CBD vs. CBN: What are the benefits of CBN

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Whether you use cannabis products or not, you have undoubtedly heard about its many applications and wellness claims. Though the healing properties of cannabis are not a recent discovery, the number of uses and benefits are growing as researchers learn more about its composition. In addition, scientists are now able to isolate the many cannabinoids that the plant consists of. Each of these cannabinoid compounds has its own unique makeup and specific application. One of these compounds that is of recent interest and has been found to yield great results is Cannabinol, or CBN. 

Below we’ve provided a beginner’s guide on CBN. This includes an overview of what CBN is, how it is derived, how it differs from CBD, potential benefits and side effects, as well as dosage recommendations. 

What is CBN or cannabinol?

CBN is one of more than 100 chemical compounds derived from the cannabis plant, known as cannabinoids. Interestingly, CBN was the first of these compounds to be isolated from a cannabis extract in the 1800s. However, CBN still remains lesser known than CBD or THC.

CBN comes from the oxidation and decomposition of THC from a cannabis plant. In other words, when THC is sufficiently heated or exposed to oxygen it converts to CBN. 

CBNl is mostly found in cannabis that is aged and stored. There are usually only trace amounts of CBN that are found in a fresh plant. However, when a cannabis plant is exposed to air or ultraviolet light for a long period of time, the THCA will convert to cannabinolic acid (CBNA). CBN is then formed by the decarboxylation of CBNA.

CBD vs. CBN man cutting plant

As it is derived from THC, CBN is slightly psychoactive. This is especially true when it is sourced from industrial cannabis. It is estimated that the psychoactive effects of CBN are around 8 to 10 times weaker than that of THC. On the other hand, the psychoactive effect of CBN is only marginally higher than that of CBD. 

Like other cannabinoids, CBN can affect people in different ways. However, one of the most reported sensations is that of sedation – making it a natural candidate for sleep aid. There is limited research on the topic, and much is still unknown regarding the exact way in which CBN interacts with the body, however, these early findings are exciting.

How does CBN differ from CBD?

CBN, like CBD, is found in cannabis and hemp plants and is legal for consumption in Canada. You can find CBD infused in an endless list of products including oilsgummies, skincare products, and products containing CBN are starting to follow suit. 

Unlike CBD and THC, CBN appears in far lesser concentrations than either of these cannabinoids. While cannabis manufacturers can breed strains to introduce higher amounts of CBD or THC, CBN is primarily derived from THC through oxidative degradation. The concentration of CBN within a cannabis plant ultimately depends on the conditions in which it was grown, the plants’ THC content, and the processing methods it undergoes after harvesting.

With respect to how CBD and CBN affect the body, they interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (as do all cannabinoids). Unsurprisingly, CBN inherits some of its properties from THC; for instance, THC acts on the CB1 endocannabinoid receptors, which is what produces the “high” that is associated with THC. CBN also binds to the CB1 receptor, but it has a much weaker effect than THC. Though this technically places CBN in the category of psychoactive compound, it’s only those who are highly sensitive to THC that will be able to discern its effects. CBD, on the other hand, does not attach to CB1 receptors directly and therefore does not produce a high sensation.

Both CBD and CBN, alone or together, are used to help people manage symptoms of anxiety and insomnia. Also, both CBD and CBN also have pain relief properties. For example, a study published in 2019 found that both CBD and CBN have an analgesic effect in animals. This reduces myofascial pain that is similar to the chronic pain experienced in humans like fibromyalgia. Combining both CBD and CBN made this analgesic effect stronger. Though THC was found to be more effective, CBD and CBN had the non-psychoactive benefit.

CBD is more popular and widely available than CBN. There have also been much more research and trials conducted on CBD and its effects than there have been for CBN. However, as CBN gains more traction and further studies are completed we will better understand its benefits and effects. 

What are the benefits of CBN?

There are many potential CBN benefits. Similar to THC, CBN acts on the body’s CB1 receptors, though to a lesser degree. This is what makes the compound react in the body in a similar way to THC. According to a 2012 study in the journal Pharmacology, rats who were given CBN experienced an increase in appetite similar to the effect of THC. On the other hand, the rats who were given CBD exhibited a decrease in appetite.    

CBN for sleep woman sleeping in bed

CBN is mainly used as a sleeping aid because of its sedative properties. Those who suffer from insomnia and other sleep disorders have found that CBN can help induce sleep. It is important to note, however, that there is no evidence in the literature that incontrovertibly proves CBN’s success in curing sleep disorders in either humans or animals. With that said, there are many anecdotal accounts that attest to its efficacy. This may be due to its ability to indirectly reduce psychological stimulation at bedtime. 

Similarly, there are other reported benefits of CBN. Some of which include the following:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-convulsive
  • Appetite stimulation
  • Pain relief
  • Anxiety relief
  • Ease opiate withdrawal symptoms

As mentioned above, many of these purported benefits have only been documented on an anecdotal basis. However, some have been witnessed in animal tests. For instance,  some evidence suggests that CBN, like CBD, is anti-inflammatory. This means it can help reduce pain and potential psychological arousal.  Regarding opiate withdrawals, a study conducted on mice found that CBN inhibited naloxone-precipitated morphine abstinence. Further, two additional signs of morphine abstinence, defecation and rearing behaviour, were also suppressed.

What are the side effects of CBN?

While the side effects of CBD are documented and well-known (including diarrhea and change in eating patterns and appetite), the side effects and risks of CBN are lesser known. CBN needs more time to be studied before any conclusive information can be provided on its effects. What we do know is that CBN, like THC, can increase appetite. Therefore, if you are trying to lose weight, CBN might have an adverse effect. 

Furthermore, given that CBD (depending on dosage) can increase the risk of liver damage when combined with certain medications such as leflunomide, lomitapide, mipomersen, pexidartinib, etc., you should exercise caution when experimenting with CBN. 

How should I take CBN?

As CBN interacts differently with each person it is difficult to establish a uniform dosing guide. The best practice to start with a small dose and gradually increase it until you find a dosage that works for you. A good starting dosage for most is around 5mg each day, increasing 1-2mg a day until an effective dose is found. While unlikely for most, some individuals may require 50mg or more to reach a noticeable effect.

CBD and CBN bottles and containers how to take cbn

For ResolveCBD’s CBN tincture, begin with a 10mg CBD dose for every dose of CBN. In other words, if you take 50mg of CBD, you should take 5mg of CBN. Note that taking a high dose right away may induce nausea. For this reason, it’s best to start low and increase it, if need be.

How should I take CBN for sleep?

The most effective method of administrating CBN is sublingually. To try CBN sublingually, you measure the amount of CBN oil you would like to ingest using the graduated dropper, then squeeze the oil directly under your tongue. To allow for as much absorption as possible, hold the oil under your tongue for a minute or so before swallowing, if possible. As you administer the oil, we suggest that you create an environment free of stimulation, light, and noise to encourage your body to relax even further.

Now what?

In summary, CBN is new to the scientific arena and requires further study before any definitive claims about it can be made. For now, we have only preliminary research that supports its efficacy and potential benefits. As further evidence is established, we will understand its advantages as well as its long-term effects in a more conclusive manner.

DISCLAIMER: Information and products presented by resolveCBD are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or ailment, nor is it intended to be a substitute or alternative for professional medical advice. Always consult with a licensed professional regarding medical treatment or possible interactions with prescribed drugs. Products are intended to be used as directed, by individuals who are 19 years of age or older.