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What Is CBN Cannabinoid, And What Can It be Used For?

What Is CBN Cannabinoid

With all the recent hype around cannabis, it may seem like the plant is a modern medicine. But, surprise! Cannabinol (CBN) dates back to the late 19th century. 

CBN was the first cannabis compound isolated from cannabis extract and is found in trace amounts in the cannabis plant. Once the cannabis plant is processed and stored, the hydrogen molecules in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) break down, producing CBN. 

CBN interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system. When this happens, it activates both cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid receptor type 2 (CB2). These receptor systems play a key role in several of the body’s vital functions, including immune responses and hormone regulation, among others. 

CB1 regulates our central and peripheral nervous systems, while CB2 assists with our immune system responses — including the production and migration of immune cells. As our body metabolizes CBN, it is converted into 11-hydroxycannabinol (11-OH-CBN), which bonds more effectively with CB1 than it does with CB2. 


  • CBN interacts immediately with our immune system functions, and as it breaks down into 11-OH-CBN, it has “slow release” interactions with our central and peripheral nervous systems.

What Is CBN Cannabinoid? 

Studies indicate CBN has immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory properties, found to be effective in treating chronic pain. CBN’s strong interaction with CB1 (which controls our central nervous system) indicates the potential for treatment of neuropsychological disorders and neurodegenerative diseases like ALS, cancer, and depression. 

Unlike THC and most other cannabinoids, CBN does not have any double-bond isomers or stereoisomers. This means CBN’s chemical formula (C21H26O2) is unique among cannabinoids — like a rare and elusive shiny pokemon.

Cannabinoids have several therapeutic applications, including chronic pain management, treatment of sleep conditions, and alleviation of symptoms from post-traumatic stress disorder. People who use cannabinoids report feelings of mild euphoria, relaxation, and stress relief, among other benefits.

What Are Isomers? 

Isomers are defined as one of two or more compounds, radicals, or ions that contain the same number of atoms of the same elements but differ in structural arrangement and properties

In simple terms: if two or more compounds use all the same pieces with slight variations in their assembly, they are isomers. 

Imagine identical Lego sets with the exact same number of pieces. In each of these Lego sets, every single block has an identical match. Every last brick, block, and stud is accounted for, the shapes and colors are uniform, and each set has pieces that line up perfectly with their counterparts.

Imagine some of these Lego sets have minor variations in their building instructions. Every piece is used during construction, and each brick, block, and stud is accounted for. However, because the building instructions had variations, the end result is slightly different. These completed Lego sets are isomers of one another.

Because CBN has a unique chemical structure (no isomers or identical Lego sets), it’s different from other cannabinoids and can interact with our endocannabinoid system in ways other compounds can’t. 

In our endocannabinoid system, CBN binds with CB2, also known as the G-protein coupled receptor. G-protein coupled receptors are messenger proteins that can communicate and pass through cellular walls and are able to coordinate and protect vital immune cells from both inside and out. 

This process enables the adenylyl cyclase pathway, also known as the cAMP-dependent pathway (cAMP), which provides essential functions for vital organs like the brain, heart, and kidney. If the cAMP-dependent pathway is unregulated or dysfunctional, it could eventually lead to several conditions and diseases, including inflammation, cancer, and depression.

These systems also assist with the production and regulation of hormones, enzymes, and proteins, including the activation of protein kinases — a unique kinase that can act on other proteins (most kinases can only interact with lipids, carbohydrates, and other molecules). This unlocks several interesting possibilities.

Basically, CBN and 11-OH-CBN have backstage passes to the VIP section of our neurological, physiological, hormonal, and immune functions. 

What Is CBN Used For?

CBN and its metabolite, 11-OH-CBN, work together and bind effectively with both CB1 and CB2. Because these cannabinoids activate the receptors in sync, it allows for parallel communication on both receptors simultaneously. As CBN fades into 11-OH-CBN, the secondary messenger proteins communicate and migrate in tandem to allow CB1 and CB2 to coordinate between our nervous systems, brain, and body. 

First, CBN activates CB2, assisting with immune system responses, cell production, and cell migration. As CBN is metabolized, it produces 11-OH-CBN. This cannabinoid activates CB1, coordinating with our nervous systems. This combination of immediate and “slow release” effects indicates potential for treatment in several areas.

Although research on CBN is in its relative infancy, studies indicate several potential benefits and treatment applications, including:

  • Treatment of auto-immune conditions. This 1997 study found CBN was an effective inhibitor of adenylyl cyclase, an enzyme with key regulatory roles in essentially all cells. If adenylyl cyclase is uninhibited or unregulated, it can lead to several chronic health issues.
  • Cancer treatment. This 2013 study found that increasing intracellular cAMP concentrations inhibited pancreatic cancer cells. This 2012 study indicates that anti-cytokine therapy may be effective in treating forms of colorectal cancer that are linked to inflammation.
  • Treatment of chronic neuropathic pain. These studies suggest cannabinoids are “moderately effective in reducing chronic pain and that side effects are comparable to existing treatments, suggesting that cannabinoids can play a useful role in the management of chronic pain.”
  • Anti-inflammatory treatment. This 2008 study found that activating the cAMP-dependent ​​protein kinase and reducing or inhibiting other proteins was an effective anti-inflammatory treatment.  
  • Mental and emotional health issues, including depression. This 2021 study indicates CBN and other cannabinoids may provide positive therapeutic effects.

CBN also shows promise in treating conditions like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and this 2006 study found that a synthesized cannabinoid was effective in inhibiting ​​angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels). 

CBN activates multiple receptors in our endocannabinoid system. Because its interactions aren’t limited to a single receptor, it spreads activity across the endocannabinoid system and increases the bioavailability and efficacy of the compound. This means the effects and potential benefits of CBN are quicker, more efficient, and more potent.

Are There Any Side Effects of CBN?

According to Forbes, drowsiness is a possible side effect of CBN, and it may result in a positive drug test. There may be other side effects associated with CBN consumption, but at the moment, there isn’t much research or knowledge on the subject. 

The use or consumption of other cannabinoids can have some side effects. While most are mild, potential side effects include:

  • Reduced appetite
  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue
  • Liver injury
  • Possible infertility in males
  • Mood changes
  • Lack of alertness
  • Irritability

Research on cannabinoids is relatively new, so there isn’t as much data on the potential benefits and side effects of these compounds. Additional research will provide clarification on what to expect when using cannabinoids.

Although it’s unclear whether CBN has side effects similar to other cannabinoids, it is a possibility. Always consult with your physician before using any cannabis or hemp products.

How CBN Compares to CBD

Unlike CBD, which is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, CBN can produce mild psychoactive effects. Because CBN is derived from THC, trace psychoactive elements remain — although the effects are much less potent.

How To Use CBN

What Is CBN Oil, And Is the Isolate Worth It?

While a CBN isolate would certainly provide the benefits of the individual cannabinoid, isolates are not the most effective method of consumption. Cannabinoids are most effective when they work alongside other cannabinoids, each increasing the efficiency of the others and vice versa. This is known as the entourage effect.

To experience the potential benefits of CBN and take advantage of the entourage effect, we recommend raw cannabinoid powder from Field Queen. You’ll get trace amounts of CBN, plus 10 other cannabinoids, in one simple capsule.

Whether you take a capsule at night for inflammation, add the powder to your morning coffee for a quick boost, or add it to your pre- or post-workout for recovery and relaxation, Field Queen’s raw cannabis powder is a phenomenal way to experience the benefits of CBN.

Field Queen’s Raw Cannabis Powder

Field Queen’s raw cannabinoid powder is the most natural cannabis product on earth. It’s derived directly from the raw plant (only water is removed) and contains terpenes, flavonoids, and numerous cannabinoids, including acidic cannabinoids that are only found in the plant.