Even though it enjoys the distinction of being the first cannabinoid ever discovered more than a hundred years ago in the late 19th century, cannabinol (CBN) doesn’t get the same shine at the moment as CBD or THC.
But it’s gaining its due popularity thanks to exciting new research investigating its particular potential health benefits, which we’ll explore here.
What is CBN?
The CBN molecule most often occurs in the cannabis plant as a derivative of THC, which tends to break down over time in the aging plant due to the pressures of heat and oxygen (aka oxidation).
Here are the key features of CBN to understand:
- Many researchers believe that CBN, like THC, is psychoactive – meaning it acts on the brain via the cannabinoid receptors to produce a “high.” Other research points to CBN as non-psychoactive. However, what’s undisputed is that, in either case, it is notably less psychoactive than THC.
- CBN’s sedative effects are well-documented, which is why it’s frequently used as a natural sleep aid
- CBN is found in higher concentrations in indica strains compared to sativa strains. Indica strains are often attributed sedative properties as compared to “energizing” sativa strains, which might explain CBN’s popular use to induce sleep.
All cannabinoids – naturally occurring and synthetic, endogenous and exogenous alike – exert their physiological (and potentially therapeutic) effects on the endocannabinoid system.
image source: Adobe Stock
But CBN is unique in its interactions with the ECS, which means it offers unique possible health benefits. Let’s survey a few of the most promising avenues of therapeutic applications for CBN based on the latest research.
What potential health benefits does CBN offer?
Clinical research into CBN has picked up steam in recent years as more evidence comes to light of its potential uses in alternative/natural medicine.
Let’s run down some of the most promising clinical discoveries regarding CBN’s physiological and psychological contributions.
Potential benefit #1: CBN may treat psoriasis
An estimated 7+ million Americans suffer from psoriasis. Often, the condition is difficult to treat with conventional therapies, and so patients look to alternative ways to manage their conditions.
CBN may inhibit keratinocyte proliferation, a major therapeutic target of psoriasis therapy:
“The cannabinoids [including CBN] tested all inhibited keratinocyte proliferation in a concentration-dependent manner.”
Potential benefit #2: CBN as a novel anti-inflammatory
Inflammation is a leading driver of chronic illness – so much so, in fact, that researchers increasingly subscribe to the evidence-based belief that systemic inflammation may actually be implicated in nearly all chronic illnesses:
“Inflammation has long been a well-known symptom of many infectious diseases, but molecular and epidemiological research increasingly suggests that it is also intimately linked with a broad range of non-infectious diseases, perhaps even all of them. “
As a result, targeting inflammation in novel ways might prove successful at managing hard-to-treat chronic illnesses:
“The crucial role of inflammatory processes makes possible the development of a new generation of drugs to treat conditions including cancers, autoimmune disorders and infectious diseases.”
source: Adobe Stock
CBN, perhaps, represents one such novel approach to solving the inflammation riddle because it functions as an anti-inflammatory.
Potential benefit #3: CBN may stimulate stem cell activity
Stem cells play critical roles in bone and tissue repair following illness or injury, specifically a type called mesenchymal stem cells.
CBN might stimulate the activity of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in the context of bone repair:
“Cannabinoids may stimulate the recruitment of MSCs from the bone marrow indirectly via an accessory cell and mediated via the CB(2) receptor. This recruitment may be one mechanism responsible for the increased bone formation seen after cannabinoid treatment in vivo.”
Potential benefit #4: CBN may serve as an excellent alternative antibiotic and antiviral
The issue of antibiotic resistance – the process of bacteria adapting to avoid targeted treatment as a result of overuse of antibiotics – is a major healthcare issue as identified by the World Health Organization and other leading public health groups.
As explored in a study published in the medical journal Molecules titled Antimicrobial and Antiviral (SARS-CoV-2) Potential of Cannabinoids and Cannabis sativa: A Comprehensive Review, cannabinoids like CBN are potential excellent alternatives to the antibiotics we have historically relied on to treat common bacterial and viral infections:
“Cannabis compounds have good potential as drug candidates for new antibiotics, even for some of the WHO’s current priority list of resistant pathogens… They are found to be suppressive of viral entry and viral activation by downregulating the ACE2 receptor and TMPRSS2 enzymes in the host cellular system.”
In particular, cannabinoids like CBN have proven efficacious against antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA):
“All major cannabinoids, including… cannabinol (CBN)… inhibit [Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus] MRSA including the epidemic-causing EMRSA 15 and EMRSA 16).”
Medical journals have labeled cannabinoids such as CBN “a much-needed new class of antibiotics” due to these unique capabilities.”
Potential benefit #5: CBN may function as an effective painkiller (analgesic)
Evidence suggests that CBN might be an effective substitute for conventional painkillers like addictive opioids – providing pain relief without the unwanted side effects, dependency, or withdrawals:
“Peripheral application of these non-psychoactive cannabinoids [CBD and CBN] may provide analgesic relief for chronic muscle pain disorders such as temporomandibular disorders and fibromyalgia without central side effects.”
Potential benefit #6: CBN may stimulate appetite
In one rat study, cannabinol was shown to increase feeding, as opposed to CBD, which suppresses appetite.
In light of these observations, combined with the fact that cannabinol is either non-psychoactive or much milder in its psychoactive effects (that issue is still contested among researchers), it could serve as a viable alternative to Delta-9 THC therapies used, for instance, in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy to induce regular eating.
Test out the novel cannabinoid with Sympleaf’s brand-new CBN product
It’s full-spectrum, so it contains a combination of other natural cannabinoids and terpenes to promote the much-coveted entourage effect.
<image: entourage effect>
image source: Adobe Stock
The formulation also includes MCT (medium-chain triglycerides). These specialized saturated fats prevent degradation in the digestive tract and thus MCT oil renders the CBN and CBD more bioavailable, so that more of it ends up in the bloodstream where it is most effective.
We have CBN +CBD capsules available as well, if you would rather supplement with pills.
Contact Sympleaf to learn more about CBN
You’ve got questions about CBN; we’ve got answers. To learn more, contact Sympleaf. We’re eager to help educate our neighbors in the Atlanta metro area, to make the exciting world of cannabis more accessible and welcoming to newcomers.