What Is CBN (Cannabinol) & What Does This Cannabinoid Do?


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This post is part of a series on cannabis compounds. For more information and a listing of all other cannabinoids, see our Cannabis Compounds overview.

When the topic of cannabis comes up, most people can easily cite the two major cannabinoids: THC & CBD. While these two compounds often steal the spotlight, there are actually many other noteworthy molecules produced by the plant. These compounds often offer unique benefits that shouldn't be overlooked. One of these alternative cannabinoids is cannabinol or CBN.

At first glance, the presence of CBN may seem like a bad thing. The compound is created through the aging of THC, meaning older, dried out marijuana or hemp are the primary sources for this molecule. The opposite is actually true as CBN has been studied to provide some unique effects and therapeutic effects.

Cannabinol (CBN) Molecule

Activity: Minor psychoactive cannabinoid
Formula: C21H26O2
Molecular Mass: 310.1933 g/mol 
Melting Point: 79 °C (174 °F) 
Boiling Point: 185 °C (365 °F) 

CBN is one of the few cannabinoids that does not directly result from the decarboxylation of its acid form CBNA. Instead, the cannabinoid is synthesized indirectly through the oxidation of THC. This process occurs through aging of THC via exposure to oxygen and light over time.


What Are the Effects & Benefits of CBN?

Despite being a descendant of the highly psychoactive THC molecule, CBN is observed to be either non-psychoactive or very mildly psychoactive. This fact is helped by the fact that the compound often only needs to be taken in very trace amounts to achieve significant active effects. To date, the following benefits of CBN include:

  • Sedative / Sleep Aid - CBN appears to be the most sedative cannabinoid found in cannabis. This compound requires minimal dosing to achieve significant effects. Steep Hill Labs cites that 2.5-5mg of CBN produces similar relaxed body sensations to 5-10mg of diazepam (Valium). When used in synergistic combination with CBD and THC in the correct ratios, this can result in an effective sleep aid with a 5-6 hour duration.
  • Analgesic (Pain Relief)
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anticonvulsant (prevent/reduce the severity of epileptic fits or other seizures/convulsions)
  • Antiemetic (anti-nausea/anti-vomiting)
  • Anti-bacterial (specifically effective against MRSA)
  • Promotes bone growth
  • Decreases intra-ocular pressure for treating glaucoma.
  • Appetite Stimulant
  • Controls the growth of cutaneous cells (treatment of burns, psoriasis, etc)

Research summary of many potential uses found here.

Where Can You Find CBN?

Currently, CBN is a hard-to-find molecule when it comes to both CBD products and medical marijuana products. This is due to the fact that the compound is produced through aging and drying of cannabis, something that is often not performed or desired by growers or manufacturers

With that being said, CBN is still found in small amounts in the marijuana and hemp used for cannabis product production. For CBD products specifically, CBN will only be found in full-spectrum products. Your best bet is to search out highly concentrated, full-spectrum offerings which would be the current best source for CBN. Likely these products only contain trace amounts of CBD. Your best bet is to scour lab reports looking for this compound.

Research points to CBN's rich potential, and the future may be bright for this cannabinoid. If the molecule gains enough traction, it isn't crazy to think there would be CBN-rich products designed in the future. The synthesis is understood and easy to perform through aging, it simply comes down to demand.


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