What’s So Special About Cannabinol (CBN)?
The thing that makes cannabinol (CBN) stand out among the other 113 known cannabinoids is its strong sedative effects. But, it also has several additional benefits. Unlike other cannabinoids, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), it is not as abundant in the cannabis plant. Therefore, it hasn’t received the attention that other cannabinoids have. But there has been enough research done to understand some of its benefits and the therapeutic potential it may offer.
As legalization is increasing across the U.S. and more medicinal discoveries are being made in cannabinoid science, closer scrutiny of the therapeutic and preventative health properties of CBN is significant and inevitable.
The Chemistry of CBN
Cannabinol is a component of Cannabis sativa L. It is physiologically inactive. It is a cannabinoid isolated from the cannabis plant and a metabolite THC. Its preferred receptor to which it readily binds is the cannabinoid G-protein coupled receptor CB2. This receptor is expressed mostly on macrophages, dendritic cells, B-cells and T-cells. If CB2 receptors are stimulated by CBN, it may result in cell apoptosis and also inhibit the production of cytokines. Its effect on the central nervous system is very weak. It also has a very little affinity for CB1.
CBN is formed when THC undergoes oxidation. Exposure of THC to heat over a prolonged period degrades it to CBN, which is nonpsychoactive.
Therapeutic Benefits of CBN
Studies on the therapeutic effects of CBN are scarce when compared to those done on THC, CBD, and other notable cannabinoids. However, the little research that has been done shows that CBN has a load of therapeutic benefits, including:
- Sleep promotion
- Appetite stimulation
- Stimulation of bone growth and development
- Prevention of glaucoma
- Analgesic effects
- Anti-inflammatory effects
Promoting sleep: CBN has very strong sedative properties. This makes it a first choice therapeutic option for insomnia patients, people with sleep apnea, and other sleep disorders. One study specifically found that CBN and its derivatives significantly prolong sleep time.
Antibacterial properties: Studies have shown that cannabinol has very effective antibacterial properties. It has even proven effective against MRSA (staph infection) when applied topically.
Analgesic property: CBN has very effective analgesic properties. The mechanism by which this happens is as follows: Cannabinol stimulates the release of calcitonin-gene-related peptide from sensory nerves. No impact is made on the CB1 and CB2 receptors during the pain relief response. This implies that cannabinol may be used together with CBD, which inhibits pain by activating both CB receptors (1 and 2). This provides a stronger relief from pain.
Anti-inflammatory effects: CBN has anti-inflammatory effects. This implies that it may be of great use in the treatment of inflammatory disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, allergic asthma, Crohn’s disease, and diabetes.
Stimulation of appetite: Research has shown that CBN has appetite stimulating properties. This suggests that it may be effective in the treatment of anorexia and cachexia, and may also improve appetite in HIV/AIDS or cancer patients.
Anti-convulsive properties: A study has shown that CBN and its derivatives are effective at prolonging latency of seizure in mice. This suggests that it could be helpful in the treatment of epilepsy and other seizure disorders.
Prevention of glaucoma: Topical administration of CBN lowers ocular tension quite significantly. This reduces the risk and progression of glaucoma.
Stimulation of the bones: CBN is a weak agonist of two receptors of the endocannabinoid system – the CB1 and the CB2 receptors. The implication of this is that it belongs to the group of cannabinoids that stimulates the growth of bones. Therefore, it is possible that CBN could greatly reduce the risk of bone diseases such as osteoporosis.
Additionally, studies have suggested that combined with other cannabinoids, CBN has anticancer properties. For a cannabinoid that has a lesser presence and has not been much studied, there is already a significant amount of therapeutic benefits associated with it.
CBN: A Case for More Research
Cannabinoids obviously have medicinal benefits that could change how we treat, prevent and live with so many devastating diseases and disorders. This has already been proven with the effects of CBD on seizures. It has literally saved lives. It’s time to stop dabbling in the research surrounding cannabinoids. We need education for the public and legislators and health care professionals, and we need rigorous, targeted research on all cannabinoids, so that we may develop safe, well-regulated, natural, effective alternatives that could become tomorrow’s standard in treatment and preventative health.
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