CBN: Meet the Newest Cannabinoid That May Target Sleep

The hemp plant is like a treasure chest — it’s not one, but many things, with many powers and abilities. And instead of looking at CBD as the favorite child who stole the spotlight, perhaps let’s look at it as the poster child who opened the door for the rest of hemp’s phytocannabinoids to finally take center stage. CBD got on the guest list, and then brought a lot of plus-ones.

One of those plus-ones that’s finally getting some credit (and research): CBN, or cannabinol. 


What Is CBN?

Cannabinol is what’s left of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) after it’s been broken down (see how it loses the “tetra” and the “hydro” parts?). CBN is purported to be one quarter the potency of THC (potentially even less). Like a fine wine, this “aged” THC molecule might be the perfect dose for many patients. Forbes reported that, “the compound has a mild psychoactive response, slightly more so than CBD but much less than THC.”

What Does CBN Do?

It’s potentially akin to Valium (diazepam), a medication used to treat severe anxiety disorders, alcohol and drug withdrawal, muscle spasms, and seizures — but a drug that is also quite addictive. A common side effect of Valium is sleepiness, so some researchers believe that CBN — on top of its other uses — may be useful for sleep.

At least, that’s what cannabis brand Kiva is betting on, as one of the first consumer brands to offer a CBN-infused product. Theirs aims to help you nod off quickly: Midnight Blueberry Camino Gummies have 5mg of THC and 1mg of CBN per chew, and are inferred to be sleep-inducing. Psychology Today backed up this notion, reporting that, “CBN appears to have potentially powerful sedative effects.” (Worth noting: the article was written by Michael J. Breus, Ph.D., who is on the American Board of Sleep Medicine and known as “the sleep doctor”.)

It’s more than just a sleeping pill from mother nature, though. An Italian study from 2008 showed that CBN may also have powerful antibacterial effects, as it was shown to fight MRSA — a superstrong form of staph infection.

CBN may also be an appetite stimulant (low-key munchies) which could help those who are struggling with impaired appetites (but maybe not help those of us who are working on weight management). Psychology Today also shared that CBN can rival your ibuprofen as an anti-inflammatory and pain-relief compound: “Research indicates that CBN has analgesic or pain-relieving capabilities in the body.”

Why Use CBN Instead of CBD?

While it doesn’t have to be an “either or” situation, CBN is, in fact, different from CBD. Some may want to use CBN because it has (as far as we know now) similar positive effects to THC, but is less psychoactive. Others may opt for it simply because it’s a sedative and can help with insomnia, purportedly much more so than CBD (though some have refuted this claim).

How Can You Take CBN?

There aren’t a ton of products out just yet with CBN as the marquee ingredient (which is what makes Kiva’s gummies so unique). That said, there are some available. 3Chi makes a 1:1 CBN:CBD product, which in theory would be exceptionally therapeutic to those who are more sensitive to THC but still want its medicinal properties. Mary’s Nutritionals, a trusted CBD brand, also makes a product of this nature (CBN:CBD), but it can only be bought in a dispensary (not online). San Diego-based Potluck Expo has a line of CBN sleep tinctures and vape cartridges. 

Though the product selection is limited as of now, remember that just a few years ago, you couldn’t even order CBD online. With the meteoric rise in demand for cannabis nutraceuticals and therapeutics, we can expect to see a lot more of CBN (and CBG, CBC, and more for that matter) in the near future.

Written by Dominique Astorino

Wellness Expert and Svn Space Podcast Host and Contributing Editor Dominique holds bylines at POPSUGAR, Brit+Co, SHAPE, Svn Space and Huffington Post Wellness covering everything from health, fitness, and nutrition to crystals and CBD.

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