A study, published in the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, examined how cannabinol, or CBN, the non-psychoactive cannabis compound that results from THC oxidation, can aid the battle against ALS, the most common adult-onset motor neuron disorder, in SOD1 (G93A) transgenic mice.

As ASL is characterized by conditions like oxidative stress and neuroinflammation, it’s natural to look toward cannabinoids for their pronounced anti-inflammatory and antioxidizing properties, accompanied by low toxicity. However, because some of them come with psychoactive effects, the study explored how CBN would come into play.

What stands out in the findings is that CBN significantly delays the onset of hind-limb tremors, the earliest behavioral abnormalities associated with ALS.

However, while these findings are promising, they are part of a bigger picture that at least currently remains unchanged. The median time of onset of functional motor skills was also delayed, but by a smaller margin which was under the statistical significance, indicating that ALS starts catching up to the mice. Finally, the end-stage was the exact same, and at the end of the day, CND didn’t affect survival or the overall time it took for the ALS to take over.

The study’s authors consider two possible reasons — either CBN’s anti-spastic properties “mask the earliest symptoms without affecting our surrogate marker survival,” meaning CBN can alleviate symptoms, but not much more; or CBN’s beneficial effects are fraught with toxicity, “which eventually leads to an accelerated disease progression.”

The latter definitely seems less likely, whereas the former could suggest other cannabinoids could go a longer way in the battle against ALS. However, researchers conclude further research is needed.