A Closer Look at CBN: The Molecule
Science talk: The decade’s favorite molecule
CBN or cannabinol is one of the almost hundred cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. CBN is a minor cannabinoid (representing 1% or less of the plant’s compounds); it is the result of THC’s decomposition process and occurs naturally after it’s been exposed to light and heat. CBN is most commonly found in aged plants and used to be considered a waste by-product of THC, which is why researchers hadn’t given it enough attention until recently.
CBN is a minor cannabinoid resulting from THC’s natural decomposition process.
CBGa (cannabigerolic acid) is the basis of all cannabinoids known to date. When CBGa gets in contact with other compounds, it creates THCa and CBDa, which are the acid forms of THC and CBD, respectively. When these acid forms are heated, they produce all the effects they’re so popular for, either medicinal or recreational. It also explains why many prefer to smoke or bake cannabis products instead of having them raw.
The process for CBNa is slightly different. For CBNa to break down into CBN the cannabis plant (along with its THC) has to be going through an aging process. As THCa is exposed to oxygen, it starts losing its hydrogen molecules and oxidizes. With the passing of time, acids will start to break down and THCa will become CBNa, which turns naturally into CBN after being in contact with heat and UV lighting. CBN will not occur in a young living plant, only in cannabis which is already in its drying phase; the older the plant, the more CBN it will yield.
Our endocannabinoid system regulates pain perception, learning, memory, feeding, attention, emotions, sleep, and dream activity, all of which may be positively affected by CBN.
Even though CBN comes from THC, its impact is only 10% as intense. However, it does have mild psychoactive effects because of the fact that it affects our brain functions in very desirable, non-intoxicating ways. Researchers have found that its psychoactive functions are lower in intensity because CBN molecules don’t quite fit in CB1 receptors in our endocannabinoid system, the ones related to our central nervous system. However, they bind better to CB2 receptors which are related to immune responses. Research shows that our endocannabinoid system regulates body functions such as pain perception, learning, memory, feeding, attention, emotions, sleep, and dream activity, all of which may be positively affected by CBN.
- Babson, K., Sottile, J. and Morabito, D., 2017. Cannabis, Cannabinoids, And Sleep: A Review Of The Literature. [online] PubMed. Available at: <https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28349316/> [Accessed 13 August 2020].