Cannabinol (CBN) is one of more than 100 cannabinoids, and one of several that has been singled out for its health benefits. CBN is formed following the breakdown of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and is at its most concentrated in aged cannabis plants.
As a result, CBN was once considered to be little more than a waste product. In recent years, however, it has been getting a lot of attention. Many consider it to be one of the most sedating and relaxing of all cannabinoids.
What is CBN Oil?
CBN is not as popular as CBD oil, which is the market’s cannabinoid of choice at the moment. Both cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system and work on CB1 and CB2 receptors, but CBD is much more prevalent and cheaper to produce.
As it's a product of THC, CBN can be produced from aged cannabis flowers. Growers wait beyond the usual harvest time, at which point the THC begins to oxidize and CBN forms. However, this method is likely to produce a high THC content, which means the resulting CBN products will be subject to strict rules and regulations.
To prevent this issue, CBN needs to be carefully extracted from legal hemp that has been independently tested and contains less than 0.03% THC. The resulting extraction can then be sold as a pure CBN product or it can be combined with other cannabinoids to form tinctures, edibles, and other products.
The Health Benefits of Cannabinol
We've known about CBN for several decades, but it's not quite as well researched as THC and we're still learning about its potential health benefits.
Based on the research that exists right now, a pure, high-quality CBN extract could provide the following benefits.
It is a Mild Sleep Aid
CBN is often said to possess the strongest sedative properties of all cannabinoids. This might be true, as animal studies and anecdotal reports suggest that it is. When discussing these sedative effects, many individuals highlight a study conducted by Steep Hill Labs.
The study compared CBN to doses of diazepam (Valium) and noted that it was just as effective, but with far fewer side effects and much less potential for addiction. If true, this would be a breakthrough discovery and could benefit millions of Americans that struggle with insomnia.
However, these sedating effects are exaggerated, and Steep Hill now seems to acknowledge this, noting that additional trials have struggled to back up these results. That doesn't mean that CBN is useless, as it certainly seems to have some sedative properties, but it's unlikely to provide the same knockout blow as a strong sleeping tablet.
It Could Improve Appetite
A study conducted in 2012 tested the effects of cannabidiol (CBD), cannabinol (CBN), and cannabigerol (CBG) on appetite in rodents. They found that, while CBD reduced total food consumption, CBN increased it and CBG displayed no effects whatsoever.
Of course, this is just one study, and we have previously referred to studies that suggest CBG can double food intake in rodent subjects, so it's a little confusing. This is often the case, as everything from the dose to the method of administration and chosen subjects can alter the results.
What we do know is that cannabinoids have a long history of use as appetite stimulants. CBN works by mildly stimulating the appetite and increasing calorie consumption, which could prove to be life-changing in patients suffering from chronic diseases, eating disorders, and medication-induced appetite suppression.
It Can Reduce Intraocular Pressure
A 1984 study found that CBN could help to relieve intraocular pressure associated with conditions like glaucoma. It was administered alongside CBG and researchers noted that it proved to be more effective following chronic use.
However, they also noted that CBN irritated the eye much more than CBG when applied as a topical solution.
It is Antibacterial
Cannabinoids like CBN could help in the fight against antibiotic-resistant superbugs, including MRSA. They display strong antibacterial effects, and while it's still early on, the initial research has been promising. Of course, they are just one of the many compounds being studied for this purpose, but these antibacterial effects could provide a number of other health benefits.
It Could Slow Cancer Growth
The anti-inflammatory effects of CBN and other cannabinoids have led to them being studied as potential treatments and preventative medicines for a host of chronic diseases, including cancer.
Cannabis compounds work by reducing oxidation and inflammation, and in turn, this reduces the risk of diseases triggered by chronic inflammation.
Other Therapeutic Effects of CBN
Many of the studies outlined above have been conducted on animals using high doses of CBN. This is often the case with natural compounds, and it means we have very limited insight into how they actually work and the benefits they actually provide.
However, we know that CBN has an impact on the mind and body, and by reducing inflammation and fighting free radicals and bacteria, it could help with everything from pain relief to boosting the immune system. More importantly, unlike medical marijuana and prescription medications, the benefits of CBN are provided without many side effects and with no psychoactive effects.
Whether you benefit from its analgesic and sedatives effects or feel nothing whatsoever, the lack of concerning side effects means you can consume it without issue. It's rare that you can make that that statement with regards to modern medicine.
Summary: The Future of CBN
Although CBN has been recognized for a long time, its benefits are only just being understood. It's unlikely that it will overtake CBD products, as these have exploded in recent years and most of the country's hemp is now being used to produce this cannabinoid.
However, it could follow closely behind, giving consumers and growers a little more variety and helping to expand the US hemp and medical cannabinoid industries.
It all depends on how consumers react and on whether or not larger and more definitive studies can confirm the purported health benefits of CBN. Only time will tell, but it's definitely worth keeping an eye on it.