What is CBN (Cannabinol)?

What is CBN (Cannabinol)?

The cannabis plant is home to many different and interesting molecules. Perhaps the most intriguing family of chemicals within the plant are the cannabinoids, including the psychoactive and medicinal THC, and the anti-inflammatory and highly medicinal CBD.

Science is constantly probing cannabis, with more and more cannabinoids being discovered over time. Among this interesting family of compounds is cannabinol, or CBN.


CBN is found only in small amounts within cannabis, and is far more prevalent within aged plants. This cannabinoid is a partial agonist of CB1 receptors and has a high affinity for CB2 receptors, with CB1 receptors found in very high quantities in several brain regions, and CB2 receptors primarily found within immune cells and neurons.

CBN is quite a historic and groundbreaking cannabinoid, in that it was the first member of this family to be identified and isolated from the cannabis plant. CBN is known to be created via the degradation of THC over periods of time.

The cannabinoid was actually found in the oldest stash of cannabis ever discovered, within a 2,700-year-old grave in China. It makes perfect sense that it was found in rather large quantities, due to the amount of time the stash had to age and mature.

Unlike many other cannabinoids, which are created via natural processes within the plant, CBN is produced when THC is exposed to external factors such as heat, degrading as a result. CBN only occurs in tiny amounts within plants, but innovators within the cannabis scene have found ways to artificially degrade THC in order to form high-potency extracts and isolates of this cannabinoid.


Cbn and sleep

One of the many reasons some people love cannabis, is because of its abbility to help us sleep. Cannabis can be a miracle worker for people suffering from insomnia, as CBN plays a big part in this and is partly responsible for the sedative effects of cannabis.

More specifically it is the combination of CBN and THC that can increase the drousy effects that weed can have.


The jury may still be out in regards to CBN inducing any psychoactive effects. If it does, then these effects are only very slight and subtle. The cannabinoid isn’t entirely compatible with the endocannabinoid system receptors. It doesn’t bind to CB1 receptors properly, which are found within the brain, and it has some difficulties when it comes to binding with CB2 receptors.

Research on CBN seems to lean further towards the cannabinoid occupying the non-psychoactive end of the spectrum. A paper published within the journal Pharmacology compared the effects of THC and CBN in human participants.[1]

It was found that CBN had no significant effect when administered alone. However, it was found that CBN may increase the physiological and psychological effects of THC.


CBN is among the ranks of medicinal cannabinoids, and occupies another podium upon the pantheon of powerhouse compounds found within cannabis. CBN has been fairly well-researched and presents numerous health benefits and uses within the medical field.

However, more research is needed to reach definitive conclusions regarding its application as medicine.


CBN is yet another cannabinoid to display anticonvulsant properties. An anticonvulsant is a drug or substance that can help to reduce seizures. CBD has already been shown to have powerful anti-seizure properties in both scientific studies and anecdotal accounts.

A paper published within the journal Life Sciences details the effectiveness of CBN as an anticonvulsant when administered to mice.[2] The authors of the study note that CBD and THC offer more potent effects, but CBN can still act as an anticonvulsant nonetheless.


Loss of appetite can be a symptom of many different conditions, and is a common side effect of chemotherapy. CBN can boost appetite. This was displayed by rats feeding in increased amounts after administration.

Researchers also noticed that CBN did not cause motor incoordination, which is caused by stronger CB1 agonists such as THC.

This means that CBN could act as a more functional medicine than THC when it comes to appetite. It could also mean that patients wishing to use cannabinoids throughout the day to boost appetite can do so without impairing function and experiencing a psychoactive high.



Inflammation is part of the body’s immune response, and occurs at the beginning of the healing process in order to counter harmful stimuli. Although this is a good thing, long-term or chronic inflammation can lead to many diseases and conditions, including some cancers.

In such cases, anti-inflammatory drugs may be of assistance. CBN has been shown to possess anti-inflammatory properties, inhibiting proinflammatory cytokines, which are signalling molecules that promote inflammation.


  1. ^ Karger, Effects of Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol and Cannabinol in Man, retrieved January-16-2019
  2. ^ Researchgate, The anticonvulsant activity of cannabidiol and cannabinol, retrieved January-16-2019