Within the last few years, an entirely new world of cannabinoids – and all of their potential benefits – has opened up to cannabis consumers. Until recently, cannabidiol (CBD) was the only non-intoxicating cannabinoid considered widely available. But now, new arrivals are coming on the scene, and they’re worth knowing.
Cannabigerol (CBG) and cannabinol (CBN) are two of the latest cannabinoids that have everyone talking. These cannabinoids join CBD as an option for consumers who aren’t interested in THC’s psychoactive effects. But, if you’ve never heard of CBG or CBN (or you know next to nothing about them), you aren’t alone – and that’s where we come in.
Cannabis: The plant of many possibilities
It isn’t that surprising that we are still constantly learning more about what the cannabis plant offers. As the therapeutic benefits of CBD become more evident, cannabis and hemp cultivators have acted quickly to breed strains that are high in similar cannabinoids: including CBG and CBN.
What is CBD?
There’s no doubt that cannabidiol, otherwise known as CBD, has gone mainstream over the last few years. It’s one of the most prevalent cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, second only to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Additionally, CBD is easily the most abundant cannabinoid available in the hemp plant, making it easy and affordable to extract and produce. Since industrial hemp (categorized by THC levels of 0.3% or less) is legal in most states, adults can purchase many CBD products without fear of legal roadblocks.
CBD is available in various forms, including oils/tinctures, topicals, capsules, edibles, and even pet products. Since it doesn’t produce a “high” (unlike THC), it’s become a favorite for people interested in improving their health and wellness.
For now, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate CBD, which makes it essential you only purchase CBD products from a reputable retailer. However, the FDA recently approved the first-ever CBD pharmaceutical, Epidiolex, intended for patients suffering from specific rare forms of epilepsy.
Potential benefits of CBD
Many people consider one of the most significant benefits of CBD to be its non-intoxicating effects. Whereas traditional cannabis is associated with a “high” due to the presence of THC, CBD is different. THC and CBD each interact with the body’s endocannabinoid systems (ECS) in different ways, which is why their effects are so distinct. Research also shows CBD may inhibit the psychoactive effects of THC. This counter-reaction makes it extremely useful for people who may experience undesirable side effects caused by overconsumption.
In addition, CBD is used in a broad range of applications, supporting individuals with various conditions, needs, and health goals. Consumers (and a growing number of research studies) report positive experiences when using CBD for many different ailments and symptoms, including:
- Chronic pain
- Aches and pains, including sports injuries
- Inflammation (including inflammatory conditions like arthritis)
- Anxiety and panic disorders
- Skin conditions
- Nausea and vomiting
What is CBG?
Cannabigerol (CBG) is quickly catching up to CBD when it comes to popularity. It’s derived from CBGa, which is considered the “stem cell” or “mother” of cannabinoids due to its ability to convert to CBD, THC, or CBC. When CBGa converts to CBG, it’s stable, meaning it won’t change into any other cannabinoid.
However, cultivators are presently working on breeding strains that are already naturally high in CBG, skipping over converting CBGa. Although breeding is still in its early stages, this could soon make CBG even more accessible than it already is.
CBG is non-intoxicating, and many people describe its effects as feeling very similar to those of CBD.
Potential benefits of CBG
Research suggests CBG may also help support the functionality of anandamide–a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep, pain, appetite, motivation, and pleasure.
Other possible CBG benefits include:
- Pain relief
- Treatment for anxiety and depression
- Reducing pressure caused by glaucoma
- Neuroprotective properties
- Anti-bacterial properties that could fight antibiotic-resistant strains
- Reduction of inflammation
- Increasing appetite
CBG vs. CBD
Even though CBD and CBG are similar in their effects (and even structurally), there are some key differences. Because CBG interacts with neuroreceptors uniquely, it’s being considered for various applications of its own.
Cannabis researchers are still learning more about the distinctions between CBD and CBG. But for now, they appear to be different enough that it may be best to combine them for an optimal experience. Also, the entourage effect theory suggests that using multiple cannabinoids in tandem can help enhance their effects overall.
What is CBN?
CBN, or cannabinol, is the product of the degradation of THC, which happens naturally as a plant matures or has increased exposure to heat/oxygen. Generally, cannabis contains only trace amounts of CBN, mostly in young or freshly-dried cannabis.
Potential benefits of CBN
CBN has a distinct profile of potential advantages, including:
- Possible antibacterial benefits
- Possible neuroprotective benefits
- Appetite stimulation
CBN vs. CBD
Chemically, CBN is closer to THC than it is to CBD. But interestingly, CBN seems to induce effects in the “middle ground” between THC and CBD. So, for example, it may stimulate the appetite (like THC), but it is much less psychoactive (unlike THC).
When comparing CBD and CBN for sleep, people generally report better results with CBN. Research has also found the potential CBN has for being used for antibacterial applications.
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Which cannabinoid is right for me?
- Suppose you have a specific goal in mind. In that case, you might want to prioritize the cannabinoid that’s most likely to help you achieve results. However, that doesn’t mean you should forget about the other cannabinoids – you wouldn’t want to miss out on their potential benefits or the possibility of synergistic effects!
Is CBD or CBG better?
Even though some people compare CBD and CBG to each other, there’s still a lot to learn about what they can offer. But, ultimately, it’s likely that each one can play an essential role in the pursuit of wellness.
Is CBN stronger than CBD?
- Some consumers describe CBN as “feeling stronger” than CBD, attributed to how CBN activates the CB1 receptor. Even though CBN isn’t considered psychoactive like THC, it may create mild effects different from CBD. However, that doesn’t mean it’s “stronger;” CBN and CBD just work via different neurochemical pathways.
Will CBN & CBG get you “high”?
- The “high” psychoactive effects of THC are what most people associate with cannabis use. However, CBN and CBG are different from THC because they won’t cause the same intense, intoxicating effects. Everyone experiences cannabinoids slightly differently, but you generally expect that you won’t feel “high” after consuming CBN or CBG.
Is CBN the same as CBD?
- No. CBN and CBD are both cannabinoids, but they are unique chemical compounds. The cannabis plant produces CBD abundantly, whereas CBN is rarer and only created when THC degrades.
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