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CBD vs CBN: Key Differences, Similarities, and Potential Uses

The popularity of hemp-derived compounds for the relief of a variety of physical symptoms is increasing exponentially. Recent changes in the laws regulating the use of cannabis products in consumer products removed hemp products containing less than 0.3 percent THC (the psychoactive compound in marijuana responsible for the “high”) from the legal definition of marijuana as per the Controlled Substances Act. 

These changes have fueled more thorough and focused research into the viability of hemp-based compounds as having clinical potential. There is an ever-increasing body of knowledge becoming available, and clinical trials are revealing how cannabis-based compounds can be used to develop medications to treat a growing number of symptoms.

When exploring the world of hemp-based products, there are a couple of key compounds that get most of the coverage. Two of the most talked-about compounds are CBD (cannabidiol) and CBN (cannabinol). While the names may be difficult to distinguish from one another, they originate from the same place, and they both interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system. Their effects can often be similar, yet with a couple of key differences.

What is CBD (cannabidiol)? 

Of approximately 150 identified compounds found in the cannabis plant, CBD or cannabidiol is second to THC in abundance. Due to its proportional presence, it is one of the better known, and one of the most studied compounds. As opposed to the psychoactive effects of THC, CBD has a counterbalancing regulatory effect. 

Of the developed hemp-derived compounds, CBD is considered to provide the most abundant potential for wellness benefits. People have been seeking CBD products for pain relief more frequently than ever, and CBD has been shown to be effective in stress reduction for dogs. There are many cannabis-derived products with CBD as their primary ingredient, and can be introduced in a variety of ways:

  • Smoking or vaping- CBD for pain and stress relief
  • Orally- oils, edibles, and beverages for pain relief and stress management
  • Topically- includes creams and lotions for relief from pain and itching and CBD oil for arthritis as cosmetics and skincare applications.

What is CBN (cannabinol)?

One of the lesser-known phytocannabinoids, CBN or cannabinol, is produced by the degradation of the THC molecule through the process of decarboxylation (prolonged exposure to heat and oxygen). While up to 75% or more of the potency of THC may be lost during this process, CBN is not considered to be entire without some psychoactive potential. 

Unlike CBD which has no psychoactive effect, CBN can potentially produce psychoactive reactions in higher dosages, so caution is required. CBN is gaining recognition for its potential in enhancing the “Entourage Effect” of the application of full-spectrum cannabinoids. Among the compounds being studied, CBD is considered to be particularly effective in creating a relaxing, sleep-enhancing effect. 

CBD and CBN products are available in isolates (which contain CBD or CBN only), broad-spectrum (containing a number of cannabis compounds, but no THC), or full spectrum (which contains all available compounds, but by law may contain less than 0.3% THC).  

As with all nonprescription cannabis-derived products, they are not regulated by the FDA. Some products may contain inaccurate or misleading labeling or content descriptions. It is best that you consult a professional CBD pharmacist like the professionals at The Hemp Pharmacist at 757-577-1024. They are available to make recommendations specific to your needs. 

Note- For informational purposes only. Please consult your physician before beginning or discontinuing any medication. CBD or CBN should not be used with any medication containing a “grapefruit warning”.  Commercial cannabis compounds may, by law, contain no more than 0.3 % of THC. While this is not enough THC to create a psychoactive effect, it may still be detectable in some tests. If you are prohibited from using any product containing THC or any hemp-derived products, CBD/CBN treatments may not be an option.

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