What Is The Cannabinoid CBN (Cannabinol) And What Benefits Does Research Show?

Anything that gains popularity immediately grabs our attention and CBN is no exception. It is becoming even more prominent than many other cannabinoids such as CBD and THC, the most well-known cannabinoids found in Cannabis/hemp plants. Certainly CBD and THC are marketed more than other rare cannabinoids, but CBN is considered to be one of the most significant research compounds.

Cannabinol abbreviated as CBN, is a minor cannabinoid produced at low levels within the cannabis plant and is attracting interest in the wellness community as a sleep aid. It comes from the oxidation and decomposition of tetrahydrocannabinol – THC naturally or through manufacturers exposing THC to heat & light, which breaks it down to form CBN.

Even though THC and CBD are garnering all the buzz, various other cannabis compounds can help alleviate a plethora of symptoms – including CBN, so let's take a look!

What Is CBN?

You might not have heard much about Cannabinol – CBN. However, the phrase cannabinol in the tetrahydrocannabinol indicates that it is the precursor of CBN.

Manufacturers transform THCA – the precursor of THC into CBNa – the precursor of CBN to obtain CBN. Another method to get CBN is that old cannabis is exposed to oxygen, the CBGA converts into THCA, which is converted into THC, and then after degradation CBN is obtained.

Primarily CBN comes from the degradation of THC through oxidation.

The Formation Of CBNa And CBN

CBNa, basically is the acidic form of CBN obtained through the oxidation of THC and then converted into CBN. CBN is the rare cannabinoid that exists in minimal quantity in the cannabis plant. The extraction and purification of this cannabinoid are costly and environmental taxing. The inconsistent yield of CBN from the cannabis plant is prone to contamination from pets, molds, and pesticides. Due to these limitations, the chemical method of production has become the leading production method.

The biosynthetic formulation of CBN reduces the environmental footprints and decreases the time of production. After the process of decarboxylation, CBNa converts into cannabinol – CBN. Decarboxylation is when one compound converts into another by exposure to sunlight or ultraviolet rays.

The THC from the cannabis plant is heated and exposed to Co2 (oxygen), which converts into CBN. The CBN compound has a mild psychoactive response, slightly more than CBD but much less than THC.

How Does CBN Work In The Body?

One of the most valuable aspects of cannabis is the cannabinoids offer multiple mechanisms of working through which they produce effects. Cannabinoids exert numerous potential effects on the human body. One way is through the interaction with the endocannabinoid system. The primary components of the endocannabinoid system are:

  • Endocannabinoids
  • Cannabinoid receptors
  • Enzymes

The ECS of humans regulates lots more body functions, including pain, sleep, appetite, memory, and fertility. Cannabinoids – CBN interacts with the endocannabinoid system, hormones, and neurotransmitters to influence mood, energy, cognition, focus, appetite, and other immune functions.

CBN comes from the breakdown of the primary psychoactive cannabinoid – THC. It is mildly psychotropic but generally does not produce a high.
Also, CBN is not much popular as CBD. There is extremely little research examining the potential benefits and effects of CBN. However, CBN products come into the market as a sleep aid.
Here is what the limited amount of available research says about the benefits of CBN:


Although people report that CBN helps them get better sleep, this is slightly misleading as a study in the 1970 researched the effects of CBN, THC and the combination CBN/THC shows otherwise (1).  The research showed that CBN on its own did not have any sleep improvement properties, however when participants were given a combination of THC & CBN, it appears that CBN enhanced the sedative effects of THC to induce sleep (1).  Another explanation to the misconception that CBN has insomnia fighting properties, is that CBN is typically found in older cannabis/hemp plants, which due to age will also consequently be rich in sedating terpenes such as: Terpinolene, Myrcene and Caryophyllene.

Pain Relief:

A study in 2019 shows that both CBD & CBN are effective in reducing myofascial pain. The research indicates the combination of both cannabinoids is more effective than alone. The researchers concluded that CBN & CBD alleviate pain from temporomandibular disorder & fibromyalgia (2).

Neuroprotective effects:

One study dating back to 2005 indicates that CBN can delay the onset of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – ALS among users (3).


Like other cannabinoids, CBN may also reduce inflammation that worsens the pain. A study in 2016 shows that CBN can reduce the inflammation related to arthritis pain (4).

Appetite Stimulant:

CBN may be an effective appetite booster. A study found that Cannabinol and Cannabidiol exert opposing effects on feeding habits. CBN may be an alternative for those seeking the hunger without high – but more research is crucial (5).


CBN may be beneficial for those suffering from glaucoma. One study found that CBN can reduce intraocular pressure – the substantial risk factor for glaucoma (6).

However, research is ongoing on the potential therapeutic health benefits of CBN.


A study on the Anti-bacterial cannabinoid of the cannabis Sativa shows that CBN may be a potent anti-bacterial agent. Researchers found the CBN is influential against the resistant strain of MRSA bacteria (7).

Cannabis patients looking for a non-intoxicating alternative to THC may be interested in CBN. At this point, you probably are not going to find a CBN-heavy cultivar at your local dispensary. 

Effects Of Cannabinol – CBN:

CBN appears to have some potential benefits.

Like THC, CBN acts on the cannabinoid receptors – CB1 in the brain, though in a much milder way. Although CBN itself is not intoxicating, when combined with THC it may cause a higher euphoric effect than THC alone (1).

A study in psychopharmacology notes that CBN can increase the appetite in individuals similar that the effects of THC (8).  Moreover, advances in pharmacology show early shreds of evidence that supports its use as a (9):

  • Antibiotic
  • Anti-convulsant
  • Anti-inflammatory

However, more research is needed to bolster these findings.


Cannabinoids of the cannabis plant offer many potential benefits and effects. People use these cannabinoids in the form of oils, edibles, topical products, vape pens, and more. Research about CBN shows that it may help individuals struggling with insomnia, chronic pain, and other complicated issues. 

While CBN is becoming increasingly popular, there is very little research around its exact benefits, including its potential use as a sleep aid. If you want to give it a try, make sure to do your research and buy from reputable companies. Also, you can consult your doctor first to ensure there is no interaction with any other drugs or substances you are taking.



  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1221432/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31158702/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16183560/
  4. https://faseb.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1096/fj.201600646r
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22543671/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3202504/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18681481/
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22543671/
  9. http://cannabiscoalition.ca/info/Russo-Marcu_Cannabis_Pharmacology_The_Usual_Suspects_and_a_Few_Promising_Leads_Adv_Pharmacol_2017.pdf


Please note that this article was written by a 3rd-party author who is a specialist on the topic of CBD, hemp and cannabis.  Any information or recommendations contained within this article, are independent to the opinion of RUDERALEX CBD and our employees.  We make no claims for any of our products, please read our disclaimer for additional information.