What Is CBN?

What Is CBN?

Nicole Sifers
June 30, 2020

Understanding the Therapeutic Potential of CBN 

CBN is the scientific abbreviation for cannabinol. Identified long before CBD, researchers once believed CBN was the cannabinoid responsible for marijuana’s intoxicating effects. That theory was proven false when cannabis researchers identified and isolated THC.1   


Today, CBN is recognized as one of the many non-intoxicating cannabinoids that contribute to cannabis’s therapeutic potential. Although cannabinol has not been studied as extensively as CBD, current research reveals that CBN provides intriguing health and wellness potential of its own. 


Why Are People So Interested in CBN? 

After decades of study devoted to the effects of cannabis and its therapeutic potential, researchers eventually discovered a complex network of messengers and receptors that regulate nearly every essential process in your body, the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Cannabinoids, such as CBN, function as the messengers.2 


The cannabinoids made in your body are called endocannabinoids. Plant-based cannabinoids mimic the effects of the endocannabinoids produced in your body to relay urgent messages to the ECS receptors. When illness, injury, stress, or other factors increase the demand for ECS messengers, plant-based cannabinoids help restore balance.  


Many researchers believe the purpose of the endocannabinoid system is to regulate the processes of homeostasis, the internal balance all living organisms must maintain to survive.4 Some cannabinoids bind with ECS receptors (CB1 and CB2) directly, while others have an indirect effect.  


Where Does CBN Come From? 

Like CBD, CBN comes from industrial hemp. Known for their high CBD content, hemp plants also produce small amounts of more than 113 individual cannabinoids, including CBN. While natural plant enzymes, heat, and ultraviolet light convert cannabigerolic acid to CBG, CBD, and THC, CBN is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid resulting from the natural breakdown of THC, a process that occurs over time from oxygenation and decomposition.3 Since industrial hemp crops contain 0.3 percent THC, full-spectrum hemp extract contains only trace amounts of CBN.  


Investigating the Therapeutic Potential of Cannabinol 

The effects of CBD, CBG, CBN, and other phytocannabinoids depend on which processes are restored to balance through ECS support and the chemical composition of the message delivered to the ECS receptors. Although CBN is essentially a byproduct caused by the breakdown of THC, it does not trigger the same effect. As THC degrades, its structure is altered, meaning CBN has a low affinity and will not cause intoxication.

Although CBN works within your ECS, helping to regulate many crucial functions within your body, many researchers believe it is the cannabinoid’s potential as a non-habit-forming sleep aid that distinguishes CBN from the other cannabinoids.6 


Recognizing the Sleep-Promoting Potential of CBN 

Mature hemp crops contain high levels of CBD, and only trace amounts of CBN. That means it takes up to 20 times more hemp to extract equal amounts of cannabinol. Even in small quantities, the CBN in hemp extract contributes to hemp-derived products’ therapeutic potential through a unique phenomenon known as the entourage effect. 


The entourage effect theory is used to explain how CBN and other minor cannabinoids in full-spectrum (and broad-spectrum) CBD products interact with plant terpenes to magnify and multiply the products therapeutic potential. The combined effects of individual plant elements are more significant than individual components would have on their own.7   


Current research shows that CBN could be quite beneficial to those struggling to get the rest they need. Consider the potential benefits of the following observations: 


CBN is a Natural Sleep Aid 

  • CBN’s effects are the result of its natural affinity with CB1 receptors, a fact that explains the cannabinoid’s potential for promoting relaxation and restful sleep. Preliminary investigations reveal a gentle, calming effect that could help those who have difficulty falling asleep.8 


CBN Is Shown to Improve Sleep Duration 

  • Sleep cycles are regulated by ECS signaling. Once sleep cycles are disrupted, many people lose precious hours of sleep, repeatedly waking during the night or several hours before the alarm sounds. Researchers concluded that CBN showed considerable potential for enhancing sleep and improving sleep duration. 9,10 


CBN Promotes Relaxation 

  • Like CBD, CBN is also shown to interact with key receptors in the Endocannabinoid System that helps regulate inflammation, muscle tension, moods, and emotional responses. 11,12 


Investing in the Sleep Promoting Potential of CBN 

If you are intrigued by the considerable sleep-promoting potential of CBN, consider the many potential benefits of using full-spectrum or broad-spectrum CBD products. Although full-spectrum (and broad-spectrum) hemp extract commonly contains considerably more CBD than CBN, researchers believe the combined effects magnify the sleep-promoting potential.  


To learn more about plant-based cannabinoids and their interaction with the receptors of your endocannabinoid system, download the Ultimate CBD User Guide at CBDistillery™. While you are there, consider some of the many potential health and wellness benefits of our CBD tinctures, topicals, softgels, and gummies. All CBDistillery™ products are third-party tested, and US hemp Authority™ certified. 


  1. British Journal of Pharmacology. R Pertwee. (2006 January 09) Cannabinoid Pharmacology: The First 66 Years. 
  1. Project CBD. (2019) The Endocannabinoid System. 
  1. Analytical Cannabis. G Mouratidis. (2019 February 12) Beyond CBD: Exploring the Health Benefits of CBN in Cannabis. 
  1. Live Science. N Lanese. (2019 July 15) What is Homeostasis? 
  1. Psychology Today. M Breus. (2019 August 08) Research Shows 9 Potential Health Benefits of CBN. 
  1. The Sleep Doctor. M Breus. (2018 October 03) Is CBN the Next Big Thing in Cannabis Therapy for Sleep, Mood, and Health? 
  1. Project CBD. (2020) The Entourage Effect. 
  1. Journal of Cannabinoid Medicine. (2019) Cannabinol (CBN). 
  1. Chemical and Pharmaceutical Bulletin. H Yoshida et al. (1995 February) Synthesis and Pharmacological Effects in Mice of Halogenated Cannabinol Derivatives. 
  1. British Journal of Pharmacology. B Russo. (2011 August) Taming THC: Potential Cannabis Synergy and Phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects. 
  1. Steep Hill. (2017 October 31) Cannabinol (CBN): A Sleeping Synergy. 
  1. Drugs.com. (2020 June 05) Diazepam. 
Previous article
CBD Healthy Apple Pie Oatmeal Cookies