What is CBN and What Are Its Health Benefits?

The statements mentioned in this content have not been evaluated by the FDA, and are not intended to prevent, diagnosis, or treat any disease. Always work with your personal healthcare provider.

By Chris D. Meletis, ND

This is the final part in a three-part series spotlighting how several lesser known components of hemp oil may make a dramatic difference in your health. One of those components is cannabinol (CBN), a close phytocannabinoid cousin of cannabinol (CBD). CBN teams up with the other cannabinoids in hemp oil to produce synergistic effects. CBN isn’t as well researched as CBD, but preliminary studies show it may be beneficial in the health of the eyes and skin, supporting a healthy pain response, and stimulating appetite in people who need to gain weight. 

What is cannabinol (CBN)?

I’ll talk about the possible health benefits of CBN in a minute. But first, what exactly is CBN? Like CBD, CBN is a non-psychoactive component of hemp oil. That means it won’t make you high. CBN was the first phytocannabinoid isolated from an oil extract of cannabis at the end of the 19th century.1 

CBN is actually a breakdown product of Cannabis or hemp. In nature CBD is present in minute amounts as it is primarily generated in the drying or aging process of Cannabis. CBN is made when tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), the precursor to THC, begins to break down due to exposure to sunlight or other heat sources. After exposure to heat, THCA turns into cannabinolic acid (CBNA). In turn, when CBNA is exposed to heat, a process known as decarboxylation kicks in. This turns the CBNA into CBN. 

Possible Health Benefits of Cannabinol (CBN)

CBN and A Healthy Pain Response

One animal study suggested that local intramuscular injection of CBN may reduce muscle pain, especially when combined with CBD.2 In this study, researchers caused muscle pain in rats by injecting their muscles with nerve growth factor (NGF). The researchers then also injected the animals with CBD (5 mg/mL) or CBN (1 mg/mL) or the two phytocannabinoids combined (1:1 mg/ml or 5:1 mg/ml). CBD or CBN alone decreased NGF-induced muscle pain. However, combining CBD and CBN led to a longer-lasting improvement of pain compared to either phytocannabinoid alone. 

The study authors concluded, “. . . these non-psychoactive cannabinoids may provide analgesic relief for chronic muscle pain disorders such as temporomandibular disorders and fibromyalgia without central side effects.”

These results support the concept behind the hemptourage effect, that phytocannabinoids work better together than they do alone. Given the success of this study, we hope to see more investigations of CBN and pain. An additional reported by clinicians is that it may benefit those suffering from sleeplessness. 

CBN also plays a role in the activity of capsaicin-sensitive neurons.3 This type of neuron is involved in pain signaling and the local response at the site of tissue injury. This confirms the analgesic effects of CBN and its ability to support a healthy inflammatory response. 

CBN and Eye Health

A couple of animal studies suggest CBN can support healthy intraocular pressure. CBN was one of a number of phytocannabinoids that were injected into rabbits.4 CBN or THC were found to reduce intraocular pressure while CBD had no effect. Another study in rabbits found that intravenous administration of CBN was effective at lowering intraocular pressure, although it was only half as effective as delta 9-THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana.5   

CBN Stimulates Appetite

More than 60% of advanced cancer patients have anorexia and cachexia,6 otherwise known as wasting syndrome. Cachexia is marked by lack of appetite and leads to fatigue, weakness, and a wasting of the body. It’s present not only in cancer but also AIDS, heart failure, and advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. CBN may be able to stimulate appetite in people with cachexia.6 Although scientists haven’t conducted any studies in humans, in rats CBN caused an increase in appetite.6 Rats given CBN were more likely to eat, continue eating for a longer period of time, and ate more during their meals. 

CBN Supports a Healthy Microbial Environment

CBN may keep unhealthy organisms from establishing a hold on the body. Like all the major cannabinoids, CBN showed strong activity against a variety of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) strains in a cell culture study.7 

In another cell culture study, researchers tested the activity of CBN against bacteria that cause infections in people who wear contact lenses.8 The scientists isolated two types of bacteria (Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Pseudomonas aeruginosa) from ocular swabs of people wearing contacts. They then tested whether CBN could block the formation of biofilm by the bacteria by inducing biofilm formation on contact lenses. Biofilms are colonies of bacteria that form a sticky, protective coating to keep them safe from antibiotics and other antibacterial substances. Biofilms of bacteria are more resistant to being killed than free-living bacteria. CBN blocked biofilm formation of both bacterial strains by about 24%.

CBN and Skin Health

The endocannabinoid system may play a role in the hyperproliferation of the skin cells known as keratinocytes that occurs during psoriasis. Cannabinoid receptors are found on human skin.9 In addition, the endocannabinoid anandamide blocks the hyperproliferation of keratinocytes.9 In one study, CBN was one of several cannabinoids that blocked keratinocyte proliferation.9 The researchers concluded that CBN and other cannabinoids may support the health of people with psoriasis. 

Optimal Wellness with CBN 

Research in rodents suggests CBN can maintain lung health and improve survival.10,11 Cell culture studies also suggest CBN may support the health of bone marrow and the lymphatic system.12,13 

CBN and Full-Spectrum Hemp Oil

All these possible benefits of CBN are another reason to use a full-spectrum hemp oil. That way you can tap into the synergy of all the hemptourage compounds—not just CBN, but also CBD and the other phytocannabinoids I discussed in this article series. TruEase® is an ideal choice for people searching to take advantage of the hemptourage effect using phytocannabinoid-rich hemp oil. It’s encapsulated in VESIsorb®’s patented delivery system to optimize absorption. It uses a proprietary extraction process that eliminates solvents and impurities to produce non-detectible THC content.


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