CBD Versus CBN: What Are The Differences?

You may have seen CBN products pass by on the cannabis market recently. Although the benefits have been known for quite some time, the business world is now embracing CBN and companies are developing unique products with this interesting molecule. Cannabis science has come a long way. Over the past century, researchers have continued to push boundaries and discover many phytochemicals that make cannabis effective and unique. Scientists have so far identified more than a hundred cannabinoids in the plant. Despite this, they still have more questions than answers when it comes to these chemicals. Every cannabis enthusiast has heard of THC and knows that it facilitates the psychoactive effects of the plant. The majority of users are also familiar with CBD, a non-psychoactive but calming chemical. But what about CBN? This fascinating chemical originates from THC but, like CBD, does not produce a high. Thanks to the latter property, CBN is of commercial interest and is already being heralded by the industry as the next cannabinoid to make its appearance in the mainstream. It seems to be a perfect candidate to influence the endocannabinoid system through tinctures, capsules and edibles, just like CBD. Below, we’ll cover how CBN outweighs CBD, discover how both cannabinoids are created, and compare their effects.

What Is CBD

CBD, or cannabidiol, has taken an important place in the cannabis world in recent years. Because it is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, many users take it throughout the day for its clear and relaxing effects. Until recently, most cannabis strains contained relatively little CBD. However, cannabis science has revealed a versatile potential of the cannabinoid. After a series of groundbreaking discoveries and famous people’s stories, cannabis breeders began to develop cultivars with more and more CBD. Today, there are cannabis strains with astronomically high levels of CBD, with almost no THC at the same time. These strains have no psychoactive effects, but do provide sharpness and peace of mind. Other strains contain as much CBD as THC, offering the best of both worlds. CBD has grown from a relatively unknown molecule to a widespread and widely used cannabinoid. Because it has no psychoactive effects, it is found today in a wide range of everyday products, including:

  • Tinctures
  • Oils
  • Capsules
  • Cosmetics
  • Edibles
  • Beverages

CBD currently dominates the functional food market and leads the world in cannabinoid-enriched edibles. The molecule has helped expose the potential of cannabis and is at the heart of several products designed to affect the endocannabinoid system. CBD Oil (Zamnesia) 5% (258) View

How does CBD arise?

CBD is found in a variety of cannabis cultivars, from selectively grown CBD-rich strains to industrial hemp. Although the cannabinoid is also found in small amounts in the leaves and stems, the buds contain the highest concentration. You’ve probably noticed those small crystalline structures on the cannabis buds while rolling joints or preparing pipes. These mushroom-shaped glands are known as trichomes and are tasked with producing various phytochemicals, including CBD. Most cannabinoids undergo a process also known as biosynthesis, which takes place in the head – or cuticle – of a trichome. In the case of CBD, the molecule first takes the form of two precursor molecules: olivetolic acid and geranyl pyrophosphate. An enzymatic reaction converts these chemicals into CBGA (cannabigerolic acid), the so-called “parent” cannabinoid. CBGA serves as the precursor to several important cannabinoids; it all depends on which enzyme acts on the molecule. When the enzyme CBDA synthase catalyzes this reaction, CBDA (cannabidiolic acid) is formed. In a living cannabis plant, CBD occurs as the cannabinoid acid CBDA and is converted to CBD only when exposed to sufficient heat or light. This process is called decarboxylation. After this conversion, technicians can extract CBD from cannabis buds in several ways. At Zamnesia, we opt for supercritical CO₂ extraction. In this method, we focus on CBD and various aromatic terpenes. All other substances are left behind, eliminating the risk of residue in the final product.

The Effect of CBD

Because it is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, CBD does not produce a high like THC. Instead, the effects are much more subtle. Most users find that the cannabinoid has a clear effect. It relaxes the mind and body, while allowing the user to remain fully functional and productive throughout the day. CBD targets several receptors in the body to have an effect. These include:

  • CB1 and CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system
  • Serotonin receptors
  • TRPV1 receptors

The cannabinoid also increases levels of the endocannabinoid anandamide – the happiness molecule. This chemical – also found in dark chocolate and truffles – helps improve mood. Many athletes also praise CBD for its ability to condition muscles after a hard workout, long endurance run or intense competition. Whether massaged into the skin as a topical application or used in a warm bath, CBD can help you recover after physically challenging activities. Cannabidiol is also ideal for a good night’s sleep. The cannabinoid helps promote sleep readiness and generally has a beneficial effect on sleep function. Use CBD for a restorative night’s sleep and you’ll wake up refreshed. CBD also helps with nervousness and excitement. A few drops before a meeting or presentation can help calm nerves, boost self-confidence and bring focus.

What Is CBN?

CBN, or cannabinol, was the first cannabinoid isolated from the cannabis plant. The chemical is mildly psychoactive and does not produce intoxicating effects or a high, but rather a subtle calming effect. Although researchers have known about CBN for quite some time, the molecule has only just appeared on the scene. CBN seems to be following in CBD’s footsteps and is increasingly appearing in products that allow users to support their endocannabinoid system without getting stoned in the process. Like CBD, CBN offers a non-intoxicating, clear effect, ideal for any time of day. As the cannabis industry becomes more accepting of CBN, more and more CBN products are appearing on the market. Some examples are:

  • Oils
  • Crystals
  • Tinctures
  • Topicals

CBN Oil (Zamnesia) (5) View

How does CBN come about?

CBN differs from most “major” cannabinoids in that it does not undergo an enzymatic reaction. Instead, it is formed through the breakdown of the most potent psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis: THC. When THC is exposed to oxygen, light or heat, it is gradually broken down and converted to CBN. So most cannabis smokers probably inhale CBN without realizing it. Also, when buds are stored improperly or for too long, the THC turns into CBN. The fact that researchers discovered CBN before THC can probably be attributed to poor quality control and transportation methods of the material, which resulted in degradation. CO₂ extraction also works to extract CBN from cannabis buds using specific temperature and pressure settings.

The Effect of CBN

Despite being the first cannabinoid isolated from cannabis, research into the effects of CBN is still in its infancy. A lack of clinical studies means that the functions of this interesting cannabinoid are still largely unknown. What we currently know about CBN:

  • It has no psychotropic/intoxicating effects
  • It is an agonist of both CB1 and CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system

CBN can also help condition muscles and help with stress. The molecule’s calming properties suggest that, like CBD, it may improve recovery after exercise. The cannabinoid, through mechanisms that do not involve the endocannabinoid system, may also be able to help with red skin. CBN also seems to stimulate mental relaxation. In isolation, it might even be a better option than CBD in terms of relaxation. Lighten up your endocannabinoid system with this molecule to dive deeper into your meditation session and add calmness to your smoking sessions.

How CBN Relates to CBD

While CBD and CBN have quite a bit in common, they also differ in several ways. Let’s take a look at their similarities and differences: Properties that CBD and CBN share:

  • Help promote a good night’s sleep
  • Relax the body
  • Target cannabinoid receptors
  • Help with tension
  • Non-psychotropic

Properties unique to CBD:

  • CBDA is formed in living plants via enzymatic reactions and decarboxylates to CBD when exposed to heat or light
  • More studied and better understood
  • Increases the amount of endocannabinoids in the body
  • Supports mental alertness

Properties unique to CBN:

  • Forms in harvested cannabis buds via breakdown of THC
  • More relaxing than alerting
  • Much less studied

Is There a Synergy Between CBD and CBN?

CBD and CBN can work together to enhance each other’s effects. The entourage effect[1] explains how different phytochemicals in cannabis – cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids – work synergistically to produce more effective results. Cannabinoids such as CBD and THC are known to work together with terpenes, including myrcene, limonene and pineene, to produce more pronounced effects. No research has been done on the cooperation between CBD and CBN. However, due to their similar effects, it is plausible that they may complement each other’s benefits.

Availability of CBN Products on the Market

As the promising world of cannabinoids becomes better understood, CBN will surely join CBD as a prominent cannabinoid in the global market. Time will tell what their connection will entail, but both compounds are poised to appear in a growing range of products.