What Is CBN?
CBN is similar to THC in molecular structure and produces many of the same therapeutic benefits, but without mind-altering side effects.
Written by Cathy Rozyczko
Edited by Jason Brett on
September 27, 2021
Cannabinoids have taken over the natural health discussion, and with good reason. Research is continuously finding new ways in which these hemp-based compounds may be able to support and improve your health.
While tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) have captured the attention of the public, other cannabinoids like cannabinol (CBN) have their own special potential.
What Is Cannabinol (CBN)?
Cannabinol (CBN) is a rather unusual cannabinoid in that it does not naturally occur in raw hemp or cannabis. CBN is created through the degradation of tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), the precursor to THC.
Many of the major cannabinoids, like THC, begin life as cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) in raw cannabis. As the natural enzymes in the cannabis plant break down CBGA, it becomes cannabigerol (CBG), THCA, cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), or cannabichromenic acid (CBCA). It is through this process that CBN begins to take shape.
When exposed to heat, THCA becomes THC; when exposed to ultraviolet rays from the sun, for example, THCA becomes cannabinolic acid (CBNA). When CBNA is exposed to heat, it then becomes CBN through a process called decarboxylation.
The process, from THCA to CBN, looks something like this:
Simply put, CBN is created when cannabis ages. Exposure to light, air, and heat ultimately turns CBGA into the CBN cannabinoid, which produces the sedative sensation known to cannabis users—particularly indica enthusiasts—as “couch lock.”
What Are the Benefits of CBN?
CBN, even though it doesn’t occur in large quantities, has been linked to some pretty amazing potential health benefits.
CBN for Appetite Stimulation
In one lab test performed on rats, CBN was found to stimulate appetite. It increased food consumption and increased appetitive and consummatory behaviors for the duration of the test. This test was the first time that CBN was shown to have this sort of stimulating effect, leading researchers to conclude that CBN could serve as a non-mind altering alternative to THC-based, appetite-inducing medications.
More research will need to be done but CBN could offer novel assistance to individuals experiencing appetite loss due to illness or other medical treatments like chemotherapy.
CBN for Pain Relief
CBN has been found to be among the many cannabinoids that have pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. CBN influences the activity of capsaicin-sensitive neurons, which play a role in pain signaling and pain perception.
A 2019 study also found the combination of CBN and CBD to be effective at relieving myofascial pain, which is often caused by physical injury or overuse of certain muscles. The research concludes with, “These results suggest that peripheral application of these non-psychoactive cannabinoids may provide analgesic relief for chronic muscle pain disorders such as temporomandibular disorders and fibromyalgia without central side effects.”
Considering CBD’s pain-relieving properties, these findings suggest that cannabinoids may be incredibly useful in treating pain conditions without the potentially harmful side effects or the addiction risk that is posed by current opioid pain treatments.
CBN for Skin Conditions
CBN was found to reduce the proliferation of keratinocyte, a skin cell that produces keratin. Overproduction of keratinocyte is at the heart of the skin lesions common in psoriasis. Combined with its anti-inflammatory properties, CBN could be good news for psoriasis sufferers.
CBN also has antibacterial properties. CBN was one of the five major cannabinoids to show potent activity against a range of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) strains.
CBN for Glaucoma
Individuals with glaucoma have been using cannabis for relief for quite some time, and research is starting to reveal why. Studies have found that cannabinoids like CBN are effective at lowering intraocular pressure.
If not managed, intraocular pressure, a common symptom of glaucoma, can damage the optic nerve, leading to a loss in vision and even blindness.
CBN for Cancer
Cannabinoids like CBN have been studied for their potential uses in cancer treatments for decades. In a 1975 study conducted on mice, CBN, along with THC, was found to inhibit tumor growth in a particular type of lung cancer. The mice that received CBN also had a longer average survival time than those that did not.
Research is ongoing but these findings are in line with other interesting results that have been found regarding cannabinoids and their cancer-fighting abilities.
How to Use CBN
Given all of these potential benefits, it’s understandable that you may want to add CBN to your wellness routine.
The best way to do this is to use a full-spectrum or broad-spectrum CBD oil. A full-spectrum CBD oil contains all of the cannabinoids (including CBN) in the hemp plant, while a broad-spectrum CBD oil contains all the cannabinoids except THC—this is an important distinction.
The 2018 Farm Bill mandated that CBD oil products should have a THC content of 0.3% or less to be considered federally legal. Since a majority of CBD products are derived from hemp plants that meet this low-THC standard, finding CBD oils that are in compliance with the law isn’t usually an issue.
But, sometimes, full-spectrum CBD oil products are made using non-hemp cannabis plants. In these cases, the THC content could be higher than 0.3%. High-THC products are only legal to purchase in states that have legalized medicinal and/or recreational cannabis. So, it is important to understand the laws in your state and check the cannabinoid content of any given product before you make a purchase.
You can reference the Certificate of Analysis for a complete breakdown of the cannabinoids in your CBD product. Reputable CBD manufacturers send their products to independent laboratories to be tested and analyzed, and post the resulting lab reports, or Certificates of Analysis, on their website. If you run into a company that doesn’t provide Certificates of Analysis, it’s time to shop elsewhere.
CBN Delivery and Dosage
There are several different ways you can consume CBN by way of a full- or broad-spectrum CBD product. The delivery format you choose will depend on the needs you are trying to address.
For people hoping to receive some of the skin-related benefits of CBN, a CBD topical, like a lotion or cream, may be best. It can be applied directly to the area of concern, offering targeted skin relief. For people with chronic pain and inflammation, a CBD oil tincture, CBD oil drops, or CBD oil capsule may be best.
Finding the proper dosage can be difficult at first, but it’s recommended that you start with the lowest suggested serving size listed on your full- or broad-spectrum CBD product. Take your time with it, and pay close attention to how you feel—mentally and physically—and adjust as needed.
CBD oil drops offer the most dosage control, as you can calculate how much you’re getting down to the literal drop. Capsules, on the other hand, are ideal for consistent dosing as they offer the exact same amount in each pill.
While CBD oil is considered safe and has little to no side effects, it can interact with some medications you may already be taking. It is important to talk to your doctor before starting any CBN supplementation routine to make sure that CBD oil is a safe option for you.
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