What is CBN?
Whether you’re a seasoned smoker or a new consumer, you’ve probably heard of its most well-known cannabinoids: THC and CBD.
As the stigma surrounding the plant shrinks, more and more people have begun to adopt cannabis for its various medicinal benefits, even those who are not looking for heavy psychoactive effects. CBN, one of cannabis’ 100+ cannabinoids, has yet to reach the mainstream of the industry but has shown incredible therapeutic potential, offering a multitude of unique benefits with minimal psychoactive effects.
So, what is CBN? In this article, we cover the advantages and uses of CBN so that you can have a better understanding of how cannabis and its many components affect your body.
What is CBN?
CBN, also known as cannabinol, is a non-hallucinogenic cannabinoid that is normally created when THC molecules become oxidized as they age. Because of this, those looking for CBN flower will tend to find higher concentrations of the compound in older, more mature cannabis plants.
Since the cannabinoid is known to not have any psychoactive effects, most people who buy high-CBN products aren’t looking for any sort of extra potency or heavy “couchlock” feeling from their experience. It’s important to remember that the combination of CBN and THC can actually increase the intoxicating effects that usually come with a cannabis high, so if you’re in the market for CBN but aren’t looking for any sort of euphoric feeling, try to stay away from anything with a high THC content.
CBD vs CBN
Because they are both non-intoxicating cannabinoids, CBN and its more famous counterpart, CBD, often get compared. While both are very similar, there are a few key differences to note.
One of the biggest distinctions is that CBD products are much more available and easier to find than CBN and have become quite the health and wellness trend over the last few years, even becoming integrated into body washes, shampoos, energy drinks, and creams. CBN, on the other hand, is not as popular, mainly due to a lack of research and government approval, and is commonly sold in an isolated form as a tincture, edible, or capsule.
Another major difference between the two has to do with how they react with our endocannabinoids, the body’s system for regulating pain, mood, energy, and stress. Like THC, CBN interacts with our CB1 receptors located in the brain and body when consumed, but at a much lower strength that accounts for lesser psychoactivity. CBD, however, does not actually bind with any CB receptors but instead interacts with different receptors like TRPV1, which is mainly responsible for inflammation and pain.
How CBN Flower and Distillates are Made
Manufacturers can create strains with higher CBN content by exposing THC to heat during a process called decarboxylation that changes the chemistry of the bud. To property “decarb” the THC in a cannabis plant, an oven is usually used to heat raw material to around 300℉ for a period of 15 minutes or more. Another popular strategy is to apply a UV light to the plant for a longer period of time, which will degrade the flower and facilitate a natural conversion of THC to CBN.
On a larger scale in the cannabis processing lab, isolated CBN distillate products are created by taking cannabis strains that are higher in CBNa (the acidic precursor molecule to CBN) and using ethanol or CO2 as a solvent to separate terpenes and cannabinoids from the plant matter. This remaining material is then placed in a vacuum evaporation device that uses heat to remove the gas solvents and create a refined CBN extract. In the final stage of the process, the extract will get further distilled to create a pure, concentrated product.
CBN Benefits and Uses
Similar to CBD, CBN is also known to fight inflammation, with plenty of scientific research still being done to determine which parts of the body it can treat most effectively. Many cannabis enthusiasts tout CBN for its ability to reduce the daily pains of those who suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis, a disorder that involves inflammation and stiffness of the joints.
Research on CBN has revealed its ability to act as an antibacterial agent, with one notable study in 2008 showing that the cannabinoid exhibited potent activity against MRSA bacteria, a common type of staph infection.
While studies have not yet been conducted with humans, many suspect that CBN can be a beneficial neuroprotectant. A study conducted at the University of Washington found that administering 5mg of CBN to mice with ALS, the most common adult-onset motor neuron disorder, delayed the onset of the disease by two weeks. Although the overall survival rate was unaffected, this research shows promise for the cannabinoid to be used in the future to relieve the symptoms of neuropathic illness.