CBN: All You Need to Know About Cannabinol in One Guide
Up until recently, we knew relatively little about the compounds in the marijuana plant. Fast forward to today, and scientists have identified at least 113 different compounds. THC (the chemical that makes you high) and CBD (the non-intoxicating one) are the two most popular cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant.
However, there are dozens of other cannabinoids that are potentially useful too. This is the case whether you combine them with THC and CBD or attempt to extract them. Those with limited knowledge of cannabinol (CBN) believe it is practically irrelevant, as most are not aware of its usefulness.
In this article, we will perform an in-depth analysis of CBN. Then, with this knowledge, you can decide if it is something you would be interested in using.
What Is CBN?
CBN is a mildly psychoactive compound in marijuana and is unique to the plant. Like the vast majority of cannabis components, CBN is fat-soluble, not water-soluble. It has a specific relationship with THC because, unlike other molecules, CBN doesn’t come directly from the marijuana plant. Instead, it forms from the exterior oxidation of THC. In other words, THC converts into CBN during its degradation. When you cut and store weed, THC ultimately becomes CBN.
The acid form of THC, THC-A, gets converted to CBN-A when it is exposed to air for a significant period. The presence of air causes THC-A to lose hydrogen molecules, and then it undergoes oxidation. The result is the acid form of CBN. You can then treat the compound with UV light and heat and convert it to CBN. It dissolves well in methanol and ethanol. Poorly stored marijuana plants are often high in CBN.
Since CBN is the breakdown of THC as the psychoactive compounds ages, people often dismiss it. After all, you only find it in stale buds, so how useful can it be?
However, recent research has determined that CBN potentially has an array of medicinal benefits. According to Steep Hill Labs, it is the most sedative of all cannabinoids. Just 5mg of CBN is the equivalent of 10mg of Valium in body relaxation terms. Although CBN has some psychoactive properties (it is derived from THC after all), they are about 10% as potent.
What Is the Difference Between CBN & CBD?
CBD is one of the most abundant cannabinoids in weed and can comprise up to 40% of cannabis resin. It doesn’t cause consumers to get high and people generally use it for medicinal rather than recreational purposes. CBD produces anxiolytic effects that reduce the hallucinogenic effects of THC. Unlike CBN, CBD does not appear after oxidation as it is already abundant in the plant.
CBD directly acts on the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to influence anandamide production. As already mentioned, CBN only occurs by the exposure of weed to air and the subsequent degradation of THC.
CBN doesn’t seem to have a direct effect on the ECS. Overall, experts believe CBN to reduce the potency of marijuana. It is also a weak partial agonist at the two cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2. At present, medical researchers have yet to understand the metabolic effects of CBN fully. With CBD, there is far more data available.
What Is CBN Used For?
The benefits of CBN are manifold. First and foremost, CBN is by far the most potent sedative of any identified marijuana compound. It may help you get a restful night’s sleep without the grogginess or side effects of prescription sleeping pills. Evidence of its ability to treat insomnia goes back as far as 1976. A study from 1995 on insomniac mice all but proved its efficacy concerning promoting better sleep.
As a result, one of the primary uses of CBN is to treat insomnia. As we mentioned above, it is even more sedative than Valium. THC-high marijuana strains that also contain CBN and myrcene may be good options if you’re sleep-deprived.
CBN is synergistic with D9THC and CBD regarding sleep inducement. When you combine it in the right ratios, it may provide at least 6 hours of sleep without you waking up feeling drowsy.
Like other cannabinoids such as CBD and THC, CBN works as a potent anti-inflammatory agent in your body. Although a certain amount of inflammation is perfectly fine as it is an adaptive bodily function, too much causes illness. Like CBD, CBN doesn’t interact strongly with the CB2 receptor, but it does modulate the levels of endocannabinoids. CBN influences specific immune cells to produce anti-inflammatory effects and even impacts levels of other compounds known to cause inflammation.
An anticonvulsant is a compound capable of reducing epilepsy-related seizures. Researchers have found that CBN is almost as effective an anticonvulsant as THC and CBD.
Admittedly, the research has only involved rats. The study found that when rodents consumed CBN, they ate larger portions of food more regularly and for longer. The likely reason for this is the impact of CBN on the CB1 receptor. As CBN has a far weaker psychoactive effect than THC, it is arguably a better option to increase appetite.
Bone Formation & Healing
CBN could help heal bones as it recruits stem cells from your bone marrow. Stem cells are converted into various cell types, including muscle, fat, cartilage, and bone cells. CBN could be responsible for increasing fibroblast cells, which greatly aid the healing of bone. The effects of CBN might stretch to bone formation, which means faster recovery from injured tissues and fractured bones.
Chronic Pain Relief
Medical marijuana is known to relieve chronic pain, and CBN might play a more significant role than you think. As CBN comes from degraded THC, it is unsurprising that it acts like the psychoactive compound in some ways. For example, it stimulates the release of peptides from sensory nerves, which helps decrease pain sensation. According to new research, the painkilling effects of CBN are independent of CB1 and CB2 receptors. They possibly come from another cannabinoid receptor that has yet to be discovered.
This is the process of relaxing blood vessel walls, which results in the fall of blood pressure. CBN acts as a vasorelaxant, which means it is useful if you have a condition such as glaucoma. It may increase the blood flow to the eyes via vasorelaxation, and reduces pressure in the eye. The process is also helpful for people with conditions, such as heart disease, or hypertension.
Researchers tested the effects of five significant cannabinoids, including CBN, on different strains of the superbug, MRSA. These antibiotic-resistant bacteria can cause fatal staph infections, and their prevalence is increasing due to the nation’s overreliance on prescription drugs. The team found that CBN has potent antibacterial effects, and therefore, it could become an important MRSA treatment.
CBN potentially has a hypothermic effect, which means it lowers body temperature. Therefore, CBN may be useful as a topical to alleviate burns because of the compound’s pain-relieving and cooling effect. Cannabinol seemingly can activate the TRPV2 receptor, a cell site which only becomes activated when the skin is exposed to high temperatures.
This is a troubling skin condition that leads to the creation of flaky, crusty, red patches of skin. In some cases, silvery scales cover them. Preliminary research suggests that CBN decreases keratinocytes (a type of skin cell) proliferation. With psoriasis, these cells become hyperactive, grow, and create the flaky skin patches. Therefore, CBN may help to reduce the process and alleviate the symptoms of your skin condition.
Is CBN Legal?
There is plenty of information available about the legal status of the marijuana plant. However, the waters become positively murky regarding the legality of its many compounds. The main issue surrounds the psychoactive compound THC. This is the main reason why marijuana is illegal in so many places. Meanwhile, the non-intoxicating compound CBD is less strictly regulated, although it is also illegal in certain states.
As CBN is the product of THC degradation, you may assume CBN is illegal, where THC is illegal. However, things are not as clear as you might expect. For starters, CBN is NOT listed amongst the list of scheduled controlled substances.
However, since it is an analog of CBD or THC, both of which ARE Schedule I substances (i.e., CBD derived from marijuana, or CBD oil with a THC content higher than 0.3%), there is a possibility that selling or possession could result in prosecution under the Federal Analogue Act of 1986. Then again, there is a chance that CBN won’t meet the legal standard of an analog.
The Farm Bill of 2018 made a clear distinction between industrial hemp and marijuana. Industrial hemp, which contains less than 0.3% THC, is now legally recognized as a separate agricultural commodity. Therefore, CBD oil from industrial hemp that contains less than 0.3% THC is federally legal.
However, there is no such distinction regarding CBN in the 2018 Farm Bill. In December 2016, the DEA added marijuana extracts to the list of Schedule I drugs. Therefore, one can infer the legal status of CBN from the DEA’s official statement:
“Cannabinoids, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabinol (CBN), and cannabidiol (CBD), are found in the parts of the cannabis plant that fall within the CSA [Controlled Substances Act] definition of marijuana, such as the flowering tops, resin, and leaves.”
High CBN Strains
Since CBN comes from the degradation of THC, there are few marijuana strains with a reasonable concentration. You’ll be lucky if a strain has up to 1% CBN. Here is a list of a few strains with over 0.3% CBN:
- Bubble Gum:386%
- Durban Poison:363%
- Lemon Kush:49%
- Purple Cadillac:313%
- Super Green Crack: 788%
How to Get CBN
The single best way to get CBN is to age your weed! If you’re cultivating the plant at home, simply push back your harvest time. We recommend allowing trichomes to begin developing an amber color before cutting down the plant. Next, dry and cure it. Let’s be frank; extracting CBN is not an easy task, nor is it an exact science.
Remember, CBN is produced by the breakdown of THC. You can slow down or speed up the conversion process by adjusting environmental factors like heat, age, air, and light.
Buds that have been in storage for a long time, and are stale will have higher than average amounts of CBN. The downside, of course, is that vaporizing or smoking stale flowers is unpleasant! As a result, you must let the THC degrade without sacrificing the quality. As such, we have compiled a short and simple set of instructions for you to follow.
- Place your cure jars in a warm and bright place. A humidity level of 65% is ideal.
- Poke some holes in the top of the jar after a while to release humidity.
- Keep a close eye on proceedings to ensure the plants don’t become too dry or brittle.
- If your flowers are drying too quickly, place them in an airtight container. Then relocate them to a cool and dark place.
- Now you should have high CBN plants ready for use.
If you don’t fancy the challenge, you can purchase CBN from companies such as Mary’s Medicinals. There is also a high dose CBN drink called Hornet Hibernate available from SpOILed Patients Collective. According to the company, the drink is up to 12% CBN. Supposedly, a teaspoon is all you need for a great night’s sleep.
Studies on CBN
Although it isn’t particularly well-known, CBN was the first cannabinoid that scientists isolated and identified from weed. CBN was initially discovered in the 19th century via the degradation of marijuana extract. However, it was not identified until the 1930s when Robert Sydney Cahn was performing research.
Unsurprisingly, since it appears through degradation, a large amount of CBN was found in a 2,700-year-old Chinese grave. This remains the oldest discovered marijuana sample.
A 2012 study by Farrimond, Whalley, and Williams found that CBN stimulated lab rat’s appetite. Even though CBN is still relatively unknown, its therapeutic potential was known decades ago.
In a 1984 study by Craig, Allara, and Colasanti, the researchers gave concentrations of CBN to cats over nine days. Although a single dose had little effect on the cats’ intraocular pressure, chronic use caused a marked reduction in tension. The research team concluded that CBN was potentially useful for glaucoma.
An earlier study, conducted by Karler, Cely, and Turkanis in 1974, found that CBN was a useful anticonvulsant. They tested the compound, along with several other cannabinoids, on mice that had undergone a maximal electroshock test. The team determined that CBN was one of the most effective treatments with a ‘peak effect’ time of around two hours after administration.
What Is CBN Oil?
As you can probably guess, CBN oil is the result of extracting CBN from the marijuana plant. As no marijuana plant has a significant amount of the compound at first, it’s necessary to age the buds first. Once the oxidation process converts THC into CBN, you can begin the process. The good news is that you only need a tiny amount of CBN for it to be effective.
Its chemical structure has only slight differences to that of THC. You can also use a plant’s CBN content to get an estimate of how old it is.
If you intend to extract CBN from a plant, make sure you wait beyond the standard harvest time before proceeding. When the trichomes turn amber or yellow, you should be good to go. Please remember that CBN’s boiling point is 365 degrees Fahrenheit, slightly higher than that of THC. Realistically, you should look for CBN oil or related products from companies with expertise in aging, curing, and drying buds.
Final Thoughts on Cannabinol (CBN)
Although most of our attention appears to be on THC and CBD, we should not overlook CBN. Experts consider it to be one of the best sedatives on the planet. Also, since it only has around 10% of THC’s psychoactive effects, it won’t get you high. If you wish to try CBN, then allow your marijuana to go stale so its THC can degrade to CBN.
It is important to note that a CBN high makes you feel groggy and disoriented at times. Therefore, it is best to look for high-CBN products online. Cannabinol may be useful for people with insomnia due to its potent sedative effects. CBN could also have anticonvulsant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties, which makes it a multi-faceted cannabinoid.
Heard of CBD but not CBN? While less heard of than other cannabinoids, CBN (cannabinol) is becoming popular for its range of therapeutic potential.
CBN vs. CBD: what’s the difference?
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- What does CBN stand for and what does it do?
- Potential benefits of CBN
- What does CBD do?
- How do CBD and CBN differ?
Judging by the acronyms alone, CBN and cannabidiol (CBD), two cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, seem pretty similar to each other. But these cannabis components are in fact two distinct cannabis compounds with completely different effects and origins. While both CBN and CBD share some similar medicinal properties, they vary significantly when it comes to how they’re produced and how they interact with the body.
What does CBN stand for and what does it do?
CBN stands for cannabinol. CBN was the first naturally occurring cannabinoid to be isolated in its pure form back in 1896. People originally thought it was responsible for the cannabis high, but later found out that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) produces for the intoxicating effects of cannabis. It was discovered that CBN is actually an oxidation product of THC; that is, THC will slowly turn into CBN when exposed to heat and light.
Old cannabis or cannabis extracts left unrefrigerated or in the light will have higher levels of CBN. Levels of CBN in cannabis are not controlled by genetic factors, but by environmental factors. Currently, there are no high CBN strains available on the market, so the optimal way to obtain it is by oxidizing THC and CBD.
Old cannabis or cannabis extracts left unrefrigerated or in the light will have higher levels of CBN. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
CBN on its own does not produce intoxicating effects, however, to the best of our knowledge, the effects of this cannabinoid have not been fully researched in human subjects. THC produces its effects on the body by interacting with the cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which are located in the central nervous system and throughout the body. Specifically, it produces the high by binding to the CB1 receptors and activating them.
CBN binds to CB1 receptors as well, but with only around one-tenth the strength of THC. Cannabis medicines are able to treat a variety of conditions using a “strength in numbers” approach, because cannabis has a lot of components in it. These small components influence the major components in what’s known as the entourage effect. While many strains available in a dispensary have high levels of THC, each strain produces a different high due to the differing levels of other cannabinoids and terpenes, collectively the entourage.
Potential benefits of CBN
While more research into the effects of CBN are needed to make any surefire claims, existing evidence has shown that this relatively unknown cannabinoid could yield a vast array of benefits.
A 2011 study, published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, found that the combination of THC with CBN has demonstrated the ability to produce a more sedated, couch lock high in human subjects. Older cannabis products or those exposed to a lot of heat and sunlight, such as Moroccan hashish, are said to be better for relaxing than others because of their higher CBN content.
Researchers also discovered that CBN demonstrated anti-inflammatory and anti-convulsant properties on its own. CBN may also act as an appetite stimulant in rats, and could act as a pain reliever when combined with CBD. Since it’s not yet possible to breed cannabis plants that produce high levels of CBN, researchers need to synthesize this cannabinoid in order to properly study it, and this has hindered further research into the benefits of this cannabinoid.
There is sparse research supporting the claim that CBN acts as a sleep aid. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
CBN has also shown potential as a treatment for sleep disorders, pain relief, and inflammation, among other medical benefits. For instance, in an analysis shared by Steep Hill Labs in 2017, researchers found that a 2.5-to-5 milligram dose of CBN was as effective as a 5-to-10 milligram dose of the pharmaceutical sedative diazepam.
However, this study was not published in a peer-reviewed journal and, moreover, there is sparse research supporting the claim that CBN acts as a sleep aid. It’s possible that the sedative properties of aged cannabis may come from terpenes with low molecular weight, which tend to remain on cannabis for long periods of time, rather than the amount of CBN that strain has developed over time.
What does CBD do?
CBD is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid that is most common in hemp plants. In fact, following THC, CBD is the second-most-abundant cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. Following the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, marijuana plants containing less than 0.3% THC were federally legalized as industrial hemp in the United States, unfurling an avalanche of hemp-derived CBD products upon the health and wellness market.
In states without recreational or medical marijuana legalization, hemp-derived CBD products are legal so long as they contain no THC or trace amounts below the federal limit of 0.3%. However, it’s important to note that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not allow CBD to be sold as a dietary supplement or used as an ingredient in edibles and drinks. Currently, the only FDA-approved drug containing CBD is called Epidiolex, which for treatment of seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome.
Due to the many potential positive effects of CBD, it has gained a lot of attention in the medical community as well as the consumer market. Research supports CBD for the treatment of chronic pain, seizures, and nausea. CBD has also been identified as a powerful agent against the antibiotic-resistant bacteria methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), as well as effective in reducing the risk of stroke and improving cognitive abilities in individuals afflicted with loss of brain function due to late-stage scarring of the liver.
Research supports CBD for the treatment of chronic pain, seizures, and nausea. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
In the presence of THC, CBD appears to have a regulatory effect on the adverse effects of THC, such as anxiety and paranoia. Several studies support that high doses of THC can cause anxiety or paranoia in otherwise healthy users and individuals with a predisposition for mental illness. It is not clear exactly why this entourage effect occurs or at what amount of CBD is needed to reduce the adverse effects of THC.
How do CBD and CBN differ?
Cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinol (CBN), are fundamentally two different molecules that have two separate origins. While industrial hemp plants and high-CBD marijuana strains have been high levels of CBD, the level of CBN in a cannabis flower or concentrate depends on the amount of heat and light it has been exposed to, and how old it is. Again, this is because CBN is a byproduct of the action of light and heat on THC, in technical terms, a product of oxidation or degradation.
Despite the fundamental difference in the origin of these two components, they do share a lot of similarities in their purported medicinal effects. Neither produces an intoxicating high on its own, but they both affect the high when combined with THC. However, the presence of CBD tones down some of the negative effects of THC, like paranoia or anxiety, and the presence of CBN produces a gently sedative high that may be beneficial for people wanting to use cannabis for better sleep.
CBN vs. CBD: what’s the difference? Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents What does CBN stand for and what does it do? Potential benefits of CBN