What is CBN and what is it for?
For a long time, this lesser-known cannabinoid, CBN (cannabinol), was considered an unnecessary byproduct of old cannabis plants. Unlike THC or CBD, which initially develop as acids during the early stages of a plant’s life, CBN is produced much later. Before looking at the specific conditions required to produce CBN, it’s worth taking a quick look at why this compound has caught the attention of researchers.
Preliminary studies have shown what anecdotal evidence has affirmed for years, that CBN can be a great natural sedative. Although there are several smaller trials that suggest the qualities of the compound go beyond that, larger studies are still in their infancy. It must be added that CBN has the ability to establish a synergistic relationship with CBD, which opens the range towards various treatment alternatives.
There are some important differences between CBD and CBN
Most cannabinoids interact with receptors linked to our endocannabinoid system. By doing so, these compounds can trigger a host of biological effects. Although both CBD and CBN are very similar in terms of their genetic makeup, CBD indirectly influences our endocannabinoid system through many types of receptors, while CBN acts in a more direct way.
In addition to having a strong affinity for CB2 receptors, CBN also plays well with CB1 receptors, as does the most abundant cannabinoid within the cannabis species: THC. There’s a good reason the two compounds share some attributes: without THC, there would be no CBN.
Rather than being the result of acid binding with enzymes, CBN is produced much later in the development of a cannabis plant. Cannabinoids are naturally changeable and continue to transform when exposed to different environmental factors. There are two ways for the CBN to emerge. The first is to convert THCA (raw THC) into CBNA, allowing it to degrade over time. If you then apply heat, the extra carbon molecule (the “A”) is removed. The alternative is to leave the THCA already activated (THC) to degrade again over time. In both cases, the result is the cannabinoid in question: CBN.
CBN can start its life as THC, but it will not give you psychoactive effects
It’s a perfectly natural assumption: if CBN can only be produced when THC has been allowed to mature, then most of us assume it will have comparable characteristics. Fortunately, CBN is not psychoactive and, unlike THC, is not part of the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs or the Convention on Psychotropic Substances. This means that researchers can gain access to the compound in a much easier way; This is good news, considering that the cannabinoid is quite elusive. If you remember, most of the time, hemp and cannabis are harvested when the CBD or THC content is at its peak. CBN requires much more patience if we want to extract significant amounts.
We know that we need to let THC mature before we can create CBN. We also know that it shows affinity for CB2 (and some CB1) receptors. Since CBN seems to have common characteristics to both CBD and THC, but not high, the next obvious question is: what happens when we consume the compound?
What can you expect from CBN?
Steep Hill Global, one of the world’s leading cannabinoid research companies, suggests that “of all cannabinoids, CBN appears to be the most sedative.” Furthermore, they found that very little is needed to provide a sedative effect that lasts 5 to 6 hours. Just 2.5-5mg of CBN was able to provide “the same level of sedation as a mild pharmaceutical sedative.”
Their conclusions coincide with studies carried out in mice. As published in NCBI, CBN significantly lengthened sleep time in rodents compared to other cannabinoids. Add to that no significant side effects, CBN is an exciting prospect for future treatments.
Other preclinical studies on the possibilities of CBN include the treatment of psoriasis and burns, and its contribution to the growth of bone tissue.
The future of CBN
As with many of the cannabinoids contained in hemp and cannabis species, their potential has only recently begun to be really explored, either because some of the compounds are illegal or, in the case of CBN, because it is very difficult to extract large quantities, due to the conditions necessary to produce it.
Research on this great sedative is increasing, and what we know so far points to a future of great possibilities. It does not have psychoactive side effects, and that is a great advantage for the compound, since it facilitates the process for more definitive studies.