With a degree in English Literature and an Advanced Diploma in Business Administration, Alex became a freelance business writer for seven years. After seeing the shockingly positive impact of medical marijuana on a close member of his family, Alex took an interest in writing about cannabis. He soon shifted his focus to cannabis content, of which he has been writing for the past three years.
CBN oil isn’t exactly a frontrunner in the booming cannabis oil market. With CBD and THC being the big names, we often overlook the fact that many other cannabinoids exist. Not only do they exist, but their concentration in cannabis makes a difference in how the strain performs.
Although THC and CBD are household names, CBN isn’t stuck on the back-burner. In fact, the authors of one publication in the U.S. National Library of Medicine examined cannabis found in China, buried inside the 2700-year-old tomb of a shaman. Upon testing, not only was CBN present in large amounts, but it was also the most common cannabinoid.
Additionally, this proves that activated cannabis existed for therapeutic and cultural purposes in certain civilizations.
Unfortunately, a lot changed in the last 2700, making CBN little more than a footnote behind THC and CBD. This means that high-CBN strains don’t exist, since growers want to produce strains focusing on THC, CBD or both.
Of course, there’s still a niche market, which is where CBN oil comes into play. If you’ve never heard of CBN or are looking to expand your cannabis experience, then see what this compound offers.
What is CBN?
Before we discuss CBN oil, we need to understand CBN itself.
CBN stands for “cannabinol”. However, CBN doesn’t rely on heat (decarboxylation). It’s actually the product of a slower chemical reaction.
As cannabis plants age, they break down – just like anything else organic. Within the raw plant, THC sits in its inert form as tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THC-A). As
the organic material decomposes, THC-A oxidizes, producing CBN.
A healthy, fresh plant won’t contain any CBN. Only after weeks of steady exposure to UV light will the THC-A eventually start to break down and create CBN. It also means that there’s no way to breed plants that focus on CBN.
Growers who want to produce CBN need to breed high-THC strains and wait for the oxidization process to run its course. This also makes CBN a lot harder to source, since it requires even more time to cultivate.
Another thing to consider is that even high THC strains will not yield much CBN. It is highly unlikely that any plant can break the 1% barrier for CBN. A “high” CBN level is considered to be between 0.4 and 0.8% – something that only a handful of strains achieved.
Does CBN Come from Hemp or Marijuana?
CBD was always accessible because supplement companies without marijuana licenses produced it from industrial hemp. Licensed producers, on the other hand, used marijuana as a source. However, CBN is a one-way street.
As many of us know, hemp is very low in THC – 0.3% at the most. Since CBN comes from broken down THC, hemp doesn’t have nearly enough THC to produce a meaningful amount of CBN.
Which Strains are High in CBN?
If cured properly, a handful of strains fall within the 0.4 to 0.8% range. According to Marijuana Break, some ideal CBN strains are:
Bubble Gum: 0.386%
Durban Poison: 0.363%
Lemon Kush: 0.49%
Purple Cadillac: 0.313%
Super Green Crack: 0.788%
Can You Smoke CBN?
Indeed, it is possible to smoke dry herb containing CBN. However, many people do not enjoy this medium, because it requires consumers to let the marijuana age. This affects the consistency and flavor.
But if you have no issue with this, you can always smoke CBN for a faster effect (but shorter duration).
What is CBN Oil?
If you use CBD oil, then CBN oil will be a breeze. Like CBD and THC oil, CBN oil is simply a product for ingesting CBN. Manufacturers extract the cannabinoid in the same fashion as its counterparts, ultimately placing it in a carrier like grapeseed oil, olive oil or MCT oil.
Place it under the tongue for 60 to 90 seconds, swallow and wait for the effects to kick in. Keep in mind that, like all edibles, oils take anywhere from 30 minutes to four hours, depending on a variety of factors.
Isolate vs. Full Spectrum
Like CBD oil, CBN companies offer oils in isolate and full spectrum (depending on who you buy from).
Companies process full spectrum oil in a fashion that retains the other cannabinoids and terpenes, while eliminating any excess plant matter. The advantage here is that the other compounds work together via the “entourage effect.” This is a synergistic relationship between cannabinoids and terpenes, complementing each other’s performance.
Full spectrum will also feel more calming and sedating, thanks to the inevitable THC content, along with other calming cannabinoids and terpenes.
Isolate, on the other hand, contains nothing extra. Companies process the plant matter to extract only CBN and discard everything else. This leaves behind a product that is as high as 99% pure CBN.
The lack of additional compounds makes the product less effective, but ensures that you consume no THC in the process.
Will CBN Oil Get You High?
This is a critical question you need to be asking, because, unlike CBD, this one isn’t nearly as straightforward. CBD is an entirely different cannabinoid, while CBN is literally the product of oxidized THC.
According to Pure Analytics, a cannabis testing company, CBN is about 10% as intoxicating as THC. However, this kind of potency is so low that we may as well consider CBN to be non-intoxicating.
To put it another way, a product containing 30% THC would only feel like 3% THC in CBN form. Needless to say, you have nothing to worry about.
However, although intoxication from CBN alone is not an issue, the oil you use might have some THC, depending on the product. Keep that in mind if you’re concerned about impairment.
Is CBN Oil Legal?
It seems like yesterday that we were addressing this question about CBD. At that point, the legality was a huge gray area until the 2018 Farm Bill settled that question and gave the green light to industrial hemp.
But what about CBN? It’s not THC, but THC is an integral part of its production. Unlike hemp, CBN only comes from marijuana, which is illegal on a federal level. On the surface, it would be safe to conclude that CBN oil is only legal in states that have medical and/or recreational marijuana accessible to citizens.
This is not technically the case. CBN isn’t specifically listed as a controlled substance under U.S. law. At the same time, the DEA made it illegal to produce, sell or possess any kinds of extracts from the cannabis plant.
Since cannabis is the genus that includes hemp and marijuana, the Farm Bill of 2018 took hemp off the list, differentiating between the two. However, marijuana still remains a Schedule I controlled substance. Consequently, CBN’s reliance on marijuana as its only source likely means it’s at least federally illegal.
However, this gray area is eerily similar to what we saw with CBD. Despite widespread production, law enforcement did not start raiding companies who used industrial hemp to make CBD. Chances are that the case will be the same with CBN until the government clarifies its rules.
Will CBN Show Up on a Drug Test?
We already know that drug tests don’t look for CBD; this is one of CBD’s benefits. But what about CBN? After all, it’s the product of THC degradation and comes from high THC plants.
The answer depends on how you consume CBN and which products you choose. It’s safe to assume that not all of the THC will break down. Consequently, the CBN you consume could contain a notable amount of THC.
Smoking is therefore a bad idea if you expect to take a drug test.
Oils with small traces of THC might or might not show up. It all depends on how much CBN you take on a daily basis. Even if the CBN oil has 0.3% THC or less, this could still trigger a positive result if you take it in large amounts (1,000 or more milligrams).
Your best bet is to try and avoid any CBN products that might contain THC.
CBN Oil Benefits
There are some great reasons to use CBN oil. Many of these benefits actually overlap with other cannabinoids, making it a useful addition to your cannabis arsenal. Let’s take a look at how CBN can help.
Arthritis is a very common illness that affects adults as they age. The condition varies in terms of intensity, but suffice to say, it can be debilitating in some cases. Recently, studies found evidence that CBD is an effective anti-inflammatory.
But now, thanks to one rodent study published in the FSAEB Journal looked at the connection between cannabinoids and inflammation. The researchers analyzed several different compounds, CBN being just one of them. They determined:
“From the reports presented in this review, it may be concluded that several cannabinoids [including CBN] can be considered candidates for development as anti-inflammatory agents (Table 3). These compounds are generally free from the adverse effects associated with drugs now in clinical use. In addition, cannabinoids apparently act on inflammation through mechanisms that are different from those of other agents such as NSAIDs.”
Although this study is preliminary and only done on rats, it’s still encouraging and definitely warrants further investigation.
It’s not uncommon for many cannabis strains to possess antibacterial properties. This is typically due to the high presence of certain terpenes. But a study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine found that several cannabinoids – including CBN – were effective against antibiotic resistant bacteria:
“All five major cannabinoids (cannabidiol (1b), cannabichromene (2), cannabigerol (3b), Delta (9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (4b), and cannabinol (5)) showed potent activity against a variety of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) strains of current clinical relevance.”
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are a serious threat and could literally represent the end of modern medicine as we know it. If these results are any indication, we might be looking at a viable alternative if antibiotics are not an option for some patients.
A lot of people use marijuana to improve appetite. Unfortunately, not everyone enjoys the effects of THC. For the longest time, consumers touted CBD as an effective way to improve appetite without the high.
“Cannabinol also significantly increased the intake during hour 1 and total chow consumed during the test. Conversely, cannabidiol significantly reduced total chow consumption over the test period. This is the first time cannabinol has been shown to increase feeding. Therefore, cannabinol could, in the future, provide an alternative to the currently used and psychotropic ∆(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol-based medicines since cannabinol is currently considered to be non-psychotropic.”
CBD enthusiasts may find this news disappointing, but the good thing is that switching to CBN will actually have the effect the want – and with research to back it up.
Helps With Glaucoma
Glaucoma was one of the first conditions found to be treatable with medical marijuana. Again, THC was the cannabinoid that took the credit for this drug’s success. However, new research with rabbits found that CBN was just as effective:
“THC, CBN, and nabilone were active in lowering intraocular pressure (IOP) in rabbits.” Other studies prove CBD’s effects on Glaucoma and lowering of intraocular pressure.
Like the case with appetite, patients who don’t enjoy the high from THC (or simply can’t afford to be impaired due to the demands of daily life) could turn to CBN oil as an alternative.
The Insomnia Myth
CBN is well on its way to the mainstream, already gaining its label as the “sleepy cannabinoid.” Ironically, this couldn’t be more wrong. While studies on CBN yielded supposedly conclusive results about CBN and insomnia relief, further research found otherwise.
This is yet another classic example of “correlation does not equal causation.” There were several studies done on the topic, but one 1975 study available in the U.S. National Library of Medicine gave CBN, THC and a combination of both to a small group of subjects. Their findings were as follows:
“…the volunteers reported feeling drugged, drunk, dizzy, and drowsy under the delta9-THC condition, but not under the CBN condition [emphasis added]. With combined drug treatment, volunteers reported feeling more drugged, drunk, dizzy, and drowsy than under the delta9-THC condition alone.”
The entourage effect might be key here. Since THC is known to aid with sleep, CBN’s appears to complement the effect, despite being unable to cause sedation on its own.
To date, there’s no conclusive scientific evidence that CBN alone is effective for insomnia. Studies that did find links were plagued with flawed methodologies, or simply didn’t take into account that THC and other cannabinoids were present in their test materials.
Dr. Ethan Russo, an expert in cannabis research, believes that the myth stems from people consuming old cannabis and feeling more sedated. They assume that the THC degraded into CBN, causing the effect. However, CBN only makes up a small percentage of the total cannabinoid content.
THC will still be present in much larger amounts.
This doesn’t mean that CBN oil won’t help people sleep. The terpene content might make a difference, helping the entourage effect work its magic. However, CBN itself won’t help people sleep.