CBG is still a lesser-known cannabinoid than CBD, but it's likely even fewer people have heard about CBN.
What is CBN?
Cannabinol (CBN) is considered the most helpful cannabinoid for sleep, and it is produced by the oxidation of THC in dried cannabis flowers. If you’ve ever seen marijuana that has turned brown, there is a good chance a lot of the THC has been converted to CBN!
Although CBN is naturally occurring, you cannot directly extract it from the cannabis (unless you are in a lab setting). In real time, it takes about 4 years of being exposed to light, heat, and oxygen for 50% of the THC cannabinoids to biosynthesize to CBN. CBN’s life cycle looks like this: CBGa -> THCa -> CBNa -> CBN.
Like CBG, CBN is a minor cannabinoid, meaning that it is found at a very low percentage in the plant’s cannabinoid profile. With CBN, there is typically less than 1% of this cannabinoid found in the average recently harvested cannabis plant, although indica strains tend to have more CBN than other strains. Remember, Indica = “In-da-couch”, so now we know why Indica-dominant strains can make us so sleepy.
Older bud that is high in CBN is also likely to be high in the sedating terpenes of linalool, myrcene, and humulene, which may add to the sedating effect. (Terpenes are the primary constituents of essential oil and are credited for the aromatic scent of cannabis.)
How CBN and CBG Work Similarly
Besides CBN being more sedating than CBG, the two have a lot in common. They both bind mildly to the CB1 receptor in our bodies’ endocannabinoid system, which makes us feel relaxed and sedated. Both bind more strongly with the CB2 receptors, which gives them anti-inflammatory properties that are helping with chronic pain, MS, Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, TMJ, Chron’s Disease, and IBS. Both have neuroprotective actions that are proving to be helpful at delaying the onset of ALS.
Both are antibacterial and have shown to treat MRSA infections. Like CBG, CBN is a helpful appetite stimulant that won’t get you high. Both CBG and CBN are showing great promise at treating glaucoma, and both are anti-convulsant, helping those who suffer from seizures. Both CBG and CBN can help stimulate new bone growth, making them helpful cannabinoids in treating fractured bones and helping to reverse bone loss caused by Osteoporosis. A study in 2006 found that CBN and CBG can prohibit the growth of abnormal cells, making them promising cannabinoids in preventing and treating cancer.
The “First” Cannabinoid
CBN was discovered in 1896 and was the first cannabinoid to be isolated. It was originally believed that CBN was the cannabinoid that made marijuana psychoactive, but Dr. Raphael Mechoulam and his team soon realized that the process of oxidation was turning THC to CBN. They determined that CBN had no psychoactive effects, although it is considered to be mildly intoxicating.
What We Know About CBN and Sleep
Studies suggest that CBN on its own is less sedative on its own than when combined with other cannabinoids – most commonly, THC. In fact, there are many scientists that don’t believe there is a connection between CBN and sleep. There was a study in the 1970’s that suggested that CBN by itself was not sedating at all, but that it appeared to increase the sedating effects of THC. Whether or not they believe that CBN can cause drowsiness, many of these scientists would say that CBN can help with sleep indirectly by helping to ease inflammation, which can lead to a better night’s rest.
When experimenting with CBN for sleep, it is suggested to start off slow and to be sure that you are not going to be driving after consuming it. You could start off with 5-10 mg CBN and wait at least 1 hour before deciding to take more, as it can take 30-80 minutes for the full effect to be felt.
You should also know that consuming CBN can lead to a failed drug test, even when the COA states that no THC has been detected. This is due to cross-reactivity.
There is still much to uncover about the benefits of CBN and it deserves to be more thoroughly scientifically tested. We’ve personally experienced the effect of combining CBN and CBG at a ratio of 1 to 3 and we’ve found the combination to be very helpful at shutting down the mind chatter while also relaxing the body. We feel very confident that the combination of CBN and CBG in our new “Night Spectrum Oil” (coming soon!) will help make the nightly sleep ritual a lot more restful for many of our customers.