Cannabinol popularly abbreviated as CBN is a cannabinoid derivative obtained from the Cannabis Sativa plant as an oxidative product of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Cannabinol, unlike other cannabinoids, is more non-polar thus is soluble in non-aqueous solution than in aqueous solutions.
Cannabinol is classified as a mild psychoactive agent found in trace amounts in freshly harvested Cannabis Sativa plants. However, upon storage, the concentrations of cannabinol were found to increase due to the oxidation of THC.
A Quick CBN History
Cannabinol was the first compound scientists extracted and identified in the laboratory from the plant Cannabis sativa. Its structure was first elucidated in 1940. The product cannabinol is the primary degradation product of tetrahydrocannabinol.
This product was found to have strong sedative properties; it is considered to be more sedative than Valium (diazepam). Conventionally, low-quality cannabis and hashish have more concentrations of CBN than the standard Cannabis Sativa plant.
CBN Chemistry Summary
Cannabinol differs from tetrahydrocannabinol in that it lacks double bonds; therefore, it does not have any stereo-isomers. Cannabinol (CBN) is created when tetrahydrocannabinol is oxidized to its acid form THC-A. THC-A in the presence of light, moisture, and oxygen is converted to Cannabinol A. This occurs during storage.
CBN A, the acid form of cannabinol, is oxidized and loses hydrogen atoms in UV and visible light. Therefore, poorly stored or stale marijuana has a higher concentration of CBN. CBN is highly soluble in ethanol and methanol but poorly soluble in water.
What is the difference between cannabinol and cannabidiol?
First, these two products differ in their chemical structure, where CBN lacks double bonds and has one hydroxyl molecule in its structure. In contrast, cannabidiol has two hydroxyl molecules in its structure and a double bond.
Secondly, cannabidiol is the most abundant compound found in freshly harvested marijuana. Cannabidiol comprises about 30-40% of cannabis resin. Unlike cannabinol, which is a degradation product of THC.
The third difference is in their mode of action. Although both bind to cannabinoid receptors, cannabinol binds with a higher affinity to the CB-2 sub-type than cannabidiol. Consequently, this might lead to different effects. For example, THC is a cannabinoid that causes psychoactive effects like hallucination and is associated with a euphoric feeling.
However, CBN is sedative and does not cause a “high” feeling. Additionally, scientists speculate that CBN counteracts the effect of CBD, which causes mild anxiety and paranoia.
The pharmacology of cannabinoids
Both CBN and CBD exact their action via the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The CB-1 and CB-2 receptors. The CB-1 receptors are found in the spinal cord and the brain, while CB-2 receptors are located in the peripheral organs and the immune system mediators.
Cannabinol is a partial agonist at the CB-1 and CB-2 receptors. Cannabinol binds with a higher affinity to CB-2 receptors as opposed to CB-1 receptors. Therefore, it tends to potentiate immune-related and health-related benefits.
What are the potential health benefits of CBN?
A study conducted in 1975 on laboratory mice revealed that it caused sedation in mice. This study was proven effective by another study done on other laboratory mice in 1995, whose aim was to compare CBD’s effect in freshly harvested Cannabis sativa and CBN in stored Cannabis Sativa.
The research also revealed that CBN increased the quality of sleep and prolonged sleep time in mice. A theory to explain this was during storage, CBN loses the low molecular weight monoterpenes for the more sedative sesquiterpenes, which has an overall impact on its sedative properties.
Therefore, CBN has been used in some states to treat insomnia, with some studies revealing that it is more effective in the management of insomnia than diazepam. It is said that combining CBN with CBD and 9-THC in the right ratios will impact a sleep of not less than six hours. However, this is yet to be proven.
CBN As An Analgesic
Medical marijuana has been used in the management of chronic pain. Therefore, CBN extracts can be used in the management of pain. It stimulates peptides release from the sensory pathway, which in turn reduces pain sensation upon arrival of pain stimulation.
To support this argument, CBN has shown to influence capsaicin-sensitive nociceptors. They increase the threshold of stimuli needed to initiate pain. Therefore, when used over long periods, it is effective in minimizing chronic pain.
CBN as an Anti-inflammatory Agent
It is thought that CBN’s anti-inflammatory properties are related to the endocannabinoid effect on the immune system. CBN acts on the CB-2 receptors, which causes the immune system to reduce the inflammatory response and mediators.
CBN is currently under investigation in the treatment of inflammatory disorders like coeliac diseases, hepatitis, autoimmune diseases, and inflammatory bowel disease.
CBN As An Appetite Stimulant
A study conducted on lab mice revealed that CBN induced an increase in appetite, unlike CBD that suppresses the appetite center. Therefore, CBN is used in anorexic patients or patients, finding it hard to eat like cancer patients.
CBN As An Antibiotic
CBN has been under scientific investigation, and a study conducted in 2008 revealed that CBN has antibacterial activity. The study also revealed that CBN was one of the five cannabinoids effective against Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA), a predominant hospital bug.
MRSA poses a significant medical concern as it refers to a strain of Staphylococcus infection that is not affected by prescription drugs like penicillin.
CBN as an Anticonvulsant
CBN anti-epileptic activity is so potent that it is compared to that of THC and CBD. A study revealed that CBN increases the threshold required to potentiate an epileptic attack.
CBN In Cancer Therapy
In addition to minimizing nausea and general adverse effects of cancer therapy, CBN has shown to be promising in the management of cancer by slowing down or stopping the rapid proliferation of cancerous cells. Additionally, CBN has proved to be effective in reducing tumor size in lung cancer.
CBN In the Management of Glaucoma
Glaucoma is a disease characterized by increased intraocular pressure in the eyeball, and it may lead to the loss of vision. Due to CBN’s vasodilatory effect, it will cause the increased blood supply to the eyes, which in turn reduces the eyeball pressure.
Additionally, the vasodilatory effect is beneficial in patients with chronic hypertension or a hypertensive crisis.
CBN Effect To Bone
CBN has shown to impact bone density and mitigate osteoporosis positively. It does this by promoting the proliferation of bone stem cells, which are later converted to bone or muscle. Additionally, CBN increases the concentration of fibroblasts in bone tissue, supporting bone healing in bone fractures.
CBN in the treatment of burns
Application of cannabinol extract on burns lowers the temperature at the site of the burn; thus, CBN potentiates a cooling effect and minimizes the pain associated with the burns. In addition, CBN promotes healing by facilitating skin cell proliferation.
CBN in the Management of Psoriasis
Psoriasis is a skin condition characterized by skin dryness. The skin becomes flaky and produces scales of dry skin. CBN has shown to reduce the proliferation of keratinocytes, which in turn alleviate the symptoms associated with psoriasis.
The question of the legal use of marijuana and its products differs from one state to another. However, in most states, the use of marijuana is prohibited unless it is for medical reasons. Still, cannabinol has not been listed as one of the controlled substances. Therefore, there is no clear indication of whether the use of cannabinol is legal or not.
Other Sources of cannabinol
Cannabinol can be extracted from lemon kush, super green crack, Durban poison, blackberry, bubble gum, and purple Cadillac. CBN is found in the market as CBN oil. Cannabis sativa plants are harvested and stored until the trichomes are in amber color. This indicates that the cannabinol concentrations are its peak.
CBN is extracted by macerating the plant in an ethanol diluent. The extract is then made in oil, giving rise to cannabis oil.
Conclusively, scientists have concentrated most of their research on tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol, whereas cannabinol has shown to have significant health benefits. Therefore, there is a need for a lot of research to be done on CBN to know how it works, its safe therapeutic dose, and assess its safety for human consumption.