CBG vs CBN: Differences and Similarities

Posted on June 15th, 2023 to CBG by


As we explore the extensive collection of cannabinoids in cannabis, certain cannabinoids stand out. While CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) may generate a lot of buzz, two other cannabinoids are getting a great deal of recognition: CBG and CBN. Both of these cannabis compounds have benefits, and they do share some similarities. What’s the difference between CBG and CBN? Take a look at CBN vs CBG below.

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What is the difference between CBG vs CBN?

CBG stands for cannabigerol while CBN stands for cannabinol.

CBG is known as the “mother cannabinoid” because the acidic precursor of CBG (Cannabigerolic acid or CBGA) is the first cannabinoid produced by the plant.

CBN is different in that if you take the precursors “tetra and hydro” from “tetrahydrocannabinol” you are left with “cannabinol” or CBN.

CBN and CBG are both phytocannabinoids, which are the biologically active compounds found in cannabis. However, one wouldn’t be possible without the other, and the effects of CBG vs CBN can be quite different.

So, what Is CBN and what is CBG? Take a closer look at both below.

What is CBG? A Closer Look

CBG is cannabigerol, one of more than 100 cannabinoids derived from hemp and cannabis. The acidic form of CBG is CBGA.

As the plant matures, CBGA converts into CBDA (cannabidiolic acid), THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid), and other acidic cannabinoids.

The remaining CBGA, which is not a significant amount in most strains, is converted into CBG through exposure to heat or simply with the passage of time.

The THCA is slowly and naturally converted to CBNA through oxidation, which is converted to CBN with heat. THCA is also converted to THC with heat, which can then be converted to CBN via oxidation.

What is CBN? A Closer Look

CBN is cannabinol, another phytocannabinoid found in hemp and cannabis. Cannabinol is unique because it is the result of THC oxidation. In other words, THC found in cannabis can oxidize when exposed to heat and light. Here’s an easy way to remember what CBN is: if you take the precursors “tetra and hydro” from “tetrahydrocannabinol” you are left with “cannabinol” or CBN.

Improperly stored or aged cannabis often has higher concentrations of CBN than THC. This is because exposure to heat and sunlight converted the THC into CBN. Even when cannabis is held at prime storage temperatures in the most ideal environment, THC gradually converts to CBN with time. Therefore, even if a strain starts out with a small amount of CBN at harvest, it could have higher concentrations of CBN after sitting idle for a long period.


CBG vs CBN Effects

CBG is considered non-intoxicating, while CBN can be mildly to moderately intoxicating, but less so than THC. Both cannabinoids have potential beneficial value, but both have been grossly understudied so far. Take a look at CBN vs CBG effects below.

CBN Effects

A lot of people perceive CBN as a sleep-inducing cannabinoid, but some report CBN to have a stimulating effect at higher doses. For the most part, CBN seems to make people feel more relaxed but without significant impairment. Unfortunately, very little research has examined CBN for its value.  Currently many product manufacturers promote CBN for sleep, but there is a lack of evidence to support these claims.

CBG Effects

CBG is not intoxicating at all, but much like CBN, CBG has not been extensively studied. Nevertheless, there are a handful of studies that have shown CBG may help with aches, soreness, GI health and “fight or flight” feelings.

CBG vs CBN for Sleeplessness

CBG may be helpful for sleep, especially if sleep impediments are related to aches, worry or stress.

CBN vs CBG for Aches

CBN has not been well-examined for aches and discomfort. Therefore, something like CBG capsules may be the better cannabinoid for targeting occasional nerve discomfort or aches that is not addressed by CBD or CBDA products. CBG is also great to combine with THC products to increase the desired benefits.

Safety concerns with CBN

While some levels of CBN are naturally occurring, products that contain high levels of CBN have usually been manipulated with high temperatures or synthetic chemistry. These laboratory processes can produce a number of potentially harmful byproducts that are not typically evaluated in the quality control process. We have little understanding of the health effects of these compounds, which are not naturally occurring, and they could potentially be hazardous. Unfortunately, a standard third-party COA will usually not reflect the presence of these unknown compounds. Until more is known, I generally recommend avoiding CBN-dominant products other than naturally-aged cannabis.

Continue Learning About Phytocannabinoids with Healer

The world of phytocannabinoids may hold the secrets to many beneficial opportunities. While we are just starting to learn, Dr. Dustin Sulak has spent a significant amount of time researching cannabinoids and their proposed health benefits. If you would like to learn more, consider enrolling in the Certified Training Program by Healer to dive deeper into existing cannabinoid knowledge.

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