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What Is CBN? Is it a better sleeping pill?


When it comes to CBN gelcaps, it is important to understand that first, it’s all very experimental at this stage, so people who want to try a natural plant remedy for sleep need to approach with caution.  Secondly, it’s not the CBN that elicits sleep, it’s the combination of CBN with CBD and THC — it’s that  combination that causes drowsiness and, one can hope, a good night’s sleep. 

The Sisters took a close look at the CBN gelcap providers easiest to find.  Half don’t declare the CBD or THC contents.  Yet, scientists have confirmed that CBN alone does nothing to help with sleep.  It is the combination that promotes sleep. Beware of buying CBN that just touts the mg of one compound.  The person taking it needs to know the ratio or mg of CBD and THC, because all three compounds work together to bring good sleep, or that’s the theory.

According to the Sleep Foundation:
“Although cannabis products like CBN show promise for helping people fall asleep quicker and stay asleep through the night, additional high-quality research is needed to understand the potential effects of cannabinoids on sleep.”

We are clearly at the early stages of understanding the medical benefits of combining, or rather, magnifying, certain medicinal compounds from the cannabis plant, but experts are hopeful that CBN+ (in combination with other compounds) hold the potential for inducing sleep, alleviating pain, boosting appetite, supporting the immune system, flighting inflammation, managing attention deficits, slowing tumor growth and treating glaucoma.

CBN comes from age, dried THC.  Early studies indicate that CBN amplifies, in some way, the THC, and because of that, some consider CBN formulas to be mildly psychoactive.  In normal doses, less than 15 mg of CBN in the formula, it is not psychoactive, but it has the potential to be psychotropic when multiple doses are consumed.

Cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinol (CBN) are two of the more than 100 types of natural chemical components called cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant.  Though CBD and CBN interact with the same receptors in your body, they produce different effects.  CBN is formed as THC naturally degrades.  So old, dried, THC turns into CBN.  The degradation process occurs naturally when the plant is exposed to heat, air and/or light.

CBD and CBN bind with CB2 receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system.  This plays a role in balancing the central nervous system and is  associated with immune system regulation.

It takes a lot of aged, dried THC cannabis to make a little CBN and so there just hasn’t been enough out there for people or scientists to experiment with.  It has not been readily available in quantities and at prices that the public could begin to join in and push forward the social understanding.  Just in the past year, concentrate labs began processing it as a special formula, CBD plus CBN plus trace amounts of THC. 

There is little human or animal research available at this time on the benefits, uses, and side effects, but laboratories are balancing it with CBD and growers are showing new respect for aged, dried cannabis. 

CBN in combination with CBD is slowly gaining popularity for its potential benefits in replacing sleeping pills, along with the pain management properties inherent in the latter compound.  Scientists clearly believe that this combination of CBD plus CBN plus THC will become relied upon as a sleep agent, for pain relief, and for its neuroprotective properties.

Because most CBN gelcaps come with more CBD than CBN, in ratios of 3:1 down to 1.3 to 1, it is important to understand the health benefits of the CBD you are consuming side by side the CBN.

CBD: Benefits and Uses

When doctors are confronted with the question, ‘what does CBD help with?’ they frequently respond with a double negative:  there is virtually no condition that cannot be helped by CBD.  In other words, virtually all conditions benefit from CBD.

According to webmd.com, there are four main categories of human suffering that CBD alleviates:

  1. Reduces symptoms of insomnia; helps body achieve better quality of sleep.
  2. Successfully mitigates chronic pain.  CBD is an anti-inflammatory and is known to help with joint and muscle pain. 
  3. Combats epileptic seizures – significantly reduces the number of seizures and with some patients, eliminates them altogether; currently being recommended to patients with Parkinson’s disease, Schizophrenia, Diabetes, Multiple sclerosis, Anxiety and Cancer. 
  4. Addictions – known to ease the pain of withdrawals from other harmful substances.

CBN: Benefits and Uses

Unlike CBD, which is entirely non-psychoactive, CBN in larger doses can produce mild psychoactive reactions.

The aging and breaking down of THC compounds in the cannabis plant creates CBN.  The process of aging cannabis produces the CBN that induces sleepiness. 

According to web md, one 2005 study found that CBN could help delay the onset of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a disease that affects cells in the brain and the spinal cord. CBN was given in small amounts for a period of 12 weeks and improvement made researchers optimistic.

Although CBD & CBN are not harmful, be careful about who you buy it from.  Make sure they are testing regularly and making those test results available at the point of purchase.  Make sure they are doing clean green tests annually.

A February 2023 article about CBN in Forbes magazine reports that CBN is currently being used in preclinical trials for the following:

  • Treating Skin Disease and Open Wounds
  • Reducing the Effects and Symptoms of Glaucoma
  • Relieving Chronic Muscle Pain

From the Forbes article, “A 2019 study on rats found CBN—as well as CBD and a mix of the two cannabinoids—decreased muscle sensitization. The researchers suggest CBN could provide pain relief for chronic muscle pain disorders, such as temporomandibular disorders (pain in the jaw muscles, joints and nerves) and fibromyalgia (a condition that causes pain all over the body).”

Potential Risks and Side Effects of CBN

According to the same article in Forbes magazine, there is some evidence that use of CBN could lead to failed drug tests.  One study found CBN led to a positive result in two different drug tests, and in one test, CBN even exhibited an “additive effect” with THC, essentially increasing the appearance of THC[4]. So even if you had virtually undetectable amounts of THC in your system, depending on the sensitivity of the drug test, the presence of CBN could skew your levels higher, resulting in a positive drug test.  (Forbes doesn’t say how many total tests were in the sample study, so we don’t know if 2 out of 2 failed or 2 out of 200.)

There is no known grogginess the day after, as long as people stick to the dosage appropriate for their weight.  Taking too many of the CBN gelcaps will cause next day drowsiness. 

CBN gelcaps were developed as a sleep aid and induce drowsiness by design.  They should only be taken for sleep and people must be aware that this is a new combination of ancient medicine.  People are advised not to mix CBN with other drugs or alcohol, without the specific advice of a doctor.

Understanding CBN Gelcaps

The Sisters of the Valley make a CBN gelcap that has 14 mg of CBD and 9 mg of CBN, plus some CBC, CBG and Delta 9 THC.  The chart shows how much you are getting if you take one gelcap, two gelcaps or three.  Most people can achieve good sleep with 1 to 2, larger people and people with chronic pain or sleeplessness might need three.

CBN dosing chart

Understanding Market Choices

There aren’t that many competitors offering CBN at this time, although the number of entrants to the market space is predicted to grow quickly.  By looking at the offerings and the price per mg of medicine, one can see that the Sisters have their products priced in the middle of the road and the range of CBD is from as high as 3:1 (CBD to CBN) to as low as 1.3 to 1.

Take CBN as a Sleep Aid

Because there is limited research on the use of CBN, there are no research-based guidelines for using cannabinol as a sleep aid. This can make it difficult to determine proper dosing.  Consult with your physician.  Pay close attention to your body and adjust dosage based on your body’s reaction.  Always and only take for sleep.  Don’t combine with alcohol or other drugs, unless your doctor says it is safe to do so.  Don’t take these for pain during the day, as they induce drowsiness.

CBN market comparison chart

CBN Gelcap Potency

CBN potency chart

Which gelcap is right for you?

Choice of Gelcaps

Combining Gelcaps

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