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Understanding CBN

As far as phytocannabinoids go, there is a new kid on the block that is gaining attention. This minor phytocannabinoid that has caught the attention of both users and researchers goes by the name of cannabinol (CBN).


CBN is a byproduct of THC as it breaks down after being stored for a long period of time. Research shows that CBN can be found in higher amounts in aged cannabis as decarboxylation occurs. The longer the cannabis is stored after harvest, the higher the concentration of CBN.


CBN is non-intoxicating just like many other phytocannabinoids. CBN is best known for its potential sleep benefits. Some refer to it as “the sleeper cannabinoid,” despite research not confirming it as a sedative molecule. This article explains everything that you need to know about CBN.


Is CBN Legal?


The legality of CBN is confusing, just like that of the cannabis plant. The federal government lists cannabis, and its numerous compounds, under schedule 1. That means CBN is also listed in that category.


However, since the Agricultural Act of 2018 legalized hemp at the federal level, compounds derived from hemp are legal. Does this make CBN legal? Hemp-derived CBN is therefore legal, but the THC amount must not exceed 0.3%.


What are the Benefits of CBN?


Research on hemp-derived compounds are still in the preliminary stage. In a nutshell, there are no large randomized clinical trials that have been carried out to investigate potential therapeutic benefits of CBN. However, preliminary and observational studies show CBN has several potential benefits that may support overall health and wellness.


Potential Benefits of CBN Include:


  • CBN may help to support a healthy immune system
  • CBN may support eye health
  • CBN may promote restful sleep
  • CBN may improve appetite
  • CBN may facilitate faster recovery from bone fractures and wounds
  • CBN may help to keep bacterial infections at bay
  • CBN may alleviate pain
  • CBN may promote recovery from seizure disorders
  • CBN may be used topically for certain skin conditions
  • CBN may improve general health and wellness


CBN has several potential benefits that will vary from one person to the next. 


How Does CBN Work?


Research has shown that CBN interacts with both the CB1 & CB2 receptors. These receptors belong to the dynamic endocannabinoid system that is responsible for maintaining homeostasis in the body. As much as CBN interacts with the CB1 receptor, it is non-intoxicating. This means that unlike THC, CBN does not cause euphoria.


The Connection between CBN and THC


The popularity of CBN emerged after a 1999 study that was conducted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. This study was investigating cannabis potency loss over time. The study found that THC content in the cannabis sample that was tested had dropped to nearly half of the original potency after a period of four years.


This study also found that as THC oxidized, it was converting to CBN, providing evidence that THC converts directly to CBN over a period of time.


Pharmacological History of CBN


CBN was originally isolated from a red oil cannabis extract in 1896 by a group of researchers.  It was actually the first cannabinoid to be isolated and identified from cannabis sativa. This was probably due to the rampant degradation of THC to CBN, due to poor storage conditions.


In the early 1930’s, the structure of CBN was explained by British chemist R.S. Cahn. By then, researchers identified CBN as a degraded version of THC but it didn’t have the intoxicating effects that are found in THC itself. 


There is no particular product that has been made with CBN as an isolated cannabinoid. There is reason to believe that by compounding CBN with cannabinoids such as CBD or THC, sedative effects may be achieved. The only way to fully understand CBN’s sedative effect is to thoroughly study it as an isolated compound.


Research on the Sleep Inducing Effects of CBN


Recent research that was spearheaded by Dr. Kaufmann, investigated the sleep-inducing properties of CBN. The study was titled “Use of a Water-Soluble Form of Cannabinol for the Treatment of Sleeplessness”. This was a survey study involving 60 individuals who were suffering from different sleep disorders. The results were published in the International Journal of Complement Alternative Medicine. The research showed that CBN was able to reduce the incidence and severity of different sleep disorders. Some participants in the study were able to fall asleep sooner, remain asleep for a longer duration, and many were able to reduce or eliminate other sleep medications they were taking. 


The research also reported that the mechanism by which CBN aided drowsiness is still unknown. It appears unrelated to the actions of melatonin and possibly related to the endocannabinoid receptor response or the mechanism of absorption as a nano treatment. 


Where to find CBN Products


CBN can be found in aged cannabis that has been exposed to oxygen. As mentioned above, CBN is an end product of THC that has been exposed to oxygen and light in a decarboxylation process. Consequently, do not expect to find CBN in fresh cannabis flowers.


As more research is being carried out to investigate its potential benefits, reputable CBD brands are zeroing-in on products that contain CBN. These products come in different forms, CBN gummies or tinctures are a popular option. Terpenes and other cannabinoids may also be added for further potential benefits.


If you want to try out a CBN product and don’t know where to start we can guide you through the process. There is a lot to consider when starting cannabinoid therapy but, as always, a Realm of Caring care specialist is here to help with your questions. Contact us today by calling (719) 347-5400 or by emailing 






The Realm of Caring Foundation specifically invokes the first amendment rights of freedom of speech and of the press without prejudice. These statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration. The products discussed are not intended to diagnose, cure, prevent or treat any disease. Realm of Caring always recommends when and wherever possible that licensed local healthcare professionals be consulted.


The Realm of Caring Foundation is an independent nonprofit with its own governing board. We do not produce or sell cannabinoid products, nor do we receive funds from the sale of other company’s products.