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March 2, 2023

CBN vs CBG: Exploring the Differences between Cannabinoids

Although THC gets all the fame, there are actually over 140 different cannabinoids CBN vs CBG – and each one has unique attributes!

Every cannabinoid has a slightly different chemical structure that lends it singular properties and causes it to interact with the human body in unique ways.

This guide is going to be about two that are closely related, but have some important differences: Cannabinol (CBN) and Cannabigerol (CBG). We’ll cover:

  • What is cannabis?
  • What are cannabinoids, what are their effects, and how can they each enhance our well-being?
  • What’s the difference between CBN vs CBG? How do products with these different cannabinoids feel?

What does the research say?

And lots more. So here we go into the differences between CBN and CBG!

What is Cannabis?

Used for centuries, Cannabis sativa is commonly known for its recreational uses. Specifically, it is the flowers of female cannabis plants that excrete Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the intoxicating compound that imparts the classic marijuana “high” when smoked or ingested.

Cannabis products in all of their forms tend to include some type of cannabinoid, but not always THC. The hemp flower also produces terpenes and minor cannabinoids such as Cannabiolic Acid (CBDA), the precursor chemical to Cannabidiol (CBD), as well as CBN and CBG.

What are Cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids are chemical compounds found in the Cannabis sativa plant, although they have also been identified in some other plants. These chemical compounds interact with cannabinoid receptors in our body’s Endocannabinoid System (ECS).

The ECS is responsible for regulating processes such as inflammation, sleep, appetite, stress response, memory, etc. Cannabinoids are typically divided into two main groups: phytocannabinoids and endocannabinoids.

Phytocannabinoids occur naturally in the cannabis plant and can be used to produce relaxation and other effects in humans. These substances include the most well-known cannabinoid, THC, as well as Cannabigerolic Acid (CBGA), the mother chemical for THC (see more below).

The ones we’ve mentioned so far (CBD, CBG, and CBN) are also phytocannabinoids, as are others like cannabichromene (CBC) and Delta-8 THC.

Each of these cannabinoids interacts with the ECS differently and has specific effects when ingested (although it is fairly unusual to see the less common cannabinoids alone in a product). For example, although different strains of THC vary, all are generally known for providing a euphoric “high”, while CBD may provide anti-inflammatory and anxiety-relieving effects without intoxication.

Endocannabinoids are chemicals produced within the human body that also interact with the ECS to maintain balanced states within our bodies. Unlike phytocannabinoids, endocannabinoids cannot be extracted from any plants or seeds. However, by ingesting phytocannabinoids from cannabis products we may increase the levels of endocannabinoids in our bodies and promote homeostasis.

Different Types of Cannabinoids

Cannabinoids are active compounds that occur naturally in the cannabis plant. In recent years, research has started to expand into their potential mechanisms and therapeutic uses and applications. There is a wide variety of cannabinoids available, with many exhibiting unique properties.

The primary cannabinoids in cannabis are Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD). Both of these cannabinoids have precursor or parent compounds they come from after decarboxylation, a form of heat degradation.

In the actual buds, CBGA and CBDA, the acidic forms, are what forms first. Here is the chain of events.

Cannabigerolic Acid (CBGA) is what forms in the actual buds. Then, depending on what the enzymes in the plant tell the buds to do, CBGA converts to one of three things:

THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid), CBCA (cannabichromenic acid), or the CBDA we mentioned above.

THC including Delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta 8 THC) is produced. THC can convert into Cannabinol (CBN) or Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV).

​CBGA degrades into the prominent cannabinoid Cannabigerol (CBG), itself found in both hemp plants and marijuana plants in varying amounts and known to increase alertness.

CBDA degrades into Cannabidiol (CBD), which itself degrades into Cannabidivarin (CBDV). Each of these has its own effects on the body and can interact with other cannabinoids differently.

Cannabinol (CBN) and Cannabigerol (CBG) are both cannabinoids found in hemp plants. However, they have different effects. While CBN has relaxing effects, CBG is thought to increase alertness.

Types of Cannabinoids

What is CBN?

CBN, or cannabinol, is one of the most widely researched cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. It’s a byproduct of THC conversion when exposed to oxygen, heat and light. CBN has relaxing, sedating properties, but unlike THC, CBN does not produce psychoactive effects.

While the benefits of CBN are still largely unknown, its abundance in hemp makes it an attractive option for those interested in experimenting with cannabinoids to improve their wellness.

What is CBG?

Cannabigerol (CBG) is a naturally occurring cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. It is closely related to two more famous cannabinoids: cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBG acts as a precursor to CBD, THC and other minor cannabinoids, meaning that it is the first form of these compounds to be produced within the plants.

It has long been believed that natural amounts of CBG are too low to benefit humans, making it difficult to harvest the compound during the production process. In spite of this major obstacle, new extraction technologies have allowed manufacturers to regularly create high-quality products with up to 15% concentrations of CBG.

Comparative Benefits of CBN and CBG

We don’t yet have a complete picture of how CBN vs CBG interact with the central nervous system (CNS). However, we do know a bit about their interactions with the ECS.

CBN has been found to interact with both CB1 and CB2 receptors (CB1 being mostly in the brain), while CBG appears to primarily bind to the CB2 receptor. This indicates that though similar, these two cannabinoids have individual effects and perhaps even side effects that may not completely overlap.

In addition, CBN vs CBG have been studied extensively in recent years to evaluate the comparative benefits of each cannabinoid. Cannabinol (CBN) is emerging as one of the most promising cannabinoids due to its sedative properties.

On the other hand, Cannabigerol (CBG) is rapidly gaining attention as an alternative potential therapeutic option due to its extremely mild psychoactive effects and ability to impart feelings of both energy and relaxation.

Finally, while it hasn’t yet been studied in depth like CBD or CBN have been, there has been much speculation that combining multiple cannabinoids together could lead to powerful synergistic effects – something known as the entourage effect. It is the same concept of synergy behind creating a custom “stack” of classic pharmaceutical treatments to cope with an illness, but in this case, applied to what the body and nature to automatically.

Final Thoughts on CBN vs CBG

CBN and CBG are two of the more than 100 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Research into the range of effects CBN vs CBG produce is ongoing, but a lot of individuals truly seem to enjoy extract and other products made with these cannabinoids.

There are many supplements and blends on the market–although it’s totally possible that the best results come from the full-spectrum combination that comes in nature! What’s your favorite cannabinoid so far and why?


What are the most common methods for consuming CBN and CBG?

There are a variety of methods for consuming CBN and CBG on the market, each with a different amount of active ingredients. The most popular delivery methods are inhalation (smoking, vaping), oral ingestion (CBD capsules usually containing oil, tinctures under the tongue, and edibles containing either CBN or CBG), and topical application (lotions, creams, salves).

Inhalation is probably the fastest delivery system as the cannabinoids go directly into the bloodstream. In fact, speed is usually the reason users vape or smoke.

Ingesting gummies or other edibles can take anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours to feel the effects depending on your metabolism. However, many people have an affinity for this delivery system and its longer-lasting effects.

Topicals seem to have high popularity among users with skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema; they have little to no psychoactive effects and are mainly used for their anti-inflammatory properties.

How are the effects of CBN and CBG similar and different?

CBN (cannabinol) and CBG (cannabigerol) are both unique cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, with differing effects and benefits. In terms of similarities, both CBD and CBG may help promote relaxation and general wellness.

The main difference between the two is their psychotropic effects. While CBD does not produce mind-altering effects, CBG has been shown to have mild psychoactivity. This means that CBG may be more useful for conditions that require mental stimulation or improved concentration.

Are CBN and CBG legal?

CBN (cannabinol) and CBG (cannabigerol) are two of the many cannabinoids produced in the hemp plant. According to the Farm Bill, so long as they contain no more than trace amounts of THC, consumers can buy these kinds of minor cannabinoid products under federal laws. However, local and state legality varies, so check where you are.

And remember, even minor cannabinoids are illegal if they are made from marijuana plants–and no matter what exact quantities of THC they contain.

Do CBN and CBG show up on a drug test?

Most commercially used drug tests are not especially sensitive. This means any given drug test may possibly register the presence of any cannabinoid as an illegal cannabinoid.

Written by Diet Smoke Staff Writers

The staff writers for Diet Smoke have been researching and writing about premium hemp-derived THC and CBD products for more than 3 years. The team has a keen understanding of the topic, remain current on all FDA and industry news, and use their expertise to generate engaging and informative content to help educate consumers on Diet Smoke’s products. Each article is fact-checked and includes sources to scientific data to ensure readers receive the most up-to-date and accurate information possible.

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Reviewed By Colby Wohlleb

Colby Wohlleb, editor of Diet Smoke, reviews and approves all content before releasing it for posting on the Diet Smoke website. As a tireless advocate for the benefits of premium hemp-derived THC and CBD products, Colby ensures that all content is accurate, engaging, and informative. He also works directly with a trusted source to ensure the purity of the products we sell and performs rigorous lab testing to ensure that Diet Smoke’s products are of the highest quality and safety standards.