CBN and Sleep

What is CBN?

You may not recognize the abbreviation, but CBN is not the new kid on the block. As made obvious by its full name, cannabinol (CBN) is one of the many cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, which include cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBN was actually the first cannabinoid discovered – before CBD and THC – and was isolated in its pure form back in late 1800s. CBN was originally believed to be responsible for the intoxicating effects caused by cannabis, but that turned out to be caused by THC. Research revealed CBN is a by-product of THC when THC is exposed to heat and light.

Levels of CBN in cannabis are not controlled by genetic factors, but by environmental factors. As such, there is not a strain of cannabis on the marketing that has high CBN levels. Aging cannabis, unrefrigerated cannabis, and cannabis left in direct heat sources will have higher levels of CBN., so the best way to obtain it is by oxidizing THC and CBD. To put it romantically, CBN is like the aged wine of the cannabis plant.

What does it do and the potential benefits?

THC produces its effects on the body by interacting with the cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which are located in the central nervous system and throughout the body. Specifically, it produces the high by binding to the CB1 receptors and activating them. 

CBN binds to CB1 receptors as well, but with only around one-tenth the strength of THC. As such, CBN does not produce intoxicating effects.  There is still more research required on all the effects of CBN in the human body, but CBN will not get you high. While more research into the effects of CBN are needed to make any surefire claims, existing evidence has shown that this relatively unknown cannabinoid could yield a vast array of benefits. 

CBN has shown potential as a treatment for sleep disorders, pain relief, and inflammation, among other therapeutic benefits. In 2017, Steep Hill Labs researchers found that a 2.5-to-5 milligram dose of CBN was as effective as a 5-to-10 milligram dose of the pharmaceutical sedative diazepam. Historically, older cannabis products or those exposed to a lot of heat and sunlight, such as Moroccan hashish, are said to be better for relaxing than others, which could be due to their higher CBN content as they were pressed with plates and heated to make hashish bricks. 

More research is required, but it is possible that the sedative properties of aged cannabis may come from terpenes with low molecular weight, which tend to remain on cannabis for long periods of time, rather than the amount of CBN that strain has developed over time.

Since it's not yet possible to breed cannabis plants that produce high levels of CBN, researchers need to synthesize this cannabinoid in order to properly study it, and this has hindered further research into the benefits of this cannabinoid. 

How do CBD and CBN differ?

CBD and CBN are different molecules with two separate origins. Industrial hemp plants containing CBD and high-CBD marijuana strains can be cultivated. CBN depends directly on the amount of heat and light it has been exposed to, and how old it is. Again, this is because CBN is a byproduct of the action of light and heat on THC, in technical terms, a product of oxidation or degradation. 

Despite the fundamental difference in the origin of these two components, they do share a lot of similarities in their purported therapeutic effects. Cannabinoids can act on a variety of conditions using a “strength in numbers” approach, because cannabis has a lot of components in it. These small components influence the major components in what's known as the entourage effect. Neither produces an intoxicating high on its own. CBN produces a gently sedative high that may be beneficial for people wanting to use cannabis for better sleep.

Dr. Dabb’s Every CBD Premium Nighttime Gummies contain 10mg of CBD and 1mg of CBN, which makes for a powerful sleep aid when taken 5 to 10 minutes before sleep.

The information contained in this site is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical or legal advice.

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