But along with promoting rest and relaxation, research and anecdotal evidence suggest CBN may also have therapeutic potential for pain.
In this article, we’ll explore CBN’s potential benefits for pain, how it works, and how to use it for the best results.
What is CBN?
Cannabinol, or CBN, is a naturally occurring cannabinoid in the hemp plant (hemp is cannabis with less than 0.3% THC by dry weight).
CBN is a minor cannabinoid, meaning it only occurs in hemp in very small amounts. Contrast this with CBD and THC, both of which are very abundant in hemp.
Although it was discovered by scientists nearly a century ago, CBN went largely under the radar until people noticed that CBN-heavy THC flower produced a deeper, drowsier high than regular THC flower.
This led some people to believe that CBN had sedating effects, and as a result, CBN is widely used for sleep and insomnia.
Some of CBN’s fame as a sleep aid may be due to marketing. However, there is scientific and anecdotal evidence to suggest it may indeed have relaxing and sedating effects.
The Effects of CBN
Anecdotal evidence suggests CBN has sedating, mildly psychoactive effects. Most people compare CBN’s effects to those of THC, but say it’s only about one-fourth as strong.
Other CBN users say that it has very little psychoactive effect – it varies from person to person. Either way, most people who use CBN report that it promotes drowsiness and relaxation, with some even reporting that it has similar therapeutic benefits for pain that cannabinoids such as CBG do.
Can CBN Help With Pain? What Research Says
The scientific evidence suggesting that CBN may help with pain is limited. However, taken in combination, it seems to suggest that CBN has some therapeutic potential for discomfort.
We’ll dive deeper into the CB2 receptors in the next section, but through this interaction, CB2 agonists (such as CBN) may inhibit inflammatory and neuropathic pain sensations.
In addition to the formal research, firsthand accounts suggest CBN may be beneficial for various forms of discomfort, including sciatic pain, muscle pain, and general inflammation.
Some people even say CBN is better than CBD for this purpose — this is likely due to the fact that CBN also brings deep mental relaxation, in addition to being physically soothing.
CBN for Pain: How It Works
We mentioned that CBN affects the CB2 receptors. These receptors are a part of your endocannabinoid system (ECS), with which CBN and all other cannabinoids work to render benefits.
The ECS is a receptor system responsible for keeping your body in a state of balance. The ECS does this by regulating your vital functions — it influences every system your body uses for moment-to-moment functioning.
Among many other things, the ECS regulates your pain and inflammatory responses.
There are two main types of receptors found in the ECS:
- CB1 receptors, which produce mental effects upon interacting with cannabinoids
- CB2 receptors, which produce physical effects upon interacting with cannabinoids
CBN is able to interact with both types of receptors, thereby rendering mental relaxation and a mild head high (via CB1) while promoting therapeutic relaxation (via CB2), and therefore having the potential to benefit pain and inflammation.
Side Effects of CBN
For all of CBN’s many benefits, it does have a few side effects:
- Grogginess the morning after (if you take it at night)
How to Take CBN for Pain: Product Types
There are a variety of different ways you can take CBN, and each has its upsides and downsides. In this section, we’ll discuss each consumption method so you can choose the one that’s right for you.
For reference, bioavailability refers to the percentage of the cannabinoids you ingest that your body can use.
Average Bioavailability: 10-20%
Starts Working In: 45 minutes to 1 hour
The most common type of CBN edibles are gummies. Edibles are fixed-dose – since each gummy will contain the same amount of CBN, this is an ideal consumption method if you want to take the same amount each time.
Since edibles have to pass through your digestive system, however, they take anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 hour to begin having an effect.
Average Bioavailability: 10-20%
Starts Working In: 45 minutes to 1 hour
CBN can also be taken in a capsule form. Capsules are pretty much identical to edibles — they offer a fixed-dose consumption method, and they’re digested so they take the same amount of time to start working.
One thing to be aware of with capsules is that they can’t easily be split if you need to take a smaller dose of CBN than is contained in a single piece.
Average Bioavailability: 20-30%
Starts Working In: 10 to 15 minutes
CBN can be taken sublingually (under the tongue) in an oil form. Sublingual consumption delivers cannabinoids straight to your bloodstream via the blood vessels in the bottom of your mouth.
For this reason, CBN oil acts more quickly and has a higher bioavailability than digestion-based oral consumption forms.
Oils are an ideal choice if you need to take very small or precise doses of CBN. The metered dropper that comes in most oil products allows you to measure your dosage down to the drop.
Flower and Vapes
Average Bioavailability: 50-60%
Starts Working In: 5 to 10 minutes
There are many high-CBN strains of hemp flower, as well as CBN vapes. Inhalable consumption is both faster-acting and higher in bioavailability than sublingual consumption (oils). This is because, when inhaled, CBN is delivered directly to your lungs via smoke or vapor.
There is an obvious health risk to inhalable methods — you have to decide if the higher bioavailability and quicker onset time are worth it.
Additionally, if you need a very precise dose, inhalable CBN consumption isn’t ideal, as it’s hard to measure the amount of cannabinoids you’re getting in each puff.
CBN Dosage for Pain
Because CBN will get you high, it may be overwhelming if you’re a first-time user.
That’s why, starting out, we recommend taking a small dose of CBN and working your way up, unless you’re already experienced with psychoactive cannabinoids.
You can measure your starting dose with this formula:
(0.05) x (your body weight in lbs.) = your daily dose of CBN for pain in mg.
Once you’ve used this dose for a few days, you can slowly work your way up (or down) depending on how you feel and how it’s working for you.
Conclusion: A Natural Pain Supplement?
Although anecdotal evidence is promising, more research on CBN for pain is needed — specifically, research done on humans — before we know how reliable it is for treating physical discomfort.
Still, CBN may provide an alternative to CBD and CBG if you’re looking for mild psychoactive effects in addition to physical relaxation, but don’t want something quite as powerful as delta 8 or delta 9 THC.
CBN for Pain: Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some questions our customers frequently ask us about using CBN for pain.
Is CBN a pain reliever?
Although more research on CBN’s efficacy as a pain reliever is needed, preliminary studies and anecdotal evidence suggest it may have the potential to address pain and inflammation.
Is CBN or CBG better for pain?
Neither CBN nor CBG is necessarily a superior cannabinoid for pain. Rather, they both render physical relaxation, but with noticeably different mental effects. CBN is drowsy and sedating, whereas CBG is uplifting and energizing.
Is CBN more powerful than CBD?
CBN has psychoactive effects that are roughly one-fourth as strong as those of THC. CBD, on the other hand, is not psychoactive and will not cause any sort of high effect.
Does CBN make you feel good?
Most people report that CBN delivers an enjoyable sense of deep relaxation and calming, and that it may have therapeutic benefits for sleep, pain, and anxiety.