Understanding the Side Effects of the Cannabinoid CBN

CBN Molecular Formula

Understanding the Side Effects of the Cannabinoid CBN

CBN has medicinal properties you might not expect. It also has fewer and milder side effects than you’d expect. Read about CBN side effects and prevention.

You’ve heard that CBN has medicinal qualities, but you’re hesitant.

You’re accustomed to the pattern of hearing amazing things about a particular medicine that sounds too good to be true, only to find out about a laundry list of worrying side effects.

Is CBN the same way? Does it come with serious adverse effects? What are the benefits of taking CBN? How can I take advantage of those benefits while avoiding side effects? 

Continue reading to get answers to these questions and more.

A Brief Overview of CBN

CBN is a minor cannabinoid, one of the many naturally-occurring chemical compounds in cannabis plants. Cannabinol (CBN) is unique because it’s a by-product of another cannabinoid, THC.

THC is the cannabinoid responsible for the ‘high’ from marijuana. However, THC also exists in trace amounts (0.3%) in some non-intoxicating hemp plants.

When cannabis plant matter ages or gets exposed to heat, light, and/or oxygen, the THC breaks down, producing CBN.

Though CBN comes from THC, they are two different compounds with different effects. The foremost distinction is that CBN is mildly psychoactive. It has only a fraction of the psychoactive effects of THC, which we’ll explore in more detail later.

What are the Potential Benefits of CBN?

You may be pleasantly surprised to discover that many of the positive things you have heard about CBN are actually based in science. 

We must take all of CBN’s potential benefits with a grain of salt until there’s more substantial research behind them. But according to the latest research, here are some of the possible advantages people may experience from using CBN:

This is just a brief preview of cannabinol’s apparent healing abilities and therapeutic potential for a wide range of conditions.

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Does CBN Produce Psychoactive Effects?

As we discussed earlier, CBN does not have remotely the same level of psychoactive effects as THC, despite originating from THC. Whereas THC easily produces a ‘high’ that significantly impacts cognition and behavior, normal CBN doses (around 20-50 mg) do not have this effect. 

CBN is only mildly psychoactive, about 10-25% as potent as THC. One would have to consume an unusually large amount of CBN to achieve a similar ‘high’ to THC.

It’s safe to say that you don’t need to worry about becoming overwhelmingly intoxicated when using CBN for medicinal purposes.

What are the Side Effects of CBN?

Before any drug gets official approval as a clinical treatment, it has to undergo randomized and long-term trials to determine the extent and severity of any side effects. 

So far, there is very little research into CBN and its possible side effects. But in the existing research, science has yet to identify any particularly dangerous side effects from appropriate doses of CBN.

If users do find themselves having unexpected cannabinol effects like considerable drowsiness or changes in mental functioning and behavior, the culprit might be undisclosed THC levels in their CBN products.

One study of 84 CBD products discovered that 20 of them contained less CBD than advertised, and 18 products had THC. Though we don’t know of any similar quality investigations pertaining to CBN products, this illustrates the importance of getting CBN and other cannabinoid products from a source that uses third-party lab testing.

Always purchase CBN supplements from a certified provider that verifies products’ cannabinoid composition and labels the products accordingly. This is the first step towards getting the desired results and minimizing the effects you don’t want. 

Here are the minor side effects some people may have while taking CBN.


One of the most well-established effects of CBN is helping people fall and stay asleep more easily. So, if you’re taking CBN for another purpose, such as pain relief, be aware that drowsiness might be a side effect.

Relatedly, CBN may reduce blood pressure, so high doses could result in dizziness like some other cannabinoids.

Dry Mouth

While researchers don’t know enough yet about CBN to attribute certain side effects to it with medical certainty, we can look to other cannabinoids’ side effects. For example, many cannabinoids can lead to dry mouth, so CBN may also have this effect, especially if the user is already somewhat dehydrated.

Appetite Stimulant

Though CBN’s ability to stimulate the appetite and increase food intake is useful for chemo patients and individuals with HIV, most people don’t need to increase their appetite. So, appetite stimulation is an undesired effect for some people.

Increased Tolerance

Like other cannabinoids, regularly using CBN can cause you to build up a tolerance. This means your body gets used to your usual dosage, diminishing CBN’s effects. As a result, users may need to increase the dosage incrementally to continue getting the effects they’re looking for.

Drug Interactions

So far, there’s still very little information about drug interactions with CBN specifically. But cannabinoids, in general, are known to interact with some medications. This isn’t ideal for those worried about the possible unwanted effects of combining their regular medications with CBN.

Is CBN Considered a Sedative?

Not exactly. 

CBN does not meet the medical definition of a ‘sedative’ drug in the same way as alcohol, THC, or pharmaceutical drugs including barbiturates, benzodiazepines, hypnotics, antihistamines, anesthetics, muscle relaxers, opiates, antidepressants, and antipsychotics.

However, one of CBN’s predominant uses is falling and staying asleep. Many researchers consider CBN to be mildly sedating, and it may someday be a treatment for insomnia and other sleep problems. So it’s fair to say CBN has sedating effects in the sense that it can make some people feel slightly calmer and ease pain to get better sleep.

The above medications can have rather dramatic sedative effects, whereas CBN’s calming and light sedative effects are likely a result of terpenes. Terpenes are the aromatic oils responsible for the flavor, relaxation, stress relief, and increased focus of cannabis and cannabinoids.

The Best Ways to Use CBN Products and Prevent Side Effects  

While there’s no indication yet of any dire CBN side effects, you should still use as much caution with this supplement as you would when trying any other supplement or medication for the first time. Here’s what you can do to mitigate any possible CBN side effects: 

Check with your doctor first.

Talk to a doctor before taking CBN or other supplements. This is particularly important if you take any medications, so you and your doctor can rule out any unwanted drug interactions.

Go to a trustworthy source.

The risk of adverse effects could increase if you get your supplements from a source lacking certification, lab-testing, transparency, and honest claims about their cannabinoid products. Do your research on the company and make sure you feel you can trust them before buying any supplements. 

Know your goal.

In some cases, the user’s specific goal in taking CBN is the difference between a benefit and an undesired result. For example, if your goal is better sleep, maybe increased appetite is a downside of CBN. On the other hand, those taking CBN for pain relief may see possible drowsiness as a problem.

If you know your goal and what you don’t want to experience, you’ll have a better idea of whether CBN is right for you, what to discuss with your doctor, and when it might be time to reconsider this supplement.

Use in moderation.

Avoid overusing CBN. Taking too much increases the risk of CBN oil side effects, especially sleepiness.

Pay attention to dosage.

Follow dosage instructions on the product label. If you build up a tolerance, talk to a doctor about slowly and deliberately increasing your CBN dosage.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Reduce your chances of unwanted side effects by keeping a healthy baseline. This includes a consistent routine for eating, drinking water, exercising, and your sleep schedule.

FAQs About the Side Effects of CBN

What happens when you take too much CBN?

Taking substantial amounts of CBN might cause sleepiness or exaggerate CBN’s mild psychoactive properties.

What does CBN do to the brain?

CBN seems to have neuroprotective properties that might help prevent neurodegeneration and counteract cell death from brain aging.

Will CBN make me sleepy?

Probably. One of the widely understood effects of CBN is that people tend to fall asleep and stay asleep more easily.

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Does CBN help anxiety?

Possibly. Though cannabinol is not an approved clinical treatment for anxiety or other conditions, many people feel calmer taking CBN. Talk to a doctor if you’re suffering from anxiety.

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Does CBN raise your blood pressure?

No. CBN may lower blood pressure, but it is not known to raise blood pressure.

Does CBN have fewer possible side effects than you thought?

Many of us are used to weighing the pros and cons of pharmaceutical drugs with long lists of serious side effects. The idea of a natural remedy with so much therapeutic potential and mild side effects seems too good to be true. Though drowsiness, dry mouth, tolerance, increased appetite, and drug interactions are possible, responsible use can prevent and reduce CBN oil side effects.

It’s surprising that a seemingly safe and natural compound like CBN could offer relief from common complaints like pain and sleep disturbance while also holding promise as a future solution for serious conditions. But science does appear to support many potential benefits of CBN.

If learning about the side effects and how to prevent them has made you feel more comfortable with the idea of trying cannabinol, check out lab-tested CBN products that come from certified facilities and the latest research.