What is the Difference Between CBD and CBN?

August 01, 2019

You probably know how effective marijuana is at treating anxiety and reducing it at bedtime so that people can go to sleep. However, the problem with using marijuana as a sleep aid is that not everyone wants the high that comes with ingesting it.

Cue the compounds CBD (cannabidiol) and CBN (cannabinol). Both are typically isolated from hemp. One of the benefits of working with hemp is that it is now legal! (As long as the THC level remains below 0.3%)

CBD and CBN are mostly free of the side effects that you get from smoking or eating marijuana and typically do not cause a high. This provides many advantages in using them to treat pain, seizures, or insomnia.

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What Exactly Are CBD and CBN?


Both are part of a family of chemicals produced in nature called cannabinoids. Most people are familiar with the plant cannabinoids like THC produced by marijuana (phytocannabinoids), but the fact that we make our own in our bodies (endocannabinoids) is much less widely known.

Lest you think that we are delving too deeply into chemistry, endocannabinoids are very important because they produce the soothing relief that you get after taking CBD or CBN.

CBD and CBN activate switches that trigger your body to produce its own cannabinoids. The body’s endocannabinoid systems affect the nervous and immune systems.

Now, viva la difference as they say in France. There are some subtle differences between CBD and CBN.

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Hemp Plants Produce CBD and CBN Differently


During the process that the plants go through to make THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids, they first make temporary compounds – intermediates in the process. THC and CBD are produced as acids and need to broken down to be of use to you.

And where does CBN come into this picture? It is produced in two different ways. In one, it is a breakdown product from the THC, which reacts even further as it degrades and then produces CBN. Another way that CBN can be made is through aging of the hemp plants.

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CBN Can Be a Powerful Sedative

Neither CBD nor CBN will get you high in the traditional sense. For a long time, scientists thought that CBN lacked psychoactive properties. However, recent discoveries indicate that CBN can act as a powerful sedative.

That ability strongly suggests that CBN could be even more effective than CBD at helping people with anxiety disorders and insomnia.

More Research Will Discover the Benefits of CBN


Although there is a long list of benefits for CBD compared to CBN, some of that is probably because CBD has been known for much longer. So, there has been more opportunity to conduct research on it.

While both compounds are used to treat pain, seizures, inflammation, and insomnia, CBD has a long list of additional uses. These include the treatment of brain disorders like anxiety, OCD, and PTSD. Other uses include treating nausea and osteoporosis.

It is highly likely that future research will unearth many more health benefits for CBN.

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Should I Take CBD or CBN?

If you are trying to choose between taking CBD or CBN, experts suggest that you try CBD first. The compound has been around longer, so it’s been more thoroughly studied. Also, it’s likely to cost less, and it treats a longer list of problems.

You can also switch to CBN if you aren’t getting the results that you want.

The dramatic increase in interest in CBD and CBN following the legalization of hemp is likely to provide many opportunities for people who want to take advantage of the medicinal opportunities of this fascinating class of compounds.


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