Cannabinol, also known as CBN, is a cannabinoid that is created when THC ages. CBN was the first cannabinoid after THC to be discovered and is molecularly similar despite differing effects. Cannabis plants produce enzymes which turn CBGA into cannabinoids like THCA, CBDA and CBCA. THCA when heated or aged turns into THC and THCV. Aged THCA turns into CBNA which converts into CBN. Cannabis trichomes do not produce a significant amount CBN as they do other cannabinoids and terpenes—the cannabinoid is derived from THC that degrades when cannabis flower has been exposed to heat, air or light.
CBN was the first cannabis compound to be isolated from cannabis extract in the late 1800s. Its structure and chemical synthesis were achieved by 1940 followed by some of the first basic research studies to determine the effects of individual cannabis-derived compounds. Although CBN is not produced by the metabolism of the plant, it is easily formed from THC by degradation during drying, storing, and consumption (heating) of Cannabis products. Although CBN shares the same mechanism of action as other phytocannabinoids, it has a lower affinity for CB1 receptors, meaning that much higher doses of CBN are required in order to experience effects, such as mild sedation.
The Medicinal Potential of CBN
It Can’t Get You High: A 1972 study fed 21 test subjects equal parts THC, CBD, and CBN. Being told to let the experimenters know when they had enough, at no point did they call it quits with either CBN or CBD. While they felt nothing at all with CBD, they reported a “mild” and “enjoyable” experience with CBN. A later study in 1976 did show subjective and objective changes in several tests, but usually more pronounced when paired with THC. According to Ethan Russo and Jahan Marcu’s Cannabis Pharmacology, CBN contains roughly ¼ of the effects of THC.
Sleep: In keeping with the current studies, you’ll see a lot of variation on CBN’s role as a sedative. The strongest evidence for its role in sleep is a 1976 study that found efficacy when paired with THC, but not so much on its own. Ethan Russo, a medical researcher and champion of cannabis’s entourage effect, mentions that CBN does not do much on its own, but may form in old cannabis as the monoterpenoids in the plant alongside degrade into sesquiterpenoids. CBN’s contribution to the subjective drowsiness people feel with ancient cannabis is unknown at this time.
However, when one is living a sleep-focused lifestyle, winding down the day is emphasized. Shutting off blue lights and noise, taking a bath, and powering down equipment are important, as are whatever teas and plant-based formulations can take you into this frame of mind. These subjectively-held rituals are different for every person, so sovereignty is encouraged.
Appetite Enhancer: Paired against CBD and CBG, CBN caused several already-sated male rats to eat more than usual — encouraging for those looking for a non-psychoactive means to stimulate appetite. Yet human studies await.
Antioxidant: The Huntington’s study also detected antioxidant activity as well for CBN.
Other Areas of Promise: As an antiinflammatory, a treatment for psoriasis (reduction in keratinocyte production), a stimulant to bone marrow production and as an anticonvulsant.
Bear in Mind: Several of these papers paired CBN with specific terpenes, such as nerolidol and myrcene for the 1976 study we mentioned earlier. Pinene, which accounts for the pine smell of some cannabis strains, was prevalent in the MRSA study. We at Medicine Box hope these terpenes will continue to make their way alongside their cannabinoid (AKA meroterpene) brothers and sisters. They have their place in the plant, and in the larger therapies derived from them.
Methods Of Consumption For CBN
There are a variety of methods for consuming both CBN. To experience the effects of CBN, smoking dried flowers or resin are not the only options. CBN can also be consumed through edibles, tinctures, capsules, powder, and topical creams.
Here are several methods of consuming CBN, including:
- Smoking: The traditional way of consuming CBN is by smoking dried flowers or resin. This method produces a fast onset of effects but can be harsh on the lungs and throat.
- Edibles: CBN can also be consumed through edibles, such as brownies, cookies, and gummies.
- Tinctures: CBN tinctures are liquid extracts placed under the tongue or mixed into food or drinks. This method produces a fast onset of effects and allows for more precise dosing.
- Topicals: CBN topicals are creams, balms, and salves applied directly to the skin. This method is helpful for localized pain and inflammation.
- Vaping: CBN can also be consumed by vaping, which involves inhaling a vaporized oil or liquid. This method produces a fast onset of effects but can harm the lungs.
- Suppositories: CBN can be used in a suppository. A suppository is another way to deliver a drug. It’s a small, round or cone-shaped object that you put in your body, often into your bottom. Once it’s inside, it melts or dissolves and releases its medication.
Understanding the Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex network of receptors and neurotransmitters that are found throughout the human body. It plays a crucial role in regulating essential bodily functions such as hormone levels, heart rate, and sleep. The ECS works to maintain homeostasis in the body, which is a state of balance and stability that is necessary for optimal health. It accomplishes this by producing and utilizing endocannabinoids, which are similar to cannabinoids found in cannabis but are produced naturally by the body.
A major job of the ECS is homeostasis, which regulates many of your body’s essential functions, including:
- Hormone levels and fertility
- Heart rate
- Body temperature
- Hunger and digestion
- Immune function
- Memory and concentration
- Motor control
- Awareness of your senses
Your endocannabinoids communicate with your nervous system to keep all these things within acceptable parameters. When you consider that, it makes sense that cannabinoids can treat numerous medical problems.
An important difference between your endocannabinoids and cannabinoids from an outside source, however, is that yours work in precise coordination with only the system that needs correcting at that moment. When you inhale cannabinoids from, say, smoking marijuana, they flood through your whole body and make both desirable and undesirable changes at the same time.
How Cannabinoids Work in the Body
In 1988, Dr. Allyn Howlett and her team of researchers at St. Louis University first discovered the cannabinoid receptor, which is a type of protein found in cells that bind with cannabinoids like those produced naturally by our bodies or from plants such as cannabis.
Cannabinoid receptors were discovered because researchers tried to understand how phytocannabinoids like THC and CBD interact with the body. So they have named cannabinoid receptors after the main chemicals that activate them — cannabinoids.
Scientists later discovered that the body produces very similar molecules that fit the same receptors. They were named endocannabinoids.
Endocannabinoids produced by the body are similar to cannabinoids found in cannabis but are specifically tailored to interact with receptors in the ECS. On the other hand, cannabinoids from an outside source, such as cannabis, can interact with a variety of receptors in the body and produce different effects. For example, inhaling cannabinoids can affect the whole body at once, unlike endocannabinoids which work precisely with specific systems. This is why certain strains of cannabis may have varying effects on the body.
The Endocannabinoid System relies on two main types of receptors, CB1 and CB2, to help regulate physiological functions. CB1 receptors are located mainly in the brain and nervous system, while CB2 receptors are primarily found in immune cells. The main function of both types of receptors is to detect changes in the environment and activate pathways that can restore balance within the body.
CB1 receptors are essential in regulating mood, appetite, memory formation, motor control, coordination, pain perception, sleep patterns, and more. Although they are primarily found in the central nervous system, they can also be present in other organs, such as the liver or kidneys.
On the other hand, CB2 receptors are mainly involved in immune functions and inflammation. They are found in immune cells such as macrophages, B-cells, natural killer cells, and T-cells.
When cannabinoids such as THC or CBD bind to these receptors, they can cause body changes that help restore homeostasis. For example, when THC binds with CB1 receptors, it has been known to increase dopamine levels, reducing anxiety and improving mood.
Similarly, CBD binding with CB2 receptors has been linked to reducing inflammation and pain perception in the body. In short, both receptors play an essential role in maintaining balance within the human body by responding to environmental changes.
Enjoyed that first hit? Come chill with us every week at the Friday Sesh for a freshly packed bowl of the week’s best cannabis news!