CBN vs CBG vs CBD: What Are The Differences?

by Kat Austin March 19, 2024 10 min read

CBN vs CBG vs CBD: What Are The Differences? - Vida Optima™

Cannabinoids have garnered significant attention in recent years for their potential health benefits and therapeutic properties. Among the myriad of cannabinoids, CBN, CBG, and CBD stand out as notable compounds with distinct characteristics and applications. All three offer non-psychoactive therapeutic potential–but you need to understand the difference in order to make informed choices about their use.

No stress–we’ll touch on the most suitable uses for each to help you build an effective hemp regimen. But first, let's cover some basics:

Table of Contents
What is CBN?
What is CBG?
What is CBD?
Key Differences: CBN vs CBG vs CBD
Similarities: CBN, CBG, and CBD
Combining Cannabinoids for Entourage Effect
Cannabinoid Safety: Considerations for Consumers
Conclusion
Where to Buy Hemp THC?

Key Takeaways 

  • CBN, CBG, and CBD are distinct cannabinoids with unique properties and therapeutic potential.
  • Despite differences, they share similarities in legality, manufacturing, and potential synergistic interactions.
  • Combining them may enhance therapeutic effects, highlighting the importance of choosing high-quality hemp products.

What is CBN?

model of CBN molecular configuration on a hemp leaf background

CBN, or cannabinol, is a cannabinoid that develops as a result of the degradation of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). In fact, the two have an inverse effect–the more CBN a cannabis strain contains, the less THC is present. 

CBN is often found in aged cannabis plants and is known for having mild sedative properties—this is one reason why cannabis that is aged will often produce relaxing, sedative-like effects. 

CBN is believed to have potential benefits for sleep disorders, pain relief, and inflammation. However, research on CBN is still in its early stages, and more studies are needed to fully understand its effects and potential applications.

 

CBN Effects and Research

Here's a quick look at current CBN research:

  • Pain Management: A 2019 study investigated CBN's potential for managing pain caused by certain conditions, like fibromyalgia. The research found that CBN may offer significant analgesic relief for chronic muscle pain disorders.
  • Antibacterial Properties: Another study implies that CBN may have antibacterial properties that could be effective against bacteria, like MRSA, which is prone to being antibiotic-resistant.
  • Anti-inflammatory Effects: In a study evaluating the anti-inflammatory effects of various cannabinoids, CBN was among the ones thought to offer potential anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • Sedative Effects: One well-cited study suggests that CBN, in combination with THC, may have prominent sedative-like effects. This research is the main reason that people found interest in using CBN for insomnia and other sleep-related issues.
  • Neuroprotection: A study dating back to 2005 found that CBN may have certain neuroprotective benefits. It was shown to potentially delay the onset of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a disease that causes muscle control loss.

What is CBG?

model of CBG molecular configuration on a hemp leaf background

CBG, or cannabigerol, is another cannabinoid that has garnered attention for its potential therapeutic effects. Unlike CBN, CBG is considered a precursor to other cannabinoids, including THC and CBD. Think of it like a cannabinoid stem cell–it has the potential to become one of many different cannabinoids as the cannabis plant ages. 

Because of this, it is found in the early stages of the cannabis plant's growth cycle. On its own, it's believed to have potential anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and neuroprotective properties. 

Some research suggests that CBG may also have the potential to help manage conditions such as glaucoma, inflammatory bowel disease, and certain types of cancer. Of course, research is still limited. Take a look at what we know for now:

CBG Effects and Research

  • Antibacterial Effects: Research regarding CBG’s possible antibacterial properties, particularly against MRSA (a bacteria known for being difficult to treat and potentially deadly), has piqued researchers’ interest. 
  • Anti-inflammatory Effects: One study concluded that CBG showed broad anti-inflammatory effects when used on isolated cultures representing rheumatoid arthritis. 
  • Mood and Mental Health Regulation: One self-report survey found that most people used CBG for medicinal purposes, namely for managing anxiety (51.2%), chronic pain (40.9%), depression (33.1%), and insomnia/disturbed sleep (30.7%). The majority of study participants reported that their symptoms were "very much improved" or "much improved" and 73.9% claimed that CBG worked better than pharmaceuticals they had previously used to manage the condition. 

What is CBD?

model of CBD molecular configuration on a hemp leaf background

CBD, or cannabidiol, is perhaps the most well-known cannabinoid, thanks to its widespread availability and numerous purported health benefits. 

Unlike THC, CBD is non-intoxicating and does not produce the "high" typically associated with cannabis use. Although this is true for CBG and CBN, this was CBD's original claim to fame and the reason why its therapeutic avenues include managing conditions that often affect children, like certain forms of childhood epilepsy. In fact, CBD-based formulas are becoming widely popular in pediatric medicine because they offer similar benefits to other cannabis products, but do not produce the high. 

CBD is believed to have a wide range of potential therapeutic effects, including relief from pain, anxiety, depression, and seizures. Research on CBD is much more extensive than for other cannabinoids, but here are the highlights:

CBD Effects and Research

  • Autoimmune diseases: Preliminary research has shown that CBD may have benefits that are useful for managing a variety of autoimmune disorders, including Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Psoriasis.
  • Bowel Disease: Certain bowel diseases are considered “qualifying conditions” for medical marijuana in areas where medicinal use is legal. More recently, studies have identified some positive potential benefits of CBD for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, like Colitis.
  • Metabolic Syndrome:Some research suggests that CBD may have a positive impact on insulin resistance and diabetes. Other research identifies it as a potential treatment for obesity through increased “fat browning,” which may lead to weight loss.
  • Neurological conditions:CBD has been identified as potentially having significant neuroprotective properties, and it has been studied for its potential benefits for childhood epilepsy, Alzheimer’s Disease, and a variety of neurodegenerative disorders.
  • Pain:In general, much of the research surrounding CBD focuses on the cannabinoid’s potential ability to manage pain. Research suggests CBD may block pain signals, which may make it a candidate for difficult to manage pain, neuropathic pain, and more.
  • Psychological Disorders:Some research suggests CBD may have the ability to improve cognitive function. For this reason, researchers are interested in CBD's ability to potentially help manage a variety of psychological and neuropsychiatric disorders, like anxiety, depression, ADHD, PTSD, and chemical dependency.
  • Skin Conditions: Many skin conditions may be linked to an endocannabinoid deficiency, and current research suggests CBD may impact skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema. Similarly, studies have identified potential anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and sebostatic properties that may make CBD a good treatment for acne and other skin irritations.
  • Sleep Disorders: Interest surrounds CBD’s potential ability to improve certain sleep disorders, namely anxiety-induced insomnia.

Key Differences: CBN vs CBG vs CBD

The chemical composition and structure of CBN, CBG, and CBD differ significantly, leading to distinct biological effects and mechanisms of action. While CBN is primarily known for its sedative properties, CBG is valued for its potential anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects. CBD, on the other hand, has garnered attention for its diverse therapeutic benefits, ranging from pain relief to anxiety management.

To put it more simply:

  • CBG may be chosen for neuroprotection applications, and may also play a role in reducing inflammation, managing mood, and preventing aging related to oxidative stress. 
  • CBN is often chosen for its relaxing effects. It may be most useful for nighttime use to improve sleep or manage nighttime discomfort. 
  • CBD is multifaceted and may have a wide range of applications. It may also be combined with other cannabinoids, such as CBN and CBG, to amplify their effects and create a more targeted regimen.

Similarities: CBN, CBG, and CBD Align

Manufacturing and Source

CBN, CBG, and CBD are all commonly derived from hemp–though it is also possible for these products to be made from marijuana. Marijuana-derived products are not federally legal and are subject to different rules and restrictions, so consumers usually seek out the Hemp-derived versions that dominate the market. 

As far as manufacturing goes, all three compounds are naturally derived from hemp material. That means they can be extracted using one of many simple extraction processes, like solventless extractions or oil extractions. Read about Hemp and CBD Extraction Techniques to learn more. 

Ultimately, because the manufacturing and source of all three cannabinoids are the same, regulatory oversight and safety considerations are similar. 

Legality: Hemp Cannabinoids are Legal

One commonality among CBN, CBG, and CBD is their legal status. In the United States, cannabinoids derived from hemp, including CBN, CBG, and CBD, are federally legal for medicinal and recreational use. 

However, the legality of these cannabinoids can vary by state. Hemp-derived cannabinoids with less than 0.3% THC are typically legal, while those derived from marijuana with higher THC concentrations may be subject to stricter regulations. In some states, hemp cannabinoids are legal to buy and consume, but certain product types, like gummies or vapes, may be prohibited. Read our Guide to CBD Laws in All 50 States to learn more. 

Product Types

CBN, CBG, and CBD are available in various product types to suit different consumer preferences and needs. As the hemp industry has expanded, a wide range of products have become available for every cannabinoid type. That means that whether you're looking for CBN, CBG, or CBD, you'll likely find a wide range of oils, tinctures, capsules, edibles, topicals, and vape cartridges. 

Each product type offers unique advantages in terms of convenience, bioavailability, and dosage control. For example, oils and tinctures allow for precise dosing, while edibles offer a discreet and convenient way to consume cannabinoids. To learn more, read CBD Products Types

Interactions

Despite their differences, CBN, CBG, and CBD share some similarities and may interact synergistically within the body's endocannabinoid system. These cannabinoids interact with cannabinoid receptors in the body to regulate various physiological processes, including mood, appetite, pain perception, and immune function. 

Additionally, they may have complementary roles in modulating the effects of each other, leading to potential synergistic effects when consumed together.

 

A full spectrum CBD gel capsule that combines multiple different cannabinoids together for entourage effects

Combining Cannabinoids for Entourage Effect

Combining all three cannabinoids may be the way to go–especially if you want to reap the benefits of the entourage effect. 

The entourage effect refers to the synergistic interaction of different compounds found in the cannabis plant, such as CBD, CBG, and CBN, which work together to enhance each other's therapeutic effects when consumed simultaneously. 

CBD (cannabidiol) is known for its potential to reduce anxiety, inflammation, and pain, while CBG (cannabigerol) exhibits potential antibacterial, neuroprotective, and appetite-stimulating properties. CBN (cannabinol) is recognized for its sedative effects and potential in aiding sleep. 

By combining these cannabinoids, individuals may experience a more comprehensive range of benefits compared to using any single cannabinoid in isolation. This holistic approach to cannabis consumption is the reason why full spectrum CBD products, or CBD formulas that contain the full spectrum of cannabinoids present in the original hemp material, are often more popular than CBD isolates. 

Cannabinoid Safety: Considerations for Consumers

When choosing between CBN, CBG, and CBD products, consumers should consider various factors, including their specific health needs, desired effects, and personal preferences. It's essential to research the quality and potency of products, as well as to consider safety and regulatory considerations. Consulting with a healthcare professional can also provide valuable guidance and personalized recommendations based on individual health conditions and goals.

While each of these cannabinoids have different effects, benefits, and dosages, they are all made via similar methods and subject to the same regulations. Unfortunately, industry regulations are not entirely standardized across the country, so you need to be careful to choose a high quality hemp product. Whether choosing CBD, CBN, or CBG, look for a product that:

  • Is made from high-quality, organic hemp
  • Is third-party lab tested to prove label accuracy and purity
  • Gives the exact potency and dosage on the bottle. 
  • Is made by a trustworthy, experienced brand with good customer reviews. 

Ultimately, choosing a safe, high-quality hemp product is crucial to a positive experience. Then, work with your doctor to determine a dosing regimen that fits into your current lifestyle and wellness routine. 

Conclusion

CBN, CBG, and CBD offer distinct characteristics and potential health benefits for consumers. While research on CBN and CBG is still emerging, CBD remains a popular choice for its diverse therapeutic effects. All three cannabinoids can be used individually or together to reap the bountiful benefits of hemp–but be sure to choose a high-quality product. 

Looking for Hemp THC?

Take a peek at our Elev8 and Cloud9 Collections for a variety of hemp-derived THC edibles, vapes, flowers, and more. All Vida Optima products are 100% farm bill compliant and third-party safety tested.

Vida Optima Vitality CBD Gummies

Resources

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  2. “Antibacterial cannabinoids from Cannabis sativa: a structure-activity study” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18681481/
  3. “Effects of delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabinol in man” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1221432/
  4. “Cannabinol delays symptom onset in SOD1 (G93A) transgenic mice without affecting survival” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16183560/
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  6. “Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Cannabigerol in Rheumatoid Arthritis Synovial Fibroblasts and Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cell Cultures Are Partly Mediated by TRPA1” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36614296/#:~:text=CBG%20showed%20broad%20anti%2Dinflammatory,IL%2D6%20and%20autoantibody%20levels.
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  9. “Cannabidiol Attenuates Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis Model of Multiple Sclerosis Through Induction of Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6085417/
  10. “Joints for Joints: Cannabinoids in the Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30920973/
  11. “Cannabis for Refractory Psoriasis-High Hopes for a Novel Treatment and a Literature Review” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27164964/
  12. “CBD Could Treat Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Says New Study” https://www.analyticalcannabis.com/articles/cbd-could-treat-inflammatory-bowel-disease-says-new-study-311677
  13. “Cannabidiol, a Safe and Non-Psychotropic Ingredient of the Marijuana Plant Cannabis Sativa, Is Protective in a Murine Model of Colitis” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19690824/
  14. “The Impact of Marijuana Use on Glucose, Insulin, and Insulin Resistance among US Adults” https://www.amjmed.com/article/S0002-9343%2813%2900200-3/abstract
  15. “Cannabidiol Promotes Browning in 3T3-L1 Adipocytes” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27067870/
  16. “Report of a Parent Survey of Cannabidiol-Enriched Cannabis Use in Pediatric Treatment-Resistant Epilepsy” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24237632/
  17. “Neuroprotective Effect of Cannabidiol, a Non-Psychoactive Component From Cannabis Sativa, on Beta-Amyloid-Induced Toxicity in PC12 Cells” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15030397/
  18. “Cannabidiol for neurodegenerative disorders: important new clinical applications for this phytocannabinoid?” https://www.theroc.us/researchlibrary/Cannabidiol%20for%20neurodegenerative%20disorders-%20important%20new%20clinical%20applications%20for%20this%20phytocannabinoid.pdf
  19. “Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2503660/
  20. “Meta-analysis of Cannabis Based Treatments for Neuropathic and Multiple Sclerosis-Related Pain” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17257464/
  21. “Therapeutic Effects of Prolonged Cannabidiol Treatment on Psychological Symptoms and Cognitive Function in Regular Cannabis Users: A Pragmatic Open-Label Clinical Trial” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29607408/
  22. “Cannabidiol, a Cannabis Sativa Constituent, as an Anxiolytic Drug” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22729452/
  23. “Antidepressant-like Effects of Cannabidiol in Mice: Possible Involvement of 5-HT1A Receptors” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20002102/
  24. “Cannabidiol and Clozapine Reverse MK-801-induced Deficits in Social Interaction and Hyperactivity in Sprague-Dawley Rats” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22495620/
  25. “Cannabidiol as an Intervention for Addictive Behaviors: A Systematic Review of the Evidence” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4444130/
  26. “Cannabis for Refractory Psoriasis-High Hopes for a Novel Treatment and a Literature Review” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27164964/
  27. “Cannabidiol Exerts Sebostatic and Antiinflammatory Effects on Human Sebocytes” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25061872/
  28. “Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6326553/
  29. “FDA Approves First Drug Comprised of an Active Ingredient Derived from Marijuana to Treat Rare, Severe Forms of Epilepsy” https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-first-drug-comprised-active-ingredient-derived-marijuana-treat-rare-severe-forms
  30. “Sativex – Investigational Cannabis-Based treatment for Pain and Multiple Sclerosis” https://www.clinicaltrialsarena.com/projects/sativex/
  31. “Use of CBD Oil in the Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder” https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04197102?recrs=a
  32. “Cannabidiol Solution for the Treatment of Behavioral Symptoms in Older Adults With Alzheimer's Dementia (CBD)” https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04075435?recrs=a
  33. “Cannabidiol for ASD Open Trial” https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03900923?recrs=a
  34. “The endocannabinoid system of the skin in health and disease: novel perspectives and therapeutic opportunities” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2757311/

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