CBD (cannabidiol) and CBN (cannabinol) are 2 of more than 100 cannabinoids that have thus far been identified in the cannabis plant. They are compounds that can interact with receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system, a system which regulates a range of physiological functions from appetite to mood to the quality of our sleep and more. The study of cannabinoids is an emerging field, and each cannabinoid has a different makeup and induces different effects in the body. More is being learned about them every day as regulations ease and research intensifies.
CBD is the second-most famous cannabinoid after THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), though it does not produce the intoxicating effect that THC does when consumed. In fact, rather than produce any sense of euphoria or altered state of mind, CBD has a calming effect on the body. It is often used to treat pain and anxiety and has also been found to be an effective anti-inflammatory.
For now, CBN is less well-known than CBD or THC, but it is no less useful. Like CBD, CBN is a non-intoxicating compound with wide-ranging therapeutic potential. It promotes a more sedate feeling in the body, which can help people sleep. Research has also shown that CBN has analgesic or pain-relieving capabilities, and it was actually the first cannabinoid identified by scientists.
CBN results from the oxidation and decomposition of THC, which is broken down by heat and light. Because CBN is dependent on THC levels within the plant, there is no way to produce a high-CBN strain of cannabis. CBD, on the other hand, is not dependent on THC levels within the plant, and some strains of cannabis can be bred to contain greater amounts of it. Another difference between CBD and CBN has to do with their effect on appetite, with CBD acting as an appetite-suppressant and CBN an appetite-stimulant.
Isolated extracts from the cannabis plant allow manufacturers to take advantage of the properties of each cannabinoid individually without exposure to the effects of any others. At the same time, it is known that combining CBD and CBN can increase the analgesic effect of each. As research continues, and more cannabinoids are discovered and put to use, their therapeutic potential will continue to increase.
The endocannabinoid system impacts so many of our bodily and cognitive functions. Cannabinoids can therefore affect even our hormones, neurotransmitters and cellular activity. CBD and CBN interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system in their own distinct ways, producing some results that are similar such as pain-relief and others that are quite different. Regardless, they both offer a wide array of therapeutic uses and the potential for new and innovative applications in the future.