Up until recently, relatively little was known about the compounds in the marijuana plant. Fast forward to today, and at least 113 different compounds have been identified. THC (the chemical that makes you high) and CBD (the non-intoxicating one) are the two most popular cannabinods, and the two most prevalent compounds in the cannabis plant.
However, there are dozens of others that are useful medical tools whether you combine them with THC & CBD or attempt to extract them. Those with limited knowledge of Cannabinol (CBN) believe it is practically irrelevant, especially as most people are not aware of its usefulness. In this article, we perform in-depth analysis on CBN so you can decide if it is something you would be interested in using.
What is CBN?
CBN is a mildly psychoactive compound in marijuana and is unique to the plant. Like the vast majority of weed components, CBN is only soluble in a fatty body as water rejects it. It has a specific relationship with THC because unlike other molecules, CBN doesn’t come directly from the marijuana plant. Instead, it is formed from the exterior oxidation of THC. In other words, THC leaves CBN during its degradation. When weed is cut and stored, THC ultimately becomes CBN.
It is also a fact that the acid form of THC, THC-a, gets converted to CBN-a when it is exposed to air for a significant period. The presence of air causes THC-a to lose hydrogen molecules and then it undergoes oxidation. The result is the acid form of CBN. You can then treat the compound with UV light and heat and convert it to CBN. It dissolves well in methanol and ethanol. Poorly stored marijuana plants are often high in CBN.
Since it is the breakdown of THC as the psychoactive compounds ages, CBN is often dismissed. After all, you only find it in stale buds so how useful can it be? However, recent research has determined that CBN potentially has an array of medicinal benefits. According to Steep Hill Labs it is the most sedative of all cannabinoids. Just 5mg of CBN is the equivalent of 10mg of Valium in body relaxation terms. Although CBN has some psychoactive properties (it is derived from THC after all), they are about 10% as strong.
What is the Difference Between CBN & CBD?
CBD is the most abundant cannabinoid in weed and can comprise up to 40% of cannabis resin. It doesn’t offer a high which means it is normally used for medicinal purposes rather than as a recreational tool. CBD produces anxiolytic effects which reduce the hallucinogenic effects of THC. Unlike CBN, CBD does not appear after oxidation as it is already abundant in the plant.
While CBD directly acts on the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to block anandamide production, CBN is only created by the exposure of weed to air and the subsequent degradation of THC. CBN doesn’t seem to have a direct effect on the ECS. Overall, CBN is believed to reduce the potency of marijuana and it is a weak partial agonist at the two cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2. At present, medical researchers have yet to fully understand the metabolic effects of CBN in contrast to CBD where far more data is available.
What is CBN Used For?
The benefits of CBN are manifold. First and foremost, CBN is by far the most powerful sedative of any identified marijuana compound. It can help you get a restful night’s sleep without the grogginess or side effects of prescription sleeping pills. Evidence of its ability to treat insomnia goes back as far as 1976 and a study from 1995 on insomniac mice all but proved its efficacy in relation to promoting better sleep.
As a result, one of the main uses of CBN is to treat insomnia. As we mentioned above, it is even more sedative than Valium, and THC-high marijuana strains that also contain CBN and myrcene are good options if you’re in need of a decent night’s sleep. CBN is synergistic with D9THC and CBD regarding sleep inducement. When you mix them in the right ratios, you should have a concoction capable of giving you at least 6 hours of sleep without waking up feeling drowsy.
Like other cannabinoids such as CBD and THC, CBN works as a powerful anti-inflammatory agent in your body. Although a certain amount of inflammation is perfectly fine as it is an adaptive bodily function, too much causes illness. Like CBD, CBN doesn’t interact strongly with the CB2 receptor but it does modulate the levels of endocannabinoids. It influences specific immune cells to produce anti-inflammatory effects and CBN even impacts levels of other compounds known to cause inflammation.
An anticonvulsant is a compound capable of reducing epilepsy-related seizures. Researchers have found that CBN is almost as effective an anticonvulsant as THC and CBD.
Admittedly, the research has only involved rats but when the rodents consumed CBN, they ate larger portions of food more regularly and for longer. The likely reason is the impact of CBN on the CB1 receptor. As CBN has a far weaker psychoactive effect than THC, it is arguably a better option to increase appetite.
Bone Formation & Healing
CBN could help heal bones as it recruits stem cells from your bone marrow. Stem cells are converted into various cell types including muscle, fat, cartilage, and bone cells. CBN could be responsible for increasing fibroblast cells which greatly aid the healing of bone. The effects of CBN might stretch to bone formation which means faster recovery from injured tissues and fractured bones.
Chronic Pain Relief
Medical marijuana is known to relieve chronic pain and CBN might play a more significant role than you think. As it comes from degraded THC, you won’t be surprised to learn that it acts like the psychoactive compound in some ways. For example, it stimulates the release of peptides from sensory nerves which helps decrease pain sensation. According to new research, the painkilling effects of CBN are independent of CB1 and CB2 receptors and probably come from another cannabinoid receptor that has yet to be discovered.
This is the process of relaxing blood vessel walls which results in the fall of blood pressure. CBN acts as a vasorelaxant which means it is useful if you have a condition such as glaucoma. It may increase the blood flow to the eyes via vasorelaxation and reduces pressure in the eye. The process is also helpful for people with conditions such as heart disease or hypertension.
Once again, CBN probably plays a bigger role in marijuana’s anti-cancer effects than first thought. Research has found that CBN reduces Lewis lung carcinoma, a type of lung tumor. Cannabinol also targets the cellular pathways that cause cancer growth.
Researchers tested the effects of five major cannabinoids, including CBN, on different strains of the superbug, MRSA. These antibiotic-resistant bacteria can cause fatal staph infections and their prevalence is increasing due to the nation’s overreliance on prescription drugs. The team found that CBN has strong antibacterial effects and it could become an important MRSA treatment.
CBN potentially has a hypothermic effect which means it lowers body temperature. As a consequence, you can use CBN topically to treat burns because of the compound’s pain-relieving and cooling effect. Cannabinol seemingly can activate the TRPV2 receptor, a cell site which only becomes activated when the skin gets exposed to high temperatures.
This is a troubling skin condition that leads to the creation of flaky, crusty, red patches of skin that are covered by nasty-looking silvery scales. Preliminary research suggests that CBN decreases keratinocytes (a type of skin cell) proliferation. If you have psoriasis, these cells become hyperactive, grow and create the flaky skin patches. With CBN, you can reduce the process and treat your skin condition.
Is CBN Legal?
Much is written about the legal status of the marijuana plant but the waters become positively murky when analyzing the legality of its many compounds. It is the psychoactive THC that is the main bone of contention and the reason why marijuana is illegal in so many places. Meanwhile, the non-intoxicating compound CBD is less strictly regulated although it is also illegal in certain states.
As CBN is the product of THC degradation, it is only natural to assume that the compound is illegal in the same places where THC is illegal. However, things are not as clear as you might expect. For starters, CBN is NOT listed amongst the list of scheduled controlled substances. However, since it is an analog of CBD or THC, both of which ARE Schedule I substances, there is a possibility that selling or possession could result in prosecution under the Federal Analogue Act of 1986.
Then again, there is a chance that CBN won’t meet the legal standard of an analog. In December 2016, the DEA added marijuana extracts to the list of Schedule I drugs. These newly illegal substances are classified as an “extract containing one or more cannabinoids that has been derived from any plant of the genus Cannabis, other than the separated resin.” As a result, we suspect that CBN is illegal on a federal level but don’t know for sure!
High CBN Strains
Since CBN comes from the degradation of THC, there are few marijuana strains with a reasonable concentration. In fact, you’ll be lucky if a strain has up to 1% CBN. Here is a list of a few strains with over 0.3% CBN:
- Blackberry: 0.398%
- Bubble Gum: 0.386%
- Durban Poison: 0.363%
- Lemon Kush: 0.49%
- Purple Cadillac: 0.313%
- Super Green Crack: 0.788%
How to Get CBN
The single best way to get CBN is to age your weed! If you’re cultivating the plant at home, simply push back your harvest time. We recommend allowing trichomes to begin developing an amber color before cutting down the plant. Next, dry and cure it. Let’s be frank, extracting CBN is not an easy task nor is it an exact science. Remember, it only comes from the breakdown of THC so the conversion process can be slowed down or sped up by environmental factors such as Heat, Age, Air, and Light.
Simply put, buds that have been left out for a long time and are stale will have higher than normal amounts of CBN. The downside of course is that vaporizing or smoking stale flower is unpleasant! As a result, you must let the THC degrade without sacrificing the quality. As such, we have compiled a short and simple set of instructions for you to follow.
- Place your cure jars in a warm and bright place. A humidity level of 65% is ideal.
- Poke some holes in the top of the jar after a while to release humidity.
- Keep a close eye on proceedings to ensure the plants don’t become too dried or brittle.
- If your flowers are drying too quickly, place them in an airtight container and relocate them to a cool and dark place.
- Now you should have high CBN plants ready for use.
If you don’t fancy the challenge, you can purchase CBN from companies such as Mary’s Medicinals. There is also a high dose CBN drink called Hornet Hibernate available from SpOILed Patients Collective. According to the company, the drink is up to 12% CBN and a teaspoon is all you need for a great night’s sleep.
Studies on CBN
Although it isn’t particularly well-known, CBN was actually the first cannabinoid to be isolated and identified from weed. CBN was initially discovered in the 19th century via the degradation of marijuana extract. However, it was not identified until the 1930s when Robert Sydney Cahn was performing research. Unsurprisingly, since it appears through degradation, there was a large amount of CBN found in a 2,700-year-old Chinese grave in what remains the oldest discovered marijuana sample.
A 2012 study by Farrimond, Whalley, and Williams, found that CBN stimulated the appetite in lab rats. An intriguing 2006 study by Bifulco et al. discovered that along with other cannabinoids, CBN could control the growth of cancer cells. Even though CBN is still relatively unknown, its therapeutic capacity was known decades ago.
In a 1984 study by Craig, Allara, and Colasanti, a group of cats received different concentrations of CBN over a nine-day period. Although a single dose had little effect on the cats’ intraocular pressure, chronic use caused a marked reduction in tension. The research team concluded that CBN was potentially useful for glaucoma.
An even older study, conducted by Karler, Cely and Turkanis in 1974, found that CBN was a useful anticonvulsant. They tested the compound, along with several other cannabinoids, on mice that had undergone a maximal electroshock test. The team determined that CBN was one of the most effective treatments with a ‘peak effect’ time of around two hours after administration.
What is CBN Oil?
As you can probably guess, CBN oil is the result of extracting CBN from the marijuana plant. As no marijuana plant has a significant amount of the compound at first, it is necessary to age the buds first. Once the oxidization process converts THC into CBN, you can begin the process. The good news is that you only need a tiny amount of CBN for it to be effective.
Its chemical structure has only slight differences to that of THC and you can also use a plant’s CBN content to get an estimate of how old it is. If you intend to extract CBN from a plant, make sure you wait beyond the normal harvest time before proceeding. When the trichomes turn amber or yellow, you should be good to go. Please remember that CBN’s boiling point is 365 degrees Fahrenheit, slightly higher than that of THC. Realistically, you should look for CBN oil or related products from companies with expertise in aging, curing, and drying bud.
Final Thoughts on Cannabinol (CBN)
Although most of our attention appears to be focused on THC and CBD, we should not overlook the immense medicinal potential of CBN. It is arguably the best sedative on the planet and since it only has around 10% of THC’s psychoactive effects, it won’t get you high. If you wish to try CBN for yourself, the key is to allow your marijuana to go stale so its THC can degrade to CBN.
It is important to note that a CBN high makes you feel groggy and disorientated at times so perhaps it is best to look for high-CBN products online. If you have insomnia, Cannabinol could be the answer you’re looking for so throw away your sleeping pills and embrace the power of CBN. It is also potentially useful for an array of medical issues and acts as a useful anticonvulsant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial treatment among other things.
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