What is CBN and What Does It Do?

Even if you are new to cannabis, you probably know the difference between THC and CBD: THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the intoxicating part of the plant; CBD (cannabidiol) does not get you high but may have medicinal benefits. Both CBD and THC are cannabinoids - natural compounds produced by the cannabis plant.

Now there’s CBN, a new - or new to the market - cannabinoid that’s getting a lot of, er, buzz.

CBN, or cannabinol, provides a mild high along with many of the same effects as CBD. Studies are showing some potential benefits (more on that below).  But, until recently, CBN was not a popular ingredient. That’s because CBN, unlike CBD, is difficult to make.

What is CBN and What Does It Do?

How is CBN Produced?

New or fresh cannabis plants contain little to no CBN. Rather, it is created when the THC-A in the plant (which, when smoked or decarboxylated, becomes THC) is exposed over long periods of time to air and sunlight, a process called oxidization.

A growing number of companies are taking on the challenge of producing CBN as an ingredient, developing new extraction methods to speed up the lengthy oxidization process.

 What is CBN and What Does It Do?

What Are the Benefits of CBN?

“To date, research into the therapeutic benefits of CBN is very preliminary,” writes Dr. Michael Breus in Psychology Today “But it’s starting to heat up, as interest in the health benefits of cannabinoids surges and the popularity of CBD continues to grow.”

CBN is gaining the most attention as a sleep aid. Cannabis is often used to promote sleep, and CBN may provide additional sedative properties.

“There are indications that CBN is a powerful sedative,” writes Dr. Breus. “Research in mice has shown that CBN can prolong sleep time. Some research indicates CBN’s sedative effects are amplified when combined with THC.”

The Psychology Today article also cites promising research into CBN:

  • As a pain reliever due to its analgesic or pain-relieving capabilities in the body.
  • As an antibiotic, with the ability to fight harmful bacteria.
  • As an anti-inflammatory aid, similar to CBD.
  • As an appetite stimulant, unlike CBD which has appetite-suppressing effects.
  • As a cancer fighter. Cannabinoids including CBN are being studied for their ability to slow or stop the growth and spread of cancer cells, with promising preliminary evidence.
  • As an anticonvulsant, which may be used to treat epilepsy.
  • For bone healing and growth, by activating stem cells to help make new bone cells.
  • As glaucoma therapy. Several studies have shown that CBN is one of several cannabinoids that appear to be effective as a treatment for glaucoma.


How Can I Try CBN?

As companies begin to produce CBN at scale, more products are coming to market. (Because CBN contains THC, it may not be legal in all U.S. states, or countries other than Canada, so please exercise caution when purchasing.)

Here in Canada, several licensed cannabis producers have introduced CBN-forward products. For example, Renew CBN Oil from Soliel was one of the first to market, winning Innovation of the Year at Leafly’s 2019 Canadian Cannabis Awards. Gummy fans might want to check out the CBN Blackberry Lemon Dream Gummies from Ace Valley, “formulated with your nighttime routine in mind.”

Across the border, MJBiz Daily reports that Americans are flocking to CBN.  “Sales of products containing CBN – almost entirely edibles, at this point – totaled more than $65 million in the past four quarters for...retailers in California, Colorado, Nevada and Oregon.”

With the number of products in those states growing from just seven to 55 in a year, there are sure to be many more CBN choices coming soon. 

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