You’ve heard of THC and maybe even CBD, but have you heard of yet another acronym associated with the cannabis plant? Cannabinol, or CBN oil, is gaining popularity in the marketplace, but you can’t take advantage if you don’t know what it is. Here’s a quick overview of CBN to help you decide if it should be your new go-to cannabinoid.
What is CBN?
The cannabis plant contains hundreds of chemical compounds known as “cannabinoids.” These all have varying effects on the human body due to the way they interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is essentially a collection of receptors that activate the cannabis plant’s cognitive and physical effects.
Of all these cannabinoids, people know tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) the best. Yet, as the political stranglehold on cannabis slowly eases up nationwide, scientists and the public are finding more opportunities to learn more about the plant and its chemical profile. This means we’re learning more about another cannabinoid called “cannabinol” or CBN.
CBN is a metabolite of THC, meaning it is created when THC-A, more officially known as tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, oxidizes (combines with oxygen) with exposure to heat and light. This process leaves the CBN in the cannabis plant.
Because of its relationship with THC, CBN displays similar interaction patterns with the ECS receptors, mainly in its attachment to the CB1 receptor. THC acts on these as well, creating the high that most people know cannabis for. Despite this common behavior, CBN doesn’t bind to CB1 with as much strength as THC, so don’t expect the same psychoactive effect.
CBN also connects to the CB2 receptor, which is often present on immune cells, including:
- T-cells: These are a type of white blood cell that fights specific types of viruses alongside macrophages.
- B-cells: Cells of this kind act as the clean-up crew after your system fights off sickness.
- Macrophages: White blood cells like this surround harmful microorganisms in your body and kill them. These are also responsible for clearing your body of dead cells and stimulating other cells in your immune system to act.
- Dendritic cells: Cells in this group are vital to your ability to produce antibodies. Their main function is to present antigens – molecules that trigger the production of antibodies – to cells in your immune system.
CBN acts as an anticonvulsant and can be used effectively as a sleep aid or sedative. Because of these interactions, CBN is widely known for its ability to regulate the immune system. Plus, studies have shown that this cannabinoid can also relieve muscle pain like CBD can, so it could be a viable option for treating the painful symptoms associated with medical conditions like fibromyalgia.
Other potential applications for CBN include maintaining nerve cells’ structural integrity (neuroprotection) and fighting inflammation due to conditions like arthritis.
What is the difference between CBD and CBN?
Unlike CBD, CBN is a minor cannabinoid. It’s the by-product of chemical processes that happen inside the cannabis plant and has an overall weaker effect on the nervous system than either THC or CBD. Still, it might retain an almost negligible level of influence as a psychoactive compound, since it is a byproduct of THC-A.
In fact, a past report in Cannabis Pharmacology reported that “CBN maintains about ¼ the potency” of THC. With that said, you can expect CBN’s effects to slightly emulate THC, rather than CBD, which famously does not impose any mind-altering symptoms for people consuming high-CBD hemp.
On that note, there is no real way to get a strain that is “high-CBN” like you can with CBD. The amount of CBN present in your cannabis depends on several factors, such as the concentrations of THC in the flowers, periods of environmental exposure, and the types of environmental hazards the plant has been subjected to. CBD doesn’t degrade as readily as CBN, which can start to break down with excessive warmth and light.
The two cannabinoids aren’t entirely dissimilar, though. They share many traits, such as like the ability to interact with the ECS. (Although scientists aren’t quite whether CBD influences or acts directly on some ECS receptors, but that’s beside the point.)
Additionally, CBN and CBD products offer similar health benefits to cannabinoid enthusiasts, including:
- Negligible intoxicating effects, if any
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- Pain relief
- Stopping convulsions
- Providing antibiotics (it’s even been recorded to show anti-MRSA activity)
Potential benefits of CBN oil
Like other cannabinoids, CBN’s effects are enhanced when consumed in a concentrated form, such as an oil. This is made by extracting cannabis’ chemicals into a specialized solution, then evaporating all the other compounds to leave CBN behind. Yet, since scientists know far less about CBN than CBD, the knowledge base is quite dry on how exactly it can help you, apart from the benefits mentioned previously.
One exciting advantage that CBN might provide is fighting insomnia. Scientists have shown that consuming even 5 mg of CBN can produce the same effect as taking 5-10 mg of Valium, minus most of the compromising impact on the mind.
Glaucoma patients have also reported that CBN can minimize the pressure behind the eyes, adding to the breadth of CBN’s capabilities as a painkiller. Other medical uses of CBN include soothing pain and inflammation resulting from psoriasis and helping speed up the healing process following skeletal fractures.
This is similar to how CBD and other cannabinoids have been shown to accelerate the recovery period from broken bones, as well as prevent and treat bone degradation due to hormone imbalances or aging. CBN also shares one more characteristic with THC: stimulating the appetite. This is particularly advantageous for cancer patients, who can suffer a weakened desire to eat after chemotherapy.
Although there are numerous perks associated with using CBN oil, remember that not everything cannabis-related is glitter and gold. There are potential drawbacks to be aware of before you hop onto the CBN bandwagon. Mainly, CBN oil might have similar interactions with prescription drugs, much like those observed with CBD oil, like:
- Antimicrobial medications
- Blood thinners, blood pressure medications, or heart rhythm drugs
- Cholesterol management medications
- Drugs for epilepsy
- Gastrointestinal medications
- Mood stabilizing prescription drugs
- Prostate medications
Like other cannabinoids, CBN presents many of the benefits that these drugs can offer, with significantly less chance for detrimental side effects. Still, it’s not quite accurate to deem it entirely “safe,” yet hopes are high that this cannabinoid has a lot to offer in terms of mental and physical health benefits.
The Skinny on CBN Oil
The foundation of scientific knowledge on CBN is growing, slowly but surely. For now, researchers know that the cannabinoid has much to offer in the way of pain relief, fighting insomnia, and more. Be mindful of how you use CBN oil to avoid any of the potential drug interactions listed above, and keep an eye out for new developments on the possible applications of this compound for natural health and wellness solutions.