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At CBD Breaker, we talk a lot about the benefits of cannabidiol.  We have dozens of pages of educational and product information all related to CBD. And while most of our readers are familiar with what CBD can do, most don’t give much thought to the 100+ other compounds found in hemp.

One of these lesser-known compounds is Cannabinol or CBN. It is vastly understudied since both THC and CBD have taken center stage when it comes to research, media coverage, and legalities surrounding the cannabis industry. And it is true that they are the two compounds with the most significant presence within cannabis plants.

CBN boasts quite a few natural health benefits, much the same as CBD and THC do. However, there are some substantial differences between this cannabinoid and its relatives which are important to be aware of. In this article, we are going to take an in-depth look at CBD and CBN. We are also going to go over the fundamental similarities and differences between the two.  This should help to clear up any misconceptions and hopefully leave you better informed about this more obscure member of the hemp cannabinoid family.

What is CBD?

Short for cannabidiol, CBD is a natural compound found within both the Hemp and Marijuana species of cannabis. All of the legally obtained CBD in the United States is sourced from industrial hemp, not marijuana plants. Although marijuana plants do contain some CBD, the amount pales in comparison to that of the hemp plant.

CBD sourced from hemp is also the only kind that is legal at the federal level. The 2018 Farm Act states that industrial hemp must have no more than 3% THC content to be used to create CBD products.

Cannabis is turning out to be an incredibly versatile plant, and CBD is showing real potential in the health and wellness industry. It is known to help with anxiety, depression, insomnia, pain, inflammation, nausea, and cancer treatment-related symptoms.  

There are over 100 similar compounds found in hemp, many of which have not yet been studied. of these compounds, CBD and THC are the most well-known, but scientists are uncovering other chemicals that may prove to be beneficial as well.

What is CBN?

CBN, or Cannabinol, is one of these. It is said to have very similar effects on some health conditions, but CBN is more closely related to THC. In fact, Cannabinol is made when THC is either heated or exposed to oxygen. This means that you can turn THC into CBN by either leaving it to sit for some time or by heating it carefully in your oven on a low temperature.

When you think about it, it is kind of amazing how something like Cannabinol can be born from something like THC through oxidization. Yet, it has many different effects. While it is up for debate just how psychotropic CBN is, it can be concluded that it is nowhere near the same level as THC.

It is becoming more apparent through research that CBN has a potent sedative effect. Studies have found that CBN could potentially be as potent of a sleep agent as some of the stronger pharmaceuticals on the market. As little as 2.5 mg of CBN can be just as effective as some mild to moderate sedatives like Valium and Ambien—often prescribed to those who suffer from sleep-related issues.

On top of its sleep-inducing effects, CBN also appears to have many health benefits similar to those found in CBD and THC.

CBD vs. CBN: What are the Key Similarities?

CBD and CBN both come from the same plant family, and science shows that both may be effective for a variety of health conditions.  A few of the common health conditions that both of these Cannabis compounds are said to aid in treating are epilepsy, anxiety, nausea, insomnia, pain, and inflammation. They have also both been proven to have anti-bacterial and neuroprotective properties as well.

The amount of scientific data available for CBN is limited as scientists are just now beginning to study it and look more thoroughly into its medical applications. Having said this, it is speculated that THC, CBN, and CBD may work better together for specific health ailments rather than being used in isolation of each other.

This is due to something called the “entourage effect,” the theory that two or more substances work better together than they do apart.

As more research is conducted on CBN and cannabis in general, we will likely learn far more about the different compounds within the cannabis sativa plants and have a better idea of just how closely interlinked they are.

CBD vs. CBN: What are the Key Differences?

Often when you hear about cannabis compounds in the news, it is either THC or CBD that people are talking about. In fact, many people don’t even know that CBN exists unless they have a keen interest in cannabis as a plant medicine.

Although CBD and CBN come from the same plant group, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they have the same effects or chemical make up. CBN starts as a completely different compound. CBN is actually what happens after THC is heated up or is exposed to air. This oxidization process helps to remove a lot of the psychotropic effects of the THC, leaving a mildly sedating compound.

Because CBN is a degraded version of THC, it is best harvested from dried marijuana plants as opposed to fresh marijuana or hemp plants. The reason for this is that industrial hemp plants have less than a .3% THC yield, which isn’t enough when you’re trying to extract any amount of it. Marijuana plants, on the other hand, can have a THC yield of up to 30%, which is more than enough to use for extracting CBN.

Another main difference between CBD and CBN is that CBD doesn’t have any sedative effects. Sure, it will relax you, but is generally not sedating. CBN, on the other hand, is proving to be quite an excellent sedative. Cannabis experts believe that CBN may be a big part of the reason that many people feel glued to the couch after smoking Indica strains of marijuana, which often produce a sedating effect on the user.

The final difference worth mentioning between these two compounds is that CBD has no psychedelic effects whatsoever. CBN, however, is thought to have mild psychotropic effects because it is a direct breakdown of THC.   


CBD and CBN share the fantastic ability to help people live better and healthier lives, but they do so in very different ways. We have only reached the tip of the iceberg when it comes to researching these two compounds. As more studies are conducted, it is likely we will discover even more benefits about the wealth of cannabinoids in cannabis.

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Last modified: December 18, 2019