While cannabidiol (CBD), the main cannabinoid in hemp, has been extensively studied for its potential health uses, minor cannabinoids, including cannabigerol (CBG) and cannabinol (CBN), are making their way onto the scene as "new" cannabinoids that pack a punch.
Health experts agree that the best benefits from hemp extract come from whole-plant extracts, which take advantage of the plant's natural phytocannabinoids and terpene profile. Rather than one compound working in isolation, the active compounds work together to increase the effectiveness of the endocannabinoid system.
In this article, we'll investigate the truth about CBN isolate. Where does it come from, its limitations, and whether or not it's worth adding to your health regimen.
What Is CBN?
CBN stands for cannabinol. It's a naturally occurring minor cannabinoid harvested from both hemp and marijuana plants.
When researchers began investigating the compounds responsible for the psychotropic effects of marijuana use, they looked at CBN. CBN is the first cannabinoid ever to be extracted from cannabis in 1896 as it was thought to be the primary intoxicating compound.
However, researchers found that cannabinol is actually the byproduct of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) the main psychotropic cannabinoid. Higher concentrations of CBN occur as the plant matures and THC begins to break down from oxidation.
Like THC, CBN interacts with the CB1 receptors in the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). Cannabinol can produce mildly intoxicating effects, but at very high doses, so most people don't consider this compound psychoactive in the same sense as THC.
It's been implied by some marijuana enthusiasts that cannabinol is responsible for the "couch-lock" high from marijuana strains with abundant in CBN, and many people seek out high CBN strains to support sleep and relaxation.
What Is CBN Isolate?
CBN isolate sometimes called distillate is the pure CBN compound.
Like CBD isolate powder, CBN isolate extracts undergo multiple processing steps to have all other compounds and terpenes stripped for a product that's up to 99.9% pure CBN.
You can find CBN distillate in the form of pure isolate powder, which you can add to your food, tinctures, or smoke in a dab rig. While it's not a common product offering, you can find CBN isolate products presented similar to your favorite CBD goods as oils, capsules, gummies, and lotions.
How CBN Isolate Is Made?
In freshly budded hemp plants, less than 1% of the cannabinoid profile contains cannabinol . THC breaks down into CBN as the plant matures, so manufacturers will use older hemp crops to extract CBN isolate to use in oil or other popular products (gummies, lotions, vape oil, etc).
There are many ways a company can go about extracting compounds from hemp crops. Two of the most common ways in industrial production are with CO2 extraction and ethanol extraction methods.
These processes involve washing the harvested hemp plant with the solvent to separate the beneficial compounds from the large organic material. As the solvent or CO2 evaporates, you're left with a thick wax-like terpene-rich full spectrum hemp extract.
From here, the extract will undergo winterization and other processes to isolate the desired compound until you're left with a fine isolate powder that's up to 99.9% pure cannabinol.
The Dangers Of Synthetic CBN Isolate
Cannabinol (CBN) is a minor cannabinoid, which means it's not naturally found in high quantities, making it difficult to harvest CBN extracts on a large scale, and it's expensive.
Cannabinol isolate can also be synthetically produced in a lab.
However, synthetic CBN isolate and other lab-made cannabinoids remain illegal in the United States.
Unfortunately, many synthetic cannabinoid retailers have gotten away with misleading advertising, marketing these compounds 'natural' or as a "drug testing safe" method to experience a THC high.
Often these synthetic isolates aren't even derived from plants, and there's no evidence to suggest that synthetic cannabinoids produce therapeutic benefits.
Synthetic cannabinol has not been evaluated by the Food And Drug Administration (FDA) for safety. On top of this, some people can experience negative reactions from consuming synthetic cannabinoids, which can be life-threatening .
Can CBN Isolate Help With Poor Sleep Patterns?
You'll find manufacturers offering CBN isolate as a sleep-supporting supplement. However, there's not enough evidence to support CBN as a potent sedative on its own.
The idea that CBN was a natural sedative comes from research in the 1970s that investigated the "couch-lock" effect of marijuana use from aged flowers with higher concentrations of cannabinol. Researchers found no discernable sedative effects when distillate CBN oil was used on its own .
Leading cannabis researcher Dr. Ethan Russo suggests that the powerful sedative effects of CBN are misled and argues that CBN may only provide sleep-supporting qualities when combined with THC and CBD, making CBN isolate powder or oil redundant as a sleep aid .
Can CBN Isolate Get You High?
CBN may enhance the intoxicating effects of THC.
THC is the main psychotropic compound found in marijuana responsible for the intoxicating effects. The chemical structure of THC closely resembles a naturally occurring compound that our body produces (endocannabinoid) called anandamide, aka the "bliss molecule."
Anandamide and THC bind to CB1 receptors in the brain to activate the release of serotonin, which impacts one's sense of wellbeing and alters perceptions.
As a byproduct of THC, cannabinol can also bind to CB1 receptors, but its effects are much milder.
When combined with THC, CBN may enhance the overall effects of THC on appetite stimulation and intoxication .
On its own, CBN doesn't have an affinity to bind with CB1 receptors, so it's not considered an intoxicating compound, but it may result in mild intoxication in very large doses on its own —but people don't generally seek out CBN distillate in high doses to get high because it's expensive.
Can CBN Isolate Help With Mental Focus?
A study investigating possible treatments for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) —the most common adult-onset motor neuron disorder in mice — suggested that CBN shows promise to support healthy brain function.
Studies on the effects of CBN on mice found that CBN may have properties that reduce the disease progression of ALS without inducing psychotropic effects.
CBN isolate may support mental focus, but you're better off combining it with other compounds. If you're looking to support healthy brain function, it's best to combine CBN with CBD and other cannabinoids that support mental clarity and focus.
Can CBN Isolate Help With Healthy Mobility?
CBN may support a healthy inflammatory response by inhibiting the enzymes that activate inflammation. This can help with healthy joint mobility and a normal recovery post-workout.
Rather than reaching for an isolate, why not take cannabinol alongside other compounds that support these benefits? CBD has had extensive research for its benefits towards healthy mobility and recovery.
The Problematic Marketing Of CBN Isolate
It's no surprise that the hemp industry has seen a big boom in the past five years, with more research emerging on the potential health benefits of CBD, THC, CBG, and CBN and other CBD products in CBD industry.
Entrepreneurs rush to the market to offer products to consumers but staying relevant and ahead of the competition requires product innovation and clever marketing.
So, should you buy CBN isolates?
CBN isolates are a gimmicky marketing ploy.
You can expect to see more novel cannabinoid extracts hit the market too, but don't get fooled by any cannabinoid isolate.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is tightening marketing restrictions around hemp products to protect consumers. As a general rule, if a brand claims to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease, it's a red flag.
Why You Should Shop For Whole-Hemp Plant Extracts Over CBN Isolate
There's a concept in plant medicine known as synergy or "entourage effect." The naturally occurring compounds work in harmony to improve the active compound's efficacy and balance the effect profile.
You don't leverage this benefit with CBD isolate.
You can think of the cannabinoids working together in an acapella. While one compound or voice may produce a beautiful melody, you'll get a fuller and richer sound with layers of vocals that all contribute to the overall harmony.
Brands are offering CBD isolate oil as a "natural sleep aid." But we know that CBN on its own doesn't do much to support sleep, and it's best combined with THC and CBD to get the best benefits for relaxation.
It's clear that brands that make statements like this aren't putting their customers' best interest at the forefront of their practices, and you're better off steering clear of gimmicky products.
The Takeaway: CBN Isolate
If you're looking to buy CBN isolate, make sure you conduct your research. Don't let online brands deceive you into buying CBN isolate-related products without any scientific evidence behind their uses.
No hemp brand can ethically claim to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent diseases.
A full spectrum CBD product is likely your best bet if you're looking for a natural compound to support a night of restful sleep. Or you can look for a full-spectrum cannabis plant CBD oil that's enhanced with higher levels of naturally derived CBN.
As a general good practice, always refer to the company's certificate of analysis from an independent lab to ensure that the product contains what's advertised and safe for use. If a product sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Full spectrum CBD extracts contain CBN, up to 0.3% THC, and traces of minor cannabinoids such as CBG and CBC. If you're avoiding THC altogether, broad spectrum CBD extracts still contain a wide range of cannabinoids to leverage the entourage effect.
For more articles like this to learn about Nurogan CBN isolate brands and other hemp compounds, be sure to check out our blog.
Please reach out to us if you have any further questions and we'll be happy to speak with you.
- Karniol IG, Shirakawa I, Takahashi RN, Knobel E, Musty RE. Effects of delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabinol in man. Pharmacology. 1975;13(6):502-12.
- Russo, E. B. (2011). Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid‐terpenoid entourage effects. British journal of pharmacology, 163(7), 1344-1364.
- Nadulski, T., Sporkert, F., Schnelle, M., Stadelmann, A. M., Roser, P., Schefter, T., & Pragst, F. (2005). Simultaneous and sensitive analysis of THC, 11-OH-THC, THC-COOH, CBD, and CBN by GC-MS in plasma after oral application of small doses of THC and cannabis extract. Journal of analytical toxicology, 29(8), 782-789.
- Thomas, B. F., & Elsohly, M. (2015). The analytical chemistry of cannabis: Quality assessment, assurance, and regulation of medicinal marijuana and cannabinoid preparations. Elsevier.
- NIDA. 2018, February 5. Synthetic Cannabinoids (K2/Spice) DrugFacts. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/