CBG vs CBN: What’s the Difference?

CBG vs CBN Illustration
Written by Livvy Ashton | Last updated: August 6, 2022

As the cannabis space expands every year, more people become interested in the unique effects of different cannabinoids.

Unfortunately, there’s also a lot of chaos and confusion regarding these substances.

In this guide, we’ll explain some common misconceptions about two increasingly popular cannabinoids: cannabigerol (CBG) and cannabinol (CBN).

Although very similar, they have slightly different properties that can be leveraged depending on the time of the day.

Let’s dive into the differences between CBG and CBN.

What’s the Difference Between CBG And CBN?

CBG and CBN Bottles

CBG and CBN are built very similarly, and they are both synthesized by marijuana and hemp plants. They have an affinity with CB1 and CB2 receptors, so their health benefits are quite similar too.

The major difference between CBG and CBN is how they occur naturally in cannabis.

CBG stems from CBGA, known as cannabigerolic acid. This acidic form of CBGA is considered the mother of all cannabinoids because it makes for an accelerator for nearly all other cannabinoids. CBG is converted to CBD, CBC, or THC depending on the type of enzymes involved in its metabolism.

Mature hemp marijuana plants have small amounts of CBG due to this degradation, so it’s best to harvest them earlier in order to obtain higher yields.

CBN is another minor cannabinoid. However, unlike CBG, it results from the degradation of THC over time. Aged cannabis has higher levels of CBN than fresh buds.

CBN can also appear in plants that have been grown under the sun and thus are exposed intentionally to UV lights. The light helps degrade THC into CBN.

Another difference between CBG and CBN is how both cannabinoids are used by the body for our individual health needs.

Comparison Table of CBG vs CBN

CBG CBN
Effect Profile Energizing, mood-enhancing, stimulating, non-intoxicating, mild pain reliever Relaxing, sedating, mild pain reliever, mildly psychoactive, appetite-stimulating
Legal Status Federally legal as long as sourced from hemp plants Federally illegal in most states, except where marijuana is legal
Price Very expensive Very expensive
Market Availability Limited Limited
Dosage Range 5–10 mg for beginners

10–25 mg for daily users

2.5 mg for beginners + going up until desired effects are achieved
Ratio in Hemp Less than 2% in mature hemp but up to around 30% in younger plants Little to none
Ratio in Marijuana Less than 2% in mature plants but up to 30% in younger plants Trace amounts in freshly harvested buds but up to 30% after exposure to light 
Best Time for Harvest Highest in immature cannabis plants Highest in overripe marijuana

CBG vs. CBN: Differences in Effects

Although CBG and CBN both act on the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the ECS, they have completely different effects on the user.

Most people who take CBG products like gummies report feeling a boost of energy and clearheadedness, similar to coffee and other natural stimulants — but without jittery. Most users also note enhanced focus along with improved mood and attitude to life. Therefore, CBG can be useful for working, studying, or focusing on a particular task that requires you to stay concentrated for a certain period (e.g. programming).

CBG is also non-intoxicating, so you won’t get high off of it.

On the other hand, the effects of CBN are closer to THC since it’s a byproduct of THC’s degradation. As such, CBN may induce some psychoactive effects, but they’re mostly mild.

CBN is also known for its relaxing and sedating properties — although it’s not clear whether these effects can be attributed directly to CBN or to the oxidization of terpenes in aged cannabis.

Still, many people find CBN products useful as a sleep aid.

CBG vs. CBN: Differences in Potential Medical Applications

Due to the differences between their effects, CBG and CBN have different medical applications.

Research on both compounds is scarce, but here’s what I’ve been able to dig up.

CBG demonstrates potential as a treatment for the following conditions:

  • Appetite loss
  • Bacterial infections
  • Bladder dysfunctions
  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease

The health benefits of CBN are centered around conditions involving pain management and dysfunctions in the circadian rhythm, including:

  • Joint pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • Insomnia

No doubt that these findings look promising, but again, not enough clinical research has been conducted to draw definitive conclusions on the above applications.

CBG vs. CBN: Differences in Terms of Legal Status

The difference in sourcing CBG and CBN makes them subject to very different laws.

CBG is federally legal because it comes from under-ripe hemp plants. The 2018 Farm bill legalized the production and sale of commercial hemp and its derivatives provided that they contain 0.3% THC or less.

Since hemp is legal on the federal level — so is CBG. You can buy it anywhere in the USA without restriction.

CBN results from THC’s degradation, so it needs significant quantities of THC to make the production of CBN cost-effective. This, in turn, requires the use of marijuana plants, which are federally legal and only allowed in several states for recreational use now.

This makes CBN less accessible than CBD.

Differences in Prices between CBG and CBN

Needless to say, both CBG and CBN are considered some of the most expensive cannabinoids.

And there’s a good reason for that.

First, these compounds are relatively novel in the commercial space, so manufacturers are still trying to find the right technology to make their extraction efficient.

Few manufacturers offer CBG and CBN supplements due to the lack of mass-manufacturing techniques.

Another reason for selling CBG and CBN for higher prices than CBD extracts is that they’re produced in very low amounts in the plant. Additional processes are required to manufacture these cannabinoids on a broad scale.

Comparing the Market Availability of CBG and CBN

As I said, it’s possible to find some high-quality CBG products, but it’s much harder to spot than CBD or THC.

The market availability of CBN is even more limited compared to CBD because it’s only legal in states that have legalized marijuana for recreational or medical use.

I recommend checking out the CBG energy gummies and CBN sleep gummies from Area 52 and Gold Bee. Both brands have recently expanded their product line-ups with these two cannabinoids — and they do a pretty good job at leveraging their health benefits.

How to Dose CBG and CBN

To begin with, remember that CBG and CBN should be dosed with care because they can have a few mild adverse effects.

Although there are no official dosage charts for CBG and CBN — neither for specific conditions nor for general supplementation — it’s a good idea to start with a very low dose, such as 5 mg.

From there, you can increase the amount of your cannabinoid to the point where you experience the desired effects without any discomfort.

Possible side effects of taking too much CBG or CBN include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Sedation
  • Fluctuation of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Grogginess
  • Dizziness

How Are CBG and CBN Made?

Laboratory equipment scaling CBN/CBD

CBG and CBN have a somewhat similar chemical structure because CBN is indirectly derived from CBG.

CBG converts to THC, which later degrades into CBN and delta 8 THC (but only in small amounts).

As for their molecular makeup, the difference lies in the formation of a carbon ring on CBN, which doesn’t occur in CBG.

This subtle detail makes a big difference in how you experience both cannabinoids.

Scientists suggest that the above feature determines how cannabinoids bind to and influence receptors in the endocannabinoid system — which explains why every cannabinoid has a different effect profile.

Do CBG and CBN Show Up On a Drug Test?

CBN is much more likely to make you fail a drug test than CBG, but you should approach both cannabinoids with caution.

Standard drug tests, which are known as immunoassays, can spot the presence of particular compounds in the examined sample, and most will only detect THC.

CBG has a different chemical structure than THC, so the chances of failing a drug test after consuming this cannabinoid alone are extremely low.

However, since full-spectrum CBG comes from whole hemp plants, and the market remains unregulated, there are chances that your product will contain more than 0.3% THC, and this, indeed, can make you fail your screening.

Still, the chances of scoring positive for THC on a drug test increase significantly when you take CBN. CBN is more similar to THC, and while it shouldn’t appear on a drug test, it’s more common in marijuana-derived extracts, which contain higher amounts of delta 9 THC.

Can you get High off of CBN or CBG?

CBG is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid, so you won’t get high off of it. Most users report mood elevation and increased focus on top of an energizing effect. However, these aren’t accompanied by a high.

On the contrary, CBN is mildly intoxicating, so it can get you high if you hit the right amount. The potency of CBN is considered about 10 times lower than THC, so you’d need to take a lot to feel any buzz.

Which One is Better: CBG or CBN?

CBN pill and CBG Pill on a left and right hand

CBG and CBN are different cannabinoids that offer unique health benefits and contribute to the modulation of our endocannabinoid system. Ultimately, it depends on your health needs and lifestyle when it comes to which is better for you.

If you’re looking for an invigorating cannabinoid that will enhance your mood and help you stay in the zone during tasks that demand concentration, then CBG is a better option.

But, if you’re looking for a relaxant with a slight psychoactive touch, you may want to add CBN to your supplement box.

Experiment and try different dosages; maybe you’ll be able to fit them both into your routine.

Sources:

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Livvy is a registered nurse (RN) and board-certified nurse midwife (CNM) in the state of New Jersey. After giving birth to her newborn daughter, Livvy stepped down from her full-time position at the Children’s Hospital of New Jersey. This gave her the opportunity to spend more time writing articles on all topics related to pregnancy and prenatal care.

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