Guide to CBN (Cannabinol): Effects, Benefits and Risks to Know

Cannabinol, commonly known as CBN, is a minor cannabinoid (typically found in less than 1% concentration in cannabis) that has gained popularity and demand recently. Because CBD and THC are much more abundant in the plant and more popular, they have been the focus of studies and interest to date. But increasingly this has shifted to minor cannabinoids including CBN because of their unique benefits and health-promoting properties. CBN in particular is powerful at supporting sleep and relaxation in particular, making it ideal for those with sleep issues. It also has notable anti-inflammatory and analgesic benefits. Let’s take a look at how it works, why you might consider using it plus risks and side effects to be aware of. We’ll also cover its legal status in Australia.

What is CBN?

CBN is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid compound that does not produce the psychoactive effects commonly associated with THC. It is derived from the degradation of THC over time, usually through exposure to oxygen and heat. This natural process converts THC into CBN, resulting in a less potent, but still therapeutic compound. While it can be stimulated directly, this conversion process also occurs naturally over time. Because of this older cannabis plants tend to have greater quantities of CBN due to progressive THC degradation. CBN can be readily absorbed by the body and isn’t toxic.

CBN’s subjective effects and experience are typically considered to be very mild. Most people notice becoming slightly more relaxed and at ease which helps them rest before sleeping. It doesn’t cause euphoria or high like THC because it’s non-psychoactive.

How CBN Works

CBN interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the human body. The ECS plays a crucial role in internal regulation or homeostasis. Endocannabinoids produced from cannabinoid intake like CBN are thought to operate in boosting homeostatic function which helps to manage mood, memory, inflammation and sleep. 

Unlike THC, which has a strong affinity for CB1 receptors in the brain, CBN has a lower affinity for these receptors and doesn’t act as strongly on them. This may explain its lack of psychoactivity, making it an appealing option for those seeking therapeutic effects without high side effect risk or intoxication. 

CBN has a strong preference and interaction with CB2 receptors, primarily found in the immune system. Studies have suggested that CBN may act as a partial agonist for these receptors, meaning it can stimulate them to produce different effects. This interaction potentially gives rise to the inflammation-lowering benefits commonly associated with CBN. It is thought to assist the immune system in signalling and avoiding excessive or chronic inflammatory responses that can lead to conditions like IBS or rheumatoid arthritis.

CBN is just one of the many cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, each with its unique properties and potential benefits. Its interaction with the endocannabinoid system and potential therapeutic benefits make it an area of great interest for researchers and individuals seeking natural remedies. 

Therapeutic Uses of CBN

CBN, or cannabinol, is a compound that is gaining attention for its potential therapeutic uses. While research is still ongoing, there are several areas where CBN shows promise as a natural remedy. Let’s explore some of the potential benefits of CBN in more detail.

CBN for Pain Relief and Inflammation

One of the most promising aspects of CBN is its potential as a natural pain reliever. Research has suggested that CBN may have analgesic properties, which could position it as an alternative to traditional opiate-based pain medications. CBN is believed to interact with CB1 receptors in a way that reduces pain sensitivity. These receptors and the endocannabinoids they produce can downregulate pain sensations in the nerve cells, offering a potential solution for individuals suffering from pain.

In addition, it may help alleviate inflammation in the body, which can contribute to pain and discomfort. By soothing both pain and inflammatory symptoms, CBN has the potential to provide significant relief for individuals dealing with various types of pain. In particular, it can help with pain from inflammatory problems like some forms of arthritis, colitis and eczema. Animal studies have indicated its capacity for fighting inflammation markers and lowering symptoms of soreness in mice models

Furthermore, CBN has been found to have muscle-relaxant properties. This means that it may help ease muscle tension and spasms, providing additional relief for those suffering from conditions such as fibromyalgia or muscle strains.

CBN for Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders like sleep apnoea or insomnia affect a significant portion of the population, and finding an effective solution can be difficult. CBN has shown promise in this area by helping to normalise sleep via homeostasis. Studies have suggested it has sedative effects, helping individuals with sleep-related issues to achieve a more restful and rejuvenating sleep experience. This includes the ability to improve REM sleep length and overall length of sleep.

CBN’s sedative effects are believed to be a result of its interaction with the endocannabinoid system, which plays a role in regulating sleep-wake cycles. By promoting relaxation and reducing anxiety, CBN helps people get to sleep faster and remain in their slumber longer. Additionally, CBN has been found to have a calming effect on the mind, which can help to quiet racing thoughts or anxiety that interferes with sleep. Its pain-lowering properties can also assist people whose pain impacts their ability to sleep. By improving the overall quality of sleep, CBN may help individuals wake up feeling more refreshed and energized.

CBN’s Neuroprotective Benefits

Neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, pose significant challenges to patients and their families. Excitingly, research has indicated that CBN may have neuroprotective properties. CBN has been found to promote the growth of new brain cells and protect existing neurons, potentially slowing down the progression of neurodegenerative conditions.

Furthermore, CBN has antioxidant properties, which means it can help neutralize harmful free radicals in the brain. Free radicals are molecules that can cause damage to cells and contribute to the development of various diseases, including neurodegenerative disorders. Toxins, pollutants and other harmful substances contain free radicals or emit them. By reducing oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain, CBN may help protect against the damage associated with these conditions.

Additionally, CBN has shown potential in reducing the severity and frequency of seizures in individuals with epilepsy. Although more research is needed in this area, the early findings are promising and suggest that CBN may be a valuable addition to the treatment options for epilepsy alongside CBD which is already used in epilepsy medication such as Epidiolex.

Side Effects of CBN

CBN is well tolerated, but side effects can still occur with its use in some people, particularly when taking it for the first time or if the individual is sensitive to cannabinoids.

Common Side Effects

Some individuals may experience mild symptoms when using CBN. These common side effects include:

  • Drowsiness: because CBN has relaxant and sedative properties, it can cause feelings of excessive drowsiness or sleepiness. This shouldn’t be an issue if you’re using it for sleep but can impact daytime energy if too much is taken.
  • Dry Mouth: also known as cottonmouth, an excessively dry mouth is often associated with the use of cannabis products including CBN. It can temporarily reduce saliva production, leading to a dry and sticky sensation in the mouth. This usually passes quickly or can be counteracted through lozenges.
  • Slight Dizziness: In some cases, CBN may cause a mild sensation of dizziness. 

It is important to note that these side effects are typically temporary and subside as the compound is metabolized by the body. If these symptoms persist or worsen, it is recommended to check in with your doctor.

Long-term Effects

CBN is a minor cannabinoid and hasn’t received as much attention from researchers in the past few decades until now. It’s still being studied currently, meaning its long-term effects are not yet fully understood. While it shows extensive promise as a therapeutic tool, further research is needed to establish its long-term safety and efficacy.

It is essential for individuals considering long-term CBN usage to consult with a physician first. They can provide personalized guidance based on an individual’s specific health condition and medical history. Additionally, they’ll help to monitor for adverse effects and adjust treatment plans to best suit your needs.

Research studies are ongoing to explore the long-term effects and risks of CBN, including its impact on cognitive function, cardiovascular health, and liver function. These studies aim to provide a comprehensive understanding of CBN’s safety profile in depth. Rarely, adverse effects or issues are ever reported with using it.

Comparing CBN with Other Cannabinoids

Let’s take a look at how CBN compares to the THC and CBD cannabinoids which are the most popular and well-known. These all share a common origin but have distinct properties and effects.


CBN and CBD may both be derived from the cannabis plant, but their purposes and benefits differ. CBD is better known for its anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and anxiolytic properties. It excels at lowering anxiety in users. Many individuals turn to CBD for relief from pain, anxiety, and other health issues like arthritis.

In contrast, CBN’s focus lies in its sedative, analgesic, and neuroprotective effects. It is more widely used for sleep and relaxation. Often it is referred to as the ‘sleepy’ or ‘sleep’ cannabinoid for this reason. Most use it as a natural sleep aid, helping individuals achieve a restful night’s sleep similarly to CBD. Additionally, it has been studied for its neuroprotective properties, which may be beneficial for individuals with conditions such as Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis.

Understanding the differences between CBN and CBD can help individuals make informed choices when seeking relief from specific health challenges. Depending on their desired effects, individuals can choose the cannabinoid that aligns best with their needs.


Another important comparison to make is between CBN and THC. While both cannabinoids originate from the same precursor, they have distinct effects on the body and mind.

THC, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, is the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis. It is responsible for the “high” associated with consuming marijuana. THC strongly affects the cannabinoid CB1 receptors in the brain, leading to psychoactive effects. Many use THC for recreational purposes or to alleviate symptoms such as pain, nausea, or loss of appetite.

In contrast, CBN is non-intoxicating and does not produce the same psychoactive effects as THC. Users can take it without concern for unwanted mind-altering effects. CBN’s sedative properties make it great for those seeking relaxation or help with sleep, but it can’t assist with nausea or pain like THC. Advantageously, CBN won’t trigger anxiety and offers a more calming, non-intoxicating experience.

By understanding the properties and effects of cannabinoids like CBN, CBD, and THC, individuals can make informed decisions about which compounds may be most beneficial for their specific needs. Whether seeking relief from pain, better sleep, or other therapeutic effects, exploring the various cannabinoids derived from the cannabis plant opens up a world of potential health benefits.

Legal Status of CBN in Australia

The legal status of CBN varies across jurisdictions. In Australia, CBN derived from hemp with less than 0.3% THC is legal providing it is low in strength or dosage. However, specific regulations and restrictions in one’s state can vary. It’s important to check the rules yourself before purchasing or using CBN products.

How to Use CBN

Just like CBD, CBN is available in many product types. You can find it today in CBN oils, tinctures, edibles, capsules, topicals and more. Choosing a product and dosage depends on your own needs and conditions. It is roughly similar to CBD in dosage and frequency of use. You’ll typically want to take several drops a few times a day and ramp up your dose over time. Start with 100mg per day or less. Finding the best dose will take some experimenting to get right. Most people take CBN before bed to help with their sleep but you can use it at any time during the day.

Using a small amount at first is important to check if you have any sensitivities or risk of side effects. You’ll need to give CBN time to work. It’s less powerful and therefore less likely to be noticed than CBD or THC. It also takes longer to act in the body than these cannabinoids. Finding a full-spectrum or broad-spectrum CBN product is generally the best option to combine it with terpenes and other cannabinoids. These amplify the overall health benefits you’ll get via the entourage effect. Terpenes are synergistic with CBN and help it to get absorbed.


CBN certainly holds its own as a cannabinoid despite being much less known and studied. But this is changing as scientists and users explore its health benefits in more depth. In particular, CBN excels as a sleep aid, pain reliever, and anti-inflammatory agent. It rivals CBD in these effects but is also non-psychoactive so has a strong safety profile versus THC. CBN has built a reputation as the ‘sleepy’ cannabinoid and most users take it for enhanced sleep quality and length. But many simply use it for its relaxing, calming effects and ability to help minimise pain symptoms. It’s straightforward to find today as CBN oil or other products and can be taken similarly to CBD either as an isolate or full-spectrum formulation.