CBN Oil for Sleep -

What Science Reveals


CBN Oil for Sleep - What Science Reveals.

In the introductory article of our “Understanding Cannabinoids” series, we covered extensively scientific literature related to therapeutic effects of Cannabidiol (CBD). As discussed earlier, while CBD and THC are the most studied cannabinoids for their therapeutic effects, there are over a hundred others that have been identified in cannabis. See, Lafayte et al., Dialogues. Clin. Neurosci. 2017 Sep; 19(3): 309–316. While the non-psychotropic cannabinoid, Cannabidiol (CBD) has been touted for its health benefits, scientists continue to explore the role of other cannabinoids for their health benefits as well. One such cannabinoid is cannabinol (CBN). Here we highlight the literature regarding using CBN oil for sleep.

Cannabinol (CBN), much of which is thought to be formed from THC during the storage of harvested cannabis, was the first of the plant cannabinoids (phytocannabinoids) to be isolated, from a red oil extract of cannabis, at the end of the 19th century. See, Roger G. Pertwee, Br. J. of Pharm. (2006) 147, S163-S171. “CBN is usually found only in older cannabis plants. As the plant ages, it gets exposed to the elements, especially to high amounts of oxygen. The oxidation naturally converts the cannabinoid THC to CBN. Cannabinol preferentially binds to the cannabinoid G-protein coupled receptor CB2R, which is mainly expressed on a variety of immune cells, such as T-cells, B-cells, macrophages and dendritic cells. Stimulation of CB2R by CBN may both trigger apoptosis in these cells and inhibit the production of a variety of cytokines. Cannabinol exerts minimal affinity for CB1R and has a weak effect on the central nervous system.”

CBN oil can be sedative, anticonvulsant in animal and human studies, and has demonstrated significant properties related to anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, and anti-MRSA activity (minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) 11 μg/mL). See, Abstract, Russe et al., Advances in Pharmacology, 2017. CBN has potential as a component in topical applications, inhibiting keratinocyte proliferation (low micromolar) via cannabinoid receptor independent mechanisms, suggesting utility in psoriasis.

Like with most other cannabinoids, most of our CBN oil for sleep data revolves around anecdotal evidence. Individuals claim that its sedative effect can bring about various benefits to a human body. Unfortunately, the scientific data is still lagging.

In a study to evaluate treatment of insomnia comprising administering purified CBN oil concluded that “the extracts derived from Cannabis having a relatively high amount of the non-psychoactive Cannabinol have a potent sleep-inducing effect, counteracting successfully pre-existing insomnia.” See, Bray et al., U.S. Patent No. 9,763,991, Example 2. Bray et al., also demonstrate that CBN “has a strong effect in the treatment of insomnia, although it is possible other compounds in the extract also contribute to the effect. As a second conclusion, it is shown that the desired effect is independent of the presence of the psychoactive components of cannabis, in particular not dependent on THC.” See, Bray et al., Example 3. Furthermore, Bray et al., conclude that “the extract is applicable not just in treating anxiety but will also be useful in managing attention deficit disorder (ADHD) symptoms.” See, Bray et al., Example 4. Cannabinol (CBN) is suspected to have significant analgesic and anti-inflammatory action. See, Bray et al., Example 5. The psychoactive effects of CBN oil are expected to be minimal, thus making this compound potentially useful as treatment for a variety of diseases or conditions, including using CBN oil for sleep.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office, in the above mentioned patent, recently granted "[a] claim to a method of treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or chronic insomnia in a human in need thereof comprising administering a therapeutically effective amount of pure cannabinol to said human in need thereof to effectively treat the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or chronic insomnia in the human in need thereof, wherein said pure cannabinol is obtained by isolation and purification from a natural source or by synthetic means. See, Bray et al., Claim 1. In a related application, the Office granted a claim to “[a] method for treating an anxiety disorder or an insomnia disorder in a human in need thereof, comprising administering a therapeutically effective amount of pure cannabinol to the human in need thereof to effectively treat the anxiety disorder or insomnia disorder in said human in need thereof, wherein said pure cannabinol is obtained by isolation and purification from a natural source or by synthetic means.” See, Bray et al., U.S. Patent No. 10,413,578, Claim 1.

Difference between Cannabidiol (CBD) and Cannabinol (CBN):


Cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinol (CBN), are fundamentally two different molecules that have two separate origins. While industrial hemp plants and high-CBD marijuana strains have been high levels of CBD, the level of CBN in a cannabis flower or concentrate depends on the amount of heat and light it has been exposed to, and how old it is. See, Russo and Marcu, Advances in Pharmacology, 2017, pages 71-138. Again, this is because CBN is a byproduct of the action of light and heat on THC, in technical terms, a product of oxidation or degradation.

Despite the fundamental difference in the origin of these two components, they do share a lot of similarities in their purported medicinal effects. Neither produces an intoxicating high on its own, but they both affect the high when combined with THC. See, Russo and Marcu, pages 79 and 83. However, the presence of CBD tones down some of the negative effects of THC, like paranoia or anxiety, and the presence of CBN produces a gently sedative high that may be beneficial for people wanting to use cannabis for better sleep. See, Shannon et al., Perm J. 2019; 23: 18-041.

Studies regarding the combination effect of CBD and CBN suggest, together, they may provide analgesic relief for chronic muscle pain disorders such as temporomandibular disorders and fibromyalgia without central side effects. See, Abstract, Wong and Cairns, Archives of Oral Biology, Volume 104, August 2019, Pages 33-39.




CBN oil may be the most potent sedative of all the cannabinoids. This sedation makes it a robust sleep aid and treatment for poor sleep. CBN oil has been found to initiate sleep onset and prolong sleep times, in addition to reducing drowsiness and promoting wakefulness during the day. It has been shown to lull patients to sleep and recover sustained sleep. Using CBN oil for sleep may hold the key to feeling refreshed in the morning. This 'refresh' remains energized throughout the day when using CBN oil. However, more research on the exact processes it aids sleep and wakefulness is needed.


Sweet Dreams…

Medical Disclaimer

The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act require that we inform you that the efficacy of any cannabinoid, including, but not limited to, CBD or CBN, products has not been confirmed by FDA-approved research as a treatment for any medical condition. The information in this document is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Originally published by FP Botanicals on November 15, 2020.