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Medicinal Value of Cannabinol (CBN)

Cannabinol, or CBN, is one of the cannabinoids found in cannabis. Studies have shown it provides a variety of therapeutic benefits, most notably serving as a sleep aid.

Overview of CBN

Cannabinol (CBN) is the product of degradation, or oxidation, of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). When THC is exposed to oxygen and heat, over time it breaks down to CBN, which is only mildly psychoactive.

Findings: Effects of Cannabis on Effects of CBN

While scientific research is significantly lacking compared to the more notable cannabinoids, THC and cannabidiol (CBD), evidence does suggest that CBN offers a variety of therapeutic benefits, including promoting sleep, stimulating appetite, stimulating bone growth, preventing glaucoma, and providing antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects.

Sleep Aid

Of all the cannabinoids, CBN is the most sedative, making it a potential therapeutic option for those with insomnia, sleep apnea or other sleep disorders. CBN and its derivatives have shown effective at significantly prolonging sleeping time in mice (Yoshida, et al., 1995).


Evidence shows CBN could be an effective anti-bacterial. When applied topically, it was effective against MRSA (Appendino, et al., 2008).

Pain Relief

CBN has shown effective at reducing sensitivity to pain by stimulating the release of calcitonin gene-related peptide from sensory nerves. This pain relief response is performed without impacting the CB1 and CB2 receptors, which suggests that CNB could be used alongside CBD, which does lower pain through activation of the CB1 and CB2 receptors, thus providing a stronger pain relief (Zygmunt, Andersson & Hogestatt, 2002).


CBN has shown to have anti-inflammatory effects, suggesting it could assist in the treatment of inflammatory diseases and disorders like multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, allergic asthma, and Crohn’s disease (Croxford & Yamamura, 2005).

Appetite Stimulant

CBN has shown to increase appetite, which suggests it could assist in the treatment of cachexia and anorexia, and help improve eating desires in those with cancer or HIV/AIDS (Farrimond, Whalley & Williams, 2012).


CBN and its derivatives have shown effective at significantly prolonging seizure latency in mice, suggesting it could assist in the treatment of epilepsy and other seizure disorders (Yoshida, et al., 1995).

Prevents Glaucoma

CBN, when administered topically, has shown to considerably lower ocular tension, thus reducing the risk and progression of glaucoma (Colasanti, Craig & Allara, 1984).

Bone Stimulation

CBN is an agonist, although a bit weak, of both CB1 and CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system, which means they’re among the cannabinoids that are effective at stimulating bone growth (Ofek, et al., 2006) (Idris, et al., 2005) (Idris, et al., 2008) (Scutt & Williamson, 2006). As a result, CBN and other cannabinoids reduce the risk of osteoporosis and other bone diseases and support bone health.


Appendino, G., Gibbons, S., Giana, A. Pagani, A., Grassi, G., Stavri, M., Smith, E., and Rahman, M.M. (2008, August). Antibacterial cannabinoids from Cannabis sativa: a structure-activity study. Journal of Natural Products, 71(8), 1427-30. Retrieved from http://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/np8002673.

Colasanti, B.K., Craig, C.R., and Allara, R.D. (1984, September). Intraocular pressure, ocular toxicity and neurotoxicity after administration of cannabinol or cannabigerol. Experimental Eye Research, 39(3), 251-9. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0014483584900137.

Croxford, J.L., and Yamamura, T. (2005, September). Cannabinoids and the immune system: potential for the treatment of inflammatory diseases? Journal of Neuroimmunology, 166(1-2), 3-18. Retrieved from http://www.jni-journal.com/article/S0165-5728(05)00160-8/fulltext.

Farrimond, J.A., Whalley, B.J., and Williams, C.M. (2012, September). Cannabinol and cannabidiol exert opposing effects on rat feeding patterns. Psychopharmacology, 223(1), 117-29. Retrieved from http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00213-012-2697-x.

Idris, A.I., Sophocleous, A., Landao-Bassonga, E., van’t Hof, R.J., and Ralston, S.H. (2008, November). Regulation of bone mass, osteoclast function, and ovariectomy-induced bone loss by the type 2 cannabinoid receptor. Endocrinology, 149(11), 5619-26. Retrieved from https://academic.oup.com/endo/article-lookup/doi/10.1210/en.2008-0150.

Idris, A.I., van’t Hof, R.J., Greig, I.R., Ridge, S.A., Baker, D., Ross, R.A., and Ralston, S.H. (2005, July). Regulation of bone mass, bone loss and osteoclast activity by cannabinoid receptors. Nature Medicine, 11(7), 774-9. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1430341/.

Ofek, O., Karsak, M., Leclerc, N., Fogel, M., Frenkel, B., Wright, K., Tam, J., Attar-Namdar, M., Kram, V., Shohami, E., Mechoulam, R., Zimmer, A., and Bab, I. (2006, January 17). Peripheral cannabinoid receptor, CB2, regulates bone mass. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 103(3), 696-701. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1334629/.

Scutt, A., and Willilamson, E.M. (2007). Cannabinoids stimulate fibroblastic colony formation by bone marrow cells indirectly via CB2 receptors. Calcified Tissue International, 80, 50-59. Retrieved from http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00223-006-0171-7.

Yoshida, H., Usami, N., Ohishi, Y, Watanabe, K., Yamamoto, I., and Yoshimura, H. (1995, February). Synthesis and pharmacological effects in mice of halogenated cannabinol derivatives. Chemical & Pharmaceutical Bulletin, 43(2), 335-7. Retrieved from https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/cpb1958/43/2/43_2_335/_pdf.

Zygmunt, P.M., Andersson, D.A., and Hogestatt, E.D. (2002, June 1). 9-Tetrahydrocannabinol and Cannabinol Activate Capsaicin-Sensitive Sensory Nerves via a CB1 and CB2 Cannabinoid Receptor-Independent Mechanism. The Journal of Neuroscience, 22(11), 4720-4727. Retrieved from http://www.jneurosci.org/content/22/11/4720.long.

  • October 29, 2015
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