Trouble Sleeping? Meet The Newest Cannabinoid On The Block. You’ll Be Hearing More About It …

A line of sleep products introduced this week by the CBD company Green Roads aims to help consumers combat insomnia by adding something new to the usual sleep-inducing mix of melatonin and CBD. The new ingredient? CBN.

If you’ve never heard of this latter hemp-derived cannabinoid (the word describes about 144 different compounds that can be extracted from cannabis), you will soon.

CBN is the abbreviation for the compound cannabiniol. More familiar and widely used in wellness products is the compound cannabidiol, or CBD.

Green Roads is the largest CBD company so far to incorporate CBN, though a competing company, CBD Distillery, recently introduced its own CBD/CBN product. American Shaman also offers a CBN product.

Medterra, meanwhile, markets a melatonin gummy and is one of multiple brands to incorporate that hormone, which regulates the sleep-awake cycle, into a sleep aid.

Still, CBN, relatively speaking, is the new kid on the block, and a number of additional brands will be introducing CBN sleep products soon, said Bethany Gomez, managing director of the cannabis research company Brightfield Group.

“It’s become common to combine CBD with melatonin; brands have been doing that consistently over the last year,” Gomez said in an interview. “[But] the practice of incorporating CBN is brand new. The Green Roads line is by far the biggest brand [incorporating melatonin, CBD and CBN] all together; and we are expecting a number of others to hit shelves in the next few weeks.”

What’s more, consumers are waking up, so to speak, to the benefits of CBN as a sleep aid, Gomez said.

Her research company’s end-of-Q2 survey of 5,000 U.S. CBD users revealed that the 14 percent of CBD users who’d known about CBN in Q1 had doubled to 28 percent by Q2. In the general survey population, the percentage of those in the know rose from 8 percent to 11 percent over the same period.

So, what are these three ingredients, and what should insomniacs know? As noted, melatonin helps the body go to sleep when it’s dark outside, then wake up when sunlight returns.

CBD, the most abundant cannabinoid after THC has its own benefit (though unlike THC, CBD is nonintoxicating). “From what we know about it, it helps decrease your stress levels,” Laura Fuentes, CEO of Fort Lauderdale-based Green Roads, said of CBD, in an interview. “It does not cause you to be drowsy but causes you to calm down and relax and feel an overall calm.”

CBN, meanwhile, made from a degraded, fermented “THC-A” in hemp (and also nonintoxicating), actually causes drowsiness, Fuentes said (though some sources dispute this belief).

The combination of the three ingredients in Green Roads’ Sleep Formula product (containing 5 mg. melatonin, 22.5 mg. CBD and 2.5 mg. CBN) may be a first and looks to be a successful mix for getting to sleep and staying asleep, Fuentes said (in line with FDA rules, she made no claims about her company’s cannabinoid products.)

Asked about the new rush to market of cannabinoids and other natural sleep ingredients, Fuentes referred immediately to the pandemic; in fact, a recent study confirms Covid’s link to insomnia. “People are more stressed because of Covid and losing their jobs; and their income is being reduced so much,” Fuentes said. “With a lot of stress, you’re having a hard time sleeping. So I’m thinking that the country needs something to help them relax, calm down and get some sleep. We’re thinking this is why there’s such a demand for all the sleep products right now.”

Products containing cannabinoids have a special appeal, Fuentes pointed out, because they’re natural and have none of the “hangover” effects of over-the-counter synthetic sleep aids.

As for the special interest in CBN, Gomez pointed to “a combination of demand and supply” as regards last year’s bumper hemp crop. Farmers are looking to differentiate themselves by cultivating strains of hemp higher in both CBN and CBD – though the fermentation that needs to happen to create CBN is more time-consuming, Gomez said.

What it comes down to, the analyst said, is the fact that on CBD user surveys “sleep is the third highest need state” after relaxation (including anxiety and depression) and physical relief (of chronic pain and arthritis).

“It’s exciting to see this first generation [of CBN products] hit shelves,” Gomez said. “It remains to be seen how well they’ll do with consumers. But this is the first time; we’re beginning an experiment here.” She predicted a positive market outcome.

“It does give that opportunity for consumers to be able to purchase a product that they know what it does and it meets a specific need state,” Gomez pointed out. That need, of course, is a big one in these trying times: the struggle to get more zzzzzzz’s.

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