Cannabinol (CBN): The Natural Sleep Aid in Cannabis

By Michael Cheng | April 20, 2017

Cannabinoids found in cannabis vary greatly and take on different roles during medical treatments. Initially, most researchers focused solely on THC and CBD as the primary compounds in the plant. However, in the past few years, scientists have started to explore the benefits of other cannabinoids that make up the green herb.

One of these components is cannabinol (CBN). This salient compound is actually closely related to THC. It surfaces when THC is broken down over time, as the plant is exposed to air and hits maturity. During this natural process, tetrahydrocannabinol carboxylic acid (THCA) is converted into cannabinolic acid (CBNA), a direct precursor of CBN; and CBN is derived from the decarboxylation of CBNA.

On a molecular level, CBN, with a chemical formula of C21H26O2, is capable of activating CB1 and CB2 receptors – like THC. But unlike THC, the compound does not contain double bond isomers and stereoisomers. From a legal perspective, CBN is not a Schedule I controlled substance in the US, making it a lot less controversial than THC.

Nature’s Sleep Aid

CBN is incredibly effective in promoting natural sleep. Researchers from Steep Labs, a leading cannabis research facility, compared the effects of 2.5-5mg of CBN to the effects of consuming 5-10mg of diazepam. When combined with CBD and D9THC, the powerful trifecta could induce sleep for up to six hours. Interestingly, the compound comes with very minimal to no psychoactive side effects. Hence, CBN concentrates are ideal for people who want to reap the benefits of cannabis without cerebral stimulation.

With that in mind, CBN comes with the following therapeutic applications:

Most commercial-grade cannabis contains less than one percent of CBN. Based on the comparison above, a little CBN can go a long way in cannabis treatments! High doses of the cannabinoid could leave you feeling tired or sleepy. For people who are sensitive to the effects of THC, it is important to point out that CBN is capable of curbing anxiety linked to the plant’s psychoactive compounds.

“The research on cannabinol (CBN) is still lacking, but some early studies have suggested it could stimulate bone growth. If that’s the case, it would be helpful in treating osteoporosis. It could also help those with broken bones to recover more quickly,” said Drake Dorm from Medical Jane.

CBN and Cannabis Cultivation

CBN has flown under the watchful radar of cannabis enthusiasts, due to its close associations with bottom-shelf, improperly stored and cured herb. As mentioned earlier, CBN is created when THC is broken down, mostly from exposure to air and ultraviolet light. To promote healthy CBN levels during cultivation, growers may choose to harvest the plant when trichomes have started to appear amber or yellow. Since maturity is a crucial factor in the creation of CBN, cultivators may also opt to wait a bit longer to harvest their plants.

“Cannabinol may not be a feature of hemp extracts, and may only be present in cannabis products, as it is a by-product of THC,” said Alexandra Preston from Elixinol.

Michael Cheng

Michael is a legal editor with publications for Blackberry, Lifehack.org and R Magazine. He specializes in tech startups, cannabis gadgets and fitness wearables. He enjoys spending time outdoors, being a productive father and partaking in a nightly toke after the end of a long day.

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