Is CBN the Same as CBD?

Jun 28, 2023The nama Team

CBN is not the same as CBD. CBD is a major cannabis compound that is well known for its potential health benefits. After years of CBD being the main topic of the cannabis conversation, there’s another cannabinoid that’s gaining people’s attention: CBN

Is CBN the Same as CBD?

As more people discover the positive effects of CBN, they’re wondering how it differs from CBD. Despite these cannabinoids deriving from the same plant, the two have distinct properties and chemical structures. Let’s break down CBD vs. CBN to assess their similarities and differences.

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What is CBN? 

Cannabinol (CBN) is a minor cannabinoid in the cannabis plant that is formed when tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) oxidizes. While extremely high levels of CBN could cause mild psychoactive effects, normal doses shouldn’t get you high. 

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What is CBD? 

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the major cannabinoids in cannabis out of over 100 that have been identified. It is a non-psychoactive, well-tolerated compound. 

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What is the Difference Between CBN and CBD? 

Both CBD and CBN products come from the cannabis plant (cannabis sativa, cannabis indica, and cannabis ruderalis). The main difference between CBN and CBD is that CBD is extracted directly from the plant, but CBN is a byproduct of THC. CBD and CBN each interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) to initiate their effects, but the way they interact with this system is different.

The Endocannabinoid System

The ECS is a cell-signaling system that regulates several physiological processes in the body, including pain, appetite, mood, anxiety, immune function, and neuroprotection. Some research points to it also impacting reproduction and fertility, potentially playing a role in ovulation and sperm function.

This complex system is made up of neurotransmitters and cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2). The ECS naturally produces neurotransmitters that send messages to the receptors for them to modulate specific activities. 

The CB1 receptor is primarily located in the brain and central nervous system. It is closely involved with pain relief, mood regulation, appetite stimulation, memory and learning, and motor control. The CB2 receptors are mostly found in immune cells and the peripheral nervous system. It is most closely involved with regulating immune function, inflammatory responses, oxidative stress, and pain perception. Neurotransmitters bind to the CB1 and CB2 receptors to activate them. 

Effects of CBN

Like neurotransmitters, CBN binds directly to the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the body. 

Some of CBN’s benefits include: 

  • Reducing pain and inflammation
  • Regulating emotions and focus
  • Stimulating appetite
  • Improve immune responses
  • Supporting sleep 

The potential benefits of CBN make it an option for people dealing with chronic pain and inflammatory diseases like multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and Crohn’s disease. The benefits of CBN’s sedative properties make it useful as a more natural, non-addictive sleep aid. 

Effects of CBD

CBD’s influence on the ECS comes through a more indirect interaction and is known to “antagonize” the receptors rather than binding to them. 

Some of CBD’s benefits include: 

  • Pain and inflammatory relief
  • Relaxation and calmness
  • Alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety 
  • Treating epilepsy
  • Increasing appetite 
  • Neuroprotection

The neuroprotective properties of CBD have been found to help treat neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s disease. Scientific research about the benefits of CBD also shows this popular cannabinoid is effective in treating people with medical conditions like epilepsy because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. CBD’s ability to offer relaxation may lead to sedative effects that improve sleep hygiene.

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How Do You Take CBN and CBD? 

Whether you’re thinking of taking CBD or CBN, there are many options available to you to achieve the potential health benefits of either cannabinoid. Cannabis products like oils, tinctures, and other liquid extracts are generally taken with a droplet under the tongue. You can also take CBN or CBD as a topical, applying it directly to the skin through a cream, lotion, or balm. Edibles offer a convenient, discreet, and easy to dose method of consuming CBN and CBD. 

Though CBN and CBD are generally well-tolerable substances that will not get you high, it’s best to start with a low dose of whatever product you’re taking to avoid any adverse effects. You can slowly increase your dose over time if need be.

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Can You Take CBN and CBD Together? 

Research claims that CBN and CBD work well when taken together. The health benefits of CBD are known to complement those of CBN when taking a broad-spectrum CBD product. These products contain a variety of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids but no traces of THC. 

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Research suggests that THC, CBN, and CBD are known to have a natural synergy, offering enhanced benefits in combination with each other. This is known as the entourage effect, a theory of how cannabis compounds multiply each other’s benefits when taken together. To achieve the entourage effect, take a full-spectrum CBD product. These products contain a variety of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, including THC. 

Even though the effects of THC are psychoactive, microdoses of THC are enough for you to get the benefits without the high. Microdosing is the practice of taking ultra-low doses of a substance to avoid risks and side effects. Read our guide to the benefits of microdosing THC to learn more about why you might want to take up the practice. 

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Is CBN vs. CBD Better for Pain? 

Both CBN and CBD offer analgesic (pain-relieving) effects. 

CBD is an anti-inflammatory. It can reduce pain caused by inflammatory diseases like arthritis and multiple sclerosis. Though some research suggests CBN has anti-inflammatory properties as well, research about its effects is still new. Similarly to THC, CBN is known to regulate pain perception by binding to the CB2 receptors that play a role in inflammation and pain. 

A study entitled “Cannabidiol, cannabinol and their combinations act as peripheral analgesics in a rat model of myofascial pain” concluded that consuming CBN and CBD together could help people with myofascial pain syndrome. Combining the two with THC microdoses may provide the best pain relief of all.

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Is CBD vs. CBN Better for Sleep? 

CBD and CBN both seem to promote rest and relaxation, albeit in different ways.  

CBD reduces stress and anxiety. This makes CBD useful for people who experience anxiety disorders and have trouble falling asleep because of them. People with insomnia often experience increased stress and anxiety and use CBD to calm their minds and bodies so they can fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. 

CBN is known to have sedative effects and could potentially increase the number of hours one sleeps without disturbance. This makes CBD useful for people with disorders like obstructive sleep apnea who are more likely to experience sleep disturbances. 

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What is CBG? 

Cannabigerol (CBG) is another minor cannabinoid found in cannabis that appears in low concentrations. Similarly to CBN, research on this cannabinoid is still in its preliminary phases with much to be discovered. Like CBN and CBD, it’s considered non-psychoactive and has potential anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties when interacting with the ECS. 

CBG is derived from cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) and acts as a precursor to other cannabinoids. When a cannabis plant is first growing, CBG is formed first. As the plant matures, CBG is broken down into other cannabinoids like THC, CBD, and CBN. 

What is CBDA?

Cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) is a minor cannabinoid that acts as the precursor to CBD. Through biosynthesis, CBGA becomes CBDA when the plant is raw and unheated. CBDA’s exposure to heat and light transforms it into CBD. CBDA is known to have similar effects as CBD, but research is still new. Some studies mention that CBDA has the potential to be just as potent as CBD. 

What is CBC?

Cannabichromene (CBC) is a lesser-known cannabinoid found in cannabis. It is non-psychoactive and has potential analgesic and antibacterial properties. Medical research has shown that CBC selectively reduces inflammation-induced hypermotility, referring to inflammation in the digestive tract. This makes it useful for those who have Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. 

Are CBN and CBD Legal? 

After the 2018 Farm Bill established a legal distinction between hemp and marijuana, hemp-derived cannabis products became federally legal. Hemp cannabis contains no more than 0.3% THC by dry weight and is federally legal, though some states do have their own restrictions on this. Marijuana is still federally illegal because it contains more than 0.3% THC by dry weight. 

CBN and CBD FAQ

The CBN cannabinoid interacts with the cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) in the brain to regulate various physiological functions like mood, pain, and appetite. Its interactions with the CB1 receptors in the brain could be linked to the potential sedative effects of CBN.

CBN is known to have potential benefits for several health conditions, like sleep, appetite, and pain relief. According to Forbes Health, research done by InMed Pharmaceuticals indicated that CBN could potentially treat glaucoma. CBN outperformed CBD and THC to protect cell survival when exposed to elevated eye pressure.

CBN is considered a non-psychoactive substance and is unlikely to get you high, unless you consume an extremely large dose at once.  

CBD and CBN both have potential effects on the body due to their interactions with the endocannabinoid system. Research shows that CBD has a stronger affinity for cannabinoid receptors than CBN, potentially making it a more potent substance. Some people choose to use both cannabinoids together to get the enhanced benefits of the cannabinoids. Studies have shown that CBN, CBD, and their combinations act as peripheral analgesics for people with myofascial pain. 

CBD is a non-psychoactive, well-tolerated substance that is not checked for in drug screenings because it does not cause impairment. While using CBD isolate will not cause a failed drug test, using a full-spectrum CBD product could cause a failed drug test because it contains traces of THC. 

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Citations:

Farm Bill. (n.d.). Farm Bill | USDA. https://www.usda.gov/farmbill

Meccariello, R., Battista, N., Bradshaw, H. B., & Wang, H. (2014, January 16). Updates in Reproduction Coming from the Endocannabinoid System. PubMed Central (PMC). https://doi.org/10.1155/2014/412354

Silvestro, S., Mammana, S., Cavalli, E., Bramanti, P., & Mazzon, E. (2019, April 12). Use of Cannabidiol in the Treatment of Epilepsy: Efficacy and Security in Clinical Trials. PubMed Central (PMC). https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules24081459

Cannabidiol, cannabinol and their combinations act as peripheral analgesics in a rat model of myofascial pain - PubMed. (2019, August 1). PubMed. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.archoralbio.2019.05.028

Formato, M., Crescente, G., Scognamiglio, M., Fiorentino, A., Pecoraro, M. T., Piccolella, S., Catauro, M., & Pacifico, S. (2020, June 5). (‒)-Cannabidiolic Acid, a Still Overlooked Bioactive Compound: An Introductory Review and Preliminary Research. PubMed Central (PMC). https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules25112638

Izzo, A. A., Capasso, R., Aviello, G., Borrelli, F., Romano, B., Piscitelli, F., Gallo, L., Capasso, F., Orlando, P., & Marzo, V. D. (n.d.). Inhibitory effect of cannabichromene, a major non-psychotropic cannabinoid extracted from Cannabis sativa, on inflammation-induced hypermotility in mice. PubMed Central (PMC). https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1476-5381.2012.01879.x

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