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  • by Nicola Boulton August 30, 2022 5 min read

    What Is CBN, and How Is It Different From CBD?

    This article is written in a format that the reader understands by trying to give data about two cannabinoids, CBD and CBN. In addition, it answers questions related to CBD and CBN.

    Most cannabis companies are marketing CBN as a relaxing product that helps with sleeping disorders. It has made the CBN product gain popularity worldwide, with people who suffer from sleeping disorders purchasing the products daily. However, some scientific researchers say otherwise. They tend to show that CBN is rarely related to sleep. Rather, the compound THC is exposed to light, and oxygen is converted into CBN. Under another difficult process, CBN can be converted into CBD. Therefore, if the CBN product helps you get to sleep, it depends on what else is in that product. In most countries, CBD products are legal; however, CBN is facing some political stigmatizing since it is believed to cause high sensations with some problematic side effects. However, CBN is a milder drug that is non-psychoactive.

    What is CBN?

    Burstein & Sumner (2015)  suggested that CBN is an abbreviation for cannabinol. It is a cannabinoid extracted from the cannabis sativa plant and produced synthetically. The compound is formed when THC is exposed to light, thus degrading. It explains why industrial cannabis plants for the production of CBN are mostly from dry cannabis plants.

    THC is also known as tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical in the cannabis plant responsible for marijuana's psychological effects. CBN may be degraded THC, but it doesn't cause these psychological effects since the light can separate the bonds of THC molecules, forming a new different compound. Therefore, same as CBD, CBN is non-psychoactive.

    What is CBD?

    Burstein & Sumner (2015) noted that CBD is an abbreviation for cannabidiol, a cannabis sativa plant (hemp) chemical product. CBD is an approved product in many countries, even where marijuana is illegal since it is obtained from hemp, a cannabis sativa plant that contains only a small amount of THC. THC in full is tetrahydrocannabinol, the most famous ingredient in cannabis (marijuana), which induces highness in individuals who consume marijuana. Therefore, CBD is not a psychoactive product.

    CBD is more popular than CBN because it is legal in most countries and can be found in many products like oils, shampoos, pills, and creams. CBN, on the other hand, is not popular since it isn't readily available in many countries, and little research is being done on it. However, both compounds are touted for their medical benefits.

    How to Consume CBN vs. CBD?

    Cannabinol is not widely available. It is mostly found in its product in oils, capsules, tea bags, tinctures isolate, and disposable vape pens. On the other hand, cannabidiol is in various oral and topical goods that one can easily find in gas stations, grocery stores, cosmetics, and pharmacies. You can consume it in pills, patches, CBD oils, creams, tinctures, edibles, gummies, lotions, shampoo, and vape pens.

    Effective Uses of CBN

    Gambelunghe et al. (2016) described the uses of CBN and CBD. CBN can be understood as an aged version of THC. Therefore, it is around 20% as effective as THC or CBD. In addition, it hasn't been researched or used as widely as the other two compounds, so there is very limited knowledge of its benefits. However, some medical studies highlighted potential uses of this compound, including;

    Pain Relief

    It is used together with CBD to make it more effective in reducing muscle and joint pain conditions like fibromyalgia (widespread pain) and temporomandibular(muscle pains in joints, nerves, and jaws)


    The cannabinol compound is useful in treating eye problems like glaucoma. Glaucoma causes vision loss by damaging the eye optic nerve. CBN reduces the effects of this disease by exhibiting neuroprotective abilities. It protects the optic nerve system and structure by lowering the pressure associated with glaucoma.

    Sleep Disorders

    CBN is characterized by sedative properties and is therefore useful in treating sleeping disorders such as insomnia. Most people tend to both CBN and CBD to help in sleep aid since they're more effective if used together.

    Epidermolysis Bullosa Treatment

    It is a typical skin disease that causes skin blisters. CBN cream is used to treat these blisters since it heals easily open wounds if applied. Like CBD, CBN contains anti-inflammatory features which help in chronic wound healing.

    Side Effects of CBN

    Anciones et al. (2020) educated us that there are few known side effects of CBN because few studies have been done about the compound. A few are;

    Uses of CBD With Comparison to CBN

    Both compounds are used in medical areas such as aiding in sleep disorders, pain relief in muscles, joints, and nerves, prohibiting neuroprotection features, and both are anti-inflammatory, thus helping in healing skin wounds and blisters.

    However, CBD has other benefits. They include;

    • Anxiety and depression management- act as an alternative to treating depression. It helps the body, especially the mind receptors, to activate hormone glands to produce hormones that reduce anxiety and stress.
    • Cancer treatment-it reduces symptoms of cancer such as pain and nausea.
    • Grocery stores- produce products used in food additives.
    • Reduction of seizures.

     Side Effects of Using CBD Compared to CBN

    Anciones et al. (2020) stated that both compounds cause diarrhea, tiredness, and changes in weight and appetite to people; however, CBD has other side effects which have the potential to harm if used incorrectly or if one uses a mislabeled product. They include;

    • Dry mouth
    • Drowsiness
    • Possible infertility in males
    • Mood swing and change
    • Irritability and lack of alertness

    Other Differences Between CBN and CBD

    Salomone et al. (2012) stated that because CBN is from dried or aged THC, high usage of the compound can induce a high sensation since a high dosage may bind with human CB1 receptors. No matter how much quantity one takes, CBD doesn't cause highness.

    CBN depends on THC and other factors such as heat, light, and time. In the cannabis plant, the level of THC in flowers determines the making of the compound. In contrast, CBD is the second most abundant in the cannabis sativa plant.


    There is over 100 cannabinoids compound in a cannabis sativa plant with their effects and structure. Therefore, CBN differs in many ways from CBD; however, they have some similarities. CBN and CBD have various positive effects in the health sector; however, people who wish to use these cannabinoids should consult a medical officer to ensure there is no chemical interaction with any prescribed drugs.


    Anciones, C., & Gil‐Nagel, A. (2020). Adverse effects of cannabinoids. Epileptic Disorders, 22, S29-S32.

    Burstein, S. (2015). Cannabidiol (CBD) and its analogs: a review of their effects on inflammation. Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry, 23(7), 1377-1385.

    Gambelunghe, C., Fucci, N., Aroni, K., Bacci, M., Marcelli, A., & Rossi, R. (2016). Cannabis use surveillance by sweat analysis. Therapeutic Drug Monitoring, 38(5), 634-639.

    Salomone, A., Gerace, E., D'Urso, F., Di Corcia, D., & Vincenti, M. (2012). Simultaneous analysis of several synthetic cannabinoids, THC, CBD, and CBN, in hair by ultra‐high performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. Method validation and application to real samples. Journal of Mass Spectrometry, 47(5), 604-610.

    Nicola Boulton
    Nicola Boulton

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