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  • by Nicola Boulton August 31, 2022 5 min read

    Understand Cannabinoids: CBN vs. CBD

    CBD is one of the major compounds found in the cannabis plant that has many health benefits for humans. CBN is a potent cannabinoid formed after exposing THC compounds to heat and oxygen.

    CBD is a mildly psychoactive compound formed after the degradation of THC. It has healing properties, mainly found in cannabis products for sleep-aiding. It is used a lot by older people and CBD beginners to help them in improving their sleep. It is sold as a sleep-promoting product with insignia signals to show that the product is meant for night use.

    What are the Effects of CBN?

    After the oxidation of THC, terpenes get oxidized, causing the calming effect that has attributed sleepiness to CBN. Terpenes are responsible for the aromatic flavor of the cannabis plant. Bruci et al. (2012) found that after the oxidation of THC, the flower with CBN produces a very smooth calming effect, leading to sleepiness. Taking pure THC can get a person high, but when the flower is left to oxidize, the terpenes content lowers, lowering the effect of the cannabis.

    Is CBN Legal?

    The legality of the CBN depends on the source. This means that CBN derived from hemp is legal, according to the 2018 Farm Bill. The cannabis product should not contain more than 0.3%.

    How Does CBN Work?

    The human body has an endocannabinoid system made of CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptor deals with central nervous functions registered in the brain, such as pain perception and motor activities. CB2 receptor deals with the peripheral nervous system and physical body functions such as the immune system, pancreas, bones, and skin.

    CBN is believed to bind with CB2 receptors, which deal with body functions rather than brain functions. When you take 10mg of CBN, it is roughly equivalent to taking 1 mg of THC. Taking a high dose of CBN blocks the effect of THC, meaning that the user will feel less 'high'.

    How to Use CBN Oil

    Sublingual Absorption

    The sublingual method is the second fastest method of taking CBD after inhalation. CBN oil administered sublingually involves putting the required CBN dose under your tongue ad holding it there for some time to get absorbed in the bloodstream. It shows the desired results quickly compared to the other administration methods requiring digestion.

    Applying it to Your Skin

    CBN oil can also be used topically. CBN is applied on the skin directly to treat skin diseases or treating inflammations.


    Pijlman et al. (2005) claimed that CBN taken in edible form produces long-lasting effects. The edibles are mixed with other punchy ingredients to mask CBN's strong, earthy hemp flavor.

    Potential Benefits of CBN Oil


    Moreno et al. (2020) argued that CBN is marketed as a sleep aid, although there is not enough research to back this up. CBN also has sleep-promoting properties. It is believed that the old flower makes you sleepier because the higher the CBN concentration, the higher the sleep-inducing effects of CBN.

    Anti-inflammatory Effects

    CBN is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties. It has a high affinity for CB2 receptors linked to the immune system. It is effective in reducing rheumatoid arthritis in rodents.

    Appetite Booster

    CBN increases appetite by increasing the overall food consumption. Cannabis is associated with appetite stimulation, whereas CBN provides these benefits without intoxications.

    What is CBD?

    CBD is one of the major chemical compounds occurring naturally in the cannabis hemp plant. CBD does not have psychoactive effects, which make users "high."

    Does CBD Get You 'High'?

    Pure CBD can't get you high because it does not contain THC compounds associated with psychoactive effects. De Backer et al. (2009) acknowledged that with the increased demand for CBD, it is hard to know the pure CBD. Some CBD is claimed to be pure, but after the test, they contain traces of THC and other unsafe toxins like pesticides and heavy metals.

    Health Benefits of CBD

    CBD has many health benefits and has been approved for treating epilepsy. The FDA approved Epidiolex medicine, which contains cannabidiol for treating two different kinds of epilepsy for patients aged two years and above. CBD also reduces anxiety, depression, chronic pain, inflammation, cancer-related diseases, and other health conditions. It does all this by interacting with the internal endocannabinoid system, which is made of two core receptors responsible for regulating body functions. CBD can also be used in modifying the reaction between the THC and CB1 receptors.

    Potential Side Effects of CBD vs. CBN

    The most common side effects of CBD and CBN are:

    • Weight change
    • Appetite change
    • Diarrhea
    • Tiredness
    • Sleepiness
    • Interaction with other medicines
    • Dry mouth

    How Does CBN Differ from CBD?

    A previous study established that although both CBD and CBN are phytocannabinoids produced from the cannabis plant, CBD is typically abundant in strains of the cannabis plant, but the amount of CBN is determined by the maturity of cannabis. This means that CBN depends on how long the THC content has been exposed to heat and oxygen.

    CBD is used to reduce some of the adverse effects brought by THC. For example, CBD in high content slows down the effects of THC. CBN, on the other hand, may boost the THC effects leading to sedative effects for some people.

    CBD molecules are believed to interact with the CB2 receptors resulting in desired benefits. On the other hand, CBN binds with both CB1 and CB2receptors, although it has a low affinity for both when compared to the effects of both THC and CBD.

    Similarities between CBD and CBN

    CBD and CBN are found in the cannabis hemp plant and are non-psychoactive compounds, so they can't get you 'high.' They both interact with the endocannabinoid system, feeling calm and relaxed.


    Although both CBD and CBN are found in the cannabis plant, they differ in one way or the other. CBD occurs naturally in the cannabis hemp plant, but CBN grows out of oxidized natural THC compound. Both of them have calming and relaxing properties which help in promoting sleep.


    Bruci, Z., Papoutsis, I., Athanaselis, S., Nikolaou, P., Pazari, E., Spiliopoulou, C., & Vyshka, G. (2012). First Systematic Evaluation Of The Potency Of Cannabis Sativa Plants Grown In Albania. Forensic Science International, 222(1-3), 40–46. Https://Doi.Org/10.1016/J.Forsciint.2012.04.032

    De Backer, B., Debrus, B., Lebrun, P., Theunis, L., Dubois, N., Decock, L., Verstraete, A., Hubert, P., & Charlier, C. (2009). Innovative Development And Validation Of An HPLC/DAD Method For The Qualitative And Quantitative Determination Of Major Cannabinoids In Cannabis Plant Material. Journal Of Chromatography B, 877(32), 4115–4124. Https://Doi.Org/10.1016/J.Jchromb.2009.11.004

    Moreno, T., Montanes, F., Tallon, S. J., Fenton, T., & King, J. W. (2020). Extraction Of Cannabinoids From Hemp (Cannabis Sativa L.) Using High Pressure Solvents: An Overview Of Different Processing Options. The Journal Of Supercritical Fluids, 161, 104850. Https://Doi.Org/10.1016/J.Supflu.2020.104850

    Pijlman, F., Rigter, S., Hoek, J., Goldschmidt, H., & Niesink, R. (2005). Strong Increase In Total Delta-THC In Cannabis Preparations Sold In Dutch Coffee Shops. Addiction Biology, 10(2), 171–180. Https://Doi.Org/10.1080/13556210500123217

    Nicola Boulton
    Nicola Boulton

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