Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Generally speaking, CBD is considered a safe substance when applied topically or taken orally. There are, however, some potential side effects to keep in mind when using this substance, the majority of which are mild.
Common Side Effects of CBD
She adds, “[Another difference is that] CBD is derived from hemp and has been classified as a legal substance. Hemp has <0.3% THC. Conversely, cannabis plants such as marijuana are grown to have much higher levels of THC and are still illegal according to the FDA, although individual states vary as to their use.”
Ultimately, the primary reasons why people use CBD is because it tends to have calming, relaxing, pain-reducing effects. It has been used to alleviate joint pain and nerve pain, reduce anxiety and stress, treat insomnia, improve migraines, and address nausea.
Wendy Rose Gould is a lifestyle reporter with over a decade of experience covering health and wellness topics.
I figured if I left buds sitting in a dish by the sunny window, it might result in higher CBN content—thereby, a handy DIY sleep medication. After doing so for awhile, I hadn’t noticed any differences in effect (just crunchiness), and so started digging to see if this was actually a feasible way to raise CBN levels.
As is often the case in cannabis, there’s a lot of research left to be done on this topic, but I did get my answer. Dr. Russo says, “Setting out cannabis in the sun is a good way to waste the monoterpenoid fraction and leave sedating sesquiterpenoids and CBN behind.” (However, he thinks this is likely to take a significant amount of time, and does not recommend my method.)
Things get murky on CBN and sleep
I turned to a CBN product (a 1:1 CBD/CBN tincture, to be precise), which happily did seem to deliver comparable results to the pharmaceutical insomnia medications I’d been taking. Knowing that THC degrades and turns into CBN when exposed to elements like heat, air and light over time, I wondered if I could devise a more cost-effective way to make CBN medicines from regular ol’ THC flower.
He shared that old cannabis tends to be sedating due to a loss of monoterpenoids and a retention of sesquiterpenoids, which have a soporific (or drowsy) effect. He added that the addition of another cannabinoid, CBN in this case, to a cannabis sleep regimen may increase the aforementioned entourage effect—but that CBN hasn’t been shown to be sedative on its own, and he contends that it is not more sedating than other cannabinoids.
It turns out, though there are numerous products in the cannabis industry that aim to promote sleep via CBN the link between the two lacks scientific foundation. In fact, only one (well-cited) study has signified that this effect is in play, but the study is highly problematic.
If you still want to try CBN, there are several things to keep in mind. Firstly, its legality is a gray area. The thinking goes if CBN is made from hemp with less than 0.3 percent THC — which is possible but more difficult — it may be allowed in states where hemp is legal. If it’s made from cannabis with a higher THC level, it may only be legal in medicinal and recreational states. Future legislation or court decisions are needed to clear up the haze, according to legal news site Above the Law.
You may be paying a lot for the same experience you can get with a $10 bottle of melatonin. Melatonin has its own side effects, dizziness and nausea, and is best for short-term use, according to the Mayo Clinic, an academic medical center.
She warned not to mix sleep aids with alcohol, or you risk feeling dizzy and groggy when you wake up. It may also decrease your alcohol tolerance and is dangerous.
What’s the next big cannabinoid
“So the person may feel sleepy or sad, but they’re not going to be high, and they’re not going to be cleaning the garage after doing this,” said Dr. Russo, who once advised the first company to get a CBD drug for epilepsy approved by the FDA, but has since founded a cannabis research firm called Credo Science.
As soon as my head hits the pillow on stressful nights, my brain becomes a windy race track, thoughts zooming by at 100 mph, commanding my attention. I wanted it to stop.
“It takes mother nature a long time to degrade THC into CBN,” Sunderstorm’s Clarke said, and processes to speed it up aren’t cheap. On top of that, only 10 to 20 percent of the THC in a plant degrades into CBN, he said.
The recommended 1/2 ml serving has roughly 2.5 mg each of CBD, CBN, and THC. In addition to the cannabinoids, it also has twice as much 5-HTP, a supplement that may kickstart your body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep, and 1/2 mg melatonin. The formula has additional terpenes known for their sedative qualities, myrcene and linalool, thrown in.