If you’re on fairly intimate terms with cannabis, chances are you’ve wondered what happens to weed as it ages. Could it be likened to the aging of fine wine or cheese? Or are antiquated stashes best trashed?
As it conspires, your old weed might be worth holding on to (so long as it’s not moldy). Curiously, a new cannabinoid forms when the THC present in cannabis is exposed to air, light, or heat. Meet cannabinol, or CBN. Cannabinol represents one of more than 100 cannabinoids present in cannabis. CBN occurs in small quantities in most cannabis strains but really comes into its own when THC degrades and oxidizes. It’s psychoactive, but with a fraction of the intoxicating effects of THC.
Cannabinol has also helpfully uncovered the extent of humanity’s long-standing relationship with cannabis. 2500-year-old graves exhumed in Western China turned up wooden braziers and burnt stones with ancient cannabis traces. Of all the cannabinoids detected on the braziers, cannabinol was the most prominent. This finding suggests that cannabis was used for ritual purposes, and the kind of cannabis favored by the ancient Chinese was THC rich–thanks to cannabinol leaving its calling card.
CBN occurs in small quantities in most cannabis strains but really comes into its own when THC degrades and oxidizes.
Aside from its fascinating archaeological uses, cannabinol has a whole bundle of other claims to fame. CBN was the first cannabinoid to be isolated, way back in 1940. With nearly eighty years of accumulated knowledge, cannabinol boasts an impressive therapeutic resume. Some of its medicinal gifts include:
Although CBD has garnered abundant coverage in recent years as a sleep aid, unfortunately, it doesn’t facilitate slumber for everyone. At specific doses, some individuals may actually find that CBD makes them more alert and awake.
Cannabinol, on the other hand, has been hailed as the cannabinoid that best promotes deep, longlasting sleep. Synthesis seems to be the key to releasing CBN’S sedative properties, however. Anecdotally, users claim that CBN is most effective when teamed with THC or CBD, which help it to act as a potent sedative.
This claim has been substantiated by research on human participants who found that THC combined with CBN left them feeling “drunk, drugged, dizzy, and drowsy” but with no adverse effects on perception, emotion, sociability or thinking processes. Other research, admittedly on mice, suggests that CBN can prolong sleep time (therefore helping you get in more of those nourishing deep-sleep REM phases that tend to occur later in the sleep cycle).
CBN’s pain and inflammation-reducing properties (read more below) may also remove physical barriers to a good night’s rest.
Alleviation of pain and inflammation
Like all helpful therapeutic cannabinoids, CBN can alleviate nerve pain and inflammation via the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is one of the body’s critical systems for regulating pain and inflammation.
Specifically, CBN can soothe nerves sensitive to capsaicin, thus influencing the body’s pain signaling. Capsaicin is found in chili peppers and often added to topical pain relief. Again, the combination of CBN in tandem with THC is key to its efficacy. CBN appears to be most useful in banishing pain when coupled with THC.
However, for those who wish to reap the benefits of pain relief without psychoactive effects, there’s also evidence that cannabinol alone can alleviate inflammation. Studies have demonstrated that cannabinol alone or in combination with other non-intoxicating cannabinoids can relieve chronic muscle pain. CBN could potentially be a game-changer for disorders such as fibromyalgia.
Antibiotic resistance is real. The more we rely on antibiotics, or more accurately, abuse them, the harder it becomes to treat bacterial infections. Cannabinoids represent an exciting new frontier in banishing bacterial infections.
Cannabinol has already demonstrated its potent activity against MRSA, a particularly tricky strain of bacteria typically resistant to antibiotic medicine. Who knows–the future may see doctors prescribing tinctures of cannabinol in place of antibiotics.
Interested in trying CBN? Here are our recommendations
Cannabinol is already generating a lot of buzz with many enthusiasts eager to uncover all it has to offer. CBN tinctures and oils that provide sleep support are already weaving their way into the market.
If you’re keen to sample CBN for yourself, opt for organic products. Both clinical and anecdotal evidence indicate the benefit of full-spectrum or broad-spectrum cannabis products, which include other therapeutic cannabinoids for the entourage effect.
CBN/CBD blends, in particular, provide potent sleep-inducing benefits, without the trademark THC high.