If you’ve tried cannabis or are curious about trying it, you’ve probably heard all about its two most popular endocannabinoids, CBD and THC. These two typically generate all the buzz, however, these aren’t the only cannabinoids produced by the cannabis plant. You’ll find minor cannabinoids, like cannabinol (CBN), amongst many others.
In the cannabis plant, each medicinal compound is unique and different from one another , especially in terms of their effects and benefits. Furthermore, if you’re curious as to how cannabis can affect you, you’ll want to know about the different cannabinoids too.
Let’s get to talking about cannabinol more.
THE ECS AND ITS ROLE
Named after the plant that led to its later discovery, the endogenous cannabinoid system is one of the most important physiologic systems involved in maintaining and establishing human health and wellness. The goal is to maintain homeostasis, our personal maintenance system to keep a stable internal environment despite fluctuations or changes in our external environment.
The endocannabinoid system can be described as a signaling system within your body, composed of endocannabinoids, endogenous receptors, and enzymes that work simultaneously with most other physiologically systems. These cannabinoids can be found throughout the body in the brain, connective tissues, glands, immune cells, and organs. Think of the ECS as a cyclic process within our bodies: binding cannabinoids to our receptors, doing what it needs to do, then using enzymes to break them down.
So how do CBD, CBN, and THC work in the ECS? More on that in a minute! Hang tight.
WHAT IS CBN OIL (CANNABINOL)
CBN is a non-intoxicating compound, best known as the cannabinoid that develops when THC ages over time. Because of this, cannabinol is usually present in older cannabis, in very high amounts. While this might not be up your alley, others may purposely seek older cannabis just for the full-bodied effects of the CBN.
Biologically, cannabinol comes from the decomposition and oxidation of tetrahydrocannabinol, derived from the hemp plant. Thus, when THC is exposed to CO2 and heated, it converts into CBN. Pharmacokinetically, CBN is between ⅙ and 1/10 of the potency of the CB1 receptor that THC is. This compound has a mild psychoactive response, but is much less than tetrahydrocannabinol.
Like I mentioned above, CBN is a byproduct of THC and it typically found in very small amounts in cannabis strains. Cannabinol was the first cannabinoid to be isolated; originally thought to have been the one responsible for the psychoactive component of cannabis (aka before the discovery of THC).
CBN AND ITS FUNCTIONS
Chemically, CBN shares a very similar composition as to THC. It is thought to primarily bind to the CB2 receptor, but may still interact with the CB1 receptor too. It acts as an agonist to the TRPV2 receptor, a natural-occurring protein that helps regulate multiple biological systems in the human body. Because of this, this makes CBN potentially effective in helping alleviate inflammation, pain, bone health, lowering blood pressure, as well as treating skin conditions and irritations.
CBN has continued to make its way in topicals, edibles, tinctures, vapes, capsules, and sublingual sprays, to name a few, in higher doses than previously seen before.
What’s so important about it? Is it just the current hype trend you need to hear about? Hold on briefly to that thought.
WHAT IS CANNABIDIOL
There’s no question about it - you’re curious about CBD, so you head to the internet to find out all this is to know about this cannabinoid. If you live in a state where marijuana is legal, you might be seeing CBD products popping up just about anywhere and everywhere. Even though it’s just about everywhere, most still aren’t quite sure what it is or how it works.
CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, derived from the cannabis sativa plant, also known as the hemp or marijuana plant. As a naturally-occurring compound used in oils, salves, and tinctures, it aims to provide a feeling of relaxation and calmness. Unlike THC, this compound won’t get you “high”.
CBD AND ITS FUNCTIONS
Cannabidiol does not bind directly with CB1 and CB2 receptors, within the endocannabinoid system (ECS). However, this cannabinoid acts indirectly with the endocannabinoid receptors and influences them in other ways. Cannabidiol influences these receptors through upregulations of other compounds that interact with the endocannabinoid system’s receptors. Because it doesn’t connect directly with the receptors, it doesn’t cause users to “feel high” or “stoned”. Some experts consider CBD oil to be an “anti-marijuana”.
You can think of CBD as a child wanting to buy a candy bar, but going to their guardian (other compound) and asking for them to purchase it for them (interaction with the cannabinoid receptors). The cannabidiol gets what it wants, but it just influences others to do it for them, sort of.
CBD (CANNABIDIOL) VS CBN (CANNABINOL): THE DIFFERENCE
Just to clear the air, CBD and CBN are different. Individually taken, cannabidiol (CBD) tends to cause a feeling or clear-headedness and alertness. On the other hand, cannabinol (CBN) may taken on sedating effects. When it comes to users’ appetites, the endocannabinoids can act slightly differently too. Cannbidiol may act as a mild appetite suppressant and cannabinol tends to stimulate one’s appetite.
Taken together, these cannabis compounds are known, anecdotally, to relieve symptoms of inflammation and pain.
Whatever the intended usage of both or either compound, a patient should always consult a physician prior to consuming any natural remedies or supplements.
THE BENEFITS OF CBN
Currently being explored in the research, cannabidiol is showing promise for potential benefits. Do note, current research on this compound is limited and sparse, with very few studies demonstrating its effects on the human body.
1. APPETITE STIMULATE
A 2012 Psychopharmacology study analyzed the effects of CBN and CBD on rodents and their feeding patterns. Researchers found that cannabinol increased the amount of food the rats consumed, suggesting that it could be an effective appetite stimulant. This compound could offer an alternative for those seeking “the munchies” without the high. But again, more research is needed.
2. ANTIBACTERIAL AGENT
A structure-activity study done in 2008 aimed to answer the question about cannabinoids containing antibacterial properties. Researchers tested CBN on strains of bacteria that were resistant to antibiotics. They found that this endocannabinoid was potent as an antibacterial agent against these resistant strains of bacteria.
You guessed it, these cannabinoids may be a potent anti-inflammatory agent, capable of helping those with inflammatory ailments, disorders, conditions, etc. A recent 2016 rodent study concluded that CBN was shown to reduce arthritis.
4. NEUROLOGICAL PROTECTANT
Emerging evidence has begun to look at cannabis and its impact on neurological disorders. Evidence from clinical studies on mouse models suggest that cannabinoids might provide some therapeutic benefit to neurological diseases. Researchers specifically looked at amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and suggested that CBN was able to delay the onset of this condition.
Research findings done in the last ten years have just begun to show promise to what these incredible cannabinoids are capable of. More research is needed to continue to demonstrate these therapeutic effects on animals and humans. Human clinical trials and studies need to be done in the future, to provide evidence of its effect in the human body.
If you’ve heard or read about CBN before, you’ve probably seen it being discussed and praised as a sedative, a super sedative.
Not much research has been done analyzing CBN’s sedating effects (or if there even is a sedating effect). However, one human study did work to answer this question in the 1970s. This human study was very small, 5 volunteers, with none of the volunteers reporting that this endocannabinoid made them feel sleepy.
So why is the hype around this compound being that it causes sedation? Hmmm.
Well, to put it simply, cannabis that is high in cannabinol is also high in sedating terpenes. These terpenes could be the ones responsible for these sedative effects.
People may have started blaming CBN for the reason why they felt sedated through assumption. However, the sedative effect may have been from a combination of CBN and THC (and the terpenes present). Sounds like a mixture for sleepiness and sedation.
While this compound may not be sedating on its own, you may be able to combine it with THC to get the sleeping benefits you desire.
Another misconception we want to point out is that CBN is non-intoxicating. When taking alone, it’s non-intoxicating, but when taking with THC, it may increase the euphoric effects. If you’re wanting to take advantage of the benefits with the “high”, make sure you take products that don’t contain much (if any) THC.
Where to buy CBN Oil
When cannabinol isn’t necessarily plentiful in cured or fresh cannabis, it can be found in older cannabis, cannabis that has been exposed to high levels of oxygen.
Brands are beginning to offer products with isolated CBN, usually seen in the form of edibles or tinctures. Pure CBN products are a great way to test out the endocannabinoid for yourself and see if it helps you!
CANNABINOL: FINAL THOUGHTS
While cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol are leading headlines and highlights in the cannabis industry, cannabinol is making its way to the light, slowly but surely. Whether you are curious to try CBN with your current CBD or THC regime or you’re wanting to try a pure form of CBN, we encourage you to do your research and see what’s out there and may fit your needs best.
Animal studies are continuously underway analyzing the effects and potential benefits of CBN, but much more is still needed to be done in regards to human studies and clinical trials. Until then, the current research may hold promise.
Appendino G, Gibbons S, Giana A, et al. Antibacterial cannabinoids from cannabis sativa: A structure-activity study. J Nat Prod. 2008.
Farrimond JA, Whalley BJ, Williams CM. Cannabinol and cannabidiol exert opposing effects on rat feeding patterns. Psychopharmacology. 2012.
Kamiol IG, Shirakawa I, et al. Effects of delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabinol in man. Pharmacology. 1975. doi:10.1159/000136944.
Weydt P, Hong S, Witting A, et al. Cannabinol delays symptom onset in SOD1 (G93A) transgenic mice without affecting survival. Amyotroph Lateral Scler Other Motor Neuron Disord. 2005.