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What Is CBN Oil?

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OK, so we’ve been answering a lot of questions about CBN. Such as “what is CBN?”, “what does CBN do?”, and most importantly “Are products like CBN Gummies right for my wellness routine?”.

The short answer is, CBN (cannabinol) is a byproduct of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) that provides medicinal benefits similar to those of THC — but without its intoxicating effects. CBN oil products are rich in CBN. 

In the late 1800s, it was discovered that when cannabis plants are harvested and then exposed to heat, light and oxygen, some of the THC in the plants is converted to CBN. It’s difficult to find studies or data that talk about how fast, and how much THC is converted to CBN when subjected to various environmental factors. A study from 1999 does offer some insight, though. The dried cannabis plant was stored in closed barrels in the dark in an air-conditioned vault. Over one year, the THC level decreased by about 17%; after four years it had decreased by 41%.

...while there have been limited studies on CBD (cannabidiol), there are even fewer studies that evaluate and test the benefits of CBN. 

So, because CBN comes from THC, an obvious question to ask is: does it get you high? Its psychoactive properties are about 10% the strength of THC. This means you must ingest quite a lot of CBN before you feel high. 

Are CBN’s Sleep Inducing Effects Real?

One benefit CBN is heralded for is its sleep-inducing effect. While it may indeed one day be scientifically proven to aid sleep, there is no conclusive research to back up that claim at this time. The study often referenced as proof of its sleep-inducing effect ability is from 1975. The sample size is very small (five male volunteers) and the summary of the study only makes mention of the volunteers feeling “drowsy” when THC was also involved. Further study is required. Current evidence demonstrates that CBN has little or no psycho-activity, making it a promising alternative treatment to delta 9THC.”

Another reason why some have labeled CBN as the “sleepy cannabinoid” may have something to do with the fact that it’s usually found in older cannabis, which is also high in sleep-inducing terpenes. (Terpenes are aromatic oils that give cannabis varieties their distinct scent and flavor, with some also playing a role in promoting relaxation, stress relief, increased focus, etc.)

The Buzz About CBN Oil

Having said that, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that CBN does indeed aid with sleep, and has a calming, effect on people. Anecdotal evidence, of course, isn’t science, but the more anecdotal evidence you have, the more likely there is something to it. 

At this point, unfortunately, almost all we have is anecdotal evidence when it comes to determining the benefits of CBN. Because, while there have been limited studies on CBD (cannabidiol), there are even fewer studies that evaluate and test the potential benefits of CBN. And the studies that have been done usually lump CBN with other cannabinoids when testing, so it’s impossible to tell which cannabinoid is responsible for which health benefit.

It does appear, though, that CBN might be most effective when it’s accompanied by other cannabinoids. For instance, in some studies, CBN has been found to increase the effects of THC. This is due to what’s called “the entourage effect,” which occurs when the cannabis plant’s various cannabinoids and the terpenes work together to bring additional — often unique — effects to the table. Unless you purchase CBN isolate (99% pure CBN), when you purchase cannabinol oil it will include other cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids (dietary antioxidants), etc., which provide the full benefits of the entourage effect.

The Benefits of CBN Oil

Let’s look at some potential benefits of CBN oil. Studies have shown that health benefits seen with CBD and THC work with CBN to offer benefits such as  easing of tension, everyday stress reduction and restful sleep promotion. For CBN, studies hint that it may ease temporary physical discomfort, stimulate appetite and contribute to a normal healthy heart. 

Like CBD products, CBN is generally well-tolerated by the body and the potential side effects, which are usually quite mild, are similar to the main potential side effects of CBD: drowsiness, dizziness, tiredness and diarrhea. THC has been known to cause such temporary side effects as an increased heart rate, coordination problems, red eyes, memory loss, unease and dry mouth.

Because CBN is a result of environmental effects that act on the cannabis plant, there is no way for cannabis breeders to produce a high-CBN strain of cannabis. The only way to accelerate more CBN in a cannabis harvest is to age it while exposing it to heat, oxygen and sunlight. More harvest time adds to the cost of CBN — especially CBN Isolate.

So now that you know what CBN oil is, and what it could potentially do to help you get needed rest without the psychoactive effects of THC, you may want to consider trying this lesser-known cannabinoid if you’re having a tough time sleeping. With few known side effects, it’s probably a chance worth taking.

About the Author

Sally Ladd Image

Sally Ladd

Sally (also webmaster for has been a digital marketing/creative services professional for more than 40 years. In her many editorial and production capacities, she has tackled projects in industries as diverse as publishing, real estate, nutritional supplements and healthcare.

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