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What is CBN?

All About CBN

You’ve likely heard of CBD, and almost definitely heard of THC – but those are far from the only components of the hemp plant worth knowing about.

In fact, there’s a venerable alphabet soup of chemical compounds in play in any strain of cannabis, with each bringing its own effects and impacts to the mix.




But first thing’s first: What is CBN?

The acronym is actually short for cannabinol, a type of chemical compound produced by the cannabis plant.

It’s part of a class of chemical compounds found in the plant called cannabinoids, named for their ability to interact with an intricate group of receptors within our bodies called the endocannabinoid system (or ECS, for short).

In total, scientists have discovered over 100 such cannabinoids so far – including, of course, the two most famous examples: CBD—otherwise known as cannabidiol—and THC, short for tetrahydrocannabinol, and best known as the chemical that makes you feel high when smoking marijuana.

While these two stars of the cannabis research world have sucked up most of the time and attention, some scientists are beginning to study the other components in play – and finding out some pretty incredible things about them.


How Does CBN Work?

CBN works the same way as its fellow cannabinoids: By binding to or interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system.

The exquisite set-up of the ECS allows the body to keep eyes on and regulate nearly every internal system we have, through a dense network of receptors found throughout our nervous system – and when cannabinoids interact with this network, it can help our body clue in to potential issues that may need attention.

Scientists are still unsure about the exact nature of how different cannabinoids interact with the ECS, but when it comes to CBN, it might be assumed that the chemical hits at least some of the same receptors as THC.

That’s because cannabinol actually stems directly from tetrahydrocannabinol.

CBN is actually formed by the oxidation and decomposition of THC. In other words, it’s a form of “aged” THC. It can also be brought about by heating THC and exposing the chemical to oxygen.

Still, the aging process knocks out most of THC’s psychoactive bite, and while CBN has been found to have some very mild psychoactive effects, these pale in comparison to THC, and won’t get you anything close to a marijuana high.

In fact, taking CBN may feel more similar to taking CBD: A mild, uplifting feeling that comes with the reduction of anxiety and some physical discomfort.

And that’s not all CBN has been found to do.


Possible Benefits of CBN

Again, research on CBN in particular is still very new. The types of double-blind studies scientists prize are rare, and testing samples in the studies that have been conducted have tended to be small.

But even in these early rounds of research, some studies on the potential benefits of CBN have seemed particularly promising.

The chemical compound has been linked to a few potential benefits, including:


Small studies conducted in a lab (and not on humans) have shown CBN to have some potential for fighting bacterial diseases, such as MRSA, which may have become resistant to other antibiotics.

Pain Relief

This is mostly thanks to CBN’s role as an anti-inflammatory – a trait that helps ease pain generally throughout the body. One study in particular showed the compound as a handy opponent to arthritis pain, as well.

Neuroprotective Effects

In one study (conducted on mice), CBN was found to delay the onset of ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a debilitating disease that plagues the muscles, causing weakness and disability.


Where to Find CBN?

Despite most cannabinoids showing up in anything CBD-related that’s marked as a full-spectrum or broad-spectrum product, it’s not quite as easy to find CBN that way.

That’s because the cannabinoid is actually a form of aged THC, and many companies market the younger, more potent (even when reduced to 0.3%) form of the chemical in their wares.

Still, a number of retailers have started releasing CBN isolate products – or other products with CBN infused into the mix. You’ll most likely find them on the shelves your local health food store or on many wellness-focused websites – but, as always, it’s important to do a little research into a product, and the company creating it, to make sure you’re getting the safest, most effective product you can.



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