayed the onset of the disease without significant side effects.

Appetite Stimulation Effects

While CBD has been found to suppress appetite, CBN has been shown to stimulate appetite in animal studies. Cannabinol was found to increase appetitive behaviors by triggering the brain’s CB1 cannabinoid receptors. This again may have significant applications for people who wish to benefit from the appetite-inducing effects of cannabis but without the intoxicating properties of THC.

Glaucoma Effects

Ocular hypertension (OHT), or elevated intraocular pressure, is the biggest risk factor for glaucoma. Reducing this pressure helps to lessen a person’s risk of developing and suffering from glaucoma symptoms. One clinical study found that cannabinol—along with other cannabinoids—helped to reduce intraocular pressure in rabbits. With further successful research, CBN may one day become a mainstream treatment option for glaucoma.

Does CBN Work As a Sleep Aid?

As previously noted, CBN is often marketed as a sleep aid. So why then isn’t “insomnia” featured on the above list of potential benefits? The answer is that—despite the hype—the sleep-inducing benefits of cannabinol are still largely up for debate, with little in the way of concrete evidence to back them up.

Some users do insist that cannabinol helps them sleep, and drowsiness is sometimes listed as a side effect, but the evidence is largely anecdotal. One problem is that there hasn’t been a significant amount of research into the sedative effects of cannabinol. One study from 1975 compared the effects of THC and CBN; participants reported that THC made them drowsy but that cannabinol alone did not.

When people associate drowsiness or sedative effects with cannabinol, they may actually be experiencing the THC more than the CBN. Researchers in the 1975 study found that the presence of cannabinol can amplify the effects of THC, so if you’re using a product with both cannabinoids in concert with one another, you may feel sedated as a result of the more potent THC.

What Are the Side Effects of CBN?

The most commonly reported side effects associated with cannabinol are tiredness and dizziness. Even though most people’s appetite was stimulated, there have been reports of lack of appetite as a side effect. Because CBN is derived from THC, users may feel a slight buzz if the product is derived from marijuana rather than hemp.

Side effects are similar to those associated with CBD oil, and they’re usually very minor. This cannabinoid is well-tolerated, and many users experience no side effects at all. For best results, start with small doses and increase gradually as needed.

Differences Between CBN and CBD?

While we’re discussing the similarities between CBN vs CBD, it’s worth also addressing the differences to eliminate any potential confusion. While CBN and CBD are both marijuana- and hemp-derived compounds that interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, they each have their own mechanisms.

Perhaps the most noteworthy difference is how these two compounds interact with THC, the main psychoactive compound. CBD has been found to reduce the effects of THC, while CBN has actually been found to heighten the effects. CBD is non-psychoactive, while cannabinol is only mildly psychoactive.

CBD doesn’t bond well to the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors in the nervous and immune systems, but it does help to boost endocannabinoid production in the body, helping to keep the systems in equilibrium. CBN does bond to cannabinoid receptors, but only with about 10% of the strength of THC.

Will CBN Show Up on a Drug Test?

There’s another key difference between CBD and CBN that all users should be aware of: their effects on conventional drug tests. A 2019 study found that CBD will not typically show up on a drug test. Cannabinol, however, may trigger a false positive. Researchers have found that as little as 100 ng/mL of cannabinol can return a positive result on a urine test.

The reason likely has to do with the composition of CBN. Conventional drug tests look for THC metabolites, or the byproducts of THC breaking down in the body. Because cannabinol is a THC byproduct, it’s capable of producing the same types of metabolites. If you’re subject to drug testing, you may want to keep your dosage to a minimum or instead opt for CBD oil, which offers some of the same benefits but doesn’t contribute to the creation of THC metabolites.

Is CBN Legal?

CBN products are legal in all 50 states as long as they’re derived from hemp and not marijuana. Hemp and marijuana are both broad classifications of cannabis, but for legal purposes, hemp refers to those plants that contain no more than 0.3% THC. Hemp was removed from the Controlled Substances list under the 2018 Farm Bill, so cultivators and retailers can legally offer hemp-based products anywhere in the U.S.

If you want to purchase more potent CBN products extracted from marijuana, you’ll need to live in one of the 11 states that allow recreational use or obtain a medical marijuana certification in one of the 33 states with such a program.

How to Find CBN Products

Because cannabinol is still in its early stages of research and extraction, you won’t find cannabinol products as easily as you’ll find CBD products. Still, several manufacturers are already marketing CBN oil tinctures that can be taken under the tongue. These products cost a bit more because a lot of hemp is required to extract a small amount of cannabinol. You can save money, though, by using CBN coupons when you buy.

When shopping for CBN oil, look for products that are CO2-extracted, as these tend to be of the highest quality. Also look for products that have a certificate of analysis from a third-party lab, as this will enable you to ensure that the product contains as much cannabinol as advertised without harmful additives or fillers.

How to Take CBN

Your current options are limited primarily to tinctures. Always use as directed. When shopping, you’ll notice that there are different concentrations of the active ingredient contained within a 30ml bottle. A bottle may contain 125mg of CBN, 700mg, 1200mg, or higher. If you’re a beginner, start with the lowest concentration you can find. You can then purchase more concentrated doses as needed.

In most cases, you’ll place one full dropper of the liquid under your tongue and leave it for 30 to 60 seconds before swallowing. The compound is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream where it goes right to work. For best results, maintain a consistent dosage once to twice daily.

Try CBN Oil for Yourself

Though more research is still needed, the potential effects of CBN are exciting. Try it for yourself, and see if you notice a difference. As cannabinol continues to gain popularity, it’s likely that you’ll soon see it in a variety of edible and topical forms much like CBD.

Have you already tried CBN? If so, what was your experience like? We’d love to hear about it. Share your story in the comments.

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