Cover photo for What is the difference in CBN and CBD?

What is the difference in CBN and CBD?

| Spencer Beaudreault

At the time of this writing, there are 113 known cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are naturally occurring chemical compounds that are produced by the cannabis plant. And, while they may all originate from the same plant, these cannabinoids can be very different in terms of chemical makeup as well as the effects felt from using these compounds. No two cannabinoids are exactly alike, although many do share strong similarities. In this article, we will discuss two very similar cannabinoids; cannabinol, or CBN, and cannabidiol, commonly known as CBD. While both CBN and CBD have several striking similarities, these two cannabinoids also have more than a few key differences that set them apart.

the word cannabinoids typed out on a paper with a magnifying glass



Cannabinol is a minor cannabinoid that has recently gained traction in the public eye for multiple potential benefits that it possesses for those suffering from several physical and emotional ailments. CBN is rarely found in high volume within fresh, living cannabis plants. It is through the process of ageing the plant and exposing it to ultraviolet light that the percentage of CBN within the plant will grow. As the THCA ages, it will convert into CBNA, or cannabinolic acid, which then can be turned into CBN. Although it has only recently begun to grow in popularity, CBN was actually the very first cannabinoid to have been isolated from a cannabis extract, having been isolated successfully in the late 1800s! In the 1930s, scientists were able to determine the structure of cannabinol, and in 1940, CBN was the very first cannabinoid to have been synthesized by researchers! As you can see, CBN has a long and storied history of study, which is quite uncommon for most cannabinoids, as legislation put much of the study of cannabis and its compounds on hold indefinitely. Despite the fact that CBN is technically a mildly psychoactive cannabinoid, there are little if any intoxicating effects associated with the use of cannabinol. With that being said, there are dozens of disorders, injuries, and ailments that CBN is believed to potentially assist with. For starters, it is believed by several researchers that CBN may in fact possess several antibacterial properties. This is further evidenced by the fact that researchers tested CBN on various strains of MRSA bacteria, which are notorious for being highly resistant to traditional antibiotics! The researchers found evidence that CBN may be able to assist with fighting off these bacterias effectively.

But the benefits of using CBN may not just stop at the antibacterial nature of the cannabinoid.

a molecule of CBN vs CBD leaf

CBN has also shown to be hopeful in preventing as well as assisting those suffering from glaucoma. The key in this research is that CBN may help reduce intraocular pressure, which is a major risk factor associated with developing glaucoma. While this has been shown in tests with lab rats, further study must be done before we are ready to put CBN in testing with humans suffering from glaucoma. This is still a profound study for cannabinoids! Only time will tell just how effective CBN is in this regard, but the future's looking bright for CBN!

Yet another potential benefit associated with the use of CBN would be its potential ability to positively affect those suffering from a variety of neurodegenerative diseases, namely ALS.

Yes, there have been rodent studies that indicate that the regular use of CBN may help with delaying the onset of the symptoms of ALS. While this doesn’t mean that CBN is a cure for ALS by any means, it does indicate that there are some properties of CBN that may be able to hold off the disease from growing as quickly and debilitating those suffering from the infamous disease. Further study and research is needed, but could we one day rely on CBN to help deal with such deadly and debilitating neurological illnesses? Time will tell!

CBN is commonly claimed by supporters of the cannabinoid to help with many common issues as well. CBN is believed to stimulate appetite, which can be beneficial for those suffering from various illnesses that make eating nearly impossible. Cannabinol is also believed by many to assist with those suffering from insomnia. This may be especially true when combined with THC. Today, the most common CBN product would be CBN oil tinctures as well as CBN gummies which are often taken before bed as a natural sleep aid. CBN gummies come in a wide variety of flavors and dosages so that each user can find what works best for them! If you are curious about more of the specifics on CBN as well as the plethora of potential benefits commonly associated with the use of CBN products, you can check out our previous article on CBN here.

Now that we have gone over the background of CBN, let’s go over a bit of the background on CBD so that we can effectively discuss the difference between CBN vs CBD.

 A bottle of Hero Brands CBN Gummies sitting inside of a green plant



If CBD isn’t the most popular cannabinoid in existence, then it is a shoe-in for second place! Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a major cannabinoid, accounting for as much as 40% of the cannabis plant’s total extract. Whereas CBN is not often found in high volume, CBD is often found in abundance within the hemp plant. CBD has been heralded across the world for several years now for the potential it has to benefit those suffering from such ailments as insomnia, muscular pain and inflammation, anxiety, and digestive pain. It is also the only cannabinoid that is currently approved by the FDA for a specific illness or disorder, namely epilepsy. CBD products can be found in nearly every head shop in the nation. CBD products can even be found in convenience stores and grocery stores nowadays, depending on where you’re located! CBD is non psychoactive so you don’t have to worry about any intoxicating effects from the use of CBD products. Instead, you can expect a mild relaxing effect, as the CBD may be able to lift some of the stress off of your shoulders and slowly ease some of the various aches and pains that you may be dealing with. Although CBD has reached heights of which no other cannabinoid has yet to reach (yes, including THC!) It is believed by researchers and consumers alike that we may have only just begun to crack the surface of what CBD truly has to offer consumers. For further information on CBD and the many potential benefits associated with this cannabinoid, check out our previous article here.

So, if CBN has the potential to benefit people suffering from so many different ailments and disorders, and CBD has been approved by the FDA for epilepsy and supported by millions for a wide variety of other injuries or illnesses, why is CBD so much more popular than CBN? Why don’t we ever hear about CBN?

a man holding up a cannabis bud with a molecule of CBD vs CBN


The Popularity Opinion Between CBN vs CBD

A key difference in the debate between CBN vs CBD actually has little to do with the compounds and more to do with research and legislation. We simply have held more studies and research on CBD than we have on CBN. This is no fault of CBN, as CBN has shown so far to have the potential to be a life-altering substance for many who suffer from a wide variety of issues. Perhaps unfortunately for CBN, the current popularity of CBD has people from various walks of life talking about it, posting on social media, and boasting about the relief that they experience when using CBD. It is this extreme difference in popularity that leads CBD to be studied further, more in depth, and more often than CBN. CBN simply isn’t as popular. It also does not occur within the plant with nearly the same volume as that of CBD. Therefore CBN must either be synthesized or otherwise processed much more than CBD. It’s easier to harvest CBD than it is CBN, and, until we see a rise in the demand for CBN, this will continue to be yet another hurdle that CBN must jump through before it reaches the same or similar status as CBD.

With this being said, both CBN and CBD are federally legal thanks largely in part to the 2018 Farm Bill Act. It seems that the only real reason why CBN isn’t as popular as CBD, delta 9 THC or even delta 8 THC is simply because too few people know much about CBN. However, by spreading the word of the potential wonders that this cannabinoid possesses, we may one day see a world in which those suffering from so many different ailments are using CBN and other lesser known cannabinoids to possibly assist them within their daily lives. When it comes to CBD vs CBN, these two cannabinoids share many similarities and several differences. However, they seem to have the great potential to work in unison with one another, collectively combating the various aches, pains, and mental health ailments that plague so many people.

a stamp that says popular for what is cbn

Only through further study will we see CBN rise in popularity in the same manner that we have seen CBD rise in the public opinion within the last ten years.

It will take time, but if CBN can truly benefit people in the manner that many are claiming, it could soon rise as one of the top three most talked about cannabinoids there is!

Spencer Beaudreault

Spencer Beaudreault is the Founder of Hero Brands, a Business Development & Marketing Expert, and a lifelong advocate & user of cannabis, hemp, & plant-based alternatives.
Tags: CBD, CBN, Sleep