CBD, THC & CBG - Exploring Cannabinoids
4 min

CBD vs CBN: What's The Difference?

4 min
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Despite sharing some potential medicinal properties, CBN and CBD are produced by the cannabis plant in different ways. Find out more about both of these cannabinoids and how they differ, and discover a few top-tier CBD and CBN-rich cannabis strains.

CBD (cannabidiol) and CBN (cannabinol) are two cannabinoids produced by the cannabis plant. They were first discovered in the 1940s and were the first 2 cannabinoids effectively isolated from the plant. Today, scientists have isolated over 110 cannabinoids from cannabis.

Cannabinoids interact with our body’s endocannabinoid system. This system, made up of a variety of receptors cells, can mediate all kinds of bodily functions. Different cannabinoids stimulate this system in different ways and, in turn, produce different effects.

Arguably the most well-known compound in cannabis is THC or tetrahydrocannabinol. THC was first isolated in the 1960s and is widely considered the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana.



The cannabis plant doesn’t actually produce cannabinoids like CBD and THC naturally. Instead, it produces acidic versions of these compounds first, which are later broken down to make other compounds.

The first cannabinoid acid to form in the cannabis plant is CBGA or cannabigerolic acid. As the plant matures, 4 different enzymes start breaking down this compound into CBG (cannabigerol), THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid), CBCA (cannabichromenic acid), and CBDA (cannabidiolic acid).

When cannabis is harvested and cured, these acids start to break down via a process known as decarboxylation. As the cannabis is hung to dry and “cure”, the heat in the atmosphere starts breaking down carbon bonds in these acids, converting them into cannabinoids like THC, CBC, and CBD.

The final stage of decarboxylation occurs when we consume cannabis. The heat from smoking or vaping, for example, automatically breaks down any remaining acids into compounds that are easier for our body to process. When cooking with cannabis, it’s recommended to decarboxylate your buds in the oven before using them to make oil or butter.

The Process Of Decarboxylation


CBN is also produced via decarboxylation. Unlike CBD, however, it isn’t made from a cannabis acid. Instead, it actually stems from THC. When you decarboxylate cannabis, some of the THC in the plant will automatically be converted to CBN. Alternatively, you can also age any harvested buds for longer periods of time, allowing the plant to naturally break down THC into CBN.



The effects of CBD are pretty well-known, seeing as the compound has been the focus of many different studies over the last few years. When CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system, it helps trigger anti-inflammatory responses all around the body. This makes it a very promising treatment option for any condition characterised by inflammation, including arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and even mental conditions.

So far, studies have shown that CBD can help reduce inflammation caused by arthritis1, colitis2 (intestinal inflammation), inflammatory bowel disease3, and more. In fact, some studies have shown that CBD is up to 20 times more effective at treating inflammation than regular NSAIDs like ibuprofen, and twice as effective as some prescription anti-inflammatories.

CBD is also a powerful anxiolytic. Many studies4 based on animal models of anxiety as well as anecdotal evidence from human patients show that CBD can help reduce symptoms of fear, anxiety, stress, and depression. Unfortunately, how exactly CBD achieves this is yet unclear.

Some research suggests that CBD affects serotonin receptors in the brain. A 2009 study5 from the British Journal of Pharmacology, for example, showed that CBD reduced stress responses in rats by interacting with a serotonin receptor known as 5-HT1A. It's believed that CBD helps boost serotonin levels in the brain as well as serotonin neurotransmission.

Recent research also suggests that CBD can have anti-tumour effects. Studies show6 that CBD can help inhibit the growth of cancer cells while protecting healthy, non-cancerous cells. Other studies also show that CBD can inhibit angiogenesis, a process through which tumours grow blood vessels. In doing so, CBD can actually starve a tumour and stop it from spreading.



There’s a noticeably smaller body of scientific research on CBN. However, studies are starting to shine a light on this little-known cannabinoid, showing that, like CBD, it has a variety of health benefits.

Steep Hill Laboratories, a major cannabis testing company with labs all across the world, recently published a detailed article7 summarising their research into CBN. They noted that CBN, like THC, can help reduce intraocular pressure, and therefore could be effective in the treatment of glaucoma.

Steep Hill Laboratories also found that CBN is an extremely powerful sedative. In fact, a single dose of 2.5–5mg of CBN produces effects similar to those of 5–10mg of diazepam, making it arguably the most sedative of all cannabinoids. These sedative effects could make CBN ideal for treating pain and sleep issues.

A 2012 study8 published in the journal Psychopharmacology also studied the effects of CBD on the feeding patterns of rats. Interestingly, it found that CBN increased appetite in rats, causing them to eat more and for longer periods of time. CBD, on the other hand, helped reduce appetite.

Studies9 examining the effects of cannabinoids on cancers have also shown that CBN, like CBD and THC, may inhibit the growth of tumours. Research from the 1970s has also shown that CBN has anticonvulsant properties, while more recent studies from Swedish scientists showed CBN affects the same pain pathways as THC.

Related Story

What Is The Endocannabinoid System?


Looking to benefit from the effects of CBD? Here are some of the top CBD strains available at Zamnesia:

Dinamed CBD Plus by Dinafem

With a THC:CBD ratio of 1:30, this is by far one of the most CBD-rich strains on the market. As the name suggests, this strain was bred with medical users in mind, offering all the benefits of cannabis without the strong euphoric high of THC.

Buddha Medikit by Buddha Seeds

This medicinal strain by Buddha seeds boasts a massive 20% CBD and a THC level under 1%. This makes it ideal for daytime medicating, providing relief without any strong psychoactive effects. Buddha Medikit also boasts big yields, making it an attractive strain for home growers.

Nightingale by Medical Marijuana Genetics

Nightingale is another great alternative to the many THC-heavy strains out there. Its CBD level consistently measures between 10 and 20%, while THC levels usually clock in at 0.68–0.9%. It boasts a sweet, smooth aroma and is great for smoking, vaping, or for making tinctures.


Most commercially available cannabis strains don’t contain high percentages of CBN. Nonetheless, here are a few strains that stand out for their CBN concentrations:

Super Silver Haze by Greenhouse Seeds

This is a big, potent sativa-dominant strain. With roughly 19% THC, it produces a strong, uplifting euphoria. Thanks to its high levels of THC, you can also let Super Silver Haze age a bit to help increase its CBN level.

Jorge’s Diamonds 1 by Dutch Passion

Named after the infamous Jorge Cervantes, this is a hard-hitting, sedative Indica strain with a rich concentration of cannabinoids. It’s fast-flowering, easy to grow, and produces great results indoors and out. Try ageing these buds for a little longer than normal to naturally increase their levels of CBN.

Dawg Star by T.H. Seeds

This strain is renowned for its high concentrations of both CBD and CBN. It produces strong, relaxing sedative effects, making it particularly popular among medical patients. It produces large yields and is also easy to grow.

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Steven Voser

Written by: Steven Voser
Steven Voser is an Emmy Award Nominated freelance journalist with a lot of experience under his belt. Thanks to a passion for all things cannabis, he now dedicates a lot of his times exploring the world of weed.

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