What Is CBN?

The formula for the CBN compound with a photo of a green leaf in the background.

What Is CBN?

2560 1707 Rob Jennison Rob Jennison

Among the naturally occurring cannabinoids found in cannabis plants, cannabinol (CBN) is a lesser-studied substance that seems to have sedative, analgesic, antibacterial, and other effects. In 1896, it was the first cannabinoid to be isolated and was initially thought to be the chemical in cannabis that produces the well-known “high”, though further research showed it to be primarily from tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). While research into CBN is limited, its outlook is promising.

How Is CBN Created?

Cannabinol is unusual among cannabinoids because it is not a direct product of cannabigerol (CBG) in cannabis plants, but instead is formed when the THC in cannabis is exposed to heat and light, particularly ultraviolet light, causing the THC to oxidize. This oxidation process can occur naturally, such as when cannabis is cut and stored, especially if it is poorly kept, or through direct treatment with heat and light, both resulting in high concentrations of CBN. Similarly, tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THC-A), the acid that becomes THC, can oxidate into cannabinolic acid (CBN-A). CBN, like other cannabinoids is fat-soluble but not naturally water-soluble, though it can be processed into tiny particles to be combined with water into mixtures called nanoemulsions or microemulsions.

What Are CBN’s Properties?

CBN has not been as popular as other cannabinoids such as THC and CBD. In fact, CBN has often been considered a wasted by-product in cannabis, and it hasn’t received the attention and research interest like more popular cannabinoids. Most research has been performed on laboratory rats and mice, but wider awareness of CBN’s promising nature is inspiring additional investigation. So what qualities of CBN make it worth further exploration and what do we know so far?

Sedative Effect

One of the most well known characteristics of cannabis use is triggering drowsiness. While this is a recognized effect of some cannabinoids, research in laboratory rats indicates that the CBN in cannabis is one of the causes of sleepiness. Aged cannabis loses compounds called monoterpenoids while keeping sesquiterpenoids, a chemical combination that causes sleepiness. Because CBN content also increases in aged cannabis, there is reason to believe there is a connection between CBN and drowsiness. Some users report CBN to be a successful treatment for insomnia, though studies have not confirmed this is purely the result of CBN. Regardless, this sedative effect is one of the primary differences between CBN and the more popular CBD, which does not cause drowsiness.

Antibacterial Nature

Cannabinoids, including CBN, have been shown to possess antibacterial properties, offering a broad range of possible applications and benefits. One study identified cannabinoids, including CBN, as being effective against some strains of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a major concern of hospitals and the cause of many difficult-to-treat infections.

Anti-inflammatory Qualities

CBD oils, including those containing CBN, have anti-inflammatory qualities, which may present opportunities to treat a number of conditions. Cannabinoid oils are helpful in treating chronic skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis or eczema and psoriasis as well as more rare conditions such as scleroderma and may even have some effect in treating skin cancer. Results from another study showed relief from arthritis inflammation in laboratory rats.

Pain Relief

A study has shown that CBN appears to provide relief from muscle pain in laboratory rats, offering hope for sufferers of chronic muscle pain such as fibromyalgia.

Enhancing Bone Growth

Some cannabinoids stimulate bone growth in laboratory mice, which may be applicable to osteoporosis and even in treatment of fractures and other bone-related issues.

An infographic depicting the properties of CBN.

Expanding research into the many benefits of cannabis-derived products, including CBN, is an exciting and promising area of research that scientists are only beginning to fully explore. At Loud Associates, we support this research and are committed to offering the highest quality phytocannabinoid products, including CBN. Contact us to learn more or for more information about our cannabis-related products and services.


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