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CBN vs CBD: Which One is Best for You?

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Written by The CBD Insider

If you’re familiar with hemp, you already know that CBD isn’t the only cannabinoid on the street.

In fact, there are hundreds, many of which have unique characteristics and potential therapeutic benefits. THC is another cannabinoid that you’ve likely heard of. 

You might not be too familiar with cannabinol (CBN). CBN is a cannabinoid with exciting potential that may soon gain the mainstream appeal that CBD has recently enjoyed.

While CBN and CBD come from the same plant, they each have their unique properties and ideal use-cases. We’re going to discuss their similarities and differences to help figure out which of these two cannabinoids is best for you.

What Is CBN?

what is cbn

Cannabinol (CBN) is a byproduct of THC. CBN is produced from the oxidation and decomposition of THC, a fancy way of saying THC converts to CBN when it is heated and exposed to oxygen.

More specifically, CBN is produced from the aging of THC and exposure to UV light. If left alone for weeks, THCa-rich cannabis will produce CBN naturally just from drying out. 

Therefore, CBN is almost always found in aged cannabis plants that have been allowed to dry. Live hemp plants do not have any CBN. For this reason, CBN was previously believed to be a waste product of the hemp plant that was unworthy of further study until recently. 

When Steep Hill labs conducted a study that showed CBN had massive potential as a powerful sedative, it piqued the interest of the hemp and cannabis industry. Steep Hill showed that CBN could be the most sedative of all cannabinoids. Now, numerous studies on CBN are underway to discover its untapped potential. 

Beyond its sedative capabilities, CBN has also been found to potentially stimulate appetite, and perhaps provide an alternative treatment for a specific type of lung cancer and glaucoma. 

What Is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid that’s enjoyed a massive boom in popularity in recent years. It’s become the go-to health supplement for a variety of ailments, even if its claimed benefits have yet to be scientifically proven.

Users swear by CBD for whatever reason they use it for, whether it’s anxiety, pain relief, improved focus, etc. To date, CBD has only been FDA-approved to treat two rare forms of childhood epilepsy. But numerous studies are ongoing. 

Beyond its popularity, CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, meaning that unlike THC, it will not get you high. Therefore, CBD may provide therapeutic benefits without any psychoactive effects. 


The significant difference between CBN and CBD is that while CBD is well-known not to be psychoactive, CBN is mildly psychoactive, given that it is a byproduct of THC.

However, don’t expect CBN to get you high. Current research shows that CBN is roughly 10-17 percent as strong as THC. It would take quite a large dose to feel psychoactive effects. 

CBN and CBD appear to interact with the endocannabinoid system similarly. CBD does not bind to the CB1 and CB2 receptors; rather, it increases endocannabinoid production in the body to promote homeostasis. 

While little is known about how CBN works compared to CBD, it seems to also show little affinity for the CB1 and CB2 receptors. Both cannabinoids interact with the receptors in our brain indirectly, but more research is needed to figure out how and why. 

CBN and CBD are both used for the same reasons, such as pain relief. However, CBN is reportedly a strong sedative. CBD is also commonly seen in products to help promote sleep, but typically in conjunction with melatonin. While both can potentially help users get a good night’s rest, CBN may have more potent sleep benefits than CBD. 

Another difference between CBN and CBD is their effect on appetite. CBD can act as a mild appetite suppressant, but CBN does the opposite and stimulates hunger.

cbn vs cbd

Potential Benefits of CBN

When discussing which is “better,” we have to take a look at the benefits of each. Naturally, the benefits of CBN and CBD are very similar. 

As we mentioned, CBN is considered a sedative that may offer an alternative to pharmaceutical sleep treatments. Research has also shown that CBN can help with pain relief by altering pain signals in the brain (though it’s even better when combined with CBD). CBN also shows promise at fighting MRSA bacteria and has potent anti-convulsive properties.

However, more research is needed in every area to prove CBN’s worth. The benefits of CBN may prove to closely mirror those of CBD, but we don’t know yet for sure. 

Potential Benefits of CBD

As we mentioned above, CBD is only FDA-approved in one medicine: Epidiolex, which treats two rare forms of childhood epilepsy. CBD is also commonly used to treat anxiety and chronic pain, both orally via ingestibles and topically through creams and salves. It, too, has sedative effects, but they are relatively mild compared to CBN. 

Overall, the benefits of CBD are very similar to those users may receive from CBN. However, CBD research is far beyond that of CBN. It also is much easier to extract. For these reasons, CBD has already reached the mainstream while we’re in the very early days of CBN research.


The Verdict: Which Is Better For You?

We might lean toward CBD for now since it is more readily available and has been studied further than CBN. However, this could change down the line as more is learned about the potential of CBN.

But determining which is best for you comes down to your motivation for seeking out a cannabinoid product in the first place. What is it that you’d like to use it for? In what area of your mind or body do you need relief?

CBD is well known for its calming and sleep-regulating properties. While CBN is reported to be a more powerful sedative, we don’t yet know if it’s a better option in the long run.

Since there are so many factors at play, which is better for you may ultimately come down to trial and error. Start with CBD, since finding a CBD product will be much easier and likely cheaper, and if it doesn’t provide you with relief, seek out a CBN product instead.



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