Types of Cannabinoids

What Does CBN Do? Does CBN Have Therapeutic Properties?


All of these are just a fraction of the total number of cannabinoids we’ve found in the cannabis plant to date. An even smaller fraction if we count the cannabinoids that we haven’t yet discovered.

So, we’re here to shed some light on a rather important one.

CBN is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that has been turning heads across the industry. CBN's potential effects are crucial to understanding the invaluable impact that cannabinoids can have on our lives.

So let’s take a closer look at what we’re getting into here.

What Is CBN?

The cannabis plant contains hundreds of components. Among which stand out ‘cannabinoids,’ the compounds that give cannabis its main attributes and effects on the body.

From a total of 113 cannabinoids identified to date, only Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is considered psychoactive. The remaining 112 cannabinoids are considered non-psychoactive.

Within the list of non-psychoactive components in cannabis, you can find Cannabidiol (CBD), Cannabigerol (CBG), and Cannabinol (CBN) among the most popular.

CBN is a non-psychoactive component derived from the naturally occurring form of THC, THC-A. When cannabis ages and THC-A oxidizes, it can become CBN. This is the reason why CBN is found in more significant quantities within aged plants.

While CBN can be created spontaneously, it is a rare find as a consequence of natural processes. By carefully exposing cannabis plants to external influences like heat and light, manufacturers can promote the breakdown and oxidization of THC into CBN.

CBN was the first phytocannabinoid (naturally occurring cannabinoid) to be successfully isolated in its pure form. Because of its relationship with THC, researchers initially thought that CBN was responsible for the intoxicating effects THC has on the body.

According to reports, older cannabis extracts left unrefrigerated and with exposure to light could contain higher CBN levels. 

Potential Effects and Benefits of CBN [CBN Uses & What Is CBN Used For?]

There is a massive gap in the literature available on CBN.

But as research continues to develop and regulations continue to grow more inclusive, scientists have shed some light on the potential effects of CBN in the human body. 

The following being the most noteworthy:

1. Antibacterial Properties

In a study published in 2008, all five significant cannabinoids (including CBN) showed potent activity against various MRSA bacteria, which is a strain of bacteria attributed to high resistance levels against traditional antibiotics. Although this is only a ‘one-off’ study, the conclusions promise antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria [2].

2. Neuroprotective Properties

A study assessed CBN's effect on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, concluding that CBN delayed motor abnormalities on Day 17, but disease progression was not affected. This would go hand-in-hand with the usual behavior that other cannabinoids have by affecting symptoms but not their conditions [3].

Another study found that CBN reduced LDH activity, displaying potent antioxidant activity in cerebral granule cells and activity that could cause an impact on Huntington's Disease. CBN's neuroprotective properties are not conclusively confirmed, but the studies available suggest a promising outcome [4].

3. Appetite Pattern Modification

If you’re looking for a product that can stimulate or inhibit appetite without any psychoactive effects, then CBN might be the way to go. A study that assessed rat feeding patterns under CBN treatment. The study found that CBN induced a mediated increase in food consumption.

The same study found that CBD had an adverse effect and rats consuming CBD were found to have a decreased chow consumption [5].

4. Protection Against Glaucoma

InMed released results for the use of CBN in Glaucoma. According to official statements on the research, “the results highlight the potential for CBN to contribute an independent neuroprotective effect in addition to the standard intraocular pressure reduction approach to treating glaucoma.” This adds to the belief that CBN could be used for Glaucoma in parallel to positive neuroprotection effects [6].

Similar conclusions have come from a 2016 study that suggests cannabinoids can effectively lower ocular blood flow, eventually positively affecting the reduction of intraocular pressure. This makes cannabinoids a potential treatment for Glaucoma. But in this study, the specific relationship between CBN and Glaucoma needs to be studied further [7].

What Does CBN Do? [Misconceptions & Taboos]

The main misconception with CBN is that it may be psychoactive in itself because it comes from THC. However, CBN is completely non-intoxicating.

Because CBN may be found within aged cannabis buds, these buds may still carry a significant THC amount, which would explain the confusion.

Feeling a more potent high when you consume different cannabinoids together is a popular theory known as the ‘entourage effect.’ The Entourage Effect means that cannabinoids may enhance each other’s effects on the body, which would explain a more potent THC effect when consumed with CBN.

CBN on its own does NOT cause a ‘high.’

CBD vs. CBN [What’s the Difference?]

CBD is the second most prevalent cannabinoid extracted from cannabis today. It is mainly removed from hemp sources and is considered federally legal in the U.S.

CBD, like CBN, is non-psychoactive.

This had lead to significant confusion on exactly what the difference is between CBD and CBN.

For starters, it seems to be that CBD and CBN may have the opposite effect on appetite. While CBN has been shown to stimulate appetite, CBD has been attributed to both appetite-stimulating and inhibiting properties. 

The way CBD performs on the body will depend on the person’s specific conditions (weight, tolerance, etc.) and the total quantity of CBD taken. This same type of behavior has not been proved with CBN.

While high-CBD strains can be grown naturally, specifically with hemp harvests, the same cannot be said for CBN. Because of the way CBN is produced within the cannabis plant, high-CBN strains are not a thing.

However, both compounds can be extracted from the plant to be used as raw materials using similar extraction methods. 

Another major difference between the two is that CBN seems to promote a sedating ‘entourage effect’ while CBD is said to lower the intoxication effects of THC. 

Both compounds interact with the same system, the body’s endocannabinoid system, and much more research is needed to understand where else they differ.

Hemmfy articles and blogs are meant to entertain and educate. However, we are not medical professionals and do not intend to give medical advice through them.

The knowledge around CBD and other cannabis-derived products is growing and constantly changing, as does their legal status. Hence, we recommend checking with your local authorities and a licensed physician prior to consumption.


[1] Non-psychotropic plant cannabinoids: new therapeutic opportunities from an ancient herb. (2009). Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, 30(12), 609. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tips.2009.10.007

[2] Appendino, G. (2008b). Antibacterial cannabinoids from Cannabis sativa: a structure-activity study. PubMed. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18681481/

[3] Weydt, P. (2005). Cannabinol delays symptom onset in SOD1 (G93A) transgenic mice without affecting survival. PubMed. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16183560/

[4] Aiken, C. T. (2004). A cell-based screen for drugs to treat Huntington’s disease. PubMed. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15262266/

[5] Farrimond, J. A. (2012). Cannabinol and cannabidiol exert opposing effects on rat feeding patterns. PubMed. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22543671/

[6] Cannabinol CBN - Rare Cannabinoid Under Development for Glaucoma. (2021, March 9). InMed Pharmaceuticals. https://www.inmedpharma.com/science/inm-088-for-glaucoma/

[7] Novack, G. D. (2016). Cannabinoids for treatment of glaucoma. Current Opinion in Ophthalmology, 27(2), 146–150. https://doi.org/10.1097/icu.0000000000000242

Simon Cartagena

Simon Cartagena is a full-time cannabis copywriter. This has led him to write for companies like Hemmfy.com where he acts as Senior Content Writer and other world-renowned cannabis publications. Simon has created Content Marketing strategies and articles that have helped company revenues increase by up to 1,000%. Simon’s goal is to help people understand cannabis in an industry where misinformation seems to be predominant.