Photo credit: Industrial Hemp Farms.
The first thought that comes to the minds of many when they hear cannabis is THC or CBD. But cannabinol (CBN) is also another beneficial part of the cannabis plant. It is one of more than 100 cannabinoids in cannabis, and it’s quickly making a name for itself.
What is CBN?
CBN is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid. The strong psychoactive component in a cannabis plant is THC. But, when THC is left in a highly oxidized environment, it rapidly converts to CBN, according to Leafly.
For example, current research shows that it is especially present in cannabis that has aged.
Many know it for having sedative effects. While businesses market it as a sleep aid, researchers are still exploring its benefits.
So, let’s dive deeper into the benefits of this cannabinoid.
In preclinical trials, CBN proves to have a number of properties with therapeutic potential, according to InMed Pharmaceuticals.
For example, research found that it is an antibacterial agent, according to Journal of Natural Products. In this study, researchers tested it on strains of Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria that are unaffected by conventional antibiotics. Researchers found that CBN — in addition to other cannabinoids like CBD and THC — effectively fights against these staph strains.
Research also shows that CBN is a neuroprotectant. For example, in a rodent study researchers found it to be a treatment for ALS because it was able to delay its onset by preventing cell death. Consequently, CBN may be a powerful tool in fighting ALS as well as other neurodegenerative conditions.
In the same study, researchers found CBN to stimulate appetite in its rat subjects. During the study the subjects increased their meal size. The results suggest it could be an effective appetite stimulant without intoxicating effects like THC, which is also shown to increase appetite.
Researchers discovered from their study that CBN increases food consumption. Therefore it may be useful for those with certain eating conditions like anorexia. But research is still ongoing.
Additionally, it reduces inflammation and pain. Specifically, in one rodent study, it reduced of myofascial (muscle) pain symptoms as a result. Those that suffer from chronic pain and inflammation, such as arthritis or cancer, may benefit from CBN and help treat these enervating conditions.
The Cannabinoid’s Effects
There has not been much research on the side effects of the cannabinoid’s sedative properties. But there is one human study that researchers conducted back in the 1970s. The study consisted of five volunteers who responded that CBN did not make them feel sleepy.
There is a possible reason why the subjects believe that CBN did not have a sedative effect. During the study researchers conducted a test alone with CBN, then with CBN with THC, and then THC alone, reports Leafly. THC made the respondents drowsy; but with CBN alone, there was no sedative effect. However, the combination of CBN and THC produced higher levels of drowsiness.
Cannabis researcher and neurologist Dr. Ethan Russo tells Leafly that “pure CBN is not particularly sedating, but it is typically found in aged cannabis in which the monoterpenoids have evaporated leaving the more sedating oxygenated sesquiterpenoids.”
In other words, older cannabis is high in CBN as well as in certain terpenes. Those terpenes may induce those drowsy effects for which the cannabinoid is credited for. Although it may not be a sedative alone, consumers might still use its synergistic effects with THC to get the sleeping effects.
Where to Find it
Finding CBN products is not difficult considering it is legal in all 50 states, according to Slumbercbn.
Like CBD, CBN is federally legal, thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill which legalized hemp and its derivatives. Therefore, if CBN comes from hemp, it is legal.
Currently, consumers can find CBN in a variety of products including capsules, gummies, tinctures, transdermal patches and flower. Cannabis that is high in this cannabinoid contains concentration levels of 0.3% or more, according to Botany Farms. Options are limited because it usually only occurs in small amounts. However, these strains typically have high concentrations of it: Animal Cookie, Ace of Spades, Blackberry and Lemon Kush.