New research suggests that a rather obscure and oft derided cannabinoid may disrupt the massive sleep aid market. Melatonin sales alone are a $700 million a year market. CBN promises to be more effective with fewer side effects such as residual drowsiness than traditional sleep aids.
Many who have heard of the cannabinoid Cannabinol (CBN) have a negative impression of the compound, as it is typically believed to be a degraded compound that appears in old, poorly stored cannabis. However, this bleak perspective is not entirely accurate.
Unlike most cannabinoids, CBN rarely results from the decarboxylation of its acid form (CBNA). Most of the CBN found in cannabis is due to the degradation of THC, wherein the THC has oxidized to CBN. CBN is either non-psychoactive or very mildly psychoactive.
It reduces intraocular pressure in the eye (similar to D9THC), so it can be used in the treatment of Glaucoma without the psychoactive effects of THC. CBN is synergistic with THC for treatment purposes. CBN also fights free radicals in the bloodstream, and it performs similarly to THC in pain reduction treatments.
Some Other Potential Benefits of CBN
In addition to being a potent sleep aid, CBN also looks promising for other ailments.
- Anti Inflamatory
- Anti Microbial
- Delay the onset of ALS
CBN can be a potent antimicrobial. Researchers found that it effectively killed 3 different strains of MRSA – a type of staph bacteria that’s become dangerously resistant to traditional antibiotic medications. In a rodent study, researchers discovered that could also be used to delay the onset of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), as well as treat existing cases. ALS is a nervous system disorder that weakens the muscles.
How do I get CBN?
Older cannabis tends to be higher in CBN because THC degrades into CBN with oxidation. If you don’t want to go around asking your budtender for the oldest buds they have there are a number of tinctures that are becoming available.
While CBN isn’t particularly plentiful in fresh or cured cannabis, it can often be found in older cannabis, particularly cannabis that has been exposed to a lot of oxygen. CBN is actually created from THC when it is oxidized (exposed to oxygen over time).
Still, leaving your cannabis out in the open air might not be the most efficient way of getting CBN. Brands are beginning to offer products with isolated CBN, usually in the form of tinctures or edibles (and, ironically, marketed as sleep aids).
Getting the correct dosage of CBN can be tricky because of a strong entourage effect with THC. It appears that a ratio of 1mg CBN to 5mg of THC is ideal. CBN will not be widely available for Canadian retail consumers in the immediate future because it is found in relatively small quantities only in older aged cannabis. I have yet to see it available at any online dispensary in Canada either.It reportedly takes about 4-6 months to properly age the cannabis for CBN extraction.
Since the cannabis needs to be aged properly, producing CBN presents a challenge for the industry: If the cannabis plant is sourced too soon, too little of the THC has had a chance to be converted to CBN. If one waits too long, however, the plant oxidizes and is rendered inadequate, with too little viable material to work with.
“It’s difficult and time-consuming to produce industrially. However, I predict that growers will perfect the harvesting and aging process into a cycle that produces a large supply of CBN as demand for the cannabinoid continues to rise,” said John Huemoeller, CEO of AXIM Biotechnologies, which specializes in cannabinoid research.