What Is the Difference Between CBD and CBN?

difference between CBD and CBN

The global market size for cannabis is expected to reach a staggering $97.35 billion in 2026, up from $10.60 billion in 2018. The industry’s phenomenal growth is spurred majorly by the increasing legalization of cannabis in many parts of the world. 

And with the genuine medicinal benefits and therapeutic applications of cannabis becoming clearer each day, demand for this product will only skyrocket in the coming years.

Perhaps the two best known and most widely used compounds of the cannabis plant are CBD and CBN. In fact, many people don’t know there’s a difference between CBD and CBN. The truth is that these two compounds have numerous similarities, and it’s easy to confuse the two. 

But there are certain key distinctions between CBD and CBN too. This post explores some of these differences. 

Read on to learn more.

What Is CBD?

CBD stands for cannabidiol. It is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid that’s found in cannabis plants, including hemp and marijuana. After THC, CBD is the most abundant cannabinoid in the cannabis plant. 

After the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill that legalized marijuana and hemp plants with less than 0.3 percent THC, a bevy of hemp-derived CBD products has hit the health and wellness market. These include CBD capsules and CBD oil

Even in states that have yet to legalize recreational marijuana, consumers can still use hemp-derived products, provided that these products contain THC amounts below 0.3 percent. That being said, it’s important to note that the FDA doesn’t permit the selling of CBD as a dietary supplement or for use as an ingredient in drinks and edibles.

How Does CBD Work?

Your body contains a specialized system known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system is responsible for a variety of functions, including regulating pain, appetite, sleep, and immune system response.

The ECS produces endocannabinoids, which are essentially neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters bind to the cannabinoid receptors in the nervous system. 

CBD binds with endocannabinoid receptors and impacts their activity, leading to a range of benefits that we’ll look at in the next section.

Potential Benefits of CBD

That CBD has garnered massive attention in both the consumer and the medical markets is without question. The compound has been shown to be effective against pain, nausea, and seizures. 

CBD is also a powerful agent against MRSA, a bacteria that’s resistant to antibiotics. The product also significantly improves cognitive abilities in people affected by the loss of brain function due to other health conditions. Consumers of CBD have been shown to have a lower risk of stroke.

Where THC is involved, CBD helps regulate its adverse effects, including paranoia and anxiety. 

What Is CBN?

CBN, or cannabinol, is another naturally occurring compound in the cannabis plant. This compound was the first cannabinoid to be isolated in its pure form. Initially, people thought CBN was responsible for the intoxicating effect you feel after taking cannabis but later realized that it was THC that did that.

CBN is an oxidation product of THC. When THC is exposed to light and heat, it gradually turns into CBN.

Cannabis extracts typically have higher CBN levels when left in the light or unrefrigerated. In other words, it isn’t genetic factors that determine CBN levels; it’s environmental factors. 

Like CBD, CBN doesn’t have intoxicating effects. 

How Does CBN Work? 

CBN interacts with the ECS, just like CBD does. It binds to CB1 receptors, influencing the functioning of a variety of hormones in the body. In particular, CBN can influence your mood, energy, appetite, pain, immune function, cognition, and focus.

Potential Benefits of CBN

Research into the effects of CBN is still ongoing. However, there’s solid evidence that this cannabinoid may yield numerous benefits.

For instance, CBN has been shown to produce a sedated, relaxing high when combined with THC. Research has also demonstrated that CBN has powerful anticonvulsant and anti-inflammatory properties. 

CBD also acts as an appetite stimulant and can also relieve pain, especially when used in combination with CBD. People with sleep disorders can also benefit from this product.

What Is the Difference Between CBD and CBN?

As you’ve seen, CBD and CBN share many similarities, including their health benefits to the human body. But the two cannabinoids are fundamentally different. 

For instance, the CBD and CBN molecules have separate origins. You can find high levels of CBD in industrial hemp plants. On the other hand, the level of CBN depends on how much light and heat the concentrate or cannabis flower has been exposed to.

CBN is thus a by-product of oxidation or degradation of THC, while CBD is directly extracted from the industrial hemp plant. 

Another difference between the two has to do with how they affect someone’s appetite. CBD acts as a mild appetite suppressant. In contrast, CBN stimulates the user’s appetite. 

CBN consumers report that the product has a sedating effect on them. CBD has the opposite effect. Most users have a feeling of alertness instead of sluggishness the morning after bedtime consumption. 


While the potential benefits of CBD and CBN are impressive, it’s vital to be careful when using them for pain relief, inflammation reduction, or other purposes. One way to benefit from these compounds is by applying them topically to the affected area instead of ingesting them. This way, you bypass the liver and the digestive system and avert potential interactions with prescription drugs.

No matter what you’re using CBD or CBN for, it’s vital to consult your doctor before using the compound. You want to avoid any unforeseen contraindications that may occur from using these products.

Always research the supplier you’re buying from to get a high-quality product. The current explosion in CBD and CBN products has led to a proliferation of unscrupulous vendors whose intention is to cash in on the fad without selling a top-quality product.

CBD vs. CBN: Now You Know the Difference

As a consumer of cannabis products, it’s essential to know the difference between CBD and CBN. This makes it easy to know precisely which of the two to use for your situation. 

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