Cannabinol (CBN) is one of the rarest hemp cannabinoids that may improve sleep, stimulate appetite, and relieve pain and inflammation.
Cannabinol (CBN) is a mildly psychotropic cannabinoid found in mature hemp plants. Recently, there has been a shift in focus from cannabidiol (CBD) to other cannabinoids, including cannabigerol (CBG) and cannabinol (CBN). According to research, each cannabinoid has different potential uses and benefits — both as an isolated compound and as an entourage with other cannabinoids. CBN is not an exception. Let’s take an in-depth look at CBN and why you shouldn’t sleep on this hemp cannabinoid.
What Is CBN?
CBN is one of the top ten (Phyto) cannabinoids found in the hemp plant — along with THC and CBD. Cannabinol (CBN) is considered mildly (to no) psychoactive cannabinoid, with less than ten times the potency of THC . Cannabinoids are the active chemical compounds responsible for the medicinal benefits of hemp. Although most cannabinoids are naturally present in the hemp plant, CBN is not. CBN is a byproduct of THC — this cannabinoid is created when tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) breaks down when exposed to oxygen or heat. The concentration of Cannabinol in raw marijuana is usually 1% or less, while the hemp plant contains even lower amounts. Freshly harvested cannabis has almost no presence of cannabinol.
Will CBN Get You High? The Connection Between CBN and THC
Cannabinol (CBN) is the first plant cannabinoid to be isolated. In 1896, researchers Wood, Spivey, and Easterfield isolated CBN from a red oil cannabis extract. R.S. Cahn clarified CBN’s molecular structure in the early 1930s, and its chemical synthesis was first achieved in 1940 in the laboratories of two separate research groups — one by R. Adams in the United States and the other one by Lord Todd in the United Kingdom. . Prior to discovering THC, scientists thought that CBN was responsible for the intoxicating effects of cannabis.
Although it may show some psychotropic properties, CBN doesn’t have the potency to get you high.
Some studies suggest that CBN is not psychotropic, while others reveal that CBN has mild psychotropic effects. Research shows that CBN is slightly more psychotropic than CBD — which is not psychotropic at all — and up to ten times less psychotropic than THC.
The link between CBN and THC goes back to a 1999 study, which found that cannabis loses its potency over time. The study reported that after four years, the THC content in the tested cannabis sample dropped to half of its original potency. The researchers noticed that as THC oxidized, it began to convert to CBN, revealing that the first years of improper storage were critical for the majority of the degradation. In conclusion, the study found that THC degrades into CBN over time, and the longer it ages, old cannabis will become richer in CBN.
How CBN Works in The Body?
The hemp plant contains over 100 cannabinoids that interact with the human body through the endocannabinoid system (ECS) — a newly discovered system composed of a set of receptors that maintain the homeostasis (balance) in the body. Each cannabinoid interacts with the endocannabinoid system in a different way, primarily through its CB1 and CB2 receptors — which bind to the brain and nervous system, and the immune system, respectively.
Every cannabinoid has a unique set of health benefits it creates in the body. CBN, in particular, shares a similar chemical composition to THC. The binding process of this cannabinoid has yet to be confirmed, but it is believed that CBN primarily binds to the CB2 receptor, but also interacts with the CB1 receptor. This cannabinoid acts as an agonist (a chemical that binds to a receptor and activates the receptor to produce a biological response) to the TRPV2 receptor. The TRPV2 receptor is found in the spleen and lymphocytes (white blood cells crucial to the immune system that produce antibodies and destroy cells that could cause damage) and plays an important role in the immune system. Compared to CBD, which interacts with the endocannabinoid system by increasing the production of its own endocannabinoids to promote homeostasis, CBN seems to have more affinity to both CB1 and CB2 receptors to produce its effects.
How is CBN Produced in Hemp Plants?
CBN is produced in the hemp plant as most major cannabinoids — from the cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), also known as the mother of all cannabinoids. But, the difference between CBN and other cannabinoids is that CBN does not come directly from CBGA.
CBGA is the first cannabinoid formed by the hemp plant, which under the influence of natural enzymes, turns into cannabigerol (CBG), tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), or cannabichromenic acid (CBCA). When exposed to heat (decarboxylation), these acid forms convert into THC, CBD, and CBC. Gradual air and light exposure cause THC to break down into CBN, which is why older cannabis has a higher percentage of CBN compared to freshly harvested cannabis, where CBN is nearly untraceable.
CBN can be produced through another natural pathway. When exposed to air or UV lights from the sun for a significant period, THCA (the acidic form of THC) loses hydrogen molecules (oxidation) and converts to CBNA. Decarboxylation (heat exposure) of CBNA is further used to create CBN.
Potential Benefits and Uses of CBN
MrHempflower.com (MHF Group Inc) makes absolutely no medical claims about CBN. No information in this article is to be used as medical advice. All potential benefits listed below are cited and linked to a study where the information is provided. Always consult a doctor before taking or using CBN.
As one of the main cannabinoids in hemp, researchers have investigated the effects of CBN, usually in combination with other cannabinoids. Although more research is needed, here are some potential benefits of CBN:
Sedative Properties of CBN
Although a few small studies have reported that CBN is a powerful sedative that shows potential in the treatment of insomnia, current evidence shows that CBN does not show sedative qualities — at least not when consumed as a single compound. One human study performed in the 1970s found that CBN showed potential sedative effects when used in combination with THCA. This can be attributed to the entourage effect, where cannabinoids and terpenes work together to create a more potent effect .
The reason why it was believed that CBN has a sedative effect is that users have reported feeling “sleepy” each time they were using aged cannabis. The sedative effect was likely misattributed to CBN. According to Dr. Ethan Russo, a neurologist, and psychopharmacology researcher, the sedative effects of old cannabis most likely come from “aged” terpenes, instead. Russo explains that in aged cannabis, there is a loss of monoterpenoids and retention of sesquiterpenoids that likely give the sedative effect. So, aside from the entourage effect, CBN has not been shown as a sedative on its own.
Pain Relieving Effects of CBN
Research suggests that CBN “causes release of sensory neuropeptides and vasorelaxation,” and has “effect on primary sensory nerves.” In other words, CBN is a potential painkiller that alleviates pain by releasing peptides from sensory nerves, which activates an alternative nerve mechanism from the one used by CBD and THC. CBN is considered a weak CB1 partial agonist, meaning it binds to the receptor but doesn’t produce the same effects as a full agonist. CBN has shown to produce only 10% of the activity of THC, hence the alternative nerve mechanism to painkilling .
CBN May Reduce Intraocular Pressure
One animal study found that chronic administration of cannabinol (CBN) causes a significant reduction in intraocular pressure — one of the biggest risks for glaucoma . More research is needed in this area, as CBN hasn’t shown superior results to glaucoma medications.
Anti-inflammatory Effects of CBN
The anti-inflammatory effects of cannabinoids have been investigated in several reputable studies, which have shown that cannabinoids can be effective anti-inflammatory components. Cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) have been pointed out as the main anti-inflammatory agents. But, studies show that Cannabinol is also in that group of compounds that can represent a novel class of therapeutic agents for the treatment of inflammatory conditions, such as allergic asthma . One animal study discussed the anti-inflammator effects of cannabinoids on arthritis, including CBN, and concluded that CBN could be an effective anti-inflammatory agent against arthritis .
Antibacterial Properties of CBN
Extensive research has shown that cannabinoids are potent antibacterial agents, and CBN is not an exception. A 2008 study investigated the potential of cannabinoids to address antibiotic resistance. The study showed that cannabinol (CBN) showed potent activity against a variety of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) strains, which means they may be a viable option to fight bacteria .
CBN as An Appetite Stimulant
A 2012 animal study found that CBN may be an effective appetite stimulant and can provide a non-psychotropic alternative to THC-based medicines. Cannabinol increases food consumption and duration of feeding in rats and might be a potential replacement for THC (an appetite stimulant that many avoid because of its psychotropic effects) and give someone “the munchies” without the high .
Anticonvulsant Effects of CBN
Cannabinoids are known anticonvulsants — CBD is an active component in an FDA-approved epilepsy drug. Studies show that when used together, CBN, THC, and CBD produced more effective results compared to when used as isolated compounds .
CBN as a Neuroprotectant
Although further research is needed, CBN may be a powerful neuroprotectant. In one study, researchers tested the effects of CBN (as the non-psychotropic alternative to THC) on a rodent model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The researchers found that the treatment with CBN significantly delayed disease onset by more than two weeks. This could potentially mean that CBN may help fight common neurodegenerative conditions where treatment is limited.
How Is CBN Extracted?
Unlike THC and CBD — which can be extracted directly from the hemp plant — CBN can only be extracted by using a post-processing technique applied after the first extraction. The hemp flower goes through the first extraction process that produces a pure full spectrum phytocannabinoid-rich (PCR) oil. After that, our team applies heat and oxygen exposure to the extracted material in order to create a concentrated product as CBN oil. The post-processing technique (heat and time) used to isolate this compound and create high-quality oil makes CBN products more unique and, in most cases, more expensive.
Where to Find Quality CBN Products?
Aging your hemp or marijuana buds may not be the best way to get CBN. The conversion process of CBN requires the right amount of factors such as heat, air, light, and time, which are best navigated in a more controlled environment. One of the biggest downsides of aging hemp buds is that you’ll get an unpleasant taste when vaping or smoking them. Luckily, products such as Mr. Hemp Flower’s CBN oil and CBN-infused gummies — that are rich in CBN and a rare spectrum of cannabinoids — will provide you with the needed dose of CBN.
CBN’s Entourage Effect
CBN Works Better in Combination With Other Cannabinoids and Terpenes
The lab analysis for our CBN products shows around 20 other “mystery” cannabinoids that have yet to be discovered and researched. But, these cannabinoids and terpenes can have a potential contribution to the sleepy effects of CBN. The idea that all cannabinoids and terpenes work together to create more potent effects is rooted in the theory of the “entourage effect.” Research suggests that as a standalone molecule, CBN does not showcase sedative effects. But, when combined with other cannabinoids and terpenes, this component may show potential sedative effects. We all know that the hemp flower is greater than the sum of its parts, and when combined with terpenes and other cannabinoids, lower doses have a stronger effect.
Our gummies are infused with full spectrum oil that contains 5mg CBN and 10mg CBD. CBN-rich products make it easier for you to dose and notice the effects of this unique cannabinoid. In combination with CBD and terpenes such as myrcene and limonene — which are present in our CBN gummies and oil — CBN can potentially help alleviate insomnia. According to research, the two most abundant terpenes in hemp — myrcene and limonene — can increase sleeping time in mice .
The source of the CBN oil matters, and at Mr. Hemp Flower, we keep our standards high. We believe it’s vitally important that our CBN extracts come from hemp cultivated in the best U.S. farms dedicated to sustainable and organic farming practices. When you’re buying your CBN gummies, you can rest assured you are getting a quality product that comes from an extract made from fresh hemp plants with high cannabinoid and terpene content. Although more research is needed, Cannabinol is mostly harmless — like most cannabinoids are — and may show some side effects if consumed in large doses. Some of CBN’s side effects are tiredness, drowsiness, loss of appetite, and dizziness.
Is CBN Legal?
Unlike CBD, the legality of CBN may be less complicated and problematic. There are a few reasons why:
- CBN can be legally produced under the 2018 Farm Bill – the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp and its cannabinoids, so technically, CBN can be lawfully extracted from hemp. Also, CBN is not on the list of controlled substances in the U.S. or internationally.
- CBN is likely to be exempt from the FDA’s “drug exclusion rule” – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has the authority to regulate cannabis-derived compounds and products that contain cannabis. Once CBD has been approved as an active compound in a drug for treating epilepsy by the FDA, CBD became a non-exempt drug, and now, it cannot be marketed under health claims or as a dietary supplement. That’s not the case with CBN. According to the FDA, “parts of the cannabis plant that do not contain THC or CBD might fall outside the scope” of the drug exclusion rule. This simplifies things when it comes to legality and marketing of CBN products.
CBN can be marketed as a dietary supplement – many companies are marketing CBN products as dietary supplements. Even if the FDA at certain time decides to approve CBN as a drug, the drug exclusion rule will likely not apply to this cannabinoid. The rule does not include substances that have been marketed as foods or dietary supplements before being clinically investigated by the FDA.
Will CBN get me high?
No. CBN won’t get you high. Compared to THC, it only showcases mild (or no) psychotropic effects that aren’t strong enough to get you stoned.
Is CBN legal?
Yes, CBN can be lawfully extracted from the hemp plant under the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp and its cannabinoids. Unlike THC and CBD, CBN was/is not listed on the controlled substances list in the U.S. or internationally.
What's the difference between CBD and CBN and flowers?
Cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinol (CBN) are two different cannabinoids with separate origins. The hemp plant is naturally rich in CBD, while the level of CBN in a hemp flower depends on the extraction process and heat exposure.
Why would someone use CBN?
CBN is one of the rarest cannabinoids in hemp and acts as a neuroprotectant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial agent, and may stimulate appetite or help with sleep. CBN shows these benefits when working in combination with other cannabinoids and terpenes rather than as an isolated compound.