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Everything You Need to Know About Cannabinol (CBN)

Cannabinol (CBN)

The CBD industry—and the cannabis industry, by extension—has seen rapid growth in the last five years. In fact, according to a recent forecast by Nielsen, US CBD sales could hit $6 billion by 2025. This growth rate is a result of more lenient policy decisions, as well as an increasing demand for CBD’s therapeutic benefits, including its ability to cut inflammation and anxiety.

But as popular as CBD is, it’s only one of a myriad of cannabinoids in cannabis that has therapeutic potential. Cannabinol (CBN) a lesser-known cannabinoid that’s been linked primarily to sleep benefits, has the potential to create another valuable niche in the cannabis industry.

What is CBN?

CBN is a non-intoxicating compound found naturally in cannabis. In freshly-harvested bud, it is usually less-present than THC and CBD. But, in cannabis that is poorly stored or has been left to age, more CBN is usually present because CBN is the breakdown product of THC. 

In other words, CBN is a byproduct of stale THC—and that can be a happy accident when it comes to CBN’s unique therapeutic effects.

What are the Benefits of CBN?

CBN has long held a reputation as a miraculous sleep aid, but it’s a misconception that seems to overshadow its more well-supported benefits. For instance, experts say it is likely CBN’s synergy with terpenes and THC that causes sedative effects. “It appears that CBN increases the effect of delta9-THC on some aspects of physiological and psychological processes…With combined [THC and CBN] drug treatment, volunteers reported feeling more drugged, drunk, dizzy, and drowsy than under the delta9-THC condition alone,” the study reads. But, according to a Leafly interview with lead cannabis researcher and neurologist Dr. Ethan Russo, CBN doesn’t sedate on its own, though it may be a dominant ingredient in some effective sleep products: “’Pure CBN is not particularly sedating…but it is typically found in aged cannabis in which the monoterpenoids have evaporated leaving the more sedating oxygenated sesquiterpenoids. This accounts for the discrepancy.”

Still, CBN does have effects that are more clearly supported in the literature. The most significant, for instance, was this 2008 study that showed CBN’s “potent activity” in fighting highly-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and another study conducted on rodents found that CBN helped to slow the onset of ALS symptoms.

CBN has also been recorded as an appetite stimulator—which may make it of use to those with appetite loss. A 2012 study conducted on rats found that CBN altered the feeding patterns of the animals, the first time CBN was shown to signal feeding.

A 2019 study found that CBN, like CBD, was a potent pain and inflammation fighter. “[CBN and CBD] may provide analgesic relief for chronic muscle pain disorders such as temporomandibular disorders and fibromyalgia without central side effects,” researchers stated. This further supports a previous study that found CBN reduced arthritis in rats.

Is CBN Legal?

As much medicinal potential as this cannabinoid may have, cannabis remains a federally illegal Schedule I substance, and that usually applies to its components as well. That said, the passage of the Farm Bill in 2018 de-scheduled hemp, and technically legalized the use of hemp-derived cannabinoids—like CBD and CBN—in certain amounts.

CBD is highly regulated because of its use in an FDA-approved drug, Epidiolex, but CBN is not nearly as scrutinized because it does not fall under the drug exclusion rule. This legal framework, according to the FDA, says that CBD cannot be placed in the food stream because it is used in a drug. For cannabinoids like CBG and CBN, which aren’t used in any official drugs, the FDA has said, “parts of the cannabis plant that do not contain THC or CBD might fall outside the scope of the [drug exclusion rule.]” 

Thus, CBN can be used fairly freely in cosmetics and supplements on the market, as long as these products avoid any unapproved health claims.

The Best CBN Products on the Market 

1. Sleep by Mineral Health

Image result for sleep by Mineral health

This product by Mineral Health is a 1:1 CBN and CBD tincture specifically designed for inflammation and insomnia. Along with CBN and CBD, this tincture contains Myrcene, Linalool, and Terpinolene as well as MCT oil. A full dropper is 50mg, but Mineral suggests starting with just 25 mg (half a dropper.)

2. Sleep Cannabis Infused Instant Tea by Atlas

If you’d like to try CBN in a convenient, discreet form, ATLAS Sleep Tea is for you. With 7mg of CBN and 5 mg of CBD and just enough THC to help promote effects, this is designed to help with “restfulness and sleep.” It’s discreet and easy-to-use too— this instant, chamomile-mint tea can be dissolved in cold or hot water, and comes in small, easy-carry packages.

3. Relax + Sleep Tranquili-Tea by Kikoko

Another great CBN tea available is the Relax + Sleep Tea from brand Kikoko in Emeryville, CA. Unlike ATLAS’s tea, Kikoko’s tea comes in bag form and contains 5 mg CBN and 3 mg THC to encourage the entourage effect. The tea also contains botanicals known to enhance sleep and decrease inflammation and stress: Chamomile, peppermint, valerian root, lemon myrtle, licorice root, and rosemary.

4. The Remedy 1:1 CBN:CBD by Mary’s Medicinals

This tincture from Mary’s Medicinals is made for sleep as well as to treat pain and inflammation, with the combination of CBN and CBD. It comes in a tasty citrus-vanilla flavor and a full dropper should be administered under the tongue for best results.

5. Drops+ Sleep by Plant People

This full-spectrum hemp-derived oil by Plant People is formulated with CBN and CBD, and is designed to create calm. Plant People also uses 100% USDA organic oils in its products and even promises no “next-day” drowsiness.

6. CBN:CBD Oil by 3CHI

This 250 mg CBN tincture by 3CHI is designed to help “boost” other CBD and THC therapies. The 1:1 broad-spectrum blend comes with a metered dropper for more accurate dosing and though THC-free,  it contains other minor cannabinoids such as CBG, CBC, and CBDv as well as terpenes such as beta-caryophyllene. A growing body of research indicates that CBD works better when synergized with these other molecules, a concept commonly known as the entourage effect.

7. CBN Hemp Oil by Industrial Hemp Farms

Another great CBN oil for use in tandem with other CBD and THC products is New Dawn Hemp CBN Oil. Each 60-ml bottle contains 500mg of cannabinol and 0% THC. Industrial Hemp Farms also offers a lengthy description below the product of CBN’s effects and the best ways to dose.

8. CBN Capsules by Mary’s Medicinals

If you hate the taste of oil tinctures, these 30-pace CBN capsules from Mary’s Medicinals may be for you. Unfortunately, these are only 5mg of CBN (or CBD) each, so you’d need to take these pills frequently to see results. Additionally, according to the brand’s website: “This product is not available online. It can only be purchased through licensed dispensaries in states where medical or recreational cannabis is legal.” But still, it’s out there and may be a good alternative for some.

The Final Word on CBN

The science on CBN is still young and inconclusive, but the popularity of the cannabinoid is growing—so much so that one cannabis news site asked: “Is CBN the new CBD?” 

Despite the hype, it’s always best to do your homework on CBN’s effects and figure out if the cannabinoid is right for you. And, as always, ask for certificates of third-party analysis, which should verify product quality and potentially harmful additives.

As well, like with any cannabis-derived product, start with small doses to see how your body responds. From there, you can increase your dose of CBN incrementally to fit your specific needs—and you just might see yourself sleeping better, releasing tension, and fighting viruses in the process.

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