Cannabinol (CBN) is a non-psychoactive component naturally found in trace amounts of the cannabis plant. It is produced in two ways: decarboxylation and aging. During biosynthesis, cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) is produced and when exposed to UV light or decarboxylated, enzymes in cannabis converts it into tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), cannabichromene carboxylic acid (CBCA), or cannabidiol carboxylic acid (CBDA). The acids (THCA, CBDA, CBCA) will break down naturally and convert to CBN from aging over time. On the other hand, when exposed to heat, THCA converts to THC, which is then converted into cannabinolic acid (CBNA) due to oxidation and a loss of hydrogen molecules . When carboxylated or exposed to UV light, CBNA will generally convert to CBN. CBN can’t be found in high concentration, as it’s produced at the point of degradation. On average, less than 1% of CBN is found in fresh cannabis flowers and fails to potentiate psychoactive effects.
CBN interacts with both CB1 and CB2 receptors but shares a higher affinity for CB2 receptors that can be found in the body’s natural endocannabinoid receptor system. Unlike THC, CBN doesn’t bind to these receptors, but it does act as an agonist to TRPV2 (also known as high-threshold thermo-sensors) receptors, which spark therapeutic activity. These naturally producing proteins regulate several biological systems in the human body. CBN has been shown to contain antibacterial, analgesic as well as anti-inflammatory properties, but most notably, potently sedative properties . Although not abundantly found in cannabis as THC or CBD, the therapeutic effects of CBN may be useful for addressing a host of ailments including, ocular pressure, inflammation, bone health, appetite loss, convulsant behavior, high blood pressure, as well as skin conditions and MRSA. The preliminary stages of CBN research suggests that the cannabinoid has the potential to offer many health benefits, but scientific investigation is ongoing.
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- Appendino, G, et al. “Antibacterial Cannabinoids from Cannabis Sativa: a Structure-Activity Study.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Aug. 2008, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18681481/.