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What Is CBN (Cannabinol)?

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With more attention on the possibilities of cannabidiol (CBD)—hemp's prominent cannabinoid—researchers and manufacturers are looking to lesser-known cannabinoids or minor cannabinoids to understand their potential benefits.

There's a lot of confusion around cannabinol (CBN), and understandably so.

This lesser-known cannabinoid is related to THC and CBD from the cannabis plant, but its effects vary.

Let's break down what CBN is, how it works, and what benefits it may offer.

Key Takeaways:

  • Cannabinol is a non-psychoactive minor cannabinoid that forms as THC degrades from oxidation.
  • There's often a misconception that CBN is the "sleep cannabinoid." There's very little evidence to prove that the CBN cannabinoid has sedative qualities by itself—you should be wary of products that claim to have sleep-supporting benefits with CBN isolate.
  • Researchers show that CBN is much more effective when combined with the two main cannabinoids in either full spectrum or broad spectrum formulations.
  • Many people who don't experience much luck with CBD products to support sleep or pain find that CBN-focused products provide much more support while being gentle and generally well-tolerated.

What Is CBN?

CBN, or cannabinol, is a minor cannabis compound, which means it's not found in substantial quantities (less than 0.1%), but it's most abundant in aged cannabis flowers. It's a metabolite of the THC molecule. As the cannabis plant ages, the THC molecule transforms from oxidation, and you get CBN.

Unlike THC, CBN does not produce a psychoactive response. This cannabinoid has gained much attention in the last three years as a "sleep aid."

This reputation comes from experienced cannabis users who enjoy older cannabis strains for sleep support because of their higher levels of CBN. Newer studies have debunked that CBN has impressive effects as a sleep aid. Still, it has been shown helpful alongside other cannabinoids (in the entourage effect) for improved sleep quality, relaxation, and pain relief.

What Is CBN Oil?

CBN oil combines CBN extract from hemp plants and a carrier oil—similar to CBD oil.

CBN oil is to be used as an edible supplement for ease of use. You purchase cannabinol oil in various potencies and extract types (full spectrum, broad spectrum, and isolate) depending on your preferences—just like CBD oils.

One of the benefits of using an oil over smoking a CBN-rich cannabis bud or vape juice is that you have more control over the dose. Cannabinol oil is typically labeled with the amount of the compound mg total on the bottle and comes with a dropper to measure out how much you need to support your wellness goals. Correct doses of CBN or other cannabis compounds are nearly impossible when smoking it—most of the time, you take too much, which can lead to a negative experience.

How Does CBN Work?

Cannabinoids are bioactive compounds harvested from the hemp plant that interact with a cell-signaling system present in all mammals called the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

The ECS is made up of three key components:

  1. Endocannabinoids: neurotransmitters that act as messengers
  2. CB1 and CB2 receptors: endocannabinoids bind to relay signals to many organ systems
  3. Enzymes: break down the endocannabinoid once its performed its job

This network regulates many of the body's vital functions, including sleep, mood, pain perception, immune system, memory, and many more.

CBN exerts its effects by binding to cannabinoid receptors.

As a byproduct of degraded THC through the oxidation process, CBN still has an affinity to bind to CB1 receptors concentrated in the central nervous system. However, unlike THC, CBN doesn't create a strong bond with CB1, so it doesn't yield intoxicating effects.

While the research on CBN is still quite limited, early research has found that CBN has very similar effects to THC and CBD for supporting a normal immune response, relaxation, sleep, and pain relief [1, 2].

Is CBN A Good Sleep Aid?

You may have seen CBN marketed as the best sleep aid supplement in the cannabis space—while CBN could help some people sleep, it's not necessarily any better than CBD isolate. However, that hasn't stopped many people from experiencing great sleep quality results while using CBN products.

CBN isolate, sometimes called distillate, is the pure CBN compound.

CBN isolate—extracts made with only one active cannabinoid, CBN—have not been found to have soothing qualities in animal and human studies [3]. However, in combination with THC and CBD, CBN has produced better sleep quality in individuals [4].

Prominent cannabis researcher Dr. Ethan Russo has concluded that CBN may have sedative effects when combined with THC and certain terpenes [5].

For this reason, we only offer CBN products in full spectrum, and THC-free broad spectrum extracts to increase the overall effects of CBN.

Related article: What Brands Aren't Telling You About CBN Isolate

What Are The Benefits Of CBN?

May Enhance The Psychoactive Effects Of THC

CBN may enhance the intoxicating effects of THC.

THC is the main psychotropic compound found in marijuana responsible for the intoxicating effects. The chemical structure of THC closely resembles a naturally occurring compound that our body produces (endocannabinoid) called anandamide, aka the "bliss molecule."

Anandamide and THC bind to CB1 receptors in the brain to activate the release of serotonin, which impacts one's sense of wellbeing and alters perceptions.

As a byproduct of THC, cannabinol can also bind to CB1 receptors, but its effects are milder.

When combined with THC, CBN may enhance the overall effects of THC on appetite stimulation and intoxication [6].

On its own, CBN doesn't have an affinity to bind with CB1 receptors, so it's not considered an intoxicating compound. Still, it may result in mild intoxication in massive doses, but people don't generally seek out CBN distillate in high doses to get high because it's expensive.

May Enhance CBD's Benefits

The synergy of cannabinoid compounds isn't a new concept—synergy exists in plant medicine. It's when active compounds work together to enhance and balance their effects. Researchers have found that CBD, CBN, and even pure THC extracts—sometimes called distillates—aren't as potent as whole hemp extracts.

If you've ever had full spectrum CBD, you've experienced CBN's effects as a supporting cannabinoid. Full spectrum extracts maintain as much as the original compounds in hemp resin, such as cannabinoids and terpenes. Cannabis experts believe that this is the best way to reap the potential benefits of hemp plants.

May Support A Restful Sleep (With Other Cannabinoids)

While CBD is many people's go-to as a natural sleep aid, it doesn't work for everyone. Many people find CBN products much more potent for supporting their sleep—but again, the key is to take CBN alongside other cannabinoids as full spectrum or THC-free broad spectrum extracts.

If you're someone who hasn't had much luck with CBD alone for sleep, you should dry CBN-dominant products. The average user can expect to feel like effects of full spectrum CBN products within 30–60 minutes, so it's best to take it about an hour before your desired bedtime.

May Provide Muscle And Joint Comfort

Another way in which CBN may help with sleep is with supporting comfort. Pain is a top reason why many people can't get enough sleep.

While more research is needed in human trials, rat models show that CBN and CBD combined helped relieve the subject's muscle and joint pain with very few adverse effects [7].

Is CBN Legal?

CBN is regulated under the same Farm Bill act as CBD—as long as the CBN source comes from Farm Bill-compliant cannabis Sativa plants containing less than 0.3% THC, it's in the clear as a legal hemp-derived compound.

IS CBN Safe?

CBN is relatively safe as long as you purchase your product from a dependable source.

The biggest concern in the cannabis space is that there are a lot of contaminants in these products. Poor hemp sourcing (pesticides, heavy metals, or mold) and poor extraction methods, and leaving behind harmful solvents could result in adverse effects.

As for the potential side effects of CBN itself, we have limited knowledge because the research on the subject is still so new. However, most rat model studies and people using the compound found that CBN was very well-tolerated even in higher doses.

Some of the adverse effects of CBN are described as mild discomfort, including:

  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches

These effects can be mitigated by taking smaller doses and allowing your endocannabinoid system to adjust to the supplemented cannabinoids.

There are no FDA-approved CBN products on the market, so steer clear of any brands that claim that their products can treat or mitigate any ailment. It goes against strict government compliance and is, in general, poor ethical practice. If you're suffering from chronic pain or an underlying health condition, you should seek advice from your primary health care practitioner to ensure that CBN products are appropriate for you.

Where Can I Purchase CBN?

You can purchase CBN products from most brands that offer your favorite CBD products. As more interest emerges in the benefits of minor cannabinoids, many CBD has expanded their catalog to include niche cannabinoids like CBN and CBG.

You can even sometimes find CBN products at your local cannabis dispensaries.

The best place to purchase CBN products is online. Not only do you have access to more products, but you can shop from the comfort of home, at better prices, and more importantly, have access to third-party lab tests that can help you determine the safety and potency of your products.

Neurogan CBN Products

Neurogan's mission is to offer wellness seekers high-quality and effective cannabis products at affordable prices. Our CBN is derived from American-grown hemp strains that contain higher levels of CBN. Then we use CO2 extraction to isolate and extract as much of the beneficial cannabinoids found in the hemp plant.

We offer both full spectrum and THC-free broad spectrum variations of our CBN oils and CBN gummies to support relaxation and sleep, based on the evidence by researchers that found CBN to be most effective alongside other cannabinoids.

We're not in the business of tricking customers into buying products that don't work for them, which is why we offer a fair, 30-day money-back guarantee. This should give you enough time to try the products in your routine, allow your endocannabinoid system to adjust, and determine whether it fits your needs.

We formulate based on the scientific evidence available. Most research on the potential medicinal benefits of CBN found that higher doses of CBN, upwards of 50 mg, have promising results—it doesn't mean you should start with higher doses. The best practice for integrating cannabinoids into your health regimen is to start low and go slow—but it means you have the option to scale up without breaking the bank.

CBN oils offer the best option for customizing your doses drop by drop, but our CBN gummies work well too. You can cut your gummy into half or quarters to what suits you best.

The Takeaway: Cannabinol (CBN)

If you were to search for CBN-based products only three years ago, you would have been hard-pressed to find quality products. With the cannabinoid making its way into the mainstream based on new research on its effects on myofascial pain, sleep, and inflammation, CBN is making its debut as a promising compound in the medical and natural wellness space.

We want to underscore that more research is needed on the full benefits of CBN and its long-term safety and that no cannabis brand should give you any medical advice. There are still no FDA-approved CBN products that can be used to treat or manage any ailments, but many people have found great results for sleep support and improved comfort with CBN dominant products.

Neurogan is proud to offer a selection of full spectrum and THC-broad spectrum CBN and CBD products made from the highest quality hemp crops available in the United States. And we take great pride in our extraction methods and formulations based on the public research.

If you have an underlying health condition, you should seek advice from your doctor to make sure it's suitable for you.

Resources:

  1. Paton, W. D. (1975). Pharmacology of marijuana. Annual review of pharmacology, 15(1), 191-220.
  2. Qin, N., Neeper, M. P., Liu, Y., Hutchinson, T. L., Lubin, M. L., & Flores, C. M. (2008). TRPV2 is activated by cannabidiol and mediates CGRP release in cultured rat dorsal root ganglion neurons. Journal of Neuroscience, 28(24), 6231-6238.Chicago
  3. Corroon, J. (2021). Cannabinol and Sleep: Separating Fact from Fiction. Cannabis and cannabinoid research, 6(5), 366-371.
  4. Russo, E. B., & McPartland, J. M. (2003). Cannabis is more than simply Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol. Psychopharmacology, 165(4), 431-432.
  5. Karniol, I. G., Shirakawa, I., Takahashi, R. N., Knobel, E., & Musty, R. E. (1975). Effects of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabinol in man. Pharmacology, 13(6), 502-512.
  6. Nadulski, T., Sporkert, F., Schnelle, M., Stadelmann, A. M., Roser, P., Schefter, T., & Pragst, F. (2005). Simultaneous and sensitive analysis of THC, 11-OH-THC, THC-COOH, CBD, and CBN by GC-MS in plasma after oral application of small doses of THC and cannabis extract. Journal of analytical toxicology, 29(8), 782-789.Chicago
  7. Manzanares, J., Julian, M. D., & Carrascosa, A. (2006). Role of the cannabinoid system in pain control and therapeutic implications for the management of acute and chronic pain episodes. Current neuropharmacology, 4(3), 239-257.

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