CBD (Cannabidiol) vs. CBN (Cannabinol) The Benefits and Differences

Cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD, and cannabinol, more commonly known as CBN, are two of the 100+ cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. They are chemicals that have been proven to potentially interact with receptors in the human body that make up the endocannabinoid system.

If you’re like most people, chances are you are a lot more familiar with CBD than you are with CBN. Since many states have begun to legalize recreational cannabis, CBD products have experienced an explosion in popularity. There are many people who are using CBD products to control their chronic pain or symptoms related to anxiety.

At this time, there has not been much human research related to the benefits of CBN- but the information we do have indicates that it may have the potential to act as a sedative and to reduce pain.

In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of CBD versus the benefits of CBN. We’ll also look at the primary differences between the two, as well as the potential side effects of both. Please note that if you decide that you want to use either of these (or both) as a treatment for your health condition, it’s important to speak with your physician first before making any changes to your treatment plan.

What Are the Benefits Associated with CBD?

CBD is a cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. However, unlike tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC, it is not psychoactive. There are many people who are using it to treat pain, anxiety, and a variety of other health conditions.

Research relating to CBD is still in the early stages, but there is some indication that it offers promising results. Plus, CBD has been shown to have a good safety profile and is well-tolerated by most people.

You will find CBD in a variety of products, such as:

  • Oils/tinctures
  • Creams/lotions
  • Capsules/pills
  • Vapes
  • Gummies/edibles

Below, we’ll explore some of the potential benefits of CBD that research has uncovered so far:

Management of anxiety/depression

Early studies indicate that CBD may be an alternative to traditional pharmaceutical medications to treat anxiety and depression. At this time, researchers are not clear on how it works- but it is believed that CBD interacts with 5-HT1A receptors to combat symptoms related to anxiety and depression.

In a Brazilian study in 2019, 57 participants were divided into four groups. One was given a placebo and three were given CBD (150 milligrams, 300 milligrams, or 600 milligrams) prior to giving a speech in public. It was discovered that the group that was given 300 milligrams of CBD had the greatest reduction in anxiety.

In another study in 2019, participants who had been diagnosed with an anxiety or sleep disorder were given 25 to 175 milligrams of CBD daily. One month later, at a follow-up visit, 79.2% of patients reported that they had experienced an improvement in their anxiety symptoms. This study was led by Dr. Scott Shannon.

Neuroprotection/Seizure Reduction

In 2020, a review of several studies determined that CBD could be used as an effective treatment for a variety of neurodegenerative diseases. At this time, research is being conducted on the viability of CBD as a treatment for the following conditions:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Epilepsy

The Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, has granted approval for a prescription CBD medication known as Epidiolex for the treatment of two rare forms of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, as well as seizures caused by tuberous sclerosis complex, or TSC.


There are many people who use CBD that claim it helps them sleep. While there is some scientific evidence to back this up, we need more research to fully understand its potential as a sleep aid.

In the same study from 2019 led by Dr. Scott Shannon mentioned above, researchers discovered that 66.7% of participants experienced improved sleep quality after 1 month of taking 25 to 175 milligrams of CBD every day.

Pain Relief

According to some research, CBD may be effective at reducing chronic pain. This is perhaps due to the interaction of CBD with the body’s endocannabinoid system.

In 2018, a study involving 7 patients who had recently undergone a kidney transplant were given 50 to 150 milligrams of CBD twice daily for a period of 3 weeks. Two of them reported total improvement of pain, four reported partial improvement of pain, and one reported no change.

Cancer treatment

Some research indicates that CBD may reduce symptoms of cancer treatment, including nausea and pain. There is also some very early research indicating that CBD may also have some anti-cancer benefits.

In 2019, a review of studies explored both in-vitro and in-vivo studies on pancreatic cancer. The results were that CBD may help slow the growth of tumors and increase the occurrence of tumor cell death.

What Are the Benefits Associated with CBN?

CBN is another one of the 100+ cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. It is the result of the breakdown of the psychoactive chemical, THC. CBN is considered mildly psychoactive- but it does not produce the high like THC does.

There is not as much study behind CBN as there is CBD. In fact, at this time, there is very little information relating to the benefits associated with CBN. These products are most often marketed as sleep aids, but we need more research to back these claims.

Below, we’ll explore some of the common uses and potential benefits associated with CBN:


There are many people who claim that CBN helps them sleep. That being said, there is only one study that indicates it could act as a sedative. The problem is, it’s an older study- from 1975 and there were only 5 male participants involved. In this study, participants who were given a combination of THC and CBN experienced more powerful sedative effects than with THC alone.

Pain Relief

In 2019, a rodent study indicated that both CBD and CBN were effective for reducing myofascial pain in rats. In fact, it was determined that a combination of the two was more effective than either one alone.

This led researchers to assume that both CBD and CBN may effectively relieve pain due to fibromyalgia and temporomandibular disorders.

Neuroprotective effects

An older rodent study, from 2005, indicated that CBN could delay the onset of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. That being said, at this time, it’s unclear whether or not it has the same effect on humans.

Anti-inflammatory effects

Once again, there is some research indicating that CBN may reduce inflammation associated with arthritis in rats. In order to fully understand the potential benefits in humans, more research is needed.

Primary Differences Between CBD and CBN

Anti-inflammation Yes Yes
Pain relief Yes Yes
Neuroprotection Yes Yes
Anxiety & depression Yes
Sleep Yes Yes

While it’s true that their names are similar, CBD and CBN are two completely different molecules. CBD oil is typically the second most common cannabinoid in the cannabis plant. In fact, cannabis plants can be bred to have higher concentrations of CBD.

However, the amount of CBN in a plant cannot be adjusted because it is the result of the breakdown of THC. By exposing THC to heat, you speed up the breakdown, which results in CBN.

At this time, research on both CBD and CBN is still in early stages. That being said, there is more research available on CBD. Therefore, CBD is typically much easier to find.

The FDA has approved CBD for use in treating two rare forms of epilepsy, as well as seizures related to TSC. At this time, the FDA has not approved CBN to treat any health conditions.

Potential Side Effects Associated with CBD versus CBN

According to experts, CBD generally has a good safety profile. The most common side effects include:

  • Changes in weight
  • Changes in appetite
  • Tiredness
  • Diarrhea

In higher doses, CBD may increase the risk of liver damage when mixed with some medications, including:

  • Mipomersen
  • Leflunomide
  • Valproate
  • Pexidartinib
  • Lomitapide
  • Teriflunomide

At this time, there are no reported side effects associated with CBN. Please note this does not mean that there are none- it just means we haven’t’ studied CBN enough to find them.

Consult Your Physician

If you have come to the conclusion that you want to try CBD or CBN to treat your medical condition or to improve overall health, it’s important that you speak with your physician first. They can help you determine whether or not it is an appropriate treatment and if so, what the appropriate dose should be. They will be able to recommend a starting dose and determine if there is a potential threat with any of your other medications.

While it’s true that CBD or CBN may interact with current treatments, you should not stop using your current treatments without approval from your physician.


CBD and CBN are two chemicals, known as cannabinoids, found in the cannabis plant and research on both is still in the beginning stages. At this time, there is more research on CBD than CBN. There is some indication that it can be used to treat a variety of conditions including anxiety, depression, and chronic pain. More quality human research is needed on CBN before any clear conclusions can be drawn about its benefits.

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