Those who are savvy about their cannabis know that CBN is a chemical compound often found in old and aging flowers. Yet, there’s no need to be ageist when it comes to the cannabis plant. As it so happens, many of the natural chemical changes that happen to the plant as it ages may prove […]
Those who are savvy about their cannabis know that CBN is a chemical compound often found in old and aging flowers.
Yet, there’s no need to be ageist when it comes to the cannabis plant. As it so happens, many of the natural chemical changes that happen to the plant as it ages may prove beneficial to human health.
An incredibly complex organism, the herb is capable of producing over 400 different chemical constituents. While many of these products have yet to be sufficiently researched at all, there is a small (but growing) body of research on CBN. Historically, the compound has been ignored in favor of flashier molecules, including the chemical responsible for the famous psychoactive effects in the plant. But, times are changing, and seemingly for the better. Here’s the scoop on CBN and its potential benefits.
What is CBN?
Short for cannabinol, CBN is a chemical naturally found in the aged cannabis plant. The molecule is actually a breakdown product of the herb’s famous psychoactive, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
As cannabis flowers age, THC degrades into CBN over time. Cannabis flowers that have been cured for longer periods of time will naturally have higher levels of CBN than plants that were recently harvested. Unlike THC however, CBN does not cause intoxication. Yet, that doesn’t mean that the molecule isn’t valuable. Products that contain the oft-overlooked cannabinoid may be highly beneficial for those hoping to reap some of the benefits of THC without the high.
What is CBN Good For?
Unfortunately for patients, CBN has been overshadowed by more popular cannabis products when it comes to scientific research. Early studies, however, have shown that the compound may hold several meaningful therapeutic benefits.
These benefits include:
Some people may not like the appetite-stimulating effects of cannabis, but for those who struggle to maintain a healthy appetite, we have some good news. In early rodent experiments, CBN was found to increase appetite without causing a substantial psychoactive effect. For this reason, the cannabis compound may be beneficial for those who need to get some food down with an upset stomach or when appetite simply just isn’t available.
If you’re hoping to catch up on some quality sleep, opting for a cultivar with higher levels of CBN may be a solid selection. According to Steep Hill Labs, CBN is one of the most sedative cannabinoids. Early research published in 1975 suggests that CBN can amplify the sedative properties of THC, potentially producing a more hypnotic experience in all. Unfortunately, recent research on this topic is few and far between.
It is known, however, that CBN can weakly interact with the same cell receptors that cause the psychoactive intoxication of THC. While more studies are needed to put this hypothesis to the test, this weak activation could be partially responsible for the drowsiness associated with CBN.
Like many cannabinoids, CBN has proven to be a potent antibiotic in laboratory experiments. In fact, back in 2008 researchers in Italy and England found that the cannabis compound was potent enough to kill MRSA, which is an antibiotic-resistant form of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. The bacterium can cause severe infection and is notoriously difficult to treat. CBN, along with four other cannabinoids, were successful against MRSA. One of the study authors, Simone Gibbons of the University of London, thinks that the cannabis plant produces these natural antibacterials to protect itself.
“Everything points towards these compounds having been evolved by the plants as antimicrobial defenses that specifically target bacterial cells,” Gibbons explains to the MIT Technology Review. “But the actual mechanism by which they kill the bugs is still a mystery.
CBN vs. CBD
There are several key distinctions between CBN and cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is the second most famous cannabis compound.
Recently, the molecule made headlines as the first cannabis-derived medicine to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of intractable epilepsy. Like CBN, CBD is also non-intoxicating. However, even though both of the molecules come from the same plant, they can have different effects on the human body. For one, CBN is expected to be sedating while CBD is not. In fact, low to moderate doses of CBD can have “alerting effects”. At least, according to a 2004 study published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.
Another major difference is that CBD does not increase appetite. In fact, research from the University of Reading found that both CBD and CBN produce opposite effects on feeding behaviors in rodents. CBD seemed to decrease appetite while CBN caused mice to eat more.
At the time of writing, however, far more studies have examined CBD than CBN. So, while CBD has been found to have anticonvulsant and potent anti-anxiety properties, these same characteristics have not been as sufficiently studied in regards to CBN.
As research continues, more information regarding the great wide world of cannabis pharmacy is sure to arise.
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