What is CBN? What to know about the latest cannabis-based sleep aid

Not to be confused with CBD, CBN gummies have been taking off lately. But what are they?

By Kelly Vaughan
Published September 15, 2021 11:59AM (EDT)
Scientists display 3 cannabinoids extract, CBN, CBD and THC at Rangsit University in Pathum Thani Province, north of Bangkok.  (Guillaume Payen/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Scientists display 3 cannabinoids extract, CBN, CBD and THC at Rangsit University in Pathum Thani Province, north of Bangkok. (Guillaume Payen/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

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For the last couple of years, CBD has taken over the beauty, food and drink, and wellness industries in the form of every type of product ranging from bath salts to fruit gummies to seltzer water to chocolate to oil drops. However, there's a new cannabis-derived chemical that is soon to become just as popular as CBD, thanks to its ability to aid in a good night's sleep. Meet CBN. It's a cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant that offers relaxing, sleepy properties, which means your sleep might be more restful after consuming CBN gummies or oil drops.

What is CBN?

Cannabinol, aka CBN, is derived from hemp plants. "CBN and CBD are both cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, but they have different chemical structures," explains Dr. Elizabeth Ardillo, Director of Medical Education at Green Thumb Industries. When THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the main active ingredient in cannabis, is heated and exposed to Co2 (oxygen), it converts to what is known as CBN. So what makes it the latest and greatest cannabis-derived product? "CBN products are popular right now because they help promote a better night's sleep. They have a relaxing effect," she adds.

But what about CBD?

They're just one letter off, so what's the difference between CBD and CBN? CBD, which is a Cannabidiol, is present in cannabis and hemp plants. On the other hand, CBN is created by exposing THC to light. Biology aside, CBN has mild psychoactive effects unlike CBD products; you may feel a high from taking a CBN product, but it won't be nearly as intense as the high you'd feel from consuming THC.

The benefits of taking CBN

Similar to CBD, the benefits of consuming CBN include improved sleep quality, pain relief, and anti-inflammation. However, CBN is far more powerful when it comes to sleep. "CBD is not as useful as CBN when we're talking about those relaxing properties," explains Dr. Ardillo. After taking a CBN supplement, the average consumer can expect to feel the effects within 30 to 180 minutes. "We don't want anyone to take a dose and after 15 minutes, take another dose because they're not feeling any effects. Understanding how these products work is very important to ensuring your health and safety," she says. If you are not feeling the effects of CBN, wait at least one hour before taking another dose.

CBN products

Currently, CBN products are treated more like marijuana than CBD, meaning that you can only purchase CBN in states where recreational marijuana is legal, or where a licensed medical professional can provide you with a prescription. Unlike CBD, which is widely available at big retailers like Sephora, Urban Outfitters, CVS, and Amazon, CBN is only available through regulated, adult-use dispensaries.

Dr. Ardillo warns that you may feel a psychoactive high if you consume a CBN product, like Incredibles Snoozzzeberry Gummies if it also contains a low-dose of THC. "If you've never consumed cannabis before or it's been a while, you are more likely to feel a sense of euphoria," she says. If you're brand new to the world of cannabis products, Dr. Ardillo recommends new consumers start with no more than 2.5 milligrams of THC per dose of CBN. Once you become comfortable with the product and build a tolerance, you may want to increase the amount of THC in order to continue to feel the stress of the day wash away with, say, a blueberry gummy.


Kelly Vaughan

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