CBN effect
Written by Stefan K.

Cannabinol (CBN)

Cannabinol is an active substance which is derived from the hemp plant. For a long time, it went unnoticed by researchers and growers alike. The reason for this is that it only starts forming towards the end of the plant’s life cycle. In contrast, the better-known constituent compounds found in hemp, THC and CBD, form relatively early on. Gradually, however, the advantages of CBN are also coming to be recognised, meaning that increased extraction from the plants, including for full spectrum oils, is being carried out.Β 

What is cannabinol?

The CBN in hemp arises as a result of oxidation processes. In fact, the cannabis plant itself does not produce any cannabinol. It is only through prolonged contact between the dried hemp plant and oxygen that CBN forms (through the oxidation of THC). This is also the reason why cannabinol is found at higher concentrations in β€œold” cannabis plants.

Like THC, CBN is a phytocannabinoid. There are more than 100 different phytocannabinoids. Of these, CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) are the compounds which have been most thoroughly researched by science and industry. It is known that CBD is not psychoactive; THC, however, most certainly is.

CBN arises as a result of the interaction between THC and oxygen. It therefore has mild psychoactive properties. This is one of the significant ways in which it differs from CBD. Another difference is that CBN, in contrast to cannabidiol, can only dock on to the endocannabinoid system’s CB1 receptor very weakly. As yet, little is known about the binding properties of CBN and the CB2 receptor.

The effects of cannabinol (CBN)

The fact that cannabis products affect the body via the endocannabinoid system has been demonstrated. CBN does the same, although its ability to bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors is both lower than that of other substances and has not yet been sufficiently explored.

CBN has a sedative effect on the body. This effect becomes even stronger if THC is also present. Many experts[1] are of the opinion that 5 mg of CBN has the same calming effect as 10 mg of the sedative diazepam. Like CBN, diazepam has a psychoactive effect – although this effect is very mild in the case of CBN. Another effect of CBN may be that it helps people to fall asleep.

Some scientists are even of the opinion that, in the case of CBN, the very slight psychoactive effect can generally be ignored. Thus, nothing ought to stand in the way of the legal medical application of CBN.

Research findings also suggest that CBN may well help to stimulate the growth of bone tissue. This results from the fact that CBN induces the indirect recruitment of mesenchymal stem cells from the surrounding bone marrow. CBN can therefore function as an important aid in the effective healing of bone fractures.

The desired effects of CBN

There are other ways in which CBN can be helpful, medically speaking, in addition to helping the body to heal bone fractures[2]. CBN can also help in the case of the skin disease known as psoriasis. Psoriasis causes the skin to develop sharply defined, slightly raised, reddish disease foci, where white scales form and cover the skin. The medical condition mostly affects on the tailbone, elbows, knees and scalp. The nails can also be affected. According to one study, taking CBN can mitigate the excess growth of skin cells in such cases[3]. CBN helps to regulate the production of skin cells back to a normal level.


According to one study[4], CBN’s regulatory effects on the skin can also help in the more effective treatment of the skin after burns. In addition, the study results allow the conclusion that CBN can also be helpful in the treatment of MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).

As in the case of CBD, the best-researched properties of CBN are its anti-inflammatory and its analgesic properties. These make CBN a potentially potent aid in the treatment of burns victims, in addition to regulating the growth of skin cells.

The soothing properties of CBN are also helpful. One study[5] shows that CBN prolongs sleep considerably in test subjects (rodents).

Side-effects of CBN?

As yet, no harmful side-effects of CBN have been identified. However, it should be noted that, in large doses, the sedative effects of CBN can have a soporific effect. This should be taken into account if, for example, you wish to operate cars, lorries or heavy machinery after taking it.

In general, pregnant women and those taking medication are advised to discuss the matter of CBN with their doctors in detail before taking any. Doctors are usually in a good position to make such assessments.

Although there is still more to be discovered about CBN specifically, with regard to cannabis products in general (except THC) no adverse effects on the human body have been observed.

What distinguishes CBN from THC and CBD?

One of the main differences between CBD and CBN is the way in which they interact with the receptors of the endocannabinoid system. Whilst CBD docks on to CB1 and CB2 receptors relatively easily, CBN is not as reactive. In contrast to CBD, CBN appears to influence the ECS directly, rather than indirectly via the receptors.

Another difference between CBD and CBN is that CBD forms together with THC at the beginning of the life of the cannabis plant. Apart from this, CBD fundamentally has nothing in common with THC. In the case of CBN it’s a different story. Without THC, there would be no such thing as CBN. In straightforward terms, if THC is exposed to oxygen for long enough, CBN is formed.

Buying CBN – what kinds of CBN products are there?

In the low doses in which it is found in full spectrum products CBN can contribute to the entourage effect. This effect results from the presence of a great many different constituent compounds from the cannabis plant. The term β€œentourage effect” refers to the idea that the effect of all the constituent compounds taken together is greater than that of the sum of the individual effects.

CBN can be found, for example, in …

… as well as in many other products.

A wide range of substances are available, and everyone should try to work out what works best for them. The best approach includes seeking advice, medical consultation and straightforward trial and error. Many product descriptions also provide plenty of useful information about CBN.

Tips on the right way to use CBN

Just as there are various products containing CBN, there are also different ways to use them. Droplets of oil can simply be left under the tongue, thus entering the bloodstream very quickly. Applied to the affected area, ointments and creams develop their effects selectively but more slowly than oils do. E-liquids are absorbed by means of vaporisers (e-cigarettes). This way, the active substances rapidly enter the body via the lungs.


  • CBN is an effective sedative and is easy to dose.
  • It is obtained by the oxidation of THC, which is psychoactive. This property is barely present in CBN.
  • Due to its skin regulating, anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, CBN is particularly suitable for the treatment of burns to the skin.
  • Those who have problems falling asleep can take advantage of the calming effects of CBN.

[1] – 07.11.2019

[2] – 07.11.2019

[3] – 07.11.2019

[4] – 07.11.2019

[5] – 07.11.2019

Taking products containing cannabinoids may result in interactions with various medications. If you are already taking medication, the use of CBD and other cannabinoids should be discussed with your doctor beforehand.

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About the author

Stefan K.

Stefan K.

Stefan is not only a valuable part of the CannaTrust magazine but also convinces with his sound knowledge about the effects of cannabinoids. As an author in Austria he gathered valuable experiences when writing for 'Stadtblatt Salzburg'. He got in contact with cannabis through several positive media reports. Nowadays he writes about everything around the most popular cannabinoid these days: CBD.