- Cannabinol (CBN) is a nonpsychoactive, THC-derived cannabinoid(1) that binds to CB1 and CB2 receptors(2).
- Human and animal studies suggest that CBN may have sleep-inducing(3) and pain-relieving properties(4).
- While manufacturers of cannabis products tout CBN as a sedative and sleep aid, studies have not concretely substantiated such claims(5).
- Individuals should consult a physician before starting a CBN regimen.
What Precisely Is Cannabinol?
Cannabinol (CBN) is a cannabinoid isolated from cannabis plants that is a metabolite of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)(6). A metabolite is a substance involved in metabolism.
THC is a psychoactive cannabinoid that produces euphoric feelings(7).
In 1940, CBN became the first cannabinoid produced through scientists’ isolating and purifying the compound from marijuana(8). Researchers have discovered that the cannabinoid possesses solubility in ethanol(9). Ethanol is a clear, colorless liquid.
Studies suggest that CBN may have sleep-inducing(10) and pain-relieving properties(11). However, additional studies are warranted as researchers have conducted limited studies on CBN.
Plant-based cannabinoids known as phytocannabinoids interact with the receptors of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is composed of cannabinoid f10.receptors, small molecules, and enzymes.
CBN preferentially binds to cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2), primarily expressed in various immune cells(12). Cannabinol’s triggering of CB2 receptors may inhibit the production of multiple cytokines. Cytokines are small cell-released proteins.
Meanwhile, CBN shows a minimal affinity for cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) and induces a weak effect on the central nervous system (CNS)(13).
In a review published in Future Medicinal Chemistry, researchers hypothesized that cannabinoids may potentially function as novel anti-inflammatory drugs(14). Researchers should conduct further studies to determine whether CBN may possess such potential functions.
The researchers examined the effects of cannabinoids on immune cells, cytokines, and numerous inflammatory diseases.
The study’s researchers reported that the modulation of the cannabinoid system’s physiological activity during colonic inflammation may provide therapeutic benefits for diseases that induce inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract(15).
Meanwhile, a 2019 animal study examined the potential analgesic (pain-relieving) effects of CBD and CBN in a rat model with myofascial pain(16).
According to Mayo Clinic, myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) is a chronic pain disorder in which pressure on sensitive muscle segments induces muscle pain(17). This syndrome frequently occurs following repeated muscle contractions.
The research suggested that nonpsychoactive cannabinoids may induce pain relief, including chronic muscle pain disorders(18).
However, researchers must conduct additional studies to determine whether CBN induces the same therapeutic effects in human subjects.
The Different Uses and Benefits of CBN
Manufacturers of cannabis products often market CBN as an alternative therapy for pain, anxiety, and sleep(19). Individuals may use the cannabinoid for such purposes.
Research suggests that CBN may provide therapeutic effects related to arthritis(20), sleep quality(21), and appetite(22).
Moreover, studies show that CBN may help relieve arthritis symptoms(23). Arthritis produces swelling and tenderness in joints(24). The condition may also induce joint pain and stiffness.
A review published in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) journal examined the effects of cannabinoids on inflammation and fibrosis(25). Fibrosis is the thickening or scarring of tissues.
The researchers reported that one animal study with rat models suggested that an extract of cannabidiol (CBD), THC, and CBN with anti-inflammatory properties may help reduce symptoms of collagen-induced arthritis(26). Collagen is a protein.
However, researchers must conduct additional human clinical trials to determine if CBN extracts induce similar results in arthritis generated by other causes.
Furthermore, studies suggest that CBN may work as a potential sedative(27). Such therapeutic effects may provide health and wellness applications, including natural products for inducing sleep.
The study published in Pharmacology examined the potential therapeutic effects of THC and CBN on one individual(28). Research administrations included 50 milligrams (mg) of CBN and combinations of delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta9-THC).
The researchers reported that CBN administration did not increase heart rate or drowsiness(29). Meanwhile, delta9-THC increased heart rate and induced drowsiness.
However, the study’s sample size was minuscule, and results were inconclusive regarding CBN’s potential sedative effects. Researchers must conduct more human clinical studies to examine CBN’s potential functionality as a sleep aid.
CBD and CBN may additionally exert converse effects on appetite, according to an animal study published in Psychopharmacology (Beryl Institute)(30). The study examined the impact of cannabigerol (CBG), CBD, and CBN on the feeding behaviors of rat models.
The researchers administered CBG, CBD, and CBN with a CB1 antagonist(31). A receptor antagonist blocks or binds a receptor to block or reduce a biological response.
The cannabinol included a CB1-mediated increase in appetite(32). In addition, CBN significantly increased food intake during hour 1 and total food consumed during the test.
What Dosage Is Ideal for CBN Users to Take?
Cannabinol products are available in forms such as CBN oils and topicals.
Researchers have conducted less research on CBD than CBN, including the dosage to help induce particular therapeutic effects.
In the study published in Pharmacology, researchers administered 50mg of CBN on the human subject(33). The researchers reported that the CBN dosage did not increase heart rate or produce dizziness or drowsiness.
Furthermore, the researchers noted that CBN produced no significant alterations in perception, emotion, cognition, and sociability(34).
The CBN dosages seemed well tolerated in this study. However, further studies must be conducted, specifically CBN-focused clinical studies and larger sample sizes.
Safety Precautions and Warnings for CBN
Safety precautions for cannabinoid usage include pregnant and breastfeeding women(35) and children(36). More research is warranted on the safety profile of CBN for children and pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Some studies are promising regarding the purported therapeutic benefits of CBN. However, researchers have conducted limited research on CBN, including potential safety issues.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) adamantly advises not taking CBD and THC and using marijuana during pregnancy and breastfeeding(37).
The federal agency has not issued specific safety precautions for other cannabinoids, including CBN. However, like THC and CBN, CBN is a cannabis compound.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women should deliberate with their obstetrician regarding CBN or other cannabinoids during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
In addition, researchers have conducted limited research on the purported effects of cannabinoids on children.
In a medical study published in the Journal of Pediatric Pharmacology and Therapeutics, researchers reviewed the use of cannabinoids in pediatrics(38).
The researchers noted that scientists had conducted limited research on cannabis and cannabis-derived constituents for medicinal purposes in pediatrics(39). Thus, researchers must conduct further studies on the safety of CBD in pediatrics.
In addition, researchers must conduct additional research on the efficacy and safety of other cannabinoids in pediatrics, including cannabinol.
Such research may include toxicology tests. A 2020 study revealed the high prevalence of contaminants and mislabeling labeling among numerous CBD products(40). Such issues are additionally plausible for CBN products.
The Potential Side Effects of CBN
Researchers have not discovered any side effects of cannabinol. However, researchers have conducted limited research on the cannabinoid, including potential side effects of CBN.
Researchers have conducted most research on the side effects of THC and CBD. Studies show that CBD may cause side effects such as dry mouth, drowsiness, and reduced appetite(41).
Thus, individuals should monitor for adverse side effects following the application of CBN products.
It is also highly advisable for individuals to consult their doctors or another medical practitioner before using cannabinoids.
CBD and CBN: The Primary Differences
While cannabidiol and cannabinol share similarities, CBD and CBN are not the same cannabinoids.
Nonsychoactive cannabinoids do not induce euphoric feelings or a “high” unlike THC. Researchers have uncovered over 100 cannabinoids in cannabis(42).
Meanwhile, cannabinoid acids include cannabinolic acid (CBNA) and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA).
In addition, both CBN and CBD interact with the ECS.
However, research suggests CBD and CBN may differ in particular ways.
Interaction With CB Receptors
Research shows that while THC and its derivative CBN bind to CB receptors, binding to CB1 receptors is more critical than CB2 receptors(43). Ligands activate the CB receptors. The cannabinoids’ chemical structures resemble each other in this manner.
Research shows that CB receptors mediate the inhibition of adenylyl-cyclase (enzyme) upon binding of a cannabinoid agonist(44). An agonist functions like other substances and thus stimulates an action.
Meanwhile, research suggests that CBD has minimal binding affinity for CB1 and CB2 receptors(45). However, cannabinol may antagonize the CB receptors in the presence of THC.
CBN’s Purported Sedative Properties
A 2021 review examined CBN’s potential therapeutic effects on sleep(46). The researchers reported limited studies on the association between CBN and subjective sleep-related factors, including sedation and fatigue.
They also suggested randomized controlled trials to substantiate the sleep-related claims of manufacturers producing CBN-containing cannabis products(47).
The researchers hypothesized that such studies should use polysomnography to examine CBN’s effects on sleep. Polysomnography is a comprehensive test to diagnose sleep disorders.
Research has not conclusively validated claims that CBN is among effective sleep therapies.
Potential Drug Interactions of CBN
Researchers have conducted most research on cannabinoids’ potential drug interactions with CBD and THC.
For example, research suggests CBD may interfere with the metabolism of medications in the liver, altering the concentration(48). Such drug interactions may impact the drug’s efficacy or increase the risk of side effects.
However, researchers should conduct additional studies to determine whether CBN induces drug interactions similar to CBD.
Individuals should consult with their doctors before taking CBN or other cannabinoids regarding dosage and potential risks, side effects, and drug interactions.
Is It Legal to Use Cannabinol?
As of April 2022, approximately three-quarters of the United States’ states have legalized medical marijuana(49). Marijuana is a variety of cannabis plants.
The 2018 Farm Bill legalized the cultivation of industrial hemp with under 0.3% THC(50). This amount of THC prevents the potential psychoactive effects of THC that can induce a “high.”
The Farm Bill also removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act’s (CSA) definition of marijuana(51). A controlled substance is a particular drug or other substance that a government strictly controls due to its potential for abuse or it may cause individuals to become addicted(52).
The Farm Bill legalizes Cannabis sativa L. and all derivatives under 0.3% THC, including cannabinoids(53). In addition, the U.S. government does not classify hemp-derived products meeting such criteria as Schedule I drugs(54).
CBN is a naturally occurring constituent of hemp plants. Thus, the U.S. government does not classify the cannabinoid as a controlled substance if it meets the Farm Bill’s criteria.
CBN may become more prevalent in the cannabinoid market through improved production mechanisms.
Individuals may learn more about CBN by consulting their doctor or researching the cannabinoid through ebooks typically identified by their digital object identifier (DOI). They may also read study citations to learn more about CBN.
This process resembles how medical researchers encode molecular information through International Chemical Identifier (InChi). An example is encoding information regarding the portion of organic molecules known as pentyl.
1. Cannabinol https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Cannabinol
2. Novel cannabinol probes for CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11020293/
3. Cannabinol and Sleep: Separating Fact from Fiction https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34468204/
4. Cannabidiol, cannabinol and their combinations act as peripheral analgesics in a rat model of myofascial pain https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31158702/
5. Cannabinol and Sleep: Separating Fact from Fiction https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34468204/
6. Cannabinol https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Cannabinol
7. Cannabinoids https://adf.org.au/drug-facts/cannabinoids/
8. Cannabinol https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/chemistry/cannabinol
9. Recommended methods for the identification and analysis of cannabis and cannabis products https://www.unodc.org/documents/scientific/ST-NAR-40-Ebook_1.pdf
10. Cannabinol and Sleep: Separating Fact from Fiction https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34468204/
11. Cannabidiol, cannabinol and their combinations act as peripheral analgesics in a rat model of myofascial pain https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31158702/
12. Cannabinol https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Cannabinol
14. Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2828614/
16. Cannabidiol, cannabinol and their combinations act as peripheral analgesics in a rat model of myofascial pain https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31158702/
17. Myofascial pain syndrome https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/myofascial-pain-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20375444
18. Cannabidiol, cannabinol and their combinations act as peripheral analgesics in a rat model of myofascial pain https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31158702/
19. CBN: a sleep aid or not? https://www.sleepstation.org.uk/articles/sleep-aids/cbn-oil/
20. Cannabinoids, inflammation, and fibrosis https://faseb.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1096/fj.201600646r
21. Effects of delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabinol in man https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1221432/
22. Cannabinol and cannabidiol exert opposing effects on rat feeding patterns https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22543671/
23. Cannabinoids, inflammation, and fibrosis https://faseb.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1096/fj.201600646r
24. Arthritis https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/arthritis/symptoms-causes/syc-20350772
25. Cannabinoids, inflammation, and fibrosis https://faseb.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1096/fj.201600646r
27. Effects of delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabinol in man https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1221432/
30. Cannabinol and cannabidiol exert opposing effects on rat feeding patterns https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22543671/
33. Effects of delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabinol in man https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1221432/
35. What You Should Know About Using Cannabis, Including CBD, When Pregnant or Breastfeeding https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/what-you-should-know-about-using-cannabis-including-cbd-when-pregnant-or-breastfeeding
36. Cannabinoids in Pediatrics https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5473390/
37. What You Should Know About Using Cannabis, Including CBD, When Pregnant or Breastfeeding https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/what-you-should-know-about-using-cannabis-including-cbd-when-pregnant-or-breastfeeding
38. Cannabinoids in Pediatrics https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5473390/
40. Medical Fraud, Mislabeling, Contamination: All Common in CBD Products https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7723146/
41. What are the benefits of CBD — and is it safe to use? https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/expert-answers/is-cbd-safe-and-effective/faq-20446700
42. Cannabis (Marijuana) and Cannabinoids: What You Need To Know https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/cannabis-marijuana-and-cannabinoids-what-you-need-to-know
43. Novel cannabinol probes for CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11020293/
44. Cannabinoid receptor activation differentially regulates the various adenylyl cyclase isozymes https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9751186/
45. Cannabinoids and Pain: New Insights From Old Molecules https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2018.01259/full
46. Cannabinol and Sleep: Separating Fact from Fiction https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34468204/
48. CBD and other medications: Proceed with caution https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/cbd-and-other-medications-proceed-with-caution-2021011121743
49. State medical cannabis https://www.ncsl.org/research/health/state-medical-marijuana-laws.aspx
50. Farm Bill Sets the Stage for Legal CBD Across the Country https://www.consumerreports.org/cbd/will-new-farm-bill-make-cbd-legal-everywhere/
51. Hemp Production and the 2018 Farm Bill https://www.fda.gov/news-events/congressional-testimony/hemp-production-and-2018-farm-bill-07252019
52. Controlled substance https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/controlled-substance
53. Code of federal regulations https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-7/subtitle-B/chapter-IX/part-990/subpart-A/section-990.1
54. The Farm Bill, hemp legalization, and the status of CBD: an explainer https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2018/12/14/the-farm-bill-hemp-and-cbd-explainer/