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CBD vs. CBN: What’s the Difference Between Them?

THC, CBD, CBN — the cannabis sativa plant contains a real alphabet soup of compounds, many of which are increasingly all the rage in the world of health and wellness. While most of us are quite familiar with THC and its effects, CBD and especially CBN are a little less well-known.

While there’s only one letter separating their acronyms, the differences between CBD vs CBN are a little more complicated than that. In this article, we’ll help break them down.

We’ll take a look at what separates these two cannabinoids, their potential benefits, and what risks there are in taking them. We’ll also explore how they’re usually consumed, where to find quality products made with them, and, given their origins in a plant that’s been illegal for several decades, whether taking them is considered above board.

Finally, we’ll also answer some questions many people have about these products. By the end of the article, you’ll have a better understanding of how these lesser-known cannabis products can be part of a healthy lifestyle.

Of course, if you just want to dive in and see how CBD and CBN work for you, our CBD + CBN Sleep Gummies are a relaxing place to start.

What are CBN and CBD, and what is the difference between them?

Of these two compounds, CBD, which is short for cannabidiol, is certainly the more famous one. It’s become popular in recent years as a wellness ingredient that some evidence suggests may be able to help anxiety, pain, and a number of other issues.

CBN, or cannabinol, on the other hand, is less well known, but it’s recently been recognized for some of its own potential benefits, mainly as a sleep aid and for pain relief.

The main differences between the two compounds stem from their origins as chemicals. CBD is the second-most naturally abundant compound in the cannabis plant after THC. Unlike THC, it’s non-psychoactive and doesn’t cause a high.

CBN only exists naturally in tiny traces within the cannabis plant. Instead, it’s formed as THC is exposed to heat or air over time, similar to how a bottle of wine turns to vinegar if you leave it open for too long.

Like THC (and unlike CBD), CBN does cause some psychoactive effects, but they’re generally much milder and are experienced more as sleepiness than as a high.

What are the benefits and uses of CBN and CBD?

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Beyond just their chemical makeup and origins, the more important distinction between CBN and CBD is what they’re generally used for.

CBN benefits and uses

  • Sleep Aid: While scientific research on CBN is just getting started, early results show it has sedative properties. That means CBN could help people who suffer from sleep-disrupting conditions get higher-quality shuteye.
  • Pain Relief: An animal study found that CBN might help with joint and muscle pain, including from conditions like fibromyalgia.
  • Neuroprotective: A study from 2005 on rats found that cannabinol could delay symptom onset of ALS, a degenerative nerve disorder.
  • Anti-inflammatory: Researchers have found that, along with other cannabinoids, CBN may have an anti-inflammatory effect on cells, which is a promising sign that it can help with overall health and wellness.

CBD benefits and uses

  • Anti-anxiety: CBD is well-known for its calming effect on the brain and nervous system. In fact, this effect has become so famous that some people give their dogs CBD to help with firework-induced anxiety on the Fourth of July.
  • Epilepsy: Studies have shown CBD reduces seizures in children who suffer from severe epilepsy — in fact, the FDA approved CBD as a treatment for the condition.
  • Sleep Aid: CBD also has been shown to help people experience higher quality, deeper sleep, likely due to its calming effects.
  • Pain Relief: CBD can help reduce some kinds of chronic pain, thanks to its anti-inflammatory effects.

CBN vs. CBD: what are the risks and side effects?

The good news is that generally speaking, both CBN and CBD are well-tolerated and safe for most people. There are a few possible side effects from both compounds, though, that are worth keeping in mind.

In especially large doses, CBD can cause dry mouth, diarrhea, appetite changes, fatigue, and, rarely, liver injury. It can also interact with certain medications, so it’s a good idea to check with your doctor before adding CBD to your routine.

Since there isn’t much research on CBN yet, less is known about potential side effects. Some preliminary studies show CBN has some of the same potential side effects as CBD, like dizziness, appetite changes, dry mouth, and drowsiness. Like CBD, CBN can also interact with some medications.

For the most part, though, the side effects for both compounds only really come into play at very high doses. It’s a good idea to always follow the recommended dosage instructions on any CBD or CBN supplement, and talk to your doctor if you have any questions before getting started.

Can you consume CBN and CBD together?

Assuming you don’t overdo it, it’s generally considered safe to consume CBN and CBD together. In fact, some studies suggest combining CBN and CBD can enhance each compound’s health benefits when compared to taking either one alone.

CBN and CBD interact with your body's endocannabinoid system in slightly different ways. Like THC, CBN binds to CB1 and CB2 receptors, while CBD does not directly bind to either receptor but is believed to help balance the system.

Since the two compounds work in different ways, this could be a reason why early research suggests they complement each other. The potential perks of using CBN and CBD together include improved sleep quality, longer lasting pain relief, and anti-inflammatory effects. The combo may be good for sleep issues in particular.

What are the different ways that you can consume CBN or CBD?

There are several different ways to consume CBN or CBD:

  • Oils and Tinctures: These are one of the most effective ways to consume CBD or CBN. The oil is usually placed under the tongue, which allows it to be absorbed quickly into the bloodstream. Oils and tinctures have higher bioavailability compared to some other methods, which means the body is able to work with more of the CBN or CBD.
  • Edibles: This is one of the more popular CBN and CBD products, in which the compound is infused into gummies, foods, drinks, or capsules. It’s incredibly convenient, though it takes a little longer than some others since the compounds must pass through the digestive system.
  • Topicals: Directly applied to the skin in the form of creams or lotions, this method is typically used for pain or inflammation relief in a specific area.
  • Vaping: Inhaling CBD or CBN that’s been dissolved into a liquid is a quick method of consuming CBN or CBD. The long term effects of vaping aren’t very well understood by scientists yet, so some caution is warranted here.
  • Lozenges: Like cough drops, these tablets dissolve in the mouth, allowing CBN or CBD to pass through the mucous membranes.

The effectiveness of all of these methods can vary a bit from person to person based on factors like metabolism or body weight, so if you’re new to a particular method it’s always a good idea to take things slow at first.

What is a good place to buy CBN and CBD products?

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You’re looking at it right now: FOCL is an excellent place to get started with CBN and CBD. We’re passionate about helping people feel their best, wherever they are in their journey, and everything about our products reflects that commitment.

Our CBD + CBN Sleep Drops could be your one-way ticket to refreshing sleep thanks to a blend of full spectrum CBD and CBN. While some products out there include all sorts of stabilizers and other compounds, our drops are pretty simple: they contain organic MCT oil from young coconuts to carry the cannabinoids, a bit of lavender and peppermint for flavor, and high quality CBD and CBN.

If gummies are more your speed, our CBD + CBN Sleep Gummies are another great option. Each gummy contains 25 mg of CBD and 15 mg of CBN to maximize the potential benefits of the compounds’ synergistic effects. They also contain L-theanine, an amino acid found in green tea, and passion flower extract, both of which can help further ease anxiety.

Both of these products are a great way to incorporate CBD and CBN into your life, but if they don’t work for you, there’s no hard feelings: we have a 60-day guarantee on everything we sell. If you’re not feeling better after trying our products, just let us know and we’ll get you a refund, no problem.

Marijuana buds remain illegal under federal law, but the cannabis plant itself was removed from the Federal Controlled Substances list in 2018. That means CBD and CBN are both legal in the US as long as they’re derived from hemp containing less than 0.3% THC.

There are a couple of caveats here, though. First, is that some states have additional restrictions on cannabis products beyond federal law. Second, CBD can’t be marketed as a supplement or added to food unless said supplements or foods are approved by the FDA.

In more than half of the states, though, marijuana itself is legal under state law, which means CBN and CBD are generally in the clear. If you’re at all unsure about whether CBD or CBN are legal where you live, it’s a good idea to look up what laws are on the books in your state and local area.

Is CBN addictive?

Research so far hasn’t found any clear indicators that CBN is addictive. While it’s derived from the breakdown of THC, the effects of CBN are far more mild, down to its interactions with the endocannabinoid system. Its psychoactive effect is limited mostly to a mild sense of sleepiness rather than the high commonly associated with THC.

While current research on long-term use is limited, what we know so far points to CBN being a compound that has a low potential for abuse or addiction.


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Is CBN more powerful than CBD?

The answer depends on what type of “power” we’re talking about.

In terms of its therapeutic effects, CBD is better understood by researchers as a powerful tool to help with issues like anxiety or sleep, though some emerging evidence suggests CBN can also help in those areas. In terms of mental effects, CBN is mildly psychoactive, while CBD is not.

Is CBN better than CBD for sleep?

Early research does suggest CBN might be better than CBD for sleep thanks to its more pronounced sedative effect. Using both compounds together is typically recommended, though, since they tend to complement each other well in helping promote restful, deep sleep.

Is CBN better than CBD for anxiety?

There’s more evidence that CBD can help with anxiety, thanks to its calming effect, but the mild sedative effects of CBN can also be helpful for anxiety in smaller doses. Combining CBN and CBD can be a great way to enhance the anti-anxiety effect of both compounds.

Is CBD better than CBN for pain?

Right now there’s more evidence that points to CBD’s usefulness in helping with chronic pain. CBN can potentially help as well, since the two compounds complement each other’s effects, but more research is necessary to know for sure. Since CBN does have a mild sedative effect, it’s a good idea to start slow if trying it for pain relief.

What is the right dosage of CBN and CBD?

The recommended doses can vary depending on what you’re using CBN and CBD for, your body and its specific metabolism and tolerances, and, if you’re taking them as an edible, the potency of the compounds within the product. Generally speaking, around 15-25 mg of CBD and 5-15 mg of CBN are often recommended for most people.

It’s always a good idea to follow a manufacturer’s instructions and not to overdo it by taking more than a recommended dosage, since doing so can lead to unwanted side effects.

Does CBN make you feel groggy when you wake up the next morning?

In some cases CBN can cause grogginess the next morning, but for many people it does not when taken at the recommended doses. Factors like getting enough sleep in the first place and not mixing CBN with sleep-disruptive substances like alcohol and caffeine can affect how you feel the morning after taking CBN. One strategy to minimize potential grogginess is to take CBN an hour or so before bed instead of right before sleep.

Final Thoughts

CBN and CBD both show incredible promise as sleep aids, pain relievers, and anti-inflammatories, with few side effects when used properly. Combining CBD and CBN can also enhance these potential benefits more than taking either one alone.

If you’re interested in trying CBD and CBN there are a ton of options out there. Whether oils or gummies are more your speed, our Sleep Drops and Sleep Gummies are a great place to begin.

Both are made simply with the highest-quality ingredients, guided by our passion to help people feel better wherever they are in their journey. Plus, our 60-day guarantee means there’s no risk at all in finding out if CBN and CBD can help you move toward a better, more relaxed you.