CBN: The Trendy New Cannabinoid…

It’s true that CBD and THC receive most of the acclaim. After all, most cannabinoid products are referred to as CBD oil rather than “cannabinoid oil” or any of the other 100-plus cannabinoids found in the Cannabis sativa plant. But what about all the other supporting cannabinoids that are often included in the popular topicals and ingestibles?

Take CBN, for instance. It’s been around just as long as CBD and THC but has received nowhere near the same level of attention. Maybe this is due to the lack of human studies? Or because you can’t actually cultivate a strand of hemp high in CBN.

We think it might be because not a lot of people really know what CBN is, or understand what it does. After all, CBN is just one of over 100 cannabinoids found in the Cannabis sativa plant. What makes it so special then? Today, we’ll answer all of these questions and more, including:

  • What is CBN?
  • Why has CBN suddenly risen in popularity?
  • Where does it come from?
  • Can you use CBN for sleep?
  • How does CBN interact with your body?

What Is CBN?

The CBN cannabinoid, a.k.a. cannabinol, is one of over 100 cannabinoids found in the Cannabis sativa plant that may help promote a sense of relaxation and help improve your sleep by regulating your sleep schedule. Despite the popularity of CBD and THC, CBN was actually one of the first cannabinoids to be discovered and researched by scientists.

This is because unlike some of the other cannabinoids derived from the plant, cannabinol does occur naturally as the Cannabis sativa plant ages, but is only clearly detectable in older hemp plants. The levels of CBN only increase as the plant ages, on account of the fact that CBN is formed by degrading THC. CBN can also be converted from THC after it is extracted from the plant by heating it or exposing it to oxygen.

In spite of its origins, cannabinol does not have the same intoxicating properties as THC and was legalized to be produced, sold, and consumed alongside CBD in the 2018 Farm Bill. With less than a quarter of THC’s potency, CBN is considered only mildly psychoactive and therefore will not produce the same “high” as products which contain more than the federally legalized amount of THC (0.3 percent).

So how exactly is CBN formed? And if it’s been around for so long, why is it just now rising in popularity in the CBD industry? As it turns out, both of those answers involve the same compound: THC.

CBN Is Formed Through Oxidation

Oxidation is the process with which a product or compound is chemically combined with oxygen. This process works by removing hydrogen atoms from one substance to form a new product. Just like when metal rusts.

Now take the molecular structures of CBN and THC, which are almost exactly the same. Except for the four hydrogen atoms that THC lost through oxidation, thereby forming CBN. As a much milder form of THC, CBN is actually one of the strongest cannabinoids when it comes to promoting relaxation and sleep.

Regardless of its origins, CBN does not have THC in it. With the loss of those hydrogen atoms, CBN became its own individual molecular structure, without anywhere near the same intoxicating properties. And since CBN occurs as THC degrades, it’s only natural that as hemp matures it contains more and more CBN and less THC.

CBN Isn’t Just Trendy, It’s Here To Stay

CBN is likely beginning to trend on the market today thanks to its relation to THC and relative ambiguous status as a cannabinoid. But in actuality, CBN plays a large role in the entourage effect, as it can actually bind to both cannabinoid receptors.

As CBD’s less well known cousin, CBN is nicknamed “the sleepy cannabinoid” because it’s actually the main cannabinoid responsible for promoting a sense of relaxation and helping you achieve better sleep at night. Which is exactly why we’ve included it in our superior broad spectrum CBD formula from the very beginning and didn’t hesitate to incorporate it into our new line of full spectrum CBD products.

Oh, and did we mention that when combined with melatonin in our award winning CBD PM for sleep formula, you’re all but guaranteed a good night’s sleep. Because what’s more important than waking up feeling rested and ready to take on the next day? Especially since a lot of health concerns have been linked to a lack of sleep and inconsistent sleep schedule.

Of course, if you’re well versed in CBD and the other popular cannabinoids contained in our broad spectrum CBD and full spectrum CBD formulas, the amazing powers of CBN are probably old news. At cbdMD, we’ve always included CBN in each and every one of our products, and we probably always will.

Despite its recent rise in popularity, we’ve known all along what using CBN for sleep could do, and all the other amazing benefits you could receive from its relaxing properties. Although there is still further research needed on the subject as CBN cannabinoid studies are still lagging behind those of CBD and THC.

But what we do know is that CBN interacts with your body through the cannabis receptors in your endocannabinoid system, which in turn affect your hormones, immune system, central nervous system, and so much more.

The Endocannabinoid System

Your endocannabinoid system, or ECS, is a complex network designed specifically to help your body achieve and maintain your overall and wellness. Cannabinoids such as CBN are only able to interact with your body because of the endocannabinoid system. But that’s not all the ECS does. Every vertebrate, including mammals, has an endocannabinoid system which helps regulate their systems.

The main purpose of your endocannabinoid system is to help your body maintain homeostasis, or a stable internal condition necessary for your survival. This means stabilizing both your mental and physical responses to internal or external stimuli. In other words, your ECS works to keep your mood level up, stress levels down, and heart rate steady when something around you changes.

This is referred to as negative feedback, and it’s the process with which your body self-stabilizes in response to change. Basically, this means that your internal workings will remain steady unless something happens and requires your body to raise or lower its functions back to return to its neutral, optimal state.

Although many researchers are still studying the many complexities of the endocannabinoid system, we now know that the ECS is not only connected to the brain and nervous system, but your skin, bone, tissue, and multiple other biological structures. But how is all this possible? And what does it have to do with cannabinoids like CBD and CBN?

Cannabinoid Receptors

There are currently two known types of cannabinoid receptors included in the endocannabinoid system that enable it to function at the level it does. And they’ve appropriately, and very originally, been named cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2). Both receptors have varying responsibilities and work within different areas of your body, although they do hold some similar functions, such as influence over your immune system.

A cannabinoid receptor’s main job is to transmit information to the inside of your cells regarding changes to your health and wellness so as to maintain homeostasis. And this happens through the use of endocannabinoids or phytocannabinoids, both of which are responsible for activating your cannabinoid receptors.

Endocannabinoids are produced naturally within your body, on an as-needed basis with a short half life, making it somewhat tricky for scientists to study them. Phytocannabinoids, however, are synthesized naturally from things such as the Cannabis sativa plant. CBD and CBN, for example, are both phytocannabinoids that help activate various parts of your endocannabinoid system by binding with your cannabinoid receptors.

CB1 receptors are clustered mainly in the brain and spinal cord through your central nervous system (CNS), with a few dispersed throughout the rest of your body. These receptors help manage functions such as your motor activity and coordination, short term memory, appetite, and pain perception.

CB2 receptors, on the other hand, have a bit of a wider purview. Found predominantly in the peripheral nervous system (PNS), they influence things like your skeletal muscle, cardiovascular system, gut health, and even your reproductive system.

CBD typically binds to your body’s CB2 receptors while THC, another well known cannabinoid, often binds to your CB1 receptors, thereby more easily influencing your central nervous system. CBN, on the other hand, commonly binds to both your CB1 and CB2 receptors.

But what happens when you throw more than one cannabinoid into the mix, such as combining CBD, CBN, CBC (cannabichromene), and CBG (cannabigerol)?

The Entourage Effect Through Full Spectrum CBD

Now that you’ve got a handle on cannabinoid receptors and how they function within the endocannabinoid system, you should understand what the entourage effect is and how you can experience it with broad spectrum and full spectrum CBD. The fact that various cannabinoids can play off of each other, thereby increasing the benefits you experience with broad spectrum or full spectrum CBD, is a large part of what makes the entourage effect so very cool.

In simplest terms, the entourage effect happens when you use more than one cannabinoid at a time. These cannabinoids work together to boost the beneficial effects of each other, producing greater benefits than you would receive had you used a single cannabinoid.

So every CBD product produces the entourage effect then, right? Not exactly.

The reason we at cbdMD refer to our products as broad spectrum or full spectrum is that they contain either a broad range of cannabinoids or the full range. Whereas some other CBD products may be made from CBD isolate and therefore contain nothing else. That being said, the entourage effect results you may see will still vary between our broad spectrum CBD and full spectrum CBD formulas.


Because our full spectrum CBD products contain the most phytocannabinoids, flavonoids, terpenes, and essential oils found inside the Cannabis sativa plant. Yes, that includes THC. While our full spectrum CBD formula incorporates less than the legal amount of THC (0.3 percent), we maintain that our broad spectrum CBD products are THC-free.* That THC is not going to intoxicate you, it’s just enough to trigger the full benefits of the entourage effect.

So no, you do not need to include THC in order to see the benefits of the entourage effect. The inclusion of a minimal amount of THC only allows the entourage effect to become mildly more powerful.

CBN and cbdMD

Like we mentioned above, at cbdMD we include the CBN cannabinoid for sleep and the promotion of general relaxation in all of our products, no matter whether they’re broad spectrum or full spectrum. We do this not only to give you the most benefits possible from the entourage effect but because without CBN our CBD oil wouldn’t be able to bring you such a wide variety of benefits all in one package.

If you’re new to CBD oil products and aren’t sure where to begin, we recommend starting with one of the milder concentrations of our superior broad spectrum CBD formula, like our standard CBD oil tincture. Or maybe you want to try something a little more fun (and tastier). In that case, our premium CBD gummies might be the best choice for you.

Both of which we recommend taking for at least 30 days before you decide to change the frequency or concentration of CBD. But no matter what you decide, it’s important to remember that you should always talk with your doctor before starting a new daily supplement regimen. Even if you don’t currently have any health concerns, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

For more information on how the CBN cannabinoid is made, or how you can best use CBN for sleep and relaxation, keep an eye on our frequently updated blog. Interested in staying up to date on the latest CBD news and cbdMD’s upcoming special offers? Connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, or chat with someone live today!

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