WHAT IS CBN?
Just like the plant where it all began for us, WE are the entourage effect. And while we’re all about getting the full healing potential of cannabis out to the masses, we know we’re not 100% there yet (although with New York State and New Mexico fully legalizing, and with many more states on the way, we’re as optimistic as we’ve ever been.). So that’s meant we’ve had to get a little creative with our combinations, and one of them we’ve chanced upon has been cannabinol, or CBN (C21H26O2), often created through the degradation of THC in cannabis that’s been exposed to light or heat, plus time. It was also the first-EVER cannabinoid identified from the plant, way back in 1940.
Fun Fact: There’s also an acidic version of cannabinol, named CBN-A, that can occasionally be found in the plant as well. However, it does not give rise to much of the cannabinol in the plant. The gradual degradation of THC accounts for most of that.
Folklore: CBN has often been seen as a strong sedative in the underground amongst people who may still smoke the plant. However, there’s definitely mixed opinions, which is to be expected amongst anyone studying or consuming the plant. Here’s what we know so far.
CBN: ITS EFFECTS
There’s only so much work that’s been done with CBN in the lab at the moment. Here’s what we know so far:
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 the effects of THC.
Antibacterial: Ever heard of MRSA? Hopefully you’ve never experienced an infection, but if you do, you’re probably going to have to ride it out, since certain strains of this bacteria resist treatment, meaning that new therapies are welcome. CBN could be the ticket, as it has shown effectiveness in preliminary studies, in addition to other cannabinoids such as CBD and CBG.
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 is 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.
Neuroprotectant: So far, “limited but encouraging data” exists on CBN’s on neuroprotective abilities. CBN has been examined for both amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Huntington’s Disease. While it did not stop the progression of ALS, it did delay motor abnormalities, whereas with Huntington’s Disease, researchers spotted the reduction of lactate dehydrogenase — an enzyme which appears during tissue damage — in rat brain cells. How this works has yet to be determined.
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.