CBN - The Sleepy Cannabinoid

Noel Palmer, Ph.D., Chief Scientist, CBx Sciences

While most cannabis consumers are familiar with THC and CBD, there are dozens of other cannabinoids that have interesting and potentially important therapeutic properties.  This installment we will talk about CBN (cannabinol).

Those whom have heard of CBN likely understand that it is a possible degradation product of delta-9 THC.  Technically, CBN is an oxidized form of delta-9 THC.  The conversion rate of delta-9 THC to CBN under natural conditions is quite slow, however a fresh cannabis plant will likely have a detectable amount of CBN, although the concentration will be low.  Older cannabis stored in poor conditions (under light, not air tight, etc) will have elevated concentrations of CBN - along with other possible degradation products of delta-9 THC. 

Physiologically speaking, CBN is a mixed agonist of the CB1 and CB2 receptors - similar to THC.  However, while THC is considered to be a stronger binder to the CB1 receptor - CBN is considered to be a stronger binder to the CB2 receptors.  Thus, the therapeutic activity is hypothesized to be different when compared to delta-9 THC. 

While there is still limited clinical data on CBN, anecdotes about its analgesic effects are increasingly common, with some patients in Colorado using it as an alternative to opioid pain medication.  

While CBN has potentially enormous value as a pain relief option, one of its most fascinating properties is its tranquilizing effects. According to researchers at Steep Hill Labs, doses as low as 2.5-5mg can provide the same level of sedation as a mild pharmaceutical sedative, similar to 5mg to 10mg of diazepam. Many users report success treating insomnia and other sleep disorders using CBN extracts. Like CBG, CBN is reported to have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects.


We’ll be introducing several products featuring high ratios of CBN alongside other cannabinoids and botanical extracts over the coming months.

Graham Sorkin