What is CBN? The History and Health Benefits of CBN

What is CBN? The History and Health Benefits of CBN

Even though CBN was the first cannabinoid ever discovered by scientists, it remained largely ignored by the scientific community and cannabis consumers for many decades. CBN was the first naturally occurring cannabinoid to be isolated in its pure form back in 1896.

Even to this day, most testing for CBN is to check for the “age” of cannabis flower, as over time THC converts to CBN. Rather than viewing higher CBN as a positive, as is the case with all other phytocannabinoids, many people view higher CBN as something to be avoided. This is largely due to a lack of awareness of the potential benefits of CBN, which we will be discussing in this blog.

What is CBN?

CBN lacks both double bond isomers and stereoisomers, and like THC, it activates both the CB1 and CB2 receptors. Compared to THC, CBN has lower affinity for either CB receptor.

While CBN was the first cannabinoid to be discovered, it is only found in very small amounts in most plants because it is made primarily through a chemical process called “decarboxylation,” which converts THC to CBN.

When was CBN Discovered?

CBN has the distinction of being the first phytocannabinoid to ever be isolated. It was first isolated at the end of the 19th century from “a red oil extract of cannabis,” then was elucidated and synthesized by other researchers in the 1930s and 40s. Roger Adams, whose team performed the first synthesis of CBN in the 1940s, also is responsible for discovering CBD in 1940.

What is CBN?

Is CBN legal?

CBN’s legality is a complicated issue, primarily because of its relationship with THC, but many experts believe that CBN can be legal, so long as it is sourced properly. According to Harris Bricken law firm’s CannaLawBlog, “Because it is difficult, if not impossible, to grow CBN-rich strains of hemp, most of the CBN found on the U.S. market is the product of decarboxylation… This conversion process creates some confusion regarding the legal status of CBN.”

While CBN is not listed under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), the CSA defines “marihuana” as “all part of the cannabis plant,” which would appear to include CBN. Things got more complicated after the 2018 Farm Bill was passed, which removed “hemp” from the CSA’s definition, and defined “hemp” as “all parts” of the plant with less than 0.3% THC by dry weight.

Those provisions appear to also include CBN, meaning CBN from hemp is legal. What is less clear is the legality of CBN that is the result of processed THC that is concentrated and derived from hemp and converted into CBN.

What is CBN (Cannabinol) Good For?

CBN and Sleep

For years it has been widely reported that “the strongest cannabinoid identified for promoting sleep.” The source for those claims was a report released by Steep Hill Lab, based on limited data and has since been called into question by Steep Hill’s own chief research officer, Dr. Kymron DeCesare. Now, even Steep Hill’s website is clear that “further study is required” to know for sure about the alleged sleep promoting qualities of CBN.

In 2015, Dr. Emily Earlenbaugh did a thorough analysis of the research on CBN and sleep and found actual scientific research to be insufficient and based on one human study that is over 40 years old.

What is CBN (Cannabinol) Good For?

Potential Benefits of CBN

While less understood than THC, CBD, or CBG, CBN has a number of known benefits. Some of the benefits of CBN can include:

  • Improved cognitive functioning
  • Help managing temporary daily stress
  • Reduced temporary pain and inflammation from extreme exercise.
  • Despite the lack of research to support claims of CBN improving the quality of sleep, some people do still report improved quality of sleep when using CBN. 

Like THC, CBN has some interaction at the CB1 receptor, which means it can have some anandamide like effects which also binds to CB1. Overall, it has a greater ability to bind to the CB2 receptor, but generally it has lower binding affinity than THC to either CB1 or CB2. Another similarity between CBN and THC is that both are reported to help stimulate the appetite of rodents (and possibly people too). It’s important to remember that the endocannabinoid system is not just in humans, but in all animals with a central nervous system, so CBN works for pets too.

With Cannabinol Effects – Why Water-Soluble CBD Matter?

While CBD, CBN, or any other cannabinoids in a product will give it more benefits than products without cannabinoids, those potential benefits are still limited due to bioavailability. Our bodies are not perfect for processing CBN and other things, and bioavailability is what amount of something, like CBN, is actually available to your body after you ingest it.

With Cannabinol Effects - Why Water-Soluble CBD Matter?

A big way to increase the bioavailability and the speed at which CBN and other cannabinoids take effect is by using water soluble CBN with nano-encapsulation technology. While the amount of CBN in Ojai Energetics’ full spectrum hemp products is minimal, the patented water soluble colloid delivery will significantly boost the benefits of that microdose of CBN.