Cannabinoid Clinic: CBN

Welcome to Cannabinoid Clinic, an education project powered by Higher Learning LV. This series provides cannabis and hemp industry professionals with easily digested cannabinoid profiles that ask little of your time—but provide plenty of science-based information.

There are two categories of cannabinoids: Phytocannabinoids and endocannabinoids. Phytocannabinoids are those produced by cannabis/marijuana/hemp, while endocannabinoids are made by the human body. This series covers both.

CBN molecular structure

What is CBN?

Cannabinol (CBN) is the result of CBNA, the acidic precursor for this important cannabinoid. It is considered a minor cannabinoid because it is typically available in relatively low volumes compared to major cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabiol (THC) (under one percent).

Mildly psychoactive, CBN may help patients suffering from a range of conditions, including anxiety, sleep disorders, and pain.

Only mildly psychoactive (about 25 percent of the potency of delta-9 THC), CBN may help patients suffering from a range of conditions, including anxiety, sleep disorders, and pain. CBN has the distinction of having been the first cannabinoid to be identified and chemically isolated from the cannabis plant in 1896 by a group of British chemists.

CBN Fast Facts

  • Role: Results from CBNA and THC

  • Biosynthetic pathways: CBGA > CBNA > CBN or THCA > THC > CBN

  • Psychoactivity: Mildly psychoactive (25% of THC)

  • Acidic precursor: CBNA

  • Boiling point: 365° F

  • Primary medical benefits: Pain, glaucoma, anxiety, sleep disorders

Biosynthetic pathway of CBN

CBN Medicinal Benefits

Like many cannabinoids, the primary potential medicinal benefits of CBN are numerous and include efficacy for patients suffering a number of conditions, including anxiety, many different sleep disorders, pain, and glaucoma—among others. It has also demonstrated antibacterial efficacy and may help treat the skin condition psoriasis. Five mg of CBN has been found to deliver about the same sedation as 10 mg of valium.

A 2005 study entitled "Cannabinol Delays Symptom Onset in SOD1 (G93A) Transgenic Mice without Affecting Survival" explored the ability of CBN to act as a neuroprotectant, which would give it value in the treatment of a number of common diseases of aging, including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), "the most common adult-onset motor neuron disorder."

"CBN was delivered via subcutaneously (5 mg/kg/day) over a period of up to 12 weeks. We found that this treatment significantly delays disease onset," reported the research.

A 2007 study involving rabbit subjects entitled "Cannabinoids in Health and Disease" demonstrated that CBN (along with THC) lowered the intraocular pressure that leads to the damaging effects of glaucoma.

CBN increased appetite, while CBD was found to "significantly reduce total chow consumption" and CBG "induced no changes to feeding behavior."

A 2008 study entitled "Antibacterial Cannabinoids from Cannabis Sativa: A Structure-activity Study" investigated the antibacterial efficacy of CBN and a number of other cannabinoids, including cannabidiol (CBD), cannabichromene (CBC), cannabigerol (CBG), and delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), offer "potent activity against a variety of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) strains of current clinical relevance."

A 2012 study involving rodent subjects entitled "Cannabinol and Cannabidiol Exert Opposing Effects on Rat Feeding Patterns" explored the potential effect of CBN, cannabigerol (CBG), and CBD on appetite. It found that CBN increased appetite, with "significantly increased intake during hour 1 and total chow consumed during the test." Conversely, CBD was found to "significantly reduce total chow consumption" while CBG "induced no changes to feeding behavior."

How to Get CBN

Some companies sell tinctures, gummies, capsules, and oils that feature CBN. However, this cannabinoid is considerably more rare than CBD, THC, or even CBG. Products featuring reasonable quantities of CBN can be difficult to locate and may be expensive.

Like what you just read? Check out our new Cannabis for Cancer Hub that features links to all of our articles about marijuana for cancer.

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