Dear Nurse... Health & Wellness

What is CBN?

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Oov Reader: “I read something online today about aged cannabis being high in CBN. What does that cannabinoid do and is old cannabis really okay to consume?”


Cannabinol (CBN) is just one of the hundreds of chemicals that naturally occur in the cannabis plant. We still don’t know how many there actually are! Unlike cannabinoids THC and CBD, which occur in larger concentrations and have well known effects and therapeutic benefits, CBN is found in sparser concentrations and most consumers are not as familiar with its potential therapeutic uses.

CBN is a metabolite of THC, meaning that as the chemical structure of THC changes over time and is exposed to oxygen and UV light such as sunlight, it transforms into CBN. This is why CBN can be found in higher concentrations in aged cannabis. In most cases, it’s because the cannabis has been improperly stored.

The real question remains: is it okay to consume old cannabis? The answer is YES! Like any “herb,” cannabis loses its potency over time (as the THC degrades into CBN). Old, dried-out weed isn’t as flavorful as well-stored flower, and can be harsh when smoked. Despite the circulated rumors, older cannabis cannot cause illness.

While clinical research is still uncovering more about CBN, this cannabinoid appears to be useful primarily for its sedative effects. According to Steep Hill, one of the leading cannabis research labs, 5 mg of CBN is comparable to taking 10 mg of Valium. Like other chemicals naturally occurring in marijuana, CBN exhibits the “entourage effect” with THC and CBD to help induce sleep. Indica strains are notably higher in CBN than most other strains.

Besides its sedative properties, CBN has other promising uses, too. It is thought to be anti-inflammatory through its interaction with the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). The ECS helps regulate our overall health and wellness by maintaining the mind-body balance. Similar to CBD, CBN does not bind directly to ECS CB2 receptors. Instead, it helps increase levels of our endogenous cannabinoids — chemicals that occur naturally in our bodies and interact with the ECS — inciting our immune cells to decrease inflammation.

Studies have shown that CBN can provide anticonvulsant effects, which may be useful in treating epilepsy, and could be used as an appetite stimulant. CBN also plays a role in bone healing and formation. It mobilizes stem cells found in bone marrow and helps them differentiate into healthy, new tissue thus healing fractures and other injuries. Because CBN is derived from THC and has some mild psychoactive properties, it also is a powerful pain reducer and could relieve chronic pain.

Remember that increased concentrations of CBN, the natural by-product of the cannabis aging process, may provide other beneficial effects as well. Keep an eye out for innovative medicinal brands that feature products with CBN that help with sleep and chronic pain.


As a Certified Nurse-Midwife, Sheri Matteo is passionate about women’s health with over 20yrs experience in clinical care. She believes in an integrated approach to wellness that includes the four pillars of education, nutrition, exercise and meditation.  Cannabis can play an important role in establishing and maintaining physiological balance, supporting the above.  As a member of both the American College of Nurse-Midwives and the American Cannabis Nurses Association, Sheri is dedicated to providing women the most up to date information about cannabis for health and access to quality products.


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