CBD has become widely known as an alternative to cannabis, but if you've never heard of CBG or CBN, you aren't alone. Learn more inside with FLUENT. CBD is a popular cannabinoid, but CBN is quickly catching up. Find out how the two compare concerning the legality, side effects, benefits, and a lot more in this article. Cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinol (CBN) are two of the more than 100 types of natural chemical components called cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Here’s a quick look at their similarities and differences.
CBD vs CBG vs CBN: Simply Explained
If you’ve never heard of CBG or CBN (or you know next to nothing about them), you aren’t alone – and that’s where we come in.
Within the last few years, an entirely new world of cannabinoids – and all of their potential benefits – has opened up to cannabis consumers. Until recently, cannabidiol (CBD) was the only non-intoxicating cannabinoid considered widely available. But now, new arrivals are coming on the scene, and they’re worth knowing.
Cannabigerol (CBG) and cannabinol (CBN) are two of the latest cannabinoids that have everyone talking. These cannabinoids join CBD as an option for consumers who aren’t interested in THC’s psychoactive effects. But, if you’ve never heard of CBG or CBN (or you know next to nothing about them), you aren’t alone – and that’s where we come in.
Cannabis: The plant of many possibilities
It isn’t that surprising that we are still constantly learning more about what the cannabis plant offers. As the therapeutic benefits of CBD become more evident, cannabis and hemp cultivators have acted quickly to breed strains that are high in similar cannabinoids: including CBG and CBN.
What is CBD?
There’s no doubt that cannabidiol, otherwise known as CBD, has gone mainstream over the last few years. It’s one of the most prevalent cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, second only to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Additionally, CBD is easily the most abundant cannabinoid available in the hemp plant, making it easy and affordable to extract and produce. Since industrial hemp (categorized by THC levels of 0.3% or less) is legal in most states, adults can purchase many CBD products without fear of legal roadblocks.
CBD is available in various forms, including oils/tinctures, topicals, capsules, edibles, and even pet products. Since it doesn’t produce a “high” (unlike THC), it’s become a favorite for people interested in improving their health and wellness.
For now, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate CBD, which makes it essential you only purchase CBD products from a reputable retailer. However, the FDA recently approved the first-ever CBD pharmaceutical, Epidiolex, intended for patients suffering from specific rare forms of epilepsy.
Potential benefits of CBD
Many people consider one of the most significant benefits of CBD to be its non-intoxicating effects. Whereas traditional cannabis is associated with a “high” due to the presence of THC, CBD is different. THC and CBD each interact with the body’s endocannabinoid systems (ECS) in different ways, which is why their effects are so distinct. Research also shows CBD may inhibit the psychoactive effects of THC. This counter-reaction makes it extremely useful for people who may experience undesirable side effects caused by overconsumption.
In addition, CBD is used in a broad range of applications, supporting individuals with various conditions, needs, and health goals. Consumers (and a growing number of research studies) report positive experiences when using CBD for many different ailments and symptoms, including:
- Chronic pain
- Aches and pains, including sports injuries
- Inflammation (including inflammatory conditions like arthritis)
- Anxiety and panic disorders
- Skin conditions
- Nausea and vomiting
What is CBG?
Cannabigerol (CBG) is quickly catching up to CBD when it comes to popularity. It’s derived from CBGa, which is considered the “stem cell” or “mother” of cannabinoids due to its ability to convert to CBD, THC, or CBC. When CBGa converts to CBG, it’s stable, meaning it won’t change into any other cannabinoid.
However, cultivators are presently working on breeding strains that are already naturally high in CBG, skipping over converting CBGa. Although breeding is still in its early stages, this could soon make CBG even more accessible than it already is.
CBG is non-intoxicating, and many people describe its effects as feeling very similar to those of CBD.
Potential benefits of CBG
Research suggests CBG may also help support the functionality of anandamide–a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep, pain, appetite, motivation, and pleasure.
Other possible CBG benefits include:
CBG vs. CBD
Even though CBD and CBG are similar in their effects (and even structurally), there are some key differences. Because CBG interacts with neuroreceptors uniquely, it’s being considered for various applications of its own.
Cannabis researchers are still learning more about the distinctions between CBD and CBG. But for now, they appear to be different enough that it may be best to combine them for an optimal experience. Also, the entourage effect theory suggests that using multiple cannabinoids in tandem can help enhance their effects overall.
What is CBN?
CBN, or cannabinol, is the product of the degradation of THC, which happens naturally as a plant matures or has increased exposure to heat/oxygen. Generally, cannabis contains only trace amounts of CBN, mostly in young or freshly-dried cannabis.
Potential benefits of CBN
CBN has a distinct profile of potential advantages, including:
- Possible antibacterial benefits
- Possible neuroprotective benefits
- Appetite stimulation
CBN vs. CBD
Chemically, CBN is closer to THC than it is to CBD. But interestingly, CBN seems to induce effects in the “middle ground” between THC and CBD. So, for example, it may stimulate the appetite (like THC), but it is much less psychoactive (unlike THC).
When comparing CBD and CBN for sleep, people generally report better results with CBN. Research has also found the potential CBN has for being used for antibacterial applications.
Learn How to Incorporate Cannabinoids into Your MMJ Treatment at FLUENT Dispensaries
There’s a lot to learn about cannabinoids, whether you’re a seasoned MMJ patient or just discovering the world of medical cannabis. At FLUENT dispensaries in Florida, you can browse an outstanding selection of products with a wide variety of cannabinoid options. Plus, our team is always available to help you make an informed choice that suits your goals.
For information about cannabinoids, medical marijuana, and more, contact FLUENT today!
Which cannabinoid is right for me?
- Suppose you have a specific goal in mind. In that case, you might want to prioritize the cannabinoid that’s most likely to help you achieve results. However, that doesn’t mean you should forget about the other cannabinoids – you wouldn’t want to miss out on their potential benefits or the possibility of synergistic effects!
Is CBD or CBG better?
Even though some people compare CBD and CBG to each other, there’s still a lot to learn about what they can offer. But, ultimately, it’s likely that each one can play an essential role in the pursuit of wellness.
Is CBN stronger than CBD?
- Some consumers describe CBN as “feeling stronger” than CBD, attributed to how CBN activates the CB1 receptor. Even though CBN isn’t considered psychoactive like THC, it may create mild effects different from CBD. However, that doesn’t mean it’s “stronger;” CBN and CBD just work via different neurochemical pathways.
Will CBN & CBG get you “high”?
- The “high” psychoactive effects of THC are what most people associate with cannabis use. However, CBN and CBG are different from THC because they won’t cause the same intense, intoxicating effects. Everyone experiences cannabinoids slightly differently, but you generally expect that you won’t feel “high” after consuming CBN or CBG.
Is CBN the same as CBD?
- No. CBN and CBD are both cannabinoids, but they are unique chemical compounds. The cannabis plant produces CBD abundantly, whereas CBN is rarer and only created when THC degrades.
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Differences between CBD vs. CBN: What are the Benefits and Potential Side Effects
CBN is touted as the new cannabinoid with a promising therapeutic potential.
Pre-clinical results published by InMed show that CBN is more effective than both CBD and THC to relieve extreme pressure in the eye, otherwise known as glaucoma.
As a result, manufacturers are starting to produce new CBN-infused eyedrops for the treatment of glaucoma.
All this sudden talk about CBN might make you think it’s new, but it’s not. CBN has been around for a long time — often positioned as a component for sleep formulas.
Here, we’ll compare the similarities and differences between CBN and CBD — exploring differences in the dose, applications, and side effects of each cannabinoid.
Differences Between CBD & CBN
CBN stands for cannabinol and is considered a minor cannabinoid because it’s found only in trace amounts in cannabis plants. As a byproduct of oxidation, it’s located in old cannabis that’s been exposed to oxygen. In other words, CBN is found when THC ages and degrades over time.
CBD, also known as cannabidiol , is present in large amounts in cannabis plants and second only to THC — the prominent cannabinoid responsible for producing psychoactive effects.
Unlike THC, CBD is non-intoxicating and may also negate THC’s side effects, including anxiety and paranoia.
Both CBD and CBN exhibit similar molecular structures but their effects are different. Most manufacturers use decarboxylation (inducing heat to dry cannabis) or expose THC-rich strains to extreme UV light to force oxidation. It’s a process that mimics dry cannabis aging naturally.
The three cannabinoids — CBD, THC, and CBN — interact with the endocannabinoid system differently.
The ECS, or endocannabinoid system, consists of two receptors such as CB1 and CB2, that modulate several functions for our well-being. CB1 receptors are found primarily in the nervous system, brain, and surrounding areas. CB2 receptors are located in the tissues and cells related to the immune system.
Endocannabinoids produced by the body, as well as cannabinoids, bind to these receptors. For example, THC directly binds to CB1 receptors. Similarly, CBN binds to CB2 receptors.
CBD interacts with these receptors indirectly by activating enzymes responsible for stimulating the receptors.
Is CBN Stronger Than CBD?
CBN can be psychoactive if ingested in large doses . It’s slightly more psychoactive than CBD but very weak compared to THC, meaning it does not produce the same effects as THC.
It isn’t easy to source CBN, which is why it’s not available in abundance. But, overall, CBD is stronger than CBN if you consider its medicinal effects.
The British Journal of Pharmacology released a study in 2011 outlining the effects of CBN as a relaxant with the potential to relieve pain. It could also act as a neuroprotectant and appetite stimulant, according to some studies.
CBD vs. CBN: Legality
At the moment, CBN is legal since it complies with the 2018 Farm Bill . This bill made hemp legal on a federal level. So as long as it’s extracted from hemp, there should be no problem using it.
CBD and other products extracted from hemp containing less than 0.3% THC are considered federally legal.
Cannabis extracts that are not derived from hemp are still considered illegal federally. Legalizing marijuana on a federal level would clear the confusion surrounding marijuana-derived CBN products.
Usually, federal law is different from state laws when it comes to cannabis. States are free to interpret the laws in their own manner. Companies can sell CBN products because it’s not considered a Schedule I drug as long as the delta 9 THC content is below 0.3%.
CBD vs. CBN: Psychoactivity
Some studies suggest CBN doesn’t is non-intoxicating. The consensus is that CBN is about 10% as strong as THC .
Doses of 20–50 mg CBN are unlikely to produce any psychoactive effects. However, exceeding this amount may produce psychoactive effects similar to THC.
CBD is entirely non-psychoactive — which means no matter how much you take, you’re not going to feel high.
CBD vs. CBN Medical Benefits
Compared to CBD, CBN doesn’t have a lot of medical research to support its claims. This isn’t because CBN doesn’t have health benefits; it’s just that it’s not nearly as popular in academic circles as CBD has been in recent years. We expect to see a lot more research on this cannabinoid soon.
Recently, the journal of Psychopharmacology published a study where CBN was administered to rats. The rats displayed an increase in appetite. When they were given CBD, though, they revealed a decrease in appetite, suggesting that you could use both CBN and CBD to regulate appetite, depending on your preference.
CBN can help reduce sleep issues, especially insomnia. Scientists have suggested that it has the potential to be used as a sedative.
On the other hand, CBD can regulate our immune system. Like CBD, CBN can be used to relieve pain caused by issues such as arthritis.
Although CBN and CBD both have a lot to offer, they may work a lot better if combined rather than on their own.
The entourage effect supports this concept, suggesting that cannabinoids work in synergy to amplify their therapeutic potential. Most experts recommend using full-spectrum extracts to get the benefits of CBN and CBD together.
Why Is CBN So Expensive?
CBN is a lot more expensive than CBD.
The cannabis plant has many cannabinoids, out of which THC is the most abundant. The second cannabinoid present in large amounts is CBD. Both these cannabinoids can be extracted easily in high concentrations.
However, although CBN is a byproduct of THC, it’s not as abundant as THC or CBD, for that matter. It needs special extraction methods that become expensive for the manufacturers.
As a result, if you go for CBN isolates, it’s even more expensive and can be at least 4-10 times higher than CBD in some markets . The price is high mostly because of excess demand and very little supply.
As more manufacturers begin selling CBN, the prices will drop. Additionally, the price will vary from one manufacturer to another, so it’s best to check out a few sites and your local dispensaries to get a bigger picture.
Using CBD & CBN Together
Based on the entourage effect, a combination of CBN and CBD work better than isolates.
CBN may work as a sedative. Since CBD is also known to regulate sleep cycles, both cannabinoids could help with insomnia and other sleep-related issues.
Both cannabinoids uplift your mood and promote a sense of calm and balance naturally.
CBD vs. CBN Side Effects
CBD has no severe side effects even if you consume it frequently because it’s non-intoxicating. But, if you consume huge doses, you could experience dryness in your mouth and feel tired, along with a few bouts of diarrhea.
Similarly, CBN is non-psychoactive and has no side effects if you stick to your physician’s recommendation. However, if you take too much, you could experience fatigue and feel a bit more drowsy than usual.
The bottom line is that there’s no risk of using cannabinoids as long as you adhere to specific dosages. Talk to your doctor if you’re already taking other medications because you don’t want anything to interfere with your routine.
Summary: CBD vs. CBN
Both CBD and CBN have a lot to offer to improve our quality of life naturally. Their molecular structures are similar, but their effects are different. They also interact with the endocannabinoid system differently.
Although CBN is extracted from THC, it does not produce the same effects since it binds to the receptors weakly. It is slightly psychoactive but nowhere in the league of THC.
Many studies have been conducted on CBD, but the same can’t be said about CBN, which is why you should speak to your physician to address specific ailments.
As both cannabinoids have promising potential, it’s best to combine and use them frequently. Many companies now sell edibles, oils, and tinctures containing CBD and CBN, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to find them.
- Russo, E. B. (2011). Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid‐terpenoid entourage effects. British journal of pharmacology , 163 (7), 1344-1364. 
- Stone, N. L., Murphy, A. J., England, T. J., & O’Sullivan, S. E. (2020). A systematic review of minor phytocannabinoids with promising neuroprotective potential. British Journal of Pharmacology , 177 (19), 4330-4352. 
- Rhee, M. H., Vogel, Z., Barg, J., Bayewitch, M., Levy, R., Hanuš, L., … & Mechoulam, R. (1997). Cannabinol derivatives: binding to cannabinoid receptors and inhibition of adenylyl cyclase. Journal of medicinal chemistry , 40 (20), 3228-3233.
- Wong, H., & Cairns, B. E. (2019). Cannabidiol, cannabinol, and their combinations act as peripheral analgesics in a rat model of myofascial pain. Archives of oral biology , 104 , 33-39.
- Farrimond, J. A., Whalley, B. J., & Williams, C. M. (2012). Cannabinol and cannabidiol exert opposing effects on rat feeding patterns. Psychopharmacology , 223 (1), 117-129.
Nina created CFAH.org following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.
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CBD vs CBN: What’s the Difference?
Cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinol (CBN) are two of the more than 100 types of natural chemical components called cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant.
You may have heard of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive chemical in marijuana that produces a high. But unlike THC, CBD and CBN are dubbed as milder drugs. That means they are non-psychoactive and don’t alter your mind. Instead, they’re touted for their medical benefits.
However, they’re not the same. Though CBD and CBN interact with the same receptors in your body, they produce different effects.
CBD is more popular than CBN. It’s mostly derived from the hemp plant and legal for consumption. But state laws vary. You can find CBD-infused products in grocery stores to gas stations. It’s found in several beauty and food products such as oils, shampoos, creams, pills, and chocolates. People often use it to help manage symptoms from anxiety, insomnia, and a range of chronic pain and other medical conditions.
CBN, on the other hand, is not as popular or readily available. This is because there hasn’t been a lot of human or animal research done on the benefits, uses, and side effects. But CBN is slowly gaining popularity for its potential benefits for sleep and pain management.
CBD: Benefits and Uses
CBD is hailed as a cure-all for variety of medical conditions and pain symptoms. However, the jury is still out, and there needs to be more scientific research to back up the claims.
There is strong evidence on CBD’s benefits and effectiveness against certain seizure-causing epilepsy syndromes such as:
- Dravet syndrome
- Lennox-Gastaut syndrome
These medical conditions, which mostly affect children, don’t respond well to several antiseizure medications. But numerous studies have shown that CBD can significantly lower symptoms or stop them altogether in some cases.
To combat epilepsy conditions, the FDA approved the first and only CBD drug, called Epidiolex. Research on CBD use for medical treatment for health conditions is still ongoing and limited.
Currently, its uses are being looked into for medical conditions like:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
Other animal studies and self-reported benefits of CBD use for conditions include:
Insomnia. Certain studies have shown that CBD may help with sleep issues like falling or staying sleep.
Chronic pain. While research is limited, some studies have shown that CBD may help lower inflammation in your joints and muscles in conditions like arthritis. This may help improve quality of life, but there needs to be more evidence.
Addiction. Some studies suggest that CBD can reduce cravings caused by mind-altering drugs like opiates, THC, other stimulants, and alcohol.
CBN: Benefits and Uses
CBN can be understood as a weaker version of THC. When THC components found in the cannabis plant age, they break down. This leads to the formation of a less potent cannabinoid called CBN. It’s about 25% as effective as THC, which makes it a mild chemical.
Unlike CBD, which is entirely non-psychoactive, CBN in larger doses can produce mild psychoactive reactions.
CBN has not been studied or used as widely as CBD or THC, so there’s very limited knowledge or research on its uses and benefits. Some of the potential uses and benefits observed in few studies include:
Sleep aid. CBN has shown to have sedative properties that could relieve conditions like insomnia. However, more research is required.
Pain relief. In a study of rats, CBN use showed relief in muscle and joint pain conditions like fibromyalgia. The study also noted that pain relief was better when CBD and CBN were used together.
Neuroprotective properties. One 2005 study found that CBN could help delay the onset of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a disease that affects cells in the brain and the spinal cord. CBN was given in small amounts for a period of 12 weeks. However, more research is required in this area.
How Can You Consume CBD or CBN?
CBD is in a variety of oral and topical products that you can find online or in your local grocery store, gas station, or a pharmacy. It’s also available in legally operated marijuana dispensaries.
You can consume CBD as:
- Vape pens
CBN isn’t as widely available, but it’s found in forms like:
- Disposable vape pens
- Tea bags
- CBN isolate
CBD vs CBN: What Are the Risks and Side Effects?
While CBD has numerous self-reported and studied health benefits, it may have side effects and still has the potential to harm you if you use it incorrectly or use tainted or mislabeled products. According to the FDA, it’s illegal to market CBD when it’s added to food or sold as dietary supplements.
Quality of the CBD product and products with unproven medical claims can also have some serious effects on your health. While a product off the shelf or sold online may seem like a CBD-infused product, it may contain traces of THC and misleading information on purity and dosage. This can hamper the safety of the product. It can also show up on a drug test or lead to severe consequences legally or medically.
One recent study of 84 CBD products bought online showed that more than 20 products contained less CBD than the label advertised. Moreover, THC was found in 18 products.
Experts don’t fully know the long- and short-term effects of CBD use, and there needs to be more research done on its uses, risks, and benefits.
CBD side effects include:
- Dry mouth
- Reduced appetite
- Liver injury
- Possible infertility in males
- Mood changes
- Lack of alertness
CBD can also have adverse side effects if it interacts with prescription drugs or alcohol.
There are no known side effects of CBN. That’s not because there aren’t any, but there’s not enough evidence to know CBN’s short- and long-term effects on your health.
If you’re planning to try CBD or CBN and it’s your first time, talk to your doctor about potential benefits and side effects before you use it. If you’re not sure about the type of product or what dosage is right for you, consult a medical expert.
If you notice adverse or allergic reactions from CBD or CBN products, call 911 or head to the nearest hospital for medical help.
FDA: “What You Need to Know (And What We’re Working to Find Out) About Products Containing Cannabis or Cannabis-derived Compounds, Including CBD.”
Mayo Clinic: “What are the benefits of CBD — and is it safe to use?”
Kaiser Permanente: “What you need to know about CBD.”
Harvard Health Publishing: “Cannabidiol (CBD)-what we know and what we don’t.”
MD Anderson Cancer Center: “CBD oil and cancer: 9 things to know.”
National Institutes of Health: “Cannabis (Marijuana) and Cannabinoids: What You Need To Know.”
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Other Motor Neuron Disorders: “Cannabinol delays symptom onset in SOD1 (G93A) transgenic mice without affecting survival.”
Archives of Oral Biology: “Cannabidiol, cannabinol and their combinations act as peripheral analgesics in a rat model of myofascial pain.”