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You may have noticed CBD or cannabidiol cropping up on product labels found at your grocery store and pharmacy. This federally legal cannabinoid is becoming more commonplace, making its way into coffees, seltzers, body scrubs, and lip balms. But what about CBN and CBN products?

You aren’t alone if you haven’t heard of the chemical CBN yet. This cannabinoid is currently less available and less researched, but early evidence suggests the effects of CBN are promising! 

So what exactly is CBN, and how do the potential benefits of CBN compare with those of CBD? Let’s dive in!

CBN vs. CBD: How Are They Different?

CBN and CBD are both derived from the marijuana or cannabis plant, but much sets these different cannabinoids apart. 

What Is CBN?

CBN, or cannabinol, is one of more than 100 phytocannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. This bioactive compound is not particularly psychoactive or intoxicating, meaning that taking it shouldn’t make you feel high.  

However, CBN has more in common with the well-known psychoactive cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) than CBD. CBN is formed in the cannabis plant when THC ages and breaks down. This aging process leads to the creation of CBN. 

While CBN is a converted form of THC, it is about 75% less intense than THC. The typical dose of CBN will not cause any psychoactive results, but CBN can cause a mild psychoactive effect when taken in large doses. 

What Is CBD?

CBD is the main active ingredient of the hemp plant–a variety of the cannabis plant that has a lower concentration of THC. Unlike CBN, the CBD cannabinoid produces no psychoactive effects, no matter how much you consume. 

CBD has been researched much more extensively than CBN, partially explaining why it is more available. We know that CBD can positively affect your mental and physical wellbeing by working within the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is an internal networking system that uses endocannabinoids to help regulate several vital body functions, including sleep, appetite, mood, and discomfort. 

Phytocannabinoids are chemically similar to our internally-produced endocannabinoids and can be easily incorporated into the ECS. Once they reach the ECS, they can support body functions and balance. 

What Are the Main Differences?

While both CBD and CBN can aid the endocannabinoid system, they each work slightly differently within it. CBN may bind directly with CB1 receptors and CB2 receptors, while CBD works more indirectly by supporting and prolonging the beneficial effects of the endocannabinoids our body produces.

Relation to THC

CBN is closer to THC than CBD. 

Enzymes in the cannabis plant can shift the structural formation of cannabinoids, turning one into another over time. This transformation is how CBGA turns into CBD and THC and how THC turns into CBN.

THC can also be changed into CBN when heated or exposed to oxygen— a process known as decarboxylation.

Psychoactive Properties

Although CBN is an aged form of THC, it does not have the same level of psychoactive abilities. The properties that cause THC’s intoxicating effects become tamped down as the cannabinoid matures and converts. 

Early evidence suggests that CNB can benefit anyone sensitive to THC by providing similar benefits without altering the mental state. 

However, it is important to remember that CBD does not alter your mental state at all, but high doses of CBN may have enough psychoactive properties to cause mild sensations of highness or impairment. 

What Can CBN Be Used For?

CBN is associated with many physical and mental benefits. 

Sleep Quality

Most notably, CBN may work as a powerful cannabinoid for sleep support. While more research is needed, early evidence suggests that CBN can have powerful sedative effects, helping relax the body and promote sleep when interacting with cannabinoid receptors. The synergetic effect of CBN and terpenes found in aged cannabis plants can help promote sleepiness better than any one of them can produce on their own.

Neuroprotection

CBN may also help protect nerves and brain cells. Currently, researchers are studying CBN to learn more about how it may be able to slow the onset of neurological disorders when it enters the body’s endocannabinoid system.

What Are the Benefits of CBD?

CBD can benefit our well-being in various ways.

Relaxation and Reduced Tension

One of the main reasons people use CBD is to promote full-body relaxation and reduce strain. Because CB receptors exist throughout the body, CBD can support endocannabinoids as they bind with CB receptors to ease physical and mental tension. 

CBD can also interact with hormones and neurotransmitters such as serotonin, further promoting sensations of pleasure and calm while reducing stress. 

Relief From Symptoms

CBD may also help relieve symptoms from certain diseases by partnering with the ECS to help respond to signals and soothe swelling associated with certain conditions.

Promotion of Sleep

Promoting relaxation can help shift a nervous mind into sleep, but that isn’t the only way CBD can help you catch up on zzz’s and wake up feeling rejuvenated.

After using CBD, you will likely spend more of your sleeping hours in NREM Stage 3 sleep — also known as deep sleep — rather than REM sleep. During NREM Stage 3 sleep, your brain uses less energy, and you remember less of your dreams, both of which can help you sleep through the night and wake feeling rested and energized. 

Relief From Discomfort

Along with providing support for your mental wellbeing, CBD can benefit you physically as well.

The ECS responds to signals, bringing short-term relief to areas in the body experiencing discomforts such as swollen joints or sore muscles. CBD can help support and extend the life of endocannabinoids with naturally soothing properties as they bind to CB receptors in cells found in the muscles, tissues, and joints to help ease discomfort as needed.

Which is Better: CBN or CBD?

CBN and CBD serve different purposes, with neither one inherently better than the other. 

CBD is currently more affordable, more accessible, and further studied. However, as cannabis research continues, we are likely to learn more about the benefits of CBN soon, which may lead to it becoming more available as well. 

The Bottom Line

CBN and CBD are both incredible cannabinoids that can support your well-being in many ways. Here at The Brothers Apothecary, we look forward to more research on CBN. 

In the meantime, you can find CBD products, like tinctures, edibles, and topicals, to fit all of your needs at our Shop!

 

Sources

​​A systematic review of minor phytocannabinoids with promising neuroprotective potential | British Journal of Pharmacology

Cannabinol delays symptom onset in SOD1 (G93A) transgenic mice without affecting survival | Amyotroph Lateral Scler Other Motor Neuron Disord

Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs | Future Medical Chemistry

Jesse Richardson, Health & Wellness Advocate
Ambassador of Teas, CEO

Jesse Richardson is the co-founder of The Brothers Apothecary. He's an avid tea drinker and the primary creator behind The Brothers' products. An undergraduate of UCLA for Political Science, Jesse currently studies Medicinal Plants at Cornell University and The International School of Herbal Arts & Sciences.

Meet the Brothers.

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