Cannabinoids Cannabinol (CBN) is arguably the third best-known cannabinoid after THC and CBD. Mildly psychoactive, CBN is thought to act as a weak agonist of both the CB1 and CB2 receptors, and is known to have various medical uses including as an anticonvulsant and antiemetic. CBN may also be partly responsible for the sedative effect of some cannabis varieties.
Cannabinol (CBN) is arguably the third best-known cannabinoid after THC and CBD. Mildly psychoactive, CBN is thought to act as a weak agonist of both the CB1 and CB2 receptors, and is known to have various medical uses including as an anticonvulsant and antiemetic. CBN may also be partly responsible for the sedative effect of some cannabis varieties.
CBN is a product of THC degradation, and has the chemical formula C21H26O2 and a molar mass of 310.43 g/mol. The unstable THC molecule, which has the formula C21H30O2, loses four hydrogen atoms (which give the THC molecule the tetrahydro- prefix) to form CBN; this process is facilitated by heat and light, and does not require the action of an enzyme.
As with all other cannabinoids, CBN is a hydrophobic, lipophilic molecule. As well as being soluble in fats, it also dissolves readily in solvents such as ethanol or methanol. The melting point of CBN is approximately 77°C, and the boiling point is 185°C. At room temperature, CBN is a colourless crystalline solid.
Cannabinol in the EC system
As well as being a partial agonist of both main cannabinoid receptors, CBN has been shown to inhibit the action of the almost ubiquitous adenylyl cyclase reaction, which catalyses the vital energy-transporting enzyme ATP and converts it to cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), another important signalling enzyme, and pyrophosphate.
CBN has also been demonstrated to suppress immune cell function, as well as exhibiting some antiemetic and anticonvulsant effect, although the latter two properties are far weaker than those found in THC and CBD. However, various derivatives of CBN are currently being studied for their pharmacological properties, Nabilone being the best-known of these.
Use in medicine
Nabilone, traded under the name Cesamet in many counties including the U.K., has been extensively studied and is currently available on prescription as an antiemetic and treatment for neuropathic pain. According to subjective reports, nabilone does not induce a “high” and instead induces a soothing effect on the body.
Nabilone has been demonstrated to ameliorate symptoms of fibromyalgia, chronic pain, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis, among many others. Nabilone is also effective against inflammatory bowel disease, particularly ulcerative colitis.