Besides delta 9 THC, CBD is the most popular hemp-derived cannabinoid for therapeutic purposes. It’s ubiquitous because it has a wide variety of benefits and doesn’t get you high.
But two more cannabinoids are seriously worth considering: CBG (cannabigerol) and CBN (cannabinol).
CBG and CBN belong to a class of cannabinoids known as minor cannabinoids. They’re called the minor cannabinoids because they aren’t naturally abundant in the hemp plant. Major cannabinoids, like CBD and delta 9 THC, are.
Although CBG and CBN are scarce in hemp, they’re abundant in benefit. Each cannabinoid has a variety of potential therapeutic uses, and many people even prefer them over CBD for specific uses.
But what are the differences between CBG and CBN? What makes these cannabinoids significant, and what are the benefits each has to offer? How do these cannabinoids work?
In this article, we’re answering these questions and more as we give you a full breakdown.
What is CBG?
Cannabigerol (CBG) is a naturally occurring cannabinoid in the hemp/cannabis plant (hemp is cannabis containing less than 0.3% THC by dry weight).
CBG is considered a minor cannabinoid because it’s naturally very scarce in hemp (unlike CBD or THC).
CBG won’t get you high. However, it does promote energizing, clarifying mental effects, in addition to strong physical relaxation. Many people describe CBG as the cannabinoid version of coffee.
Preliminary research indicates CBG may have benefits for anxiety, pain, inflammation, neurological disorders, and more – it’s multifaceted.
What is CBN?
Cannabinol (CBN) is a cannabinoid that is also naturally occurring in hemp. Like CBG, it’s considered a minor cannabinoid due to its scarcity in the hemp plant.
CBN will get you slightly high, but it’s nowhere near as strong as THC. CBN has distinctly calming, sedative effects that make it a popular natural supplement for sleep support.
It’s also been researched for use with pain, and people commonly use CBN for anxiety, too.
The Main Differences Between CBG and CBN
While CBG and CBN have some similarities, for the most part, they’re different – but this is a good thing, because it gives you two unique alternatives to CBD and THC.
CBG and CBN have distinct effect profiles.
While CBG tends to be uplifting, energizing, and mentally clarifying, CBN is relaxing, calming, and sedative.
This difference in effects, necessarily, means that each cannabinoid is used for very different things.
Most people compare the effects of CBG to drinking a cup of caffeinated coffee. As a result, it’s a great choice for daytime relaxation of the body and mind.
By contrast, CBN, with its drowsy effect profile, is best left to the nighttime.
While CBG and CBN both bring a host of favorable effects, they also may create adverse effects – especially if you take too much.
Potential side effects of CBG include:
- Dry mouth
- Increased appetite
- Dry eyes
Potential side effects of CBN include:
Origin In Hemp & Extraction Process
A unique process is needed to extract CBG versus CBN from the hemp plant.
Both processes start with CBGa (cannabigerolic acid), the cannabinoid from which all others are derived. CBG (cannabigerol) is commonly referred to as “the mother of all cannabinoids,” but what most people are referring to is CBGa.
CBG can be produced from CBGa through the process of decarboxylation, in which the acid ring (the “a”) in CBGa is removed, leaving CBG.
CBN requires two steps. First, CBGa must be made into THCa. Then, THCa can be made into CBN (among other things).
While CBG and CBN are both naturally-occurring cannabinoids, and both ultimately begin as CBGa, they require different processes to extract.
Legality is one area in which CBG and CBN don’t differ.
The 2018 Farm Bill made all hemp-derived cannabinoids legal – therefore, CBG and CBN are federally legal. In 2023, the Farm Bill was extended through 2024.
But federal legality is one thing. State legality is another – be sure to double-check that CBG and CBN are legal in your state before purchasing them.
Many states haven’t yet called out either cannabinoid in their legislation, given that their use isn’t anywhere near as widespread as that of CBD or delta 9 THC. Still, it’s important to check.
Benefits of CBG
Although it hasn’t been as widely researched as CBD or THC, there is substantial preclinical evidence to suggest CBG has therapeutic potential.
CBG can promote energy and focus
CBG’s uplifting, clarifying effect profile makes it useful for boosting focus and energy.
Many people who use CBG describe its effects as similar to coffee: energizing, but in a smooth, focused way that’s not overwhelming.
While some people use CBG for general clarity support, others specifically use CBG for ADHD.
There is some research to support CBG’s potential in this area. In a 2021 survey, 70.8% of respondents with ADHD saw an improvement in their condition after using products containing a mix of CBG and CBD.
In general, CBG is a favorite among people looking for a daytime mood-booster. Like delta 8 THC or delta 9 THC, it can elevate the mind, but without causing the cognitive impairment and other effects commonly associated with a high.
CBG can support a healthy inflammatory & pain response
CBG seems to be versatile when it comes to supporting a pain-free body. Research and anecdotal evidence suggest that CBG may help with discomfort from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), as well as the related, but less serious, inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS).
Studies have also investigated the use of CBG for arthritis, autoimmune disorders, and other inflammatory conditions for which opioids and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are commonly prescribed.
There’s first-hand evidence, too. In a survey of 127 people using CBG-predominant cannabis and cannabis products, 73.9% of respondents reported that CBG was superior to prescription medications for pain.
More clinical studies are needed before CBG can be regarded as a reliable treatment for pain, but it nonetheless has therapeutic potential.
CBG can support neurological health
Another area where CBG has potential is in supporting the health of the nervous system.
Research suggests CBG may support neurological health, and that it may help with neurodegenerative disorders.
CBG has been studied for use with Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease, two conditions that erode the function of the nervous system and brain. Studies suggest CBG may slow the progression of these diseases.
Anecdotally, we’ve had customers (and heard testimonials from other hemp users) use CBG for damage caused by lupus and other neurological disorders.
But again, as with pain, more clinical studies are needed to determine CBG’s reliability at addressing problems with the nervous system.
CBG can boost appetite
CBG has also been researched for its appetite-stimulating properties.
Studies on rodents have found that CBG can increase appetite. Researchers think it may have the potential to be developed as a medication for this purpose.
Appetite stimulants can be life-changing for patients of chronic illnesses, who suffer weight loss and a lack of appetite as a result of certain disease treatments – such as chemotherapy for cancer – and complications from the diseases themselves.
CBG improves the effects of THC
Another benefit of CBG, while not medical, is that it may improve the effects of THC.
When you add CBG to THC, it may render a more energetic, euphoric high than THC in isolation.
Taking CBG and THC together may also mean you feel fewer of THC’s potential adverse side effects, such as cognitive impairment, anxiety, and paranoia.
By changing the effect profile and reducing the side effects, CBG with THC renders a more functional high than THC alone.
This is a major benefit if you’ve found that you need the effects of THC, but could do without so many side effects.
Benefits of CBN
CBN hasn’t been researched as much as CBG, but anecdotal (and a bit of scientific) evidence shows it has its own variety of benefits.
CBN promotes restful sleep
Through the sedative, relaxing effects it brings, CBN may promote restful sleep.
Many people prefer CBN to CBD as it’s a stronger sedative, and they also prefer it to THC because it can bring the relaxation of a head experience without being as strong.
In the realm of science, research on mice indicates that CBN may prolong sleeping time, and anecdotal evidence suggests CBN induces a full-body sedative effect.
Because it can promote restful sleep without causing morning grogginess, many people use CBN as a replacement for melatonin supplements.
CBN supports a healthy inflammation & pain response
Research on rats indicates that CBN may have anti-inflammatory properties.
Studies also point to the method by which CBN may render these effects. Research shows that CBN interacts with the CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system, which play an integral role in inhibiting pain and inflammatory sensations.
One study found that CBN reduces myofascial pain in rats. The study also found that a 1:1 combination of CBD and CBN was more effective for pain than CBN alone.
From these results, the researchers concluded that a CBN-CBD combination may help with temporomandibular disorders (which causes jaw pain) and pain from fibromyalgia.
Anecdotally, many people report success with using CBN for pain, whether sciatic, muscle, or other forms of pain and inflammation.
CBN promotes a calm, anxiety-free mind
CBN hasn’t been researched as a potential anxiety reducer, but anecdotal evidence suggests it may contribute to a relaxed, anxiety-free headspace.
Many people who struggle to sleep due to intrusive thoughts at night use CBN for anxiety because it’s mentally relaxing and sedative.
CBN improves the effects of THC
Like CBG, CBN may enhance the effects of THC – but given its very different effects, the CBN-THC combination renders a feeling unique from that given by CBG and THC.
Research from 1975 found that a CBN-THC combination will render a greater psychoactive effect than THC alone.
While new (and more) research is definitely needed to confirm this interaction, anecdotal evidence shows that using CBN and THC together may create a calmer, drowsier version of the normal THC high – a feeling that’s especially wanted at night.
CBG vs. CBN: How They Work in the Body
CBG and CBN work via your body’s Endocannabinoid System (ECS), a receptor system responsible for regulating most of your vital functions, including your pain, inflammatory, and immune responses.
The primary purpose of the ECS is to keep your mind and body in a state of balance.
The two main types of receptors in your ECS are CB1 and CB2 receptors:
- When CB1 receptors are stimulated, they create effects on the mind
- When CB2 receptors are stimulated, they create effects on the body
CBG binds to both types of receptors, which is why it’s able to simultaneously render uplifting, energizing effects for the mind while also creating deep physical relaxation.
CBN also interacts with both the CB1 and CB2 receptors in your ECS, but it has a higher affinity toward the CB2 receptors. This is why CBN is able to render a THC-like body high without as powerful of a head effect.
CBG vs. CBN vs. CBD
To gain a better sense of when and for what CBG and CBN might be useful, it’s helpful to compare them to CBD.
CBG vs. CBD
Learn More: CBG vs. CBD
CBG and CBD both offer a diverse set of therapeutic benefits for the mind and body. However, each cannabinoid is best for certain things.
CBG renders stronger physical relaxation than CBD, so many people find it to be a better option for physical discomfort.
Likewise, CBD is relaxing, while CBG is energizing, so it’s the better cannabinoid for sleep. Much of the time, sleep trouble is caused by multiple issues: CBD may bring comprehensive support in these situations while bringing mental relaxation.
CBD also has some benefits that CBG doesn’t (or hasn’t been researched for). CBD may help with epilepsy, and it’s been FDA-approved in the form of Epidiolex as an epilepsy medication. CBD has also been researched for its therapeutic potential for addiction.
CBN vs. CBD
Learn More: CBN vs. CBD
CBN hasn’t been researched as much as CBD, so we’re far from knowing all the benefits it has to offer.
One thing we do know is that CBN is probably the more effective cannabinoid for sleep.
While CBD renders very mild calming effects, CBN creates a mild head high and is noticeably sedative. Because of this, many people prefer CBN over CBD for nighttime use. Many also take CBD and CBN together for sleep.
However, CBN isn’t as versatile as CBD, which can support both the mind and body without being even slightly inebriating – this is what has earned CBD the title “the swiss army knife of cannabinoids.”
CBG vs. CBN for Sleep
Learn More: CBG vs. CBN for Sleep
CBN is generally better than CBG for sleep. There is research (albeit only a bit) showing CBN may promote sleep; the same isn’t true for CBG.
If you consider the effects of each cannabinoid, it makes sense. CBN promotes drowsiness, while CBG is energizing and uplifting.
However, one situation in which CBG might be helpful for sleep is if you’re dealing with physical discomfort. CBG’s powerful physical benefits may support a pain-free body at night and allow you to get some rest.
If you’re going to use CBG at night, though, we recommend combining it with CBD or adding some CBN.
But if you’re just looking for something to help you relax at night, CBN is the better choice, as there is more scientific and anecdotal evidence showing that it directly influences sleep as compared to CBG.
CBG vs. CBN for Pain
Learn More: CBN vs. CBG for Pain
Both CBG and CBN have therapeutic potential for physical discomfort.
Anecdotal evidence suggests CBG’s direct effects on the body are about as strong (or just a bit stronger) as those of CBN. Because of this, we recommend choosing between CBG and CBN for pain on the basis of the effects you want.
If you’re dealing with discomfort at night, CBN is the better choice due to its sleep-supporting effects. Likewise, CBG’s uplifting effects make it the obvious choice during the daytime.
CBG vs. CBN for Anxiety
Many people use CBG for anxiety, while others prefer CBN. Both cannabinoids promote a relaxed, anxiety-free mind, but in different ways.
CBG creates mental clarity and energy that help you focus on the day and get things done. CBN takes your mind out of overdrive and helps you calm down.
Because these effects are so different, we don’t recommend using CBG or CBN for anxiety. Instead, you should use CBG and CBN for anxiety: CBG during the day, CBN at night.
Can You Take CBG and CBN Together?
Taking CBG and CBN together is completely safe. While they have disparate effects and somewhat different benefits, this combination may be beneficial if you struggle with physical discomfort at night.
In this case, adding CBG to CBN might be more effective than CBN alone.
Apart from this, though, there aren’t many situations where it makes sense to use CBG and CBN at the same time. However, these cannabinoids are both great complements to CBD and THC.
How to Shop for CBG and CBN Products
The production of hemp cannabinoid products isn’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so that means you have to do a bit of your own regulation.
Here are a few things you should do as you shop for CBG and CBN products:
Check lab reports
Only buy CBG and CBN products that have a certificate of analysis (COA) from a 3rd-party lab. Reputable companies have their products tested to verify potency, safety, and authenticity; look for the following when examining a lab report:
- Cannabinoid profile: Ensure the cannabinoids listed in the lab report match the cannabinoids on the product’s label.
- Potency: Check the amount of each cannabinoid listed in the lab report to ensure it matches what’s listed on the product’s label.
- Contaminants: Make sure the product passes the tests for heavy metals, pesticides, and mold.
Ensure the ingredients list for the product specifically says hemp extract and/or cannabigerol or cannabinol.
If it only says hempseed oil or cannabis sativa oil, it doesn’t contain hemp cannabinoids. .
Check the source
Only buy products that are made from organic hemp grown in the US.
Because US hemp is subject to regulation, it won’t contain more than 0.3% THC by law, so you can assume with high confidence that you’re getting a safe, legal product.
Conclusion: CBG and CBN are Minor Cannabinoids with Major Potential
CBG and CBN are both minor cannabinoids, meaning they’re only found in the hemp plant in small amounts. Partially as a result, they haven’t been subject to as much research as the major cannabinoids.
But despite their scarcity, they have immense therapeutic potential, and in some cases, they may even be better than CBD or THC for specific uses.
Both of these cannabinoids are also excellent compliments to CBD and THC: they can increase the upsides of these cannabinoids while reducing their downsides.
CBG vs. CBN: Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some questions our customers ask us about the differences between CBG and CBN.
What’s the difference between CBG and CBN?
CBG comes from CBGa, while CBN comes from THCa, which is oxidized THC. Whereas CBG is uplifting and energizing and won’t get you high, CBN tends to be sedative and relaxing and will create a mild head high.
What is better, CBN or CBG?
Neither CBN or CBG is necessarily better; instead, they’re effective for different things. CBN, with its sedative properties, is best for supporting restful sleep, while CBG’s powerful physical effects and mentally energizing sensations make it ideal for physical discomfort and daytime use.
Does CBN make you sleepy?
CBN will induce feelings of sleepiness by creating relaxing effects on the mind and body, along with a mild head high that’s about ¼ as strong as THC.
Does CBN help with anxiety?
CBN’s mentally relaxing, sedative effects make it effective for promoting a calm, anxiety-free mind, especially at night.
Can I take CBG and CBN together?
Taking CBG and CBN together is completely safe. This combination may be beneficial if you’re dealing with nighttime physical discomfort.