If you’re familiar with hemp products, you’ve likely seen CBN on a label here or there, in addition to other cannabinoids like THC or CBD. But what exactly is CBN, and what does it do within the body? Here’s everything you need to know about this minor cannabinoid, along with some of its potential benefits.
What is CBN?
CBN is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid that appears naturally in much smaller quantities than the major cannabinoids like THC and CBD. However, it still offers a handful of potential benefits thanks to its natural sedative properties that may help you get more restful sleep.
CBN is found more commonly in cannabis plants rich in THC. When cannabis plants become overripe, the THC begins to degrade and break down into CBN. That’s part of why some growers refer to over-ripe cannabis plants as sleep medicine— as THC breaks down, it transforms into the sedative CBN.
When it comes to hemp products, the CBN inside them is typically synthetic. That’s because hemp plants aren’t grown for THC; instead, they’re grown for CBD. Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t degrade into CBN, so hemp plants don’t usually contain enough of it to extract. But in a lab, CBD molecules can be safely transformed into CBN and added to CBD products intended for sleep.
How does CBN work?
CBN interacts with our endocannabinoid systems (ECS) like CBD and THC. The ECS is a body system full of receptors and chemical messengers that tell the rest of the body how to behave in order to keep your body homeostatic or balanced. The ECS automates many natural background processes, like mood, appetite, immune and pain system responses, sleeping and waking cycles, and more.
Like other cannabinoids found in cannabis and hemp, CBN can bind to the endocannabinoid receptors found in our bodies. These receptors can receive chemical messages (endocannabinoids) from the ECS, which trigger it into responding in a way that may help you stay leveled out.
CBN works in the body a lot like CBD— by binding to the endocannabinoid receptors in your central nervous system and throughout your body. However, it has a notably soothing and relaxing effect. While it isn’t causing you to feel high, it offers a few potential benefits for your mood, appetite, and pain levels and could help you get a better night’s sleep.
What are the potential benefits of CBN?
Like other cannabinoids, CBN comes with a list of potential benefits for the mind and body. Keep in mind that CBN isn’t a cure for anything. Research into CBN is in an infantile stage, so there is no real concrete evidence for or against it.
CBN was found to be potentially helpful against eye conditions that cause vision loss and blindness, like glaucoma, according to research by InMed Pharmaceuticals. One key symptom of glaucoma is eye-pressure, and reducing it is known to slow the degenerative effects of the condition.
In the study, researchers found that CBN improved retinal cells’ survival rate when exposed to higher pressure, common in glaucoma. CBN outperformed both THC and CBD in the trial.
Muscle pain and inflammation
Like other cannabinoids, CBN also shows potentially anti-inflammatory effects. In one study, researchers found that CBN was able to reduce some of the inflammation commonly associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Another study found that CBD coupled with CBN could potentially decrease muscle sensitization, which may help with chronic pain and chronic muscle disorders.
Researchers at InMed Pharmaceuticals are currently testing a CBN cream as a treatment for epidermolysis bullosa, a group of rare skin diseases that cause the skin to blister more easily. They found that CBN helped patients protect their healthy skin and treat open wounds without causing the wounds to delay in healing.
Further, CBN’s naturally anti-inflammatory properties may help heal chronic wounds that are prolonged by the inflammatory responses themselves. CBN may also play a role in other inflammatory skin conditions, though. Studies have found that CBN may also have potent anti-bacterial properties that might help with acne.
Some studies suggest that CBN increases appetite, which could be an effective appetite stimulant. This is excellent news for people who can’t take THC due to the intoxicating effects that cause you to feel high, so it poses a unique potential alternative to finding an appetite without getting stoned.
The jury is still out on whether or not CBN itself is sedative. Most of the time, the sleepy anecdote comes from cannabis rich in THC, which works with CBN to promote sedative effects. However, in hemp extracts, where THC isn’t in the equation at all, the story is a little different. Hemp-synthesized CBN doesn’t have THC in it, but it still might be able to help you sleep when paired with CBD.
Both CBD and CBN work with the endocannabinoid system to help your body stay balanced. They bind to the same receptors and may trigger your body into regulating its natural sleeping and waking cycle. CBN has synergistic effects with CBD, so they’re often found together in the same products. Thanks to the entourage effect, they’re stronger together than they are on their own. CBN paired with THC or CBD may help you enjoy those sleepy, relaxed feelings before bed.
What to know before you try CBN
At the end of the day, CBN may be helpful for a handful of physical symptoms, like minor aches and pains and a lack of appetite. However, there are still some side effects to be aware of before you shop for CBN products. Here’s everything you need to know:
1. CBN may cause drowsiness
When combined with CBD or other cannabinoids, CBN may cause drowsiness and sedation. That’s not really an issue if that’s what you’re hoping to get out of taking CBN after a long day before heading to bed. But you should avoid CBN if you’re driving or operating heavy machinery during the day. Stick to taking CBN before bed.
2. CBN may cause you to fail a drug test.
Since CBN is the natural successor of degraded THC, it may show up on drug tests that test for THC metabolites in your urine. CBN may show up on a drug test, or it may amplify the levels of THC already in your system. That’s something to keep in mind if you’re taking full-spectrum hemp extracts that contain up to 0.3% THC— CBN may elevate that number and show up on drug tests. Even with undetectable amounts of THC in your system, CBN could cause you to fail depending on how sensitive the drug test is.
What to look for in CBN hemp products
If you want to add some CBN to your hemp wellness routine, many products already come enriched with CBN. You’ll want to ensure that the product you choose contains a major cannabinoid like CBD so you can benefit from the entourage effect. You can also take it a step further and opt for full-spectrum hemp extracts, like the CBN tinctures we sell. Full-spectrum hemp extracts contain CBD and may be fortified with minor cannabinoids like CBN. However, they still have all of the natural terpenes and cannabinoids that amplify the entourage effect and may make your products feel stronger.
Start with The Hemptender. Our full-spectrum hemp extracts are ideal for your first CBN experience, but we also offer many other products from other companies rich in CBN. You can count on us to provide safe, reliable, lab-tested hemp extracts that are made to work for you.