We have all heard of CBD and the health benefits it can provide. But now there’s a new cannabinoid in town and its name is CBN. Like CBD, CBN (cannabinol) promotes many health benefits. Find out more about this newcomer and why you just might want to make it the next natural alternative in your medicine cabinet.
There are many unique cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. CBD and THC are just two of these.
CBN is another cannabinoid.
CBN is produced when THC is heated or exposed to oxygen. The oxidation converts the THC to CBN. That is why CBN is often present in aged or badly stored cannabis.
Many people consider the presence of CBN to be bad because it means there is less THC in the content of the plant. However, it only means that there is a slightly different phytochemical profile, altering the therapeutic properties of the bud.
In any case, CBN is often present in very low concentrations in the cannabis plant. To give you some idea, a dried flower can contain a high watermark of over 30% THC. CBN, on the other hand, will rarely exceed 1%. However, a bit of the compound goes a long way.
CBN can be found in full spectrum and broad spectrum CBD products and helps boost the benefits the compound can provide on its own. CBN can also be taken alone, without additional cannabinoids present.
Like CBD, and unlike THC, CBN does not produce any mind altering effects.
As soon as the cannabis plant is harvested, degradation begins. This happens when the plant stops receiving nutrients from the root ball causing the cannabinoid biosynthetic pathways to become disrupted. Once this happens, the psychoactive properties of the pathways are altered and the compounds within the plant synthesize into different chemicals.
During this time, THC acid drops a carbon molecule to turn into THC. As further oxidation takes place, THC becomes cannabinol (CBN). Even though the plant will lose its vibrant green color and fresh smelling scent, it will make up for it in the potential health benefits it can provide.
On a molecular level, CBN and THC are almost identical. The only difference is the presence of four hydrogen atoms which THC loses due to the persistent exposure to air, heat and light.
The longer THC oxidizes, the greater the content of CBN will be. Research has shown that levels of THC in an exposed sample over a four year period with levels degrading fastest during the first two years. Studies also show that THC-A will turn to CBN-A and then convert to CBN under the influence of light and heat.
As with most cannabinoids, the legality of CBN is a gray area. Because it is a direct product of THC, it would be natural to assume that it is illegal in the same places where THC is illegal.
Things start to get murky when you consider that CBN is not listed on the list of scheduled controlled substances.
However, CBD, THC and marijuana extracts are all listed as Schedule I substances defining these as ‘extracts containing one or more cannabinoids that have been derived from any plant of the genus cannabis, other than the separated resin”.
Considering all these factors, it is best to check with local legislation before selling, buying or using CBN to make sure you are on the right side of the law.
With legislation like the new Farm Act going into effect, it is expected that laws regarding the use of cannabinoids will begin to become more and more common. Until then, it is best to proceed with caution.
Cannabinoids affect the body when they interact with the endocannabinoid system. The system is involved in regulating our body’s physiological responses like mood, pain perception, appetite and cognitive functions. Cannabinoids also affect the activity of our hormones and neurotransmitters and influence cell activity throughout the body.
CBN works in the Endocannabinoid System by binding with CB1 & CB2 receptors. However, it does not bind as strongly to these receptors in comparison to CBD and THC. This is why some say its effects are boosted when combined with other cannabinoids. In any case, the presence of CBN in the body can provide a number of health benefits.
Although CBN provides many health benefits, it is best known for its sedative effects. A study conducted on mice, back in 1995, proved that the compound can prolong sleep time. Another study showed that CBN may be more effective as a sleep aid when combined with THC.
In any case, CBN has been shown to be effective as a sleep aid for a 5-6 hours duration and it doesn’t take a lot to do the job. Research shows consumption of just 5 mg to 10 mg of CBN can have the same effects as 5 – 10 mg of diazepam.
In addition to being an effective sleep aid, there are many other ways CBN can work to benefit the body. Here are some examples.
An Appetite Stimulant: The fact that CBN works as an appetite stimulant is a bit odd, especially when considering CBD works as an appetite suppressant. However, a study conducted on rats in 2012 showed that giving the animals the compound worked to increase their feeding patterns. This makes it effective for those who have reduced appetite due to illnesses like cancer or cancer treatment.
A Cancer Fighter: CBN has also been shown to have cancer fighting abilities. One study showed that CBN was one of several cannabinoids found to reduce tumor size in one form of lung cancer. Further research is being conducted to determine its effectiveness in stopping or slowing the growth of cancer cells in other types of cancer.
Anti-Convulsant: Many turn to cannabinoids for their ability to reduce seizures for those suffering from epilepsy. Although CBD has been shown to be most effective of all cannabinoids in reducing seizures, CBN has been shown to work as an anticonvulsant as well. Its abilities were proven in a maximum electroshock test conducted on mice.
Bone Growth and Healing: CBN has been shown to stimulate the production of new bone and help in the healing fractured bone to reverse bone loss. It works by activating stem cells to help make new bone cells. Studies have shown the compound to be effective in these capacities make it the subject of continual research as a treatment for osteoporosis.
Glaucoma Therapy: Glaucoma is a condition where there is increased pressure on the eyeball that can eventually cause a loss of sight. Cannabinoids like CBN shown to target the endocannabinoid system to treat glaucoma in some scientific studies.
Psoriasis Treatment: Just as CBN can stimulate bone cells growth, it works in almost the opposite manner to decrease the overgrowth of skin cells in those suffering with psoriasis. A 2008 study showed CBN was effective in treating the skin condition when applied topically and could also work to treat MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a bacterial infection) and burns.
AntiBiotic: The aforementioned 2008 study is also a testament to CBN’s effectiveness as an antibiotic agent. In treating MRSA, CBN has been proven to have the ability to fight bacterial infections that are resistant to AntiBiotics.
Anti-Inflammatory: Like CBD, CBN also has anti-inflammatory properties. Ongoing research is being conducted to determine exactly how the human endocannabinoid system affects the immune system to reduce inflammation. Scientists are also working to find out how CBN and other cannabinoids can be effective in treating inflammatory disease.
Pain Reliever: Capsaicin nerves are neurons in the body that are sensitive to capsaicin, an active component found in chili peppers and often added to painkillers. CBN works in a similar way, affecting these nerves to reduce the pain response. Research has been conducted to back the compound’s effectiveness in minimizing pain.
Those looking to enjoy the benefits CBN can provide may be best off finding it in broad spectrum and full spectrum CBD products. It is rare to find oils, edibles, tinctures, capsules or patches with a pronounces CBN profile, but that is expected to change as more research is being conducted to uncover its benefits. Until then, look for lab tested flowers and concentrates with high CBN levels.
Poorly stored cannabis will also have higher levels of CBN and may be a good alternative for products that are rich in the compound. You can treat your plants in such a way so that they will remain healthy and produce a good amount of CBN. You can do this by doing the following:
- Store cannabis in jars in a warm, bright place with a 65% humidity level (ideally).
- Poke holes in jar after a while to release humidity.
- Keep an eye on plants to ensure they don’t become too dry or brittle.
- If plants are drying too quickly, place them in an airtight container and relocate them to a cool, dark place.
- CBN rich cannabis should now be ready for use.
CBN is up and coming in the world of cannabis and natural medicine as a trusted source for health benefits. As research continues to be conducted, it should begin to become more accessible to those in need. Hopefully you will find this compound to be helpful in improving your quality of life.