A skeletal model of Cannabinol CBN with the text "What is CBN?"

CBN is one of the newest cannabinoids on the block and it isn’t going anywhere. While some consider CBN to be a minor cannabinoid behind THC and CBD, retailers are marketing it as a superior sleep aid. While science has yet to confirm whether or not CBN promotes a more restful night’s sleep, it’s still worth getting to know the cannabinoid. 

In this post, we’re going to cover,

  • What CBN is
  • Where it comes from
  • And address the internet’s most common questions about the new “sleep cannabinoid”

What is CBN? 

CBN is short for Canna-Bi-Nol and is one of the more than 100 cannabinoids produced by the hemp plant. Some researchers consider it to be mildly psychoactive because it is usually found in aged THC-dominant cannabis (something we’ll get into a bit later)

Is CBN Different Than CBD?

CBN and CBD are different cannabinoids with their own distinct molecular structures and benefits. We know that CBN interacts directly with your endocannabinoid system’s CB1 and CB2 receptors. CBD does not. 

You can take CBD and CBN at the same time. Doing so may even yield additional desired effects. Research suggests that consuming both at the same time can be an effective pain management method.

What is CBN Good For? 

We still aren’t sure what CBN can do because while there have been studies, most have not been carried out with human subjects. We can only hypothesize about what CBN might be good for based on animal studies.


One study on rats published in 2016 suggested CBN may reduce inflammation caused by arthritis. Further research is needed in both animals and humans before we fully understand this link1.  

Pain Relief

Another 2019 study found that a combination of both CBD and CBN was able to relieve chronic pain in rats. Further, this study found that a combination of CBN and CBD was more effective than either cannabinoid taken alone2.

Another study conducted in Japan in the 1980s concluded that both CBN and THC have pain-relief properties3


A recent human-centered study published in 2021 by the Australian Sleep Disorders Research Institute found that a combination of THC, CBN, and CBD taken regularly under the tongue significantly improved insomnia symptoms and self-reported sleep quality in people compared to the placebo group4

Read: Can CBN help you get a better night’s sleep?

Appetite Stimulant 

In a rodent study, CBN increased the volume of food that rats ate, suggesting that it may be an effective appetite stimulant and an alternative for those looking to gain their appetite back without the high associated with THC (another well-known appetite stimulant.) 


CBN may also be a powerful neuroprotectant, meaning that it may help protect your nervous system from damage, especially in people who develop a health condition with neurological effects.

In a 2005 study, researchers found that CBN helped delay the onset of ALS in rats5


CBN has also been tested against certain strains of MRSA— a type of staph bacteria that’s become much more resistant to antibiotics in recent years6.

Where Does CBN Come From? 

CBN comes from a process called oxidation. When we expose its predecessor molecule, THC, to oxygen, UV light, or heat for prolonged periods of time, it breaks down into cannabinol. This means that CBN content isn’t determined by genetic factors, but instead by THC content, time, and the environment. 

Frequently Asked Questions About CBN

Is CBN Psychoactive?

Many believe CBN is mildly psychoactive because THC is its predecessor cannabinoid and it interacts with your CB receptors in much the same way THC does. Note that psychoactive doesn’t necessarily mean intoxicating. 

Is CBN Legal?

CBN is not listed as a Schedule I substance. Because CBN is derived from oxidized THC, some believe that CBN could be illegal under the Federal Analogue Act

That said, CBN can also be derived from federally legal hemp plants defined as “cannabis that contains less than 0.3% delta-9 THC,” albeit in smaller quantities. As long as the CBN is derived from hemp, it’s believed to be legal.

Where Can You Find CBN?

As a byproduct of THC, CBN isn’t the most plentiful cannabinoid, and oxidizing THC-dominant cannabis isn’t exactly the most efficient way to harvest CBN. Because of the advances in cannabis science, some companies are starting to release CBN isolate and broad-spectrum CBN + CBD blended products, like CBN edibles and CBN oil. 


CBN edibles are gummies, beverages, or foods that have been infused with cannabinol. Broad- and full-spectrum CBN edibles will contain additional cannabinoids like CBD and THC. 

Some manufacturers may choose to make their CBN edibles with CBN isolate, in which case they should only contain CBN and no other cannabinoids. CBN edibles, like any other cannabinoid-infused edible, should take anywhere between 30-120 minutes to take effect. 


CBN oil is similar to CBD oil. Most of the time, CBN oil will be made by mixing CBN isolate with a carrier oil such as hemp oil or coconut MCT oil. 

You can add your CBN oil to your favorite foods or drinks, or apply the oil directly under your tongue for rapid absorption. CBN oil taken under your tongue should take less time to take effect than CBN edibles— anywhere between 15-60 minutes. 


CBN topicals are lotions, rubs, roll-ons, or salves infused with CBN. You’ll normally see CBN topicals also infused with CBD due to both cannabinoids’ anti-inflammatory properties. CBN topicals should offer localized relief for aches and pains that keep you up at night.

Read more: Where Should You Buy CBN Online?

Does CBN Have Any Side Effects? 

As of this writing, there are no known side effects of CBN, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist— it just means we need more time to understand the cannabinoid.  

Pregnant people, children, and those sensitive to THC should avoid CBN until we’re more certain of its safety. 

Will CBN Interact with my other Medications?

While we do know that CBD interacts with certain medications, especially those that come with “grapefruit warnings,” we don’t know if CBN acts the same way. 

To be on the safe side, take caution and speak to your pharmacist before trying CBN. 

Does CBN make you hungry?

Unlike CBD which can have appetite-suppressing effects, CBN appears to stimulate appetite (at least in rodents)7. While CBN may not give you the munchies, it may be a great therapeutic option for people struggling with their appetites because of illness or cancer treatments. 


  1. Zurier RB, Burstein SH. Cannabinoids, inflammation, and fibrosis. FASEB J. 2016;30(11):3682–9.
  2. Wong H, Cairns BE. Cannabidiol, cannabinol and their combinations act as peripheral analgesics in a rat model of myofascial pain. Arch Oral Biol. 2019;104:33–9.
  3. Yamamoto, I., Watanabe, K., Kuzuoka, K., Narimatsu, S., & Yoshimura, H. (1987). The pharmacological activity of cannabinol and its major metabolite 11-hydroxycannabinol. Chemical & pharmaceutical bulletin. 35(5), 2144–2147.
  4. Walsh, J.H., et al., Treating insomnia symptoms with medicinal cannabis: a randomized, crossover trial of the efficacy of a cannabinoid medicine compared with placebo. Sleep, 2021. 44(11)
  5. Weydt, Patrick et al. “Cannabinol delays symptom onset in SOD1 (G93A) transgenic mice without affecting survival.” Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and other motor neuron disorders : official publication of the World Federation of Neurology, Research Group on Motor Neuron Diseases vol. 6,3 (2005): 182-4. doi:10.1080/14660820510030149
  6. Appendino, Giovanni et al. “Antibacterial cannabinoids from Cannabis sativa: a structure-activity study.” Journal of natural products vol. 71,8 (2008): 1427-30. doi:10.1021/np8002673
  7. Farrimond, Jonathan A et al. “Cannabinol and cannabidiol exert opposing effects on rat feeding patterns.” Psychopharmacology vol. 223,1 (2012): 117-29. doi:10.1007/s00213-012-2697-x