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What’s the Difference Between CBD and CBN?

Written By Ellese Symons Jul 13th 2022
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CBD and CBN are both cannabinoids. If you are new to the terminology, a cannabinoid functions similarly to a neurotransmitter. While many people are becoming more familiar with the plant-based cannabinoids CBD and THC, far fewer realize that researchers have identified close to 120 potentially beneficial cannabinoids.

Although researchers identified the cannabinoid cannabinol (CBN) long before CBD, CBN has not been studied as extensively. That being said, it may be important to know that preliminary investigations suggest CBN has significant health and wellness potential of its own.

CBD vs. CBN: Understanding the Differences

While CBD and CBN are both cannabinoids, they do not function in the same manner. Knowing the differences between CBD and CBN can help those investigating the wellness potential of hemp-derived products appreciate the value of each of these potentially beneficial cannabinoids. Consider the following differences:

  • What is CBN?

    CBN is created by the breakdown of THC from exposure to UV rays and oxygen. Although CBN is a byproduct of THC, it does not have the same effect.1

  • What is CBD?

    CBD is a plant-based cannabinoid. CBD is not a byproduct of THC and does not cause intoxication.

Where Do CBD and CBN Come From?

There are two potential sources for plant-based cannabinoids, the cannabis plants hemp, and marijuana. While both sources contain ample amounts of CBD, the CBN levels are generally quite low. Full-spectrum CBD oil contains both CBD and CBN.


While CBN is not shown to provide the same level of health and wellness potential as CBD, researchers are not overlooking the potential benefits of the cannabinoid. While investigations are still preliminary, the research into the effects of CBN is quite intriguing.3 CBN is shown to be non-intoxicating.

While CBN is a byproduct of the breakdown of THC, this cannabinoid is not considered psychoactive, at least not in the same manner as THC. Some researchers believe large amounts of CBN could be considered mildly psychoactive, but confirm that CBN does not cause the psychoactive effects THC is known for.

The Therapeutic Potential of Cannabinoids Working Together

CBD and CBN both interact with the Endocannabinoid System (ECS), the network of messengers and receptors that regulate nearly every crucial function in your body. Because CBN has an affinity to the same receptors as THC, researchers have credited CBN with a variety of potentially helpful effects.

CBN is one of the many plant-based cannabinoids found in full-spectrum CBD oil. The cannabinoids in full-spectrum hemp oil mimic the messengers and influence the receptors of the communication network that regulates nearly every essential function critical to your health, your ECS.8 Supporting the function of your endocannabinoid system with plant-based cannabinoids helps keep this vital system functioning efficiently.

Many CBD enthusiasts believe full-spectrum CBD products are the most potent because of a fascinating phenomenon known as the entourage effect. It’s the entourage effect that explains how each plant element, including the cannabinoids CBD and CBN, magnify and multiply the health and wellness potential of the others.

Choosing Between CBD and CBN

While it’s interesting to compare the effects of different cannabinoids, you don’t need to decide between CBN or CBD. In fact, it would be quite challenging to find a product that contains significant levels of cannabinol (CBN).

You can find CBN in full-spectrum CBD oil products, the products we commonly refer to as CBD oil. Full-spectrum hemp oil contains a significant amount of CBD and small amounts of CBN. Since each of the potentially beneficial cannabinoids in full-spectrum magnifies and multiplies the effects of the others, the CBN in full-spectrum CBD works together to maximize the potential of full-spectrum products.

Selecting the Ideal CBDistillery™ Product for Your Preferences

It’s important to note that full-spectrum CBD oil contains <0.3% THC. While not enough to cause intoxication, those who are not comfortable using products with trace amounts of THC have the option of using products made with a purified form of CBD, CBD isolate. While products made with CBD isolate do not contribute to the entourage effect of additional cannabinoids like CBN, CBD isolate is flavorless, odorless, and contains 0% THC.

For high-quality, full-spectrum CBD and products formulated with CBD isolate, visit CBDistillery. Our hemp-derived CBD products are created from non-GMO industrial hemp grown using natural farming practices and processed using a food-safe CO2 extraction. You can verify the purity, potency, and cannabinoid content of our products by viewing third-party test results on our site or scanning the QR code featured on every product label. CBDistillery™ is U.S. Hemp Authority certified.


  1. Psychology Today. M Breus (2019 March 21) How CBN Can Improve Your Sleep, Mood, and Health.
  2. Physiology.org. A Lingresti et al (2016 September 14) From Phytocannabinoids to Cannabinoid Receptors and Endocannabinoids: Pleiotropic Physiological and Pathological Role Through Complex Pharmacology.
  3. Medical Marijuana, Inc. (2015 October 29) Medicinal Value of Cannabidiol (CBN).
  4. Chemical and Pharmaceutical Bulletin. H Yoshida et al. (1995 February) Synthesis and Pharmacological Effects in Mice of Halogenated Cannabinol Derivatives.
  5. British Journal of Pharmacology. B Russo (2011 August )Taming THC: Potential Cannabis Synergy and Phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects.
  6. Steep Hill (2017 October 31) Cannabinol (CBN): A Sleeping Synergy.
  7. Mayo Clinic (2019) Diazepam (Oral Route).
  8. Project CBD (2019) The Endocannabinoid System.