KindHealth Marijuana Doctors

What is CBN and How it Works: The Not-So-New Cannabinoid

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What is CBN?

We have all heard of the THC and CBD in cannabis products. Marijuana enthusiasts know the benefits of CBN have long been under-reported. Finally, the therapeutic effects of this not-so-new cannabinoid are stepping into the spotlight.


There are over 100 distinct chemical phytocannabinoids or naturally occurring cannabinoids. Chemists isolate many in the C. Sativa plant and C. Sativa indica subspecies. Their chemical groupings often overlook their unique properties. Thus their therapeutic significance goes unsung. Cannabinol or CBN is one of these snubbed cannabis plant phytocannabinoids. It has promising potential on various aspects of the body and brain.

Cannabinol Defined?

CBN organically forms much, MUCH slower than CBD and THC, and in much smaller amounts. Cannabinol is a derivative of THC. As cannabis ages and degrades, THC-A converts to CBN-A. Further CBN-A oxidation and chemical change then give way to CBN.

Cannabidiol is a breakdown byproduct of THC. In other words, CBN is, in essence, "matured" THC. It has lost its bold psychotropic properties but retained its symptomatic health benefits.

Scientists and the medical community have studied cannabinol for several decades. The research is still in its early phases. There is a legal gray area surrounding the status of marijuana. This severe limits CBN research dollars.

Based on what we know, CBN helps to facilitate a night of restful sleep. It also benefits with daytime alertness. Cannabinol may also have a robust anti-inflammatory and immune system effects. Equally important, it has anti-seizure, analgesic, antiseptic, and hypothermic properties. As a bonus, it demonstrates appetite stimulant effects. We will dig into the details in a minute.

Are Cannabinol Benefits Psychotropic or Mind-Altering?

Research has shown that CBN has mildly psychoactive side effects. A 2008 British Journal of Anaesthesia report provides some insight into this discrepancy. Indeed, CBN's carbon double-bonds weaken its psychoactive properties.

BJA reports that cannabinol is 90% less psychoactive than THC. Cannabinol, coupled with CBD, eliminates the psychologic effects of cannabinol. Therefore, it is unlikely that you will experience the same high euphoria that THC induces when using products high in CBN.

How is Cannabinol Different from THC and CBD?

Phytocannabinoids like CBN, CBD, and THC, share closeness with our brain's endocannabinoids. They each interact with our cannabinoid receptors in diverse ways. These interactions produce varying effects on our physical and cognitive processes. Cannabinol is a unique nervous system modulator affecting the immune, digestive, and skeletal systems. It works in such complex ways as to awaken an assortment of health benefits.

A descendant of THC with fewer psychoactive effects, some effects of cannabinol also mirror those of THC. Like THC, the effects of CBN have a potential therapeutic target in the treatment of glaucoma and chronic pain. CBN and THC perform as strong anti-seizure, sedative, and sleep aids. Appetite stimulation shows promise for people struggling from an appetite suppressing illness/treatment.

Cannabinol is an entirely different chemical compound than CBD. With this in mind, there is some relation to CBD. Some even consider the two to be "cousins." So it is no surprise that many studies have found parallels between the health benefits of cannabinoid CBN and CBD.

For example, both CBD and CBN play a role in pain relief, chronic inflammation, and certain bacteria. They both have sedating effects. They also act as anti-seizure and treatment for bone fractures. However, each has an opposite impact on appetite and different cancer-fighting capabilities. We will discuss this momentarily.

The Endocannabinoid Receptor System

The endocannabinoid system has two types of receptors: CB1 and CB2. Each receptor responds to different cannabinoids, and some cannabinoids interact with both receptors. CB1 receptors are found throughout the body but are present in the brain and spinal cord. CB2 receptors concentrate in the immune cells of the peripheral nervous system. Activation of CB2 receptors functions to reduce inflammation. Inflammation is the body's immune response that plays a role in repairing numerous diseases and conditions. The THC in cannabis cannabinoids bind to both CB1 and CB2 receptors. This binding activates them like our own body's endocannabinoids.

How Does Cannabinol Work?

CBN mainly binds to CB2 cannabinoid receptors distributed throughout the body. There is a high concentration of CB2 receptor proteins in our immune tissues and blood cells. These receptors modulate immune function and provide anti-inflammation and anti-cancer potential. Cannabinol has a minimal affinity for CB1 receptors. The low relationship may explain why cannabinol does not produce THC-like effects on the psyche.

CBN works in synergy with other cannabinoids, so it is more effective when combined with THC and CBD. Researchers studied the antiseptic profile of the combination of cannabinoids, including CBN, THC, CBD, CBG, and CBC. Their research concluded that consuming these activated compounds together delivers potent antiseptic activity, (i.e., helps to resist and control bacteria).

Moreover, when combining cannabinol with THC, users may experience more significant sedation. Cannabinol may also be more effective when smoked rather than when cannabinol is extracted and used orally.

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