01 Sep Cannabinoids Explained (Part 4): Cannabinol (CBN)
Cannabinol (CBN) is a cannabinoid found in the Cannabis sativa plant, so it is part of the phytocannabinoids family, just like cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
As its name suggests, CBN is related to THC, the compound being in fact a metabolite of tetrahydrocannabinol. This means that cannabinol is obtained from THC, through a process that involves both natural and special treatments.
THC-a, the acid form of the psychoactive cannabinoid, is converted to CBN-a when exposed to air for a long period. In the presence of air, THC-a can lose hydrogen molecules and undergo oxidation, the result being the acid form of CBN. This compound is then treated with heat and UV light and converted to CBN.
The third best-known cannabinoid after cannabidiol CBD and THC, CBN is mildly psychoactive and is thought to act as a natural antiemetic and anticonvulsant agent. It might also be responsible for the sedative effects of some varieties of the cannabis plant.
Cannabinol is soluble in fats and dissolves well in ethanol and methanol. If the cannabis plant is cut and stored at room temperature, in no special conditions, the exposure to air causes the degradation of THC to CBN, no enzymes being required for this process. Thus, if a plant has a higher concentration of CBN, it generally means it’s been stored in poor conditions and not in airtight containers.
What studies say about cannabinol (CBN)
Thanks to its sedative effects, CBN can be used as a sleep-aid for people suffering from insomnia. Other studies suggest that this compound, along with THC, has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, therefore can be used as natural pain killers.
A study from 2008 suggests that cannabinol could have anti-bacterial properties, and applied topically, could be effective in treating burns and in relieving symptoms of psoriasis. Also, research has shown that CBN can stimulate the appetite and control the growth of cancer cells, the compound being effective especially in reducing the spreading of a type of lung tumor called Lewis carcinoma.
Cannabinol (CBN) could also be an effective remedy for glaucoma thanks to its ability to reduce intraocular pressure, but studies have shown that this cannabinoid also causes toxicity. CBN’s property to reduce the pressure inside the eye is also found in THC, which is more psychoactive, so research is still needed for finding the best solution for this condition while minimizing the side effects and avoiding the euphoric feelings induced by the two phytocannabinoids.