What is CBN? Uses and Benefits of Cannabinol

*Despite what you might read elsewhere on the internet, no CBD product has been medically proven to prevent, treat, or cure diseases. This article discusses ongoing research into the endocannabinoid system and should not be the foundation of any medical or health recommendations or diagnosis. If you have a medical condition, talk to your doctor.*

Cannabinol (also known as “CBN”) is a chemical that comes from the cannabis plant. The cannabis plant contains over 100 cannabinoids, including cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). In recent years, cannabis products have become increasingly popular due to the legalization of both medicinal and recreational cannabis in a growing number of states. 

Put simply, CBN is the result of old weed. It is the breakdown product of THC and is often found in older cannabis samples. When the cannabis plant is exposed to oxygen or heated over time, the THC will eventually convert to CBN. Because the THC is degraded, CBN does not have the psychoactive effects of THC.

More and more people are catching on to the fact that CBN has therapeutic effects that help people sensitive to THC. CBN is now found in many cannabis products, including topicals, capsules, and edibles. What sets CBN apart from other cannabinoids is its sedative ability.

How is CBN different from CBD and the other cannabinoids? 

cannabinoids

Although CBD and CBN seem quite similar, they are two different molecules that have two separate origins. The amount of CBN in a cannabis plant depends on the level of heat and light it has been exposed to and how old it is. This is because CBN is a byproduct of THC being exposed to light,oxygen, and heat.

Despite the difference in the origin of CBD and CBN, they have much in common. Neither produces a mind-altering high. CBD can tone down some of the effects of THC, such as feelings of paranoia. CBN can produce a gentle sedative high that could be helpful for people seeking a sleep aid.

How does CBN work in the body? 

endocannabinoid system

THC affects the body’s CB1 endocannabinoid receptors. The two primary chemical receptors are CB1 and CB2, which comprise the Endocannabinoid System (ECS), which is involved in regulating a range of the body’s functions. When THC affects the body’s CB1 receptors, it creates the “high” often linked with the cannabis plant. 

CBN similarly affects the CB1 receptor but at a lesser strength than THC. While THC is a primary psychoactive component in the cannabis plant, CBD is not psychoactive, and CBN’s psychoactive effects are unknown. Some research has shown CBN is not psychoactive, while other research indicates CBN may have mild psychoactive effects. 

CB1 receptors are concentrated in the brain and nerves, while CB2 receptors are more common in the immune system and organs. CBN interacts with CB1 and CB2 receptors to help regulate a range of functions, including appetite, inflammation, and hormones. This is why CBN promotes healing. 

What are the uses of CBN?

cbn uses

The research regarding CBN, particularly its effects on humans, is lacking. As more studies are done, we will likely find more uses for it. Some of the known uses and benefits of CBN include:

Pain relief

Studies indicate that CBN is a promising candidate for its pain-relieving capabilities in the body. CBN is believed to influence the activity of neurons that are sensitive to capsaicin. Capsaicin is found in many peppers and is added to many topical pain relievers. These capsaicin-sensitive nerves are critical to the body’s pain perception. 

Antibacterial properties

According to a study in the Journal of Natural Products, CBN may be an antibacterial agent. CBN was tested on strains of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. The study found it may be an effective antibacterial agent against these strains. 

Anti-inflammatory properties

CBN is believed to have anti-inflammatory capabilities. Researchers are working to understand better how CBN and other cannabinoids have a role in treating inflammatory disease. 

May Help Improve Eye Problems

CBN is also being studied for its potential ability to relax blood vessel walls to decrease blood pressure. This may spur blood flow to the eyes, reducing eye pressure and inflammation. Studies have shown CBN might help relieve damage to the eye’s optic nerve.

Supports Brain Health

CBN is an effective neuroprotective agent and may help delay the onset of some neurological problems. Studies on people with some neurological difficulties have found that when CBN is paired with THC, it may synergize to help reduce oxidative stress (an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants), protect from fatigue, and target inflammation in the brain. 

Stimulates Appetite

In studies on lab rats, CBN was found to increase the amount of food that rats ate. This indicated that it could be an appetite stimulant. THC is an appetite stimulant, but many avoid it due to its intoxicating effects. CBN might offer an alternative for people seeking appetite stimulation without the high.

Is CBN growing in popularity?

While CBN is far less prevalent than THC and CBD, it is growing in popularity. People throughout the United States are learning that CBN might help with sleeplessness, stress, and anxiousness. Others seek out CBN to try and increase their appetite or reap the anti-inflammatory benefits.

When was CBN discovered?

The structure of CBN was first discovered in the 1930s. In 1940, the chemical synthesis of CBN was accomplished. CBN was the first cannabinoid to be isolated by researchers.

The oldest evidence of the existence of CBN was discovered when a nearly 3,000-year-old grave in China was unearthed. Archaeologists found 789 grams of CBN within it. This came about due to the degradation of THC within the plant and is the oldest known sample of CBN.