“THC” may be the cannabis acronym you’re most familiar with, but new research indicates minor cannabinoids–such as CBN and CBG–may have medicinal qualities that were previously overlooked.
Cannabinol (CBN) and cannabigerol (CBG) are rare cannabinoids found in very low concentrations in the cannabis sativa plant. These minor cannabinoids aren’t known to cause the intoxicating psychoactive effects associated with THC, but may hold a key to future understanding of the plant as medicine.
CBN forms when THC degrades due to exposure to heat, air, or light. It can also be produced synthetically. Some preclinical studies suggest CBN can be therapeutic in a few ways.
Reducing the Effects and Symptoms of Glaucoma: In clinical trials conducted by InMed Pharmaceuticals research showed that CBN may be useful in treating glaucoma, which causes vision loss and blindness. High eye pressure is associated with glaucoma, and it’s thought that lowering that pressure can slow the condition.
InMed Pharmaceuticals’ in vitro study found that treating certain retinal cells with a topical CBN formula resulted in a high level of cell survival when the cells were exposed to elevated pressure conditions. CBN outperformed cannabidiol (CBD) and THC in these tests. CBN also exhibits neuroprotective properties in studies, meaning that it can protect nervous system cells by significantly reducing or preventing natural cell death.
Relieving Chronic Muscle Pain: A 2019 study on rats found CBN, CBD and a mix of the two cannabinoids decreased muscle sensitization. The research suggests CBN might provide pain relief for chronic muscle pain disorders such as fibromyalgia, but more studies are needed to know for sure.
CBD vs. CBN: What’s the Difference?
Although it’s similar to fellow minor cannabinoid CBN, CBD isn’t derived directly from THC, but rather exists independently within the plants. CBD has been studied more extensively in clinical settings than CBN, and it’s more popular in mainstream retail products.
Research supports several therapeutic benefits of CBD, but CBN is still a bit of a mystery. Both CBN and CBD tend to bind with CB2 receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system, which plays a role in central nervous system function and helps the body react to both internal and external stimuli.
Both CBD and THC start as CBGA, the acidic form of CBG. CBGA gets the moniker “mother of all cannabinoids” because it is the precursor to many more well-known cannabinoids, including CBD and THC. Every cannabis plant contains CBGA, but as the plant matures this compound is converted into other cannabinoids. This is why younger cannabis plants contain higher concentrations of CBG.
CBG is believed to have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, making it a potential therapy for chronic pain conditions such as arthritis or jointpain. It’s also been shown to be effective in reducing inflammation in the gut, which can help with conditions like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Cannabigerol (CBG) works by binding to both CB1 and CB2 receptors in the brain. It’s thought to strengthen the function of anandamide, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in enhancing pleasure and motivation, regulating appetite and sleep, and alleviating pain.
CBG is derived from young cannabis plants because they contain higher amounts of CBG than fully developed plants. Certain strains of cannabis have higher CBG content than other strains. These strains are specifically cultivated to produce higher quantities of CBG. Jack Frost, White Widow, and Biscotti are a few strains known for their high CBG percentages.
Due to the difficulty of getting CBG, cannabis growers experiment with cross-breeding and genetic manipulation to help cannabis plants produce more CBG.
CBN and CBG in Popular Dispensary Products
Kiva Camino 5:1 Gummies: California-based edibles company Kiva Brands were an early CBN adopter. Introduced in January 2020, Kiva Brands’ Camino Midnight Blueberry gummies contain 1 part CBN to 5 parts THC. Relaxing terpenes like myrcene and linalool, chamomile and lavender oils work synergistically together to create Kiva’s most tranquil product.
Incredibles – Snoozzzeberry Gummy – 5:1 THC:CBN: Incredibles from Green Thumb Industries has also risen to the top of national product rankings lists for their Snoozzzeberry gummy products that contain both CBN and CBG and the Snoozeberry Chocolate Bar, which has 5:1 CBN to THC. Locate these products locally at https://iloveincredibles.com/order-online/.
Ohio processor Beneleaves offers a wide variety of products that contain CBN and CBG. A few of BeneLeaves products include: Hypnos + CBG Lotion 295mg, Beneleaves C&C Sugar Free Pink Lemonade + CBG Gummies, and their Hypnos + CBG vape cartridge.
Ask your dispensary budtender for more specific guidance on the products they carry that contain minor cannabinoids like CBN and CBG and their percentages. Even if it isn’t available online, you may ask to inspect the labeling of your selected product at the dispensary before purchase.
Author: Gabrielle Dion Visca
Gabrielle has been writing and editing professionally for the medical and wellness industries for more than 20 years. She’s held positions with The Journal of Pediatrics, Livestrong, The Cincinnati Enquirer, and Patient Pop. She currently writes articles about medical marijuana for Duber Medical, and is the founder of the Ohio cannabis journalism non-profit, MedicateOH.