Medically reviewed by Dr. Jen Palmer, ND – Naturopathic Doctor,
Director of Education for Charlotte’s Web™
By definition, full-spectrum hemp extracts contain a diverse range of hemp’s many beneficial compounds. This includes flavonoids, terpenes, and fatty acids, as well as a variety of cannabinoids. All of these naturally occurring compounds work together to create the “Entourage Effect,” which maximizes the benefits delivered throughout the body. CBD, or cannabidiol, is a type of cannabinoid. It happens to be one of the best-known and most studied cannabinoids found in plants (phytocannabinoids), but scientists continue to discover more of them. So far, they’ve identified around 100 distinct cannabinoids.
One of these cannabinoids, known by the initials CBN, was actually the first phytocannabinoid to be identified, back in the 19th century. Even though cannabinoids have similar-sounding names, they may do very different things, and it’s helpful to understand more about them. So what is CBN and what does it do?
What Is CBN?
CBN stands for cannabinol. There is very little CBNin young, growing hemp plants, but it will naturally occur after a plant has been cut and stored for long periods of time, especially with exposure to heat, sunlight, and oxygen. Just like CBD, CBN derived from hemp is non-intoxicating, and will not make you feel “high.”
What Does CBN Do?
Both CBD and CBN interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), but possibly in different ways. The primary receptor sites of the ECS are called CB1 and CB2. As a general rule, CB1 receptors are mostly concentrated in our central nervous system and spinal cord, and CB2 receptors are mostly located in our organs and immune system. It is possible that CBN interacts with both of these receptors, whereas CBD works in other ways to increase the production of our own endocannabinoids. More research is needed to clarify how CBN works with the ECS, but it points to the importance of full-spectrum hemp extracts that contain a variety of plant cannabinoids because they likely work in complementary ways to help promote a balanced response within the body.
What Are The Potential Benefits of CBN?
Sleep*: CBN has a reputation for helping with sleep, but the scientific evidence for this is limited and only from animal studies. One small study was done in 1975 that looked at CBN and sleep in humans, but it did not find that CBN helped. More studies are needed to determine if CBN is specifically helpful in this regard.CBN and CBD combined may potentially be better at promoting an overall sense of mind and body relaxation.
Everyday Anxiety and Stress*: As with sleep, it seems likely that CBNas a part of a full-spectrum hemp extract contributes to producing a sense of calm and focus better than CBN on its own, because of the benefit of the entourage effect.
Exercise-Induced Inflammation*: A few animal studies suggest that CBN may be helpful for some types of short-term inflammation. CBN may interact with nerve cells that respond to capsaicin (that ingredient in chili peppers, which is often added to topical creams to relieve pain), and so it may have the potential to help with recovery after intense exercise.
Other Potential Benefits*
- In a lab experiment, there were indications that CBN could have a strong effect against MRSA bacteria, which are resistant to common antibiotics. More clinical research is needed to better understand this interaction.
- CBD tends to decrease our appetite, but CBN has been shown, at least in animal studies, to increase it. This means CBN as an isolated substance may be useful for people who need to gain weight or stop losing weight.
- CBN has been shown to support normal fluid pressure inside the eyes, but it has not been shown to be superior to medications that have the same effect.
How Do I Take CBN?
Advances in science and manufacturing techniques mean that CBN-isolates, 1:1 blends of CBD: CBN isolates, and CBN-dominant hemp extracts, will likely become increasingly available as oils and in ingestible and topical forms.
The benefit of using CBN oil is that you can gradually increase (or decrease) the amount of CBN you take each day based on how your body is responding to it, as well as on what life happens to be throwing your way! If your week is extra stressful, it might be a good time to increase your frequency to 3x per day or have a little more in the morning and evening. If restful sleep cycles aren’t coming as easily as they used to, play with the times of day you’re taking CBN. Maybe a couple of hours or even a few minutes before bed will work better for you.
How Will CBN Make Me Feel and How Long Does It Take to Work?
The short answer to both of these questions is the same as it is for CBD, “It depends.” It depends on many factors such as the starting point of your body’s systems, as well as the concentration of CBN you’re using. The bottom line is that CBN may affect everyone a little differently and work gradually over time. Dietary supplements like Charlotte’s Web™hemp extract products are crafted to work with your body naturally. Results come by way of steady use, which will make beneficial changes more sustainable.
To Sum It All Up
Anecdotal reports from people who use CBN suggest that it is particularly useful for sleep, but this has not yet been borne out by formal studies. It does look like CBN plays a unique role in recovery from exercise-induced inflammation, while CBN and CBD combined may potentially be better at promoting a sense of calm and relaxation than CBN alone. CBD and CBN also probably interact in different ways with the ECS to have their effects in the body.
Research on CBN is still in its early stages, but more studies are happening, and we need them to get a more complete picture of how CBN works and what it can do. So far, the findings for this lesser-known cannabinoid are promising.
We recommend full-spectrum hemp extracts over any of the isolate or purified forms of CBN, precisely because full-spectrum extracts contain the many beneficial compounds the hemp plant has to offer, which will work together to enhance your body’s positive response.