The Cannabinoid CBN and Its Effects

by Mila Grün04.07.2023Knowledge

The cannabis plant produces several chemical substances and compounds that have significant effects on the body. In addition to terpenes, which are increasingly gaining attention in research and medicine, there are also cannabinoids such as THC and CBD. These cannabinoids are present in large quantities in cannabis and are already known for their effects. However, there are also other cannabinoids, such as CBN or cannabinol.

What effects does this relatively unknown cannabinoid have on humans?

Cannabinoids and their mechanisms of action

The human body produces endocannabinoids that bind to the CB1 and CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system, thereby regulating, supporting, or initiating various processes and functions. The endocannabinoid system extends throughout the body like a network, and when the appropriate endocannabinoids bind to the receptors, they affect the immune system, cardiovascular system, cell division, gastrointestinal tract, and much more.

How cannabis affects the endocannabinoid system

Unlike endocannabinoids, the cannabis plant produces phytocannabinoids in the form of carboxylic acids, such as THCA and CBDA. When these acids are heated, for example, through targeted decarboxylation or by using a vaporizer, they transform into their neutral form. These neutral forms are the well-known cannabinoids THC and CBD. Cannabis produces over 100 phytocannabinoids, but only a few are present in significant quantities that produce noticeable effects when consumed.

The interesting aspect is that these phytocannabinoids, just like the endocannabinoids produced by the human body, also bind to the CB1 and CB2 receptors and can influence various processes in the body. That is why cannabis has a noticeable effect on humans and is valuable in medicine.

Key cannabinoids in the cannabis plant

There are four different cannabinoids produced in such significant quantities by the plant that their effects are noticeable and/or of medical interest:

  • THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol)
  • CBD (Cannabidiol)
  • CBG (Cannabigerol)
  • CBC (Cannabichromene)

The fifth substance, CBN (Cannabinol), is not produced by the plant itself but is formed through the oxidation of cannabis when it ages.

How does cannabinol form?

Cannabinol is the oxidative byproduct of THC. As mentioned earlier, this substance is not produced by the cannabis plant itself but rather forms when cannabis or cannabis products become old or are poorly stored. It can also be found in products such as cannabis oil or pure cannabis resin when they are stored poorly or for too long. Poor storage means that cannabis is exposed to excessive light and/or high temperature over an extended period. However, the conversion process typically takes years.

The effects of CBN

Although CBN is not detectable in the living plant and is a byproduct of old or poorly stored cannabis, it still has positive effects on the human body. CBN alone has minimal psychoactive effects or, more accurately, is barely noticeable. However, when combined with THC, it has a sedative effect, meaning it is strongly calming or numbing. Patients receiving a cannabis medicine with a high CBN content described the effect as "heavy" or "dull." This amplification of effects when substances are administered in combination is called the entourage effect. It means that one substance influences the intensity of another substance when they are administered together. The increasing interest in CBN is justified because it has several positive effects and can be compared to cannabinoids like CBD and THC.

In addition to its sedative effect, CBN can be useful in the treatment of burns as it reduces heat sensitivity. Furthermore, taking the cannabinoid cannabinol inhibits the proliferation of skin cells (ker

atinocytes), making it promising for treating psoriasis and improving the overall condition of the skin. Additionally, due to its anti-inflammatory properties, CBN could have potential value in dermatology.

CBN and CBD - a good team

Due to the partially similar and complementary properties of CBD and CBN, they are already available in combination in various products such as oils or tinctures. The advantages of CBN speak for this actual breakdown product and demonstrate how effective cannabis is, even when it is considered old or no longer fresh.

CBN compared to CBD and its effects on the human body

CBN, or cannabinol, has various effects, including muscle relaxation and the relief of muscle tension. It also has antibacterial properties and can be used effectively against MRSA infections, similar to CBD.

CBN does not produce noticeable intoxication or euphoria; instead, it has a calming effect and is helpful for sleep disorders. A small dose of CBN is more sleep-inducing than higher doses of cannabinoids like THC and CBD.

Both CBN and CBD inhibit inflammation by activating the CB2 receptors of immune cells. Activation of these receptors triggers a signal that causes abnormal cells to disappear.

CBD and THC are the two cannabinoids known for relieving pain. However, CBN also provides rapid pain relief.

Is CBN legal?

CBD is legal and available for medical use and recreational consumption in various forms, except for flowers, which are not legally available for purchase. However, CBD-containing oils, extracts, or medical products can be legally purchased on the open market and in medical settings. THC products, on the other hand, have only been legalized for medical and therapeutic purposes, not for recreational use.

Pure CBN flowers are currently not available, but the substance can be purchased in an extracted form or in combination with CBD. This is currently possible and legal in Germany.



Written by Mila Grün

Hello and High, my name is Mila Grün and I am the editor-in-chief of Cannabibliothek. My work and passion lies in writing serious and scientifically sound texts about the topic of cannabis. Together with my team, I have been fighting against the current stigmatization and for solid education for years. So that the cannabis plant regains the status it deserves.


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Legal and medication information about the information on this site

It is important to us that we can offer you well-researched and informative content. Please note, however, that this is merely a transfer of information and not a concrete recommendation for action. In addition, our articles do not replace a visit to the doctor. You should discuss possible interactions with other medications with your doctor before taking them. Because the cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is subject to the Narcotics Act (BtMG) in Germany.