CBD vs. CBN: Which is right for you? Both cannabinoids share health benefits and effects with minor differences. Learn more about CBD and CBN in our guide. 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. 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 vs. CBN: Which One Is Right For You?
Cannabidiol (CBD) has gained a lot of attention from recreational and medical users for its ability to provide anxiety and pain relief. Recently, however, minor cannabinoids are having their moment in the sun after research has shown they have many health benefits and effects.
Cannabinol (CBN) is a minor cannabinoid with significant potential in the pharmaceutical field. If you are wondering whether to go with CBD or CBN for its potential benefits, in some cases, using them together may be the best option.
What Are Cannabinoids and the Endocannabinoid System?
Cannabis contains over 400 chemical compounds, including cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, fatty acids, phenols, and other components. While many of these do not provide health benefits on their own, they may be able to enhance the effects of other compounds. This phenomenon is known as the entourage effect.
The main compounds in cannabis are cannabinoids and terpenes. Cannabinoids can affect the mind and body and mimic functions of naturally produced endocannabinoids that affect memory, appetite, mood, and pain. Terpenes are responsible for the aroma and flavor of a strain and have distinct effects on their own and alongside cannabinoids.
Our endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex network of cell receptors (CB1 and CB2) throughout the body that maintain homeostasis within. Our ECS is involved in regulating memory, mood, energy, pain, appetite, immune function, sleep, and much more.
In people with endocannabinoid deficiencies, cannabinoids act as supplements to restore endocannabinoid balance and treat many conditions and diseases. CBD and CBN are some of the most potent cannabinoids with abundant therapeutic potential.
What Is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the two primary cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. The main cannabinoid is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Unlike THC, CBD does not produce euphoric and intoxicating effects associated with the cannabis “high.”
In most cannabis Sativa plants, CBD is found in trace amounts compared to 15 to 25% THC levels in cannabis Sativa plants. Growers have started to breed cannabis plants that have higher levels of CBD. Some strains can contain up to 30% CBD.
CBD is available in a variety of products with varying concentrations. Over-the-counter CBD products are not FDA-regulated and should be approached with caution despite their non-intoxicating nature. If you are trying CBD for the first time, start with a low dosage and gradually build-up to the desired effect and dose.
CBD acts as a CB receptor agonist, unlike THC, which binds directly with cannabinoid receptors. While CBD has a low binding affinity with CB1 and CB2 receptors, it indirectly acts by blocking them so that cannabinoids such as THC cannot bind with them. Keep in mind that more research is needed on these compounds to determine their therapeutic potential and adverse effects.
How does this help? By blocking the overstimulation of specific cannabinoid receptors, CBD can reduce the adverse effects of THC and creates an internal balance.
Interested in giving this cannabinoid a shot? Here are some potential health benefits you can expect from CBD:
- Reduces anxiety
- Relieves pain
- Relaxes muscles
- Stimulates bone growth
- Goes through the transdermal barrier 10 times better than THC
- Reduces acne
- Relieves psoriasis
- Improves circulation
- Reduces nausea
- Suppresses appetite
- Relieves gastrointestinal disorders
- Inhibits cancer cell growth
- Promotes brain cell growth
- Anti-epileptic (high dose CBD, low dose THC)
- Relieves rheumatoid arthritis (high doses)
- Treats autoimmune disorders
- Treats Alzheimer’s disease
You will not feel intoxicated when taking CBD. CBD is a popular non-intoxicating cannabinoid that produces relaxing effects. Its psychoactive effects produce a calming effect on the mind. CBD can reduce stress and anxiety and may even help manage the adverse effects of overconsuming THC.
What Is CBN?
Cannabinol (CBN) is a minor cannabinoid and a byproduct of the natural THC degradation process. As THC ages or when exposed to heat or light, THC oxidizes and becomes CBN. In most strains, you will not find high levels of CBN.
If you have ever smoked old cannabis buds, you may have noticed it had a weak potency. As THC converts to CBN with age, it results in a lower THC concentration over time. Poor storage habits, including prolonged exposure to light and heat, can reduce THC potency and increase CBN content.
CBN is mildly psychoactive and has been thought to produce sedative effects, although the scientific evidence is limited. Based on anecdotal reports, CBN is considered the most sedative cannabinoid and may help provide relief for insomnia and other sleep problems. Indica strains tend to have a higher CBN content than sativa strains.
While not very common in the cannabis plant, CBN can have beneficial effects alongside other cannabinoids and even be taken alone as an isolate or distillate product. Here are a few of the most common therapeutic benefits you can expect from this compound:
- Slightly psychoactive (10% as psychoactive as THC)
- Sedative properties
- Relieves pain
- Appetite stimulant
- Inhibits cancer cell growth
- Goes through the transdermal barrier ten times better than dela-8 THC
- Stimulates bone growth
- Treats glaucoma
CBN does not have a strong binding affinity with CB1 receptors. It does have a stronger affinity with CB2 receptors, although not as much as THC. CBN can provide many of the same effects of THC without the intense high and may be used as a sleep aid.
CBD vs. CBN Side Effects
CBD is generally considered a safe compound with no severe adverse effects. However, in some cases, CBD may produce some side effects, including:
- Weight and appetite changes
In a dose-dependent manner, CBD can increase the risk of liver damage when interacting with certain medications, including valproate, teriflunomide, pexidartinib, mipomersen, lomitapide, and leflunomide.
Currently, there are no side effects identified with CBN consumption, although they may exist. CBN research is lacking compared to research into THC and CBD. Since it may be a sedative compound, it can cause sleepiness which may be considered a side effect if you do not intend to sleep. Consult with a health care professional if you have any questions about medication interactions and adverse effects.
FAQs About CBD vs. CBN
Are CBD and CBN Legal?
The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp production and defined hemp as a cannabis plant containing less than 0.3% THC by dry weight. CBD products containing more than 0.3% THC are considered federally illegal but can be allowed in states with legal medical or recreational cannabis laws.
CBN can be derived from hemp but is it legal? CBN falls into a legal gray area. While it is not explicitly listed as a scheduled controlled substance, it may be considered an analog of THC, which is a Schedule I substance if made from cannabis instead of hemp.
Most CBN in the U.S. market is made by washing over the biomass material with a chemical solvent to remove the cannabinoids and terpenes. Then the solvent is removed through a purging process by applying heat in a vacuum. This process produces a crude extract, which must undergo a distillation process to create a pure CBN distillate.
What Is the Difference Between CBN and CBD?
Both CBD and CBN are cannabis compounds with many of the same effects and can be used to create cannabis extracts and infused products. Despite their similarities, they also have several key differences.
Let us focus on their similarities first:
Both CBN and CBD provide relief from sleep issues, are neuroprotective, and work against inflammation. Taking them together may even provide enhanced relief.
Now let us look at the differences:
CBD can provide anxiety and depression relief, unlike CBN. Only one CBD-based medication (Epidiolex) has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for two types of epilepsy and tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC). The FDA has not approved CBN medications.
Cannabis plants can be bred to produce a high concentration of CBD, but this process is not as easy for CBN since it is a natural byproduct of aged THC, which requires exposure to heat and light.
Since CBD is far more abundant than CBN, research has focused on CBD, creating a larger market. CBD products are more widely available than CBN.
Why Is CBN More Expensive than CBD?
Generally, CBN products are a lot more expensive than CBD products. THC is the most common compound in cannabis plants, followed by CBD, which can be easily extracted in high concentrations using various solvent-based or solventless methods.
Since CBN is a byproduct of THC, it is only found in a very small concentration in the cannabis plant (up to 1%). Because of its low concentration in cannabis plants, CBN requires a unique extraction method, which can be more laborious and time-consuming than CBD extraction.
CBN isolates can be between 4 to 10 times more expensive than CBD products. Because not many suppliers are making CBN, the price for its products is higher than other cannabinoids like THC and CBD.
As research into CBN grows and more manufacturers begin producing this cannabinoid, the prices will go down. If you are looking to buy CBN products, shop around licensed shops and online retailers to determine the price ranges and ensure you get a product that has been third-party lab tested for purity and potency.
Can CBN and CBD Be Used Together?
Absolutely. Cannabis research suggests that combining cannabinoids such as CBD and CBN provides more benefits than using them in isolation of each other. Both compounds may also improve your mood and produce relaxing effects. For instance, CBN can potentially have strong sedative properties, while CBD may help relieve anxiety, promote deep sleep, and alleviate pain which can help you sleep better.
CBD vs. CBN: Which One Is Right for You?
CBD and CBN both have many potential benefits but are not entirely risk-free. Consult with a healthcare practitioner before starting a cannabinoid-based treatment. Doctors can talk you through the beginning stages of using cannabis to determine an appropriate dose and avoid medication interactions.
Both CBD and CBN have potent effects that can help treat various conditions but should not be used as a treatment alone. These two cannabinoids can be helpful supplements for traditional therapies instead of the only treatment option.
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 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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