CBD vs CBN (cannabinol)
By: Nicole Sifers
CBD vs CBN
Not all that long ago, CBD was a relatively unknown plant element. Few people had even heard of it.
As the fledgling hemp industry expanded, stories about CBD’s health and wellness potential began attracting a lot of attention.
Soon, adults of all ages were embracing this non-intoxicating cannabinoid. So please tell me more regarding CBD vs CBN…
Today, there’s another cannabinoid generating a considerable amount of attention, CBN.
Although there’s little risk of CBN replacing CBD in the hearts of devoted enthusiasts any time soon, many CBD users seem genuinely impressed by CBN’s considerable…
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Cannabinoid Blends – 1:1 Ratios, Entourage Effect, and Deals
We have reached a turning point in the cannabis industry, where, as consumers, we now have more choices than we know what to do with. When I was younger, shopping for weed consisted of calling one of the 3 or 4 dealers in my area and picking up whatever flower strain was available from whoever had the best product or lowest price, or a combination of the two. Now, whether you live in a legal state or not, you have options – from classic flowers, to vape products, edibles, topicals, and so much more.
Obviously, legal markets are rife with product variety, but even in prohibition states you can check out smoke shops, gas stations, or online retailers and find a myriad of alternative cannabinoids; some intoxicating and some not; some safe and some sketchy. The more popular products are often those containing blends of three or more different cannabinoid and terpene compounds.
According to recent surveys, nearly half of all cannabis consumers prefer to use products that contain more than one cannabinoid, among the most popular being 1:1 blends. Knowing what we know about the entourage effect and how different plant compounds work together synergistically to provide the highest level of benefits, it’s no surprise that people are excited to try new mixes. But how exactly do these blends work? What are the best combinations? And what different effects can you expect to experience?
Cannabis science has come a really long way since the initial discovery of individual cannabinoids back in the 1940s. To this day we continue to uncover new and exciting things about this incredible plant. Remember to subscribe to The Cannadelics Weekly Newsletter all the latest news and industry stories, as well as exclusive deals on flowers, vapes, edibles, and other products. Also save big on Delta 8, Delta 9 THC, Delta-10 THC, THCO, THCV, THCP & HHC products by checking out our “Best-of” lists!
Alright, so maybe you weren’t expecting math terms in your weed article, but in this case, at least it’s a simple concept. A ratio is a measurement of comparison, and is written with one side against the other. In terms of cannabis products, it generally denotes the amount of THC vs CBD in milligrams, though it can account for any comparison between any compounds. THC and CBD are the two main cannabinoids of the cannabis plant, but some formulations will contain high enough levels of CBN or CBC, for example, that they are included in the ratio.
A 1:2 ratio means that for every one milligram on the first side, there are two on the other. So a product with a THC/CBD ratio of 1:2 could have 6mg of THC to 12mg of CBD or 8mg of THC to 16mg of CBD. A ratio always has the compounds it refers to listed, and goes according to order. If its THC/CBD, then the first number in the ratio is for THC, and the second is for CBD. If the letters are switched, then the accompanying numbers switch sides as well.
Let’s say you have a ratio of THC/CBD 5:2. Then a product with such a formulation could have 20mg of THC to 8mg of CBD. For every 5mg of THC, there are 2mg of CBD. Now, let’s say it’s a formulation that contains something else, like THC/CBD/CBN, then a ratio might look like this 3:2:1, and means that for every 3mg of THC, there are 2mg of CBD, and 1mg of CBN. Therefore, a product with this ratio designation could have 12mg of THC, 8mg of CBD, and 4mg of CBN.
The 1:1 ratio refers to products that have equal amounts of THC and CBD, or very close to equal amounts. The amount is whatever a producer decides on, but it only counts as a 1:1 ratio if it’s the same on both sides. So a product could have 15mg of THC and 15mg of CBD, or 10mg of THC and 10mg of CBD.
Sometimes the amounts are just slightly off, giving one a tiny edge over the other, but still close to this general ratio. Think of a product that contains 20mg of THC and 19mg of CBD. It’s not exactly the same, but rather than looking at it as a ratio of 20:19, we can also consider this a 1:1.
The Entourage Effect
First noted in 1998 by Professors Raphael Mechoulam and Shimon Ben-Shabat, the entourage effect is a mechanism by which plant compounds work together, often resulting in more noticeable effects compared to when they are isolated and used individually. With cannabis, the entourage effect refers to the way different cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids offer the best health benefits and psychoactive effects when combined, and only when consuming the entire plant in its natural stat
This has been attributed to the way the combination of compounds increases the activity of CB receptors one and two. Because these receptors are found throughout the entire body, the human endocannabinoid system plays a critical role in modulating many different physiological functions such as immune response, sleep/wake cycles, appetite, communication between cells, mental health, and more.
In 2001, two highly notable researchers Ethan Russo (MD, is a board-certified neurologist, psychopharmacology researcher, and author) and John McPartland (DO, MS, University of Vermont, Department of Family Medicine), published a paper titled “Cannabis and Cannabis Extracts: Greater Than the Sum of Their Parts.” This research paper revisits the claims of Mechoulam and Ben-Shabat regarding how cannabinoids act with other cannabinoids, as well as their interactions with secondary compounds such as terpenes and flavonoids.
Their research found supporting evidence that “extracts rich in both cannabinoids and terpenes increased pharmacological activities that strengthened and broadened clinical applications and improved the therapeutic index.” Simply put, the effects all-around are better when these compounds are allowed to do what they do naturally and work together.
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FDA Going After Delta-8 Companies
It was coming. We knew it by Shopify. And whatever happened is probably just the beginning of the story. We know the government isn’t thrilled about the cannabinoid industry, and now its making its first big, direct move, by using the FDA to go after delta-8 THC companies.
The FDA going after delta-8 companies is a predictable move, but who knows how this will end. We specialize in cannabis and psychedelics reporting, which you can follow along with by signing up for the THC Weekly Newsletter. You’ll also get prime access to deals on an array of cannabis products like vapes, edibles, and smoking paraphernalia. Plus, we’ve got tons of cannabinoid compounds like delta-8 THC as well. Please remember, *cannabinoid compounds are not preferred by everyone. We only support people buy products they are comfortable with.
What’s the news?
The CBD industry is already aware of how much the FDA doesn’t like it. The FDA has sent out letters to tons of companies over the years, reminding them about federal laws, and to stop producing and selling products that go against them. For the most part, this hasn’t had the biggest impact, and CBD, which is now cleared for medical use by the UN via updates to the Single Convention, is found pretty much everywhere.
On May 4th, 2022, the FDA made its first big, direct move in the cannabinoid space, by sending out warning letters to delta-8 companies, warning them that the products they are producing and selling, violate federal law. Five companies were targeted thus far, but perhaps more will receive letters in the future. After all, Shopify had to remove a lot of products, and the very same vendors are the targets of such letters.
The companies targeted by the FDA for their delta-8 products, are ATLRx Inc., BioMD Plus LLC, Delta 8 Hemp, Kingdom Harvest LLC, and M Six Labs Inc. These warning letters don’t leave CBD out, making mention of the company violations on that front too. According to Jonathan Havens, co-chair of Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr’s Cannabis Law Practice and the Food and Beverage Practice, “the five warning letters represent the first enforcement actions taken by FDA against delta-8 marketers.”
Part of the issue has to do with medical claims. According to the government agency, there are no approved drugs that contain delta-8, and so using delta-8 to make any claim for a medication, means making an unapproved claim, for a drug which is also unapproved. The FDA also attacked the idea of the mis-branding of products, with the complaints of not giving good enough instructions, as well as putting delta-8 in food products.
Said FDA Principal Deputy Commissioner, Janet Woodcock, “The FDA is very concerned about the growing popularity of delta-8 THC products being sold online and in stores nationwide… These products often include claims that they treat or alleviate the side effects related to a wide variety of diseases or medical disorders, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, nausea and anxiety. It is extremely troubling that some of the food products are packaged and labeled in ways that may appeal to children. We will continue to safeguard Americans’ health and safety by monitoring the marketplace and taking action when companies illegally sell products that pose a risk to public health.”
Of course, delta-8 THC has, indeed, been found useful for all the conditions mentioned, which does beg the question of why the government is trying so hard to protect its population from these compounds, especially in light of the no-death count attached. It has repeatedly been shown that additive products are the real main issue, and that cannabis compounds have yet to be associated with death. This is important because another government agency, the CDC, just requested to lower prescribing guidelines for opioids, which already kill as many as 70,000+ a year, even as other non-addictive, no death-toll measures like ketamine and cannabis, exist.
How did this come about?
This newer issue is a counterpart to the CBD issue, which has been going on for awhile now. The cannabinoid industry, led by delta-8 THC, is based on the idea of extracting cannabinoids from the hemp plant for use in products. But there’s a problem with this. Though some of the compounds can technically be extracted from hemp, like delta-8, they can only be extracted in tiny amounts, so that for product production, synthetic processes must be used. This takes these products out from under the definition of hemp, making them federally illegal.
CBD on the other hand, can be extracted in large enough quantities that the same issue of synthetics isn’t relevant. However, neither is cleared by the US federal government for internal use, and the only reason there’s a conversation, is as a result of the 2018 US Farm Bill. The bill instituted a new definition for hemp, in order to promote the industrial hemp industry. In so doing, it separated high-THC cannabis from low-THC cannabis, and defined ‘hemp’ as only certain parts of the actual plant, without including synthetics. It should be noted, however, that even though the US government says CBD is not legal in this way, it did approve epidiolex, a big-pharma synthetic version of CBD. It has also approved synthetic versions of THC (dronabinol).
Synthetics of any Schedule I substance (which are not big-pharma made and approved), are also Schedule I under the Federal Analogue Act. When compounds are made using synthetic processes, or that don’t exist in nature (delta-10), they are not covered under the definition of hemp. Nor is anything (plant or product) that has over .3% delta-9 THC.
Two of the many issues with the cannabinoid market, are that large amounts of delta-9 THC are often found in products, and that synthetic processing is used to make them. Though the industry uses the term ‘hemp-derived’, this only means that some aspect of it came from the hemp plant, although in reality, even this isn’t necessarily true. As the industry is not regulated, we simply don’t know what we’re buying, and that presents its own problem.
Though regulating the market could settle much of this, the federal government doesn’t want to do that. But it also doesn’t want to lose tax revenue, and that creates a conundrum. The government tends to take money from big pharma, not little mom-and-pop, so anything that can’t be transformed into pharmaceutical profits easily, isn’t desired by the government. It’s just like with Quaaludes, which were too easily made outside of pharma companies, making for a black market that the US couldn’t control.
What else has been done?
The FDA sending warning letters to delta-8 companies is the first big, above-board move by a government agency to try to stop this industry, but it wasn’t the first move made. A couple months ago, the biggest shopping sales platform, Shopify, started sending out its own similar letters, telling vendors they could not sell products with more than .3% delta-9 THC, and that they had to be in general compliance with federal law, which also rules out synthetics. Thus, tons of companies were affected.
Shopify didn’t stop with letters, and immediately forced companies to drop products from their online catalogues, that don’t meet regulation. This most certainly was a hit to the industry, though the lack of overall sales figures in general, makes it hard to know how much. Cannabinoid products are sold all over the place, and show up in a lot of small roadside stores. How much the industry relied on on-line sales, particularly from Shopify, is not clear.
Shopify didn’t make a statement about the US government making it do this. Nor did the US government make a statement about being involved in the Shopify issue. But most companies won’t shoot themselves in the foot if they don’t have to, and it’s hard to believe that Shopify would all of a sudden care about something it never cared about before. This was not an ongoing fight, but a directive that came out of nowhere. It suffices to say there was likely pressure from higher up, and that Shopify itself could have been shut down if it didn’t comply.
Are these products dangerous?
The US government hasn’t legalized cannabis yet, but we already know that that specific legalization is not what determines the safety of the plant. So regardless of whether something is federally illegal or not, whether it’s dangerous or not is an entirely different question. It’s almost joke level funny that Ms. Woodcock would speak about the dangers of compounds with no death toll, while close to 100,000 people die a year from government sanctioned opioids.
On top of that idea, the US government is getting close to passing a bill to legalize cannabis, whether it wants to call it a ‘legalization’, or a ‘decriminalization’. The MORE Act already passed the House and is now up for the Senate. And if that doesn’t make it, Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer has his own baby, the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, which he’s carefully shopping around for support, and which hasn’t been officially offered, so as not to run out the clock prematurely.
Though a lot of reasons could be given for why the federal government is working hard now to pass something, one of the biggest reasons is that it must play catch-up with its states, so as not to seem powerless. Legalization measures are moving in only one direction, and its away from federal mandate. Soon enough, more and bigger publications, will point out how few people actually live under federal law concerning cannabis at this point. And as the government can no longer stop this train, it must now get on it, and pretend that was always the goal.
How much of an effect these FDA letters will have on the delta-8 industry is not known, and it might take some time to see results. The US government is obviously frustrated, but it’s also not in a position of power considering failed drug wars, and the lack of danger associated with this particular drug.
Maybe the delt-8 market isn’t the most savory. Maybe there are problems associated. But if the government really wanted to protect its people, it would do something substantial about the opioid epidemic, instead of railing against a plant (or its synthetic counterparts) which doesn’t realistically hurt anyone.
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Hemp Keeps Honeybees Young. What About Humans?
There are tons of medical properties housed in the cannabis plant, and it doesn’t matter which kind. Whether its high-THC marijuana, or high-CBD hemp, (or even cannabis ruderalis), there’s a lot these plants can do. One of the newer findings is related to something that appeals to much of the population. A new study shows how hemp keeps honeybees alive for longer. Can it do the same for people?
Hemp has shown to elongate the life of honeybees by changing their antioxidant behavior. What might this mean for the animal kingdom at large, and for us humans? We’ll have to wait a bit longer for more specific answers. Welcome to our independent news publication centered on cannabis and psychedelics. Keep up with everything going on by subscribing to THC Weekly Newsletter, and get front-of-the-line access to deals on tons of cannabis products, including vapes, edibles, and other smoking equipment. You’ll also have access to a range of cannabinoid products including delta-8 THC. As a reminder, *cannabinoid compounds are not for everyone. We promote every consumer buy only the products they are happy with using.
The study setup
Researchers associated with the University of Life Sciences’ Department of Invertebrate Ecophysiology and Experimental Biology in Lublin, Poland, recently put out this study: Impressive Impact of Hemp Extract on Antioxidant System in Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) Organism. The aim of the study was to investigate what happens to the antioxidant system when hemp extract is given to honeybees.
As per the researchers, “We examined the effect of hemp extract on the activity of the antioxidant system (catalase, peroxidase, glutathione, superoxide dismutase, and total antioxidant capacity) in the hemolymph of adult honey bees (Apis mellifera).” In order to do this, the researchers took the bees, and split them into three groups. It should be noted, only worker bees were used (non-reproducing females):
- Experimental group – Given pure syrup (sugar) to eat, and with hemp-soaked cotton strips put in the cage
- Experimental group – Given a syrup with sugar and hemp extract via syringe
- Control group – Given a sugar and water-glycerine mix to eat
The scientists collected the bee hemolymph (essentially bee blood) on the first day of the study, and then weekly until all bees were dead. The dead bees were also examined along with their blood. The results are quite interesting when looking at the ability to simply stay alive longer.
One of the most interesting findings of how hemp effects honeybees, is related to lifespan. The control group, which ate only sugar, lived approximately 35 days. The group given sugar and hemp separately lasted about 49 days, and when hemp was given directly to the honeybees via syringe, they lived on average 52 days, with the longest lifespan at 56 days. To put this in perspective, the standard lifespan of a worker honeybee is 2-6 weeks in hotter weather, and around 20 weeks in cooler weather. For warmer weather, it means the bees almost never live longer than 42 days.
The thought by the researchers, is that this is because “Hemp extract, thanks to its antioxidant properties, increased the activities of key antioxidant enzymes that protect the bee’s organisms against free radicals and thus delay the aging processes.”
They further explained, “The activities of all antioxidant enzymes were higher for the experimental groups, compared to those for the control group. The highest antioxidant activities were noted in the group supplemented with cannabis with the use of syringes.”
Though the scientists could not say what specifically about the hemp extract caused these antioxidant changes in the honeybees, it was postulated that “The increase in the activities of antioxidant enzymes could be caused by the influence of CBD on the permeability of ion channels, i.e., potassium, sodium, and calcium, and therefore change in the cell membrane environment.”
Added onto these findings was data which supported the syringe method as the best way to get the hemp extract to affect the honeybees. This it pretty standard, as we already know that in humans as well, IV injections are usually more useful than other methods, particularly oral ingestion.
Though this study certainly brings up questions of whether hemp has the same life-extending ability in humans, the researchers were more concerned with other factors. They closed the paper by saying, “Thanks to this, we believe that hemp extract can in the future contribute to the improvement of the natural immunity of honey bees and help them with the fight against environmental pollution and the increase of oxidative stress.” Considering the recent issues and concerns around bee populations dying out, this could prove a positive way to keep the flying stingers, healthy and happy.
Where else can we see this?
The honeybee study sheds light on how hemp effects antioxidant enzymes in honeybees, leading to elongated lifespans. Obviously, we as humans are looking for exactly this, as evidenced by a cosmetics industry that brought in huge amounts for anti-aging products in the last few years. It was as high as $58.5 billion the world over in 2020, with an expected $62.65 billion for 2021, and predictions for over $67 billion in 2022.
Unfortunately, the same kind of study performed on the bees, has not been performed on people, so the best we have to show how hemp effects aging, is in animal studies. There are, however, more of those. Like this study from 2021 entitled Effect of Cannabidiol on the Long-Term Toxicity and Lifespan in the Preclinical Model Caenorhabditis elegans. For those unfamiliar with the lingo, Caenorhabditis elegans are roundworms. Beyond the fact that no worms died from exposure to CBD in correct dosages, it was found that CBD helped with resistance to heat stress, increased lifespan by 18%, and promoted a 206% increase in late-stage life activity.
Yet another example isn’t necessarily related to lifespan, but to the abilities of the brain as it ages, and how cannabis can affect this. Entitled A chronic low dose of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) restores cognitive function in old mice, this 2017 study shows how aging mice can regress their brains to as far back as a two-month-old’s, when given a low-dose treatment of delta-9 THC. The researchers “show that a low dose of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) reversed the age-related decline in cognitive performance of mice aged 12 and 18 months.”
The researchers explained that “This behavioral effect was accompanied by enhanced expression of synaptic marker proteins and increased hippocampal spine density.” And that “THC treatment restored hippocampal gene transcription patterns such that the expression profiles of THC-treated mice aged 12 months closely resembled those of THC-free animals aged 2 months.”
What about humans?
The reason there are no human studies about how cannabis might elongate life, is because there are some pretty heavy restrictions on how research must be done when it involves people. Add onto this that we’ve got much longer lifespans than honeybees, roundworms, or mice, and the sheer ability to conduct such a study on healthy humans, is non-existent. This is not true when dealing with studies involving patients with illnesses, but as such studies can’t show the effects on a healthy individual, they are not helpful here.
So, while there is plenty of evidence on the myriad of health benefits associated with cannabis, including how it can help with the aging process, we cannot say through research that it has the capacity to elongate a person’s life. However, this doesn’t mean we can’t do everything possible to treat ourselves right, and attempt lifestyles that are good for us, and keep us going strong. Part of this involves using things around that are good for us, even if they don’t necessarily add years on outside of keeping us healthy. Like honey.
An interesting aspect of honeybees is that they produce honey, and we eat it. The study above doesn’t go into whether the honey created by these bees might be any different than honey created by bees not fed hemp extract, or what that could mean. Unfortunately, very little research is out there on this subject, but it is an interesting concept. One of the only studies about this, was performed by allowing bees to eat from hemp plants, and though the bees produced cannabinoid positive propolis and pollen, it came with the detraction that cannabinoid levels were low, and that not much actual honey was produced.
This doesn’t mean that different and/or better conditions can’t produce different and/or better results. One of the things we already know about honey, is it’s incredibly healthy and beneficial for all kinds of problems. What if eating the byproduct of an animal that has undergone treatment by something like hemp, could pass on a positive attribute to the eater? Perhaps more improved cannabis honey will be a thing in the future, whereby we can access all the great benefits of honey, with all the great benefits of hemp as well. And perhaps we’ll find out that it helps us live longer.
Life-extending honey might not be on the menu yet, but maybe there’ll be an update soon. Either way, that hemp can have such benefits on honeybees, mice, and roundworms in terms of life elongation and brain regression, is certainly an interesting concept, and one that should be explored further for human and animal benefit.
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