Education Oct 16, 2020

What Is CBN? Exploring Rare Cannabinoids

by Taylor Hogan

What is CBN: Populum hemp oil in the palm of someone's hand

When it comes to the hemp plant, you’re probably familiar with CBD and THC. But what is CBN? Researchers have identified over 100 cannabinoids, and while there’s much more to learn, data suggests that CBN may have a place in your wellness routine. While the popularity of CBD has exploded over the past couple years, it's worth considering how minor cannabinoids such as CBN, CBG, and CBC work together in a full spectrum CBD blend.

Even though CBN was the first identified and isolated cannabinoid from hemp plants, scientists are still examining how it interacts with our body, particularly our endocannabinoid system (ECS) and what kind of potential health benefits it could offer. Legal restrictions have hampered research efforts, but as CBD and other hemp products become more popular, we’re likely to see renewed interest in studying this cannabinoid's potential effects.

In this guide, you’ll learn about what makes CBN different from CBD, how it’s formed, and how it interacts with your body. You’ll also learn about the latest CBN discoveries and how it might improve your well-being.

What Is CBN?

While they sound similar, CBD (cannabidiol) and CBN (cannabinol) are not the same. To make CBD oil, CBD must be extracted from hemp flowers. From there, it can be processed for use in tinctures, rubs, and balms.

So, what is CBN exactly and how is it different from CBD?

CBN forms through a natural aging process after hemp plants are harvested. This likely played a role in the discovery of CBN in the 19th century when storing and transporting hemp plants was just as much of an issue then as it is today.

Over time, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) — the compound responsible for psychoactive effects — breaks down, making CBN a byproduct of THC degradation. While trace amounts of THC may remain in CBN, you’re unlikely to experience any “high” or intoxicating effects. CBN content depends on oxidation levels (Meaning, how much contact it makes with oxygen and breaks down.) As a result of this oxidation process, no strains of hemp are naturally high in CBN. Manufacturers will expose a plant to high heat and light so the THC levels will break down faster.

When you choose a full spectrum hemp CBD product, like Populum’s CBD tincture, be sure to look at your third-party tested lab report. You’ll see a complete breakdown of the cannabinoid and terpene profiles which, in a full spectrum blend, often includes CBN.

CBD products by law must contain less than 0.3% THC. Because of this, you can enjoy the benefits of both CBD and CBN without experiencing the effects of THC.

CBN and Your Body

Farmer tending to hemp plants

Like other cannabinoids, CBN works with your body through your internal endocannabinoid system (ECS). Your ECS is responsible for regulating several functions in your body and plays a role in stress management, appetite, sleep, memory, mobility, and your immune system.

When CBN interacts with your ECS, it functions in similar ways as other cannabinoids, yet it yields slightly different results. Since CBN is a derivative form of THC, it makes sense that it would interact in a similar manner with your body and bind to the same internal cannabinoid receptors as THC. CBN does precisely that, specifically with your CB1 receptor, but at a much lower strength than THC. When the amount of THC in a hemp plant has degraded to the point of becoming CBN, it's intoxicating effects have essentially diminished.

Because of legal restrictions around the use of hemp plants and products, there isn't as much scientific research available on CBN's benefits compared to other more well-known cannabinoids such as CBD and THC.

According to research by Steep Hill, a leading testing and research company, CBN's effects may be able to reduce intraocular pressure in the eye. Further animal and human studies find that CBN may have relief effects as an anti-inflammatory agent, and even have antibacterial activity against MRSA.

While results have been mixed, CBN may also have sedative effects and prove useful as a sleep aid — it might have a more substantial effect when combined with other cannabinoids. Still, using CBN on its own as a sleep aid remains inconclusive.

Yet another study published in the journal Psychopharmacology illustrated the difference between CBN and CBD. An experiment conducted on rats revealed how CBN acted as an appetite stimulant. This finding led scientists to speculate about using CBN as a potential replacement for hemp products containing THC (since THC also stimulates appetite). In contrast, CBD decreased appetite in this study.

Adding CBN to Your Wellness Plan

What is CBN? Full spectrum CBD oil dropper in a cup of tea

If you're interested in adding CBN products into your wellness routine, be sure to opt for companies that pride themselves on transparency and the quality of their hemp products. While it may be tempting to look for pure CBN products or CBN oil, consider that many cannabinoids work better in conjunction with others.

By choosing a full spectrum CBD oil or tincture, you can take advantage of what's known as the "entourage effect." The entourage effect is a theory whereby cannabinoids and terpenes work better with each other, rather than in isolated form.

Full spectrum CBD products include several cannabinoids, including CBD, CBN, CBG (cannabigerol), as well as terpenes such as limonene, a-Pinene, and β-Myrcene. For more details on how a full spectrum hemp CBD oil works, check out Populum’s complete guide on the entourage effect.

Whether it’s CBN or CBD, always look for laboratory reports that give you a breakdown of what you’re getting. Populum’s lab results give you full details on the cannabinoid and terpene profiles along with what’s not in your hemp product (like mycotoxins, molds, or solvents). That way, you can rest assured you’re getting everything you need, and nothing you don’t.

Full spectrum CBD hemp products like those from Populum make it a breeze to incorporate CBN into your daily routine. For example, try using a hemp rub post-workout. You could also add hemp CBD oil to your morning cup of joe and create your own CBD coffee to kickstart your day. A few drops of this Populum’s award-winning tincture in a cup of herbal tea is perfect for making CBD tea that can help you wrap up your day and settle into a good night's sleep.

Keep it simple by following dosage guidelines, and always start low and slow. You'll want to give yourself a chance to see how it works with your body and watch for any potential side effects (which are rare). For instance, your weight, desired outcome, and previous experience with cannabinoids can be factors in finding the right dosage for you. Check out this guide on how much CBD oil you should take to learn more.

Is CBN Right For You?

Deciding whether CBN should be a part of your wellness plan is a choice only you can make. While emerging science is encouraging, more research is needed to understand how CBN and dozens of other cannabinoids interact with and affect the human body.

In the meantime, remember that using a full spectrum hemp CBD oil might be the perfect solution. Not only are there more scientific studies exploring the effects of CBD, but full spectrum and lab-tested CBD tinctures make it easy to know you're reaping the full benefits of the hemp plant, including CBN.

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