Cannabinol, or CBN, is one of the many cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Although proven to have an array of therapeutic benefits, it’s still not as popular as some of its counterparts, THC and CBD.

Cannabinol is created during the process of degradation, or oxidation of the cannabinoid THC. Once tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is exposed to the elements, it eventually breaks down to CBN, which has a lot of medicinal properties with a very minimal psychoactive effect. So in other words, CBN is aged THC.

Pain relief, anti-inflammatory, appetite stimulant, and bone regeneration are among the many benefits provided by CBN, but it’s most commonly used as a sleep aid. Since it’s a product of THC, it occurs naturally in pretty significant quantities. If plants are allowed to mature, they will end up with a good amount of CBN which can be extracted for medications, or consumed from the plant directly.

What Can Cannabinol (CBN) Be Used For?

Considering CBN is not even close to being a household name as yet, there’s not as much research into this compound, compared to CBD and THC, however, there is a decent amount of evidence suggesting the benefits are indeed significant. Cannabinol can be used to stimulate appetite, promote bone growth, prevent bacterial infections, and reduce inflammation, but CBN’s marked characteristic is its ability to induce sleep. Some testing from Steep Hill Labs in Berkley, CA, indicates that only 5mg of CBN is just as effective as 10mg of diazepam, but this data needs to be studied further.

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Another plus to using CBN is that it produces little-to-no psychoactive effects, which is fantastic for patients who need to medicate but prefer to do so without the high. Since CBN is degraded THC, this cannabinoid can be found in many indica strains. Indica cannabis is known for its tendency to have these sedative effects.

Sleep Aid

Out of 85 cannabinoids, CBN is the most powerful sedative, which makes it a promising treatment option for people suffering from sleep apnea, insomnia, and other sleep disorders. Evidence dates back as far as 1976, but a more prominent study of this cannabinoid, conducted on insomniac mice, was completed in 1995 with positive results for cannabinol use to promote better sleep.


Research shows that CBN can also be used as an anti-bacterial when applied topically. In a 2008 study, CBN effectively eradicated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). MRSA is an extremely painful, antibiotic resistant staph infection that can result in amputation or even death if not treated.

Pain Relief

According to a study from 2002, CBN is also effective at easing pain by releasing the calcitonin gene-related peptide. Not surprisingly, CBN activates the same pain pathway in the brain as THC. Because this pain control method is achieved via the sensory nerves and has no impact on the CB1 and CB2 receptors, it’s believed that CBN could be coupled with CBD to provide even stronger pain relief.


Studies suggest that, like many other cannabinoids, CBN can effectively treat inflammatory disorders such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, allergic asthma, and Crohn’s disease. Research from 2005 shows that CBN therapy reduced inflammation in lab mice with asthma. It also helped control the production of mucus in the lungs, which was an unexpected, although positive, surprise. Many experts believe this is the reason cannabis can be used to treat glaucoma, because it alleviates inflammation and reduces eye pressure.

Appetite Stimulant

CBN is a known appetite stimulant that can be used to improve the dietary habits of patients with HIV/AIDS and cancer, and it can successfully treat anorexia and other eating or wasting disorders. Scientists at School of Pharmacy at Berkshire’s University tested this theory on male rats and found that cannabinol did in fact increase their urge to eat.

Bone Growth

There are multiple theories as to why CBN stimulates bone growth, reduces the risk of osteoporosis and other bone diseases, and supports bone health. More research is needed, but scientists discovered that CBN triggers stem cell activity in the bone marrow, which could help with bone formation. It’s also theorized that CBN’s role as an agonist of the CB1 and CB2 receptors is another factor.

Where Can I Find CBN?

THC degradation can be attributed to either heat, oxygen, or a combination of both. As you may have already figured, that poorly stored, dried up cannabis will have considerably higher levels of CBN compared to fresh and properly stored flowers.

Luckily, there are ways to consume this cannabinoid without dooming yourself to a life of low-quality medication. Oils, edibles, capsules, and patches are making an appearance at the more progressive providers of cannabis-based medications. But keep in mind that these products are still quite rare, so until then, it can be found in aged cannabis plants, preferably indica strains. Also, you can always keep an eye out for lab tested cannabis that displays the levels of multiple cannabinoids.

[Image credit- Pixabay]

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