What Is CBN (Cannabinol) and What Are its Benefits?

CBN molecular structure

What Is CBN (Cannabinol) and What Are its Benefits?

Try as we might, every cannabis user has been guilty of misplacing their flower at one point or another. We buy a new strain, forget about it, then find it lying around in a drawer months later like a gift from Mother Nature herself. But is it still good? Some users might tell you old cannabis feels different or less effective or even that it makes you more drowsy. These effects aren’t just in people’s heads. They may be due, at least in part, to cannabinoids’ biggest sleeper hit: cannabinol, or CBN.


What is CBN?

CBN is one of the many cannabinoids that occur naturally in the cannabis plant. But while most cannabinoids derive directly from the compound cannabigerol, or CBG (known as “The Mother of All Cannabinoids”), CBN is actually a byproduct of THC—Tetrahydrocannabinol, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana that contributes to that “high” effect. When you have old cannabis lying around exposed to the air, the THC is heated and oxidized, triggering a decomposition process that converts THC to CBN. Science!

What Does It Do?

Despite it being the first cannabinoid to be discovered by scientists, studies on CBN are extremely limited, and some reports of its characteristics and effects vary. Many describe it as a “mildly psychoactive” compound that is mostly non-intoxicating. In relation to its well-known siblings CBD and THC, CBN is the middle child. In other words, it’s slightly more psychoactive than the many popular cannabidiol (CBD) products but significantly less than those high in THC.

CBN’s chemical composition is similar to THC. Like other cannabinoids, it works by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system. Within this system, CBN is thought to bind mainly to the CB2 receptor, suggesting anti-inflammatory effects.

Is CBN Good for Sleep?

You know the people that say old cannabis might make you sleepy? They might actually be onto something. While research on CBN’s sedative properties is just in its infancy, the compound is already being promoted for sleep and relaxation. Some report that high levels of CBN alone may help with insomnia and reducing anxiety, while others emphasize that it may be more effective for these purposes when combined with cannabinoids like THC and CBD.

Besides helping you catch some z’s, other possible benefits of CBN include:

  • Potent antibacterial properties
  • May reduce inflammation
  • May stimulate appetite
  • Potential neuroprotectant, which could help with ALS and other neurodegenerative conditions
  • May be helpful for glaucoma

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