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Cannabinol (CBN): The Cannabinoid That Could Make You Sleepy

By Dan Putnam March 12, 2017 0 comments

Dozens of active ingredients called cannabinoids are found in the Cannabis sativa plant. Some cannabinoids like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are psychoactive and others like cannabidiol (CBD) has no psychoactive effect. THC and CBD are the most well-known of all the cannabinoids, as both are often the topics of debates, studies, and legislative agendas. Studies have demonstrated that cannabis could play a useful role in improving the quality and duration of sleep in a number of sleep disorder conditions. Cannabinol (CBN), while not a popular cannabinoid, has shown to have sedative effects and could potentially be responsible for the sleeping benefits associated with cannabis.

What is Cannabinol (CBN)?

Cannabinol (CBN) is one of the many cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, and results from the degradation of THC. The fresh cannabis plant contains very little CBN, but the process of decarboxylation typically raises the level of CBN in the cannabis plant as an effect of the breakdown of THC. The level of psychoactivity that can be experienced from CBN is mild compared to that of THC. Furthermore, it has a greater affinity for the CB2 receptor which links CBN to the body’s immune system.

Researchers have uncovered an interesting profile of potential health benefit to be had from CBN, all of which warrants further scientific investigation. So far, studies have investigated the role CBN plays as it relates appetite stimulation, growth of bone cells, and improvement in sleep.

CBN and Sleep

As a sleep agent, CBN is believed to be very potent and requires a small amount to have the desired effect. According to an article published by leading cannabis science and technology firm Steep Hill, “The consumption of 2.5mg to 5mg of CBN has the same level of sedation as a mild pharmaceutical sedative, with a relaxed body sensation similar to 5mg to 10mg of diazepam-a mild pharmaceutical sedative CBN becomes an effective sleep aid of 5-6 hours duration.” Other reports also indicates that CBN has been found to be far more effective as a sedative when combined with THC. Since hemp oil extracts have a higher concentration of CBD, and CBN is a by-product of THC in aged cannabis, CBN may be absent from CBD rich hemp oil.

Other Potential Benefits

While studies on CBN is still very limited, early research has hinted at some of its possible benefits. There is some indication that CBN could be effective at reducing the overgrowth of skin cells. This could play a significant role in the treatment of certain skin conditions that experiences skin regeneration cycle. This skin regeneration takes place in conditions such as psoriasis, which is characterized by changes in the life cycle of skin cells, causing flaky, silver-like scales to emerge on the skin’s surface.

Further studies investigated the possibility of CBN as a stimulant that could aid in the growth of bone tissue via indirectly drawing stem cells known as mesenchymal from the bone marrow. Mesenchymal stem cells are known for their ability to grow and transform into blood cells, as well as into other tissues, such as bone. As such, CBN may assist in improving bone fracture healing. This could potentially prove vital in the treatment of conditions such as osteoporosis.

Other suggested benefits of CBN include appetite stimulation. It is relatively common knowledge that THC fuels appetite or give you the munchies, but it has also been discovered that CBN could have the same effect but with less intensity. In an animal model, researcher found that cannabinol (CBN) induced a CB (1) R-mediated increase in appetitive behaviors via significant reductions in the latency to feed and increases in eating behaviors. While this is only an animal model, its findings are important enough to encourage further investigation into how CBN could be helpful in positively impacting the lack of appetite in cancer patients for example.

While early studies have indicated to the potential benefit of cannabinol (CBN), further research is needed to validate these findings. Human studies in particular are needed to see if animal studies can translate into meaningful human replicas. The limited data suggested that CBN could be a useful sleep aid, and unlike THC, it has minimal levels of psychotropic effect. Current research does not highlight exactly how CBN works in the body to exert its anti-insomnia effects, but CBN plays on cannabinoid receptors in the body. Beyond its relationship to sleep, CBN could potentially be effective in improving bone healing and skin regeneration. CBN certainly warrants more research.

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