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Cannabinol (CBN) is the latest chemical ingredient in cannabis to find its way into new products. Although scientists have conducted relatively little research on CBN, the cannabinoid has captured the attention of the cannabis industry because of its potential.
Early studies and anecdotal evidence show that CBN may offer benefits in many areas, including treating insomnia, providing relief from muscle and joint pain, and providing protection against neurodegenerative conditions.
Like CBD, CBN does not typically get you high. And if further research finds that CBN provides health benefits, expect an explosion of new products, much like what has happened with CBD.
The next CBD?
It can be difficult to keep up with the latest discoveries in cannabis’s health benefits because they keep coming at such a rapid pace. With more than 100 cannabinoids to study, scientists around the world are conducting research into the potential benefits of each.
The most famous cannabinoid is THC, the chemical ingredient that causes the high. At this point, about as many people have become familiar with CBD, which emerged after the U.S. Congress legalized hemp in late 2018. Hemp-derived CBD products, which are not psychoactive, now populate the shelves across the country in grocery stores, gas stations, and convenience stores. CBD offers potential effective treatment for a variety of conditions, including chronic pain, anxiety, and even obesity.
But CBN could soon join CBD as an effective treatment. CBN is formed when THC breaks down over time While it’s mildly psychoactive, it does not produce a high. Interest in CBN revolves around the idea that it might combine the treatment potential of THC – including acting as an anti-inflammatory – with the benefits of CBD.
Dr. Felecia Dawson, a cannabis advocate, told the San Francisco Examiner: “CBN was actually the first phytocannabinoid isolated from cannabis back in the 1930s. It is created by the breakdown of THC over time via light, heat, or oxygen. It’s much weaker than THC at the cannabinoid 1 receptor (CB1) and does not appear to be intoxicating when taken orally.”
These are the areas where CBN is showing potential as a treatment option.
Sleep. A study dating all the way back to 1975 found that five male subjects experienced better sleep when combining CBN and THC than they did using THC alone. Many of the products on the market that use CBN are to improve sleep.
Pain management. CBN combined with CBD produced more effective pain relief in rats in a 2019 study than CBD alone.
Neuroprotection. A 2005 study found that CBN slowed onset of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in rats, although the researchers wrote that “further research is necessary to determine whether non-psychotropic cannabinoids might be useful in ameliorating symptoms in ALS.”
That sentiment on the need for more research is echoed across the scientific community. At this point, much more is known about THC and CBD. However, Dawson told the Examiner that eventually science may “demonstrate “that CBN has all the benefits of THC, e.g. analgesia, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumorigenic, etc. without the impairment.”
For cannabis advocates and entrepreneurs, the ongoing research into CBN is an issue worth tracking.