Cannabinol tinctures have been gaining popularity for their sleep-inducing effects. Just a few drops of CBN can lead to catching a whole lot of Z’s.
But many patients may be unfamiliar with what CBN is, where it comes from, and what other properties it has. You may also be wondering how CBN is different from CBD.
What is CBN? Is CBN Psychoactive?
Which cannabinoid do you think was the first ever discovered? THC? Be it as it may, CBN was identified and isolated in 1899, making it the first cannabinoid ever discovered.
Unlike other cannabinoids, CBN isn’t produced by cannabis or hemp plants. CBN is the oxidized metabolite of THC. As THC is exposed to oxygen, it turns into CBN. This process can occur before cannabis flowers are harvested and continues with prolonged storage.
Thus — if you don’t want all of your THC to turn into CBN, you need air-tight storage for your bud.
Since it comes from THC, CBN does have psychoactive properties. However, they’re not as strong. It’s said that CBN retains about 1/4th of THC’s potency.
According to research thus far, CBN is associated with the following therapeutic potential:
- Sedative: CBN has strong sleep-inducing properties — hence, why it’s gained momentum for taking before bed.
- Anticonvulsant: CBN has demonstrated anticonvulsant properties in human and animal studies.
- Anti-inflammatory: Like other cannabinoids, CBN has strong anti-inflammatory properties.
- Antibiotic & anti-MRSA activity: Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is a bacterial infection that is very difficult to treat due to its strong resistance to antibiotics. CBN displays antibiotic activity against MRSA without the bacteria being resistant to it.
CBN vs. CBD
While CBN and CBD may sound similar, they each act in different ways. However, unlike CBD, CBN is slightly psychoactive. This means you may feel a slight “high” from CBN that you wouldn’t experience from taking CBD.
Additionally, the two cannabinoids bind to different receptors in the body to exert their effects. CBD doesn’t necessarily bind to endocannabinoid receptors. Instead, it acts as a negative allosteric moderator at CB1 and CB2 receptors.
An allosteric moderator is a substance that binds to receptors and changes its response to stimuli. A positive allosteric moderator increases the receptors’ response to stimuli. In contrast, a negative allosteric moderator decreases the receptors’ response to stimuli.
Thus, CBD can reduce the effects of THC on CB1 and CB2 receptors. If you “feel too high,” some experts recommend taking a little CBD to combat the intensity.
Meanwhile, CBN is a weak agonist of CB1 and CB2 receptors, though it does bind slightly better to CB2. An agonist is a substance that stimulates a receptor, and its strength can range from neutral to partial to full.
CBD and CBN are both sedative and anti-inflammatory in terms of their effects. However, CBD is also anxiolytic, meaning it can help reduce anxiety. So if stress keeps you up at night, you may find it more useful to take a little CBD before bed instead.
Read More: How Can CBD Help with Sleep?
CBD products are also a lot more widespread and easier to find. Depending on the laws in your state, CBN might only be available at your local dispensary — and you may need a medical card to purchase it unless you live in a recreational state.
Key Takeaways: CBN is a Psychoactive Cannabinoid with Strong Sleep-Inducing Effects
CBN was first isolated and identified in 1899 — long before any other cannabinoids were observed under the microscope.
This cannabinoid is also very unique. Unlike other cannabinoids, CBN isn’t produced by cannabis or hemp plants. THC actually turns into CBN as it oxidizes. Thus, CBN is slightly psychoactive.
Additionally, CBN displays therapeutic potential through its sedative, anti-inflammatory, anticonvulsant, antibiotic, and anti-MRSA effects.
While CBN and CBD may sound similar, they are not the same. CBD is not psychoactive, whereas CBN is. Additionally, they act at different receptors throughout the body to exert different effects.
At the end of the day, you can use either cannabinoid before bed to help get a full night’s sleep.
- Wood, T. B., Spivey, W. T. N., & Easterfield, T. H. (1899). III.—Cannabinol. Part I. J. Chem. Soc., Trans., 75(0), 20–36. https://doi.org/10.1039/ct8997500020
- Morales, P., Hurst, D. P., & Reggio, P. H. (2017). Molecular Targets of the Phytocannabinoids: A Complex Picture. Progress in the Chemistry of Organic Natural Products, 103–131. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-45541-9_4
- Russo, E. B., & Marcu, J. (2017). Cannabis Pharmacology: The Usual Suspects and a Few Promising Leads. Cannabinoid Pharmacology, 67–134. https://doi.org/10.1016/bs.apha.2017.03.004
- Laprairie, R. B., Bagher, A. M., Kelly, M. E. M., & Denovan-Wright, E. M. (2015, October). Cannabidiol is a negative allosteric modulator of the cannabinoid CB1 receptor. British Journal of Pharmacology, 172(20), 4790–4805. https://doi.org/10.1111/bph.13250