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A Complete Guide To CBN Isolate (Cannabinol)

cbn isolate
Written by Alexandra Hicks

Cannabinol (CBN) is a cannabinoid non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis and hemp plants, and the methods for harnessing this compound are becoming increasingly technical.

When it comes to products other than flowers, whatever cannabinoid is being utilized needs to be extracted from the plant matter and processed. If you’re trying to manufacture a product with a very specific amount of CBN in it – medication for example that would require accuracy down to the milligram – you will need isolate.

But not just any CBN isolate or distillate will be acceptable though, you will need it to be made at a EU GMP facility. This applies to anyone in the world, as the industry is moving towards a more regulated entity, but GMP (good manufacturing practice) is especially important in the European cannabis and hemp industries.

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What is CBN?

Cannabinol, or CBN, is a non-psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant. It’s  becomes prevalent as the cannabis plant ages. It actually originates from THC, so as your flowers are exposed to the elements (oxygen and heat), THC molecules begin converting into CBN.

Freshly cured buds, the ones that are typically more sought after, are generally very low in cannabinol. Older, dry flower that’s been sitting around for a while will have much higher levels of this cannabinoid. That said, letting your buds dry out until they’re barely desirable is not necessarily the best way to get CBN, although it’s probably the easiest.

CBN can also be manufactured in a lab from THC that’s extracted from fresh cannabis plants. More and more brands are beginning to utilize this compound to create tinctures, edibles, and softgels. There are numerous medical benefits to using CBN, although there is often a lot of false advertising associated with this cannabinoid (more on that later).

Medical Benefits of CBN

Cannabinol has many of the same benefits as CBD and THC, however, it’s believed that CBN might be more effective for treating certain ailments than the aforementioned cannabinoids. They can also be combined for a more potent, entourage effect.

Bear in mind that studies on CBN are very limited, even by industry standards. But since this cannabinoid is non-intoxicating and can be sourced from old cannabis that may not have any other valuable use, it’s an important compound to continue exploring. That said, let’s discuss what the existing research does have to say about it.

CBN can be a potent antimicrobial. Researchers found that it effectively killed 3 different strains of MRSA – a type of staph bacteria that’s become dangerously resistant to traditional antibiotic medications. In a rodent study, researchers discovered that could also be used to delay the onset of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), as well as treat existing cases. ALS is a nervous system disorder that weakens the muscles.

Rats exposed to CBN increased the amount of food they ate per sitting – AKA, the munchies. The implication here is that CBN can be used to boost appetite in situations where a patient can’t use THC, whether for legal reasons or to avoid intoxication. Another study on rabbits found that CBN reduces ocular pressure, which is the root cause of vision loss from glaucoma. THC has this same effect on the eyes. While CBN hasn’t yet been shown to be more effective than pharmaceutical drugs, it could be a viable natural alternative for those who want to minimize their use of standard medications.

And finally, inflammation. Just like pretty much every other cannabinoid, CBN seems to be a worthwhile anti-inflammatory agent. A study on mice showed that CBN could reduce arthritis, as well as other conditions stemming from inflammation.

Over the next few years, we can expect to learn a lot more about CBN and what kind of impact this cannabinoid will have on human medicine.

The Endocannabinoid System

The reason CBN and other cannabinoids work for such a diverse range of conditions is because of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). The ECS is a network of receptors that can be found throughout the bodies of all mammals. We naturally create cannabinoids which bond to these receptors to regulate different processes in our bodies and maintain homeostasis. The ECS helps manage things such as immune function, appetite, sleep wake cycles, pain response, and the list goes on.

Get EU GMP-Certified Cannabinoid Isolates and Distillates

On the other hand, when we are ‘cannabinoid deficient’ our bodies become destabilized and no longer function optimally. It’s theorized that many illnesses stem from the inability to produce endocannabinoids. This is where supplementing with plant-based cannabinoids (phytocannabinoids) comes into play.

What is Isolate?

The most CBN extract on the market is isolate. As the name indicates, this product is made by completely isolating the cannabidiol from all the other plant matter and compounds. That means all other cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and inactive compounds are stripped from the extract, leaving only CBN. The final product is a fine white powder that has over 99% CBN. Basically, it’s an extra-refined distillate.

Because it’s odorless, tasteless, and highly concentrated, it’s a great to use in the manufacture of many medical, wellness, and retail products. Its purity means that 1 milligram of isolate equals exactly 1 milligram of CBN, whereas 1 milligram of less potent extract might have 0.5 milligrams of CBN, 0.3 milligrams of CBD, and 0.2 combination of other terpenes and compounds. This makes isolate very easy to use for specific dosing.

How is it made?

To make isolate, the CBN must be extracted from the plant – and there are numerous ways to do this. The industry gold standard and consumer favorite is CO2 extraction. The equipment is industrial and very pricey, but this method results in a very pure final product. A closed-loop system is used to cool CO2 to -56C, as the pressure inside the chamber is hiked up to 75psi.

The CO2 becomes “supercritical” at this stage and sits somewhere between a liquid and gaseous state. The CO2 is then passed through the closed chamber and, almost like a solvent, the cannabinoids and terpenes are extracted and remain intact. This process is called Supercritical CO2 Extraction. There’s also Subcritical CO2 Extraction which used cheaper equipment, lower pressure, and results in smaller yields.

A more cost-efficient but equally effective method is with an ethanol extraction system. Ethanol extraction involves applying the solvent ethanol directly to the hemp plant in order to extract the cannabinoids. Ethanol extraction has gotten a bad reputation as being unsafe, but that’s simply incorrect. Ethanol extraction is actually an FDA-approved method of extraction compounds from various plants in order to make food and medicines.

There is one issue with ethanol extraction, however. Certain compounds easily co-extract with ethanol, and the one of concern here is chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is a molecule that absorbs sunlight and converts it into plant energy. It also gives plants their green color. When using ethanol extraction, the chlorophyll may need to be stripped away in a separate process.

Why is CBN Isolate important?

Isolate can be used to make anything that needs CBN added to it – edibles, topicals, tinctures, softgels, nasal sprays, various pharmaceuticals, and the list goes on. Anything that requires precise dosing will benefit from isolate and distillate.

Cannabinoid isolate in crystal form

Better yet, if the product is manufactured in a GMP-certified facility. It’s already a requirement in Europe, India, and many other countries/continents that all medications, supplements, and cosmetics must be GMP-certified. And while the North American market is currently an unregulated free-for-all, this is expected to change over the next few years.

Where to Get CBN Isolate

We have partnered with some leading suppliers of CBN isolate so we can ship globally. We offer the best pricing and have the ability to accommodate extremely large orders.

Please contact us below for pricing. We have both EU GMP CBN Isolate and US CBN Isolate. Minimum order 100g.

To place an order, or if you need more information, contact us directly at or use the form below:

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    About the author

    Alexandra Hicks

    Managing editor at Cannadelics and U.S based journalist, helping spread the word about the many benefits of using cannabis and psychedelics.