Cannabinol is best known as a byproduct of THC aging.
Unlike most cannabinoids, cannabinol isn’t synthesized by cannabis plants while they grow. Instead, it’s the result of the degradation of THC over time with exposure to heat, air, and sunlight.
Most cannabis flower will have CBN content under 1%, but processors can oxidize THC sourced from any strain by curing it to create CBN.
What does CBN do?
In the body, CBN behaves somewhat similarly to THC, binding to the CB1 and CB2 receptors, though with significantly reduced potency.
CB1 receptors are found in the brain and central nervous system, and regulate important neurotransmitters including dopamine and serotonin. Stimulation in these areas results in the uniquely recognizable psychoactive effects of cannabis.
CBN, however, preferentially binds to CB2 receptors, which are located throughout the body in immune cells and peripheral organs. This receptor type is understood to regulate inflammation. Heightened activity at the CB2 receptors over CB1 make CBN non-psychoactive, compared to THC which interacts most significantly at CB1.
What the research says on CBN
CBN is still a relatively new area of pharmacological study, even as one of the earliest observed cannabinoids in the late 1800s.
Recent studies using animal models suggest CBN may have potential in treating inflammation, brain diseases and cancer. One study gave CBN to rodents with arthritis, whose condition improved with reduced pain and inflammation.
In another study, rodents with ALS, a degenerative disease impairing nervous system function, were given CBN in early stages. The cannabinoid was shown to delay the onset of ALS symptoms, suggesting it may have neuroprotective qualities.
A rabbit study examined the ability of CBN to reduce intraoccular pressure, which is known to effectively lower risk for glaucoma.
CBN has been frequently cited for demonstrating sedative properties, based on a study measuring it alongside THC, which skews results. CBN may still have benefits for sleep regulation, though further research is necessary to examine it in isolation.
Cannabinoids are understood to produce additional entourage effects when metabolized together, and along with terpenes, so research into their individual effects is a necessary starting point in understanding each phytochemical’s important role.
One study took an interesting approach to observing the effects of individual cannabinoids on rodent eating patterns. CBN was revealed to promote higher food intake, while CBD stimulated appetite to a lesser extent and CBG showed little impact. Future researchers may take clinical studies a similar direction to test cannabinoids against one another in affecting the same bodily processes.
How we use CBN
We blend hemp-derived CBN and CBD in a 1:2 ratio in our CBZ line, in formulations containing little to no THC. Our broad-spectrum approach includes infusing terpenes popular for promoting relaxation in aromatherapy.