In the last few years, a whole new world of cannabis - and cannabinoids - has become available to consumers. A decade ago, cannabidiol (CBD) and THC were the two main cannabinoids, with CBD being the only non-intoxicating option available. But new cannabinoids CBG and CBN, among others, are gaining in popularity thanks to various potential and promising health benefits.

Compared to CBD - which has many documented health benefits - CBG seems to have more energizing and anti-inflammatory effects, while CBN is more often sedative and physically relaxing. CBD also naturally occurs in much higher concentrations in the cannabis plant, compared to the much smaller percentage of CBN and CBG. 

Read on to learn more about the similarities and differences between CBD, CBG, and CBN and everything you need to know as a consumer.

Key Takeaways:

  • CBD is the second-most abundant cannabinoid in marijuana, with a host of well-documented medical benefits
  • CBG is the precursor to CBD, though emerging research suggests it has energizing and anti-inflammatory effects
  • CBN is a metabolite of THC that forms in cannabis as it ages and the THC degrades.
  • CBD, CBG, and CBN are all cannabinoids with different effects, though using them together can help users take advantage of the entourage effect.

mint evn cbd tincture with box leaning on the bottle

What is CBD?

CBD is one of the two primary cannabinoids found in hemp and cannabis and is the most abundant behind tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) found in the latter. A common misconception is that CBD is non-psychoactive; it’s non-intoxicating but still produces a host of benefits by acting on the brain, including lifting mood and dulling the sensation of pain.

CBD acts in the body as what’s called an “agonist,” meaning it blocks certain neurotransmitters from working on your endocannabinoid system but not directly acting on the receptors. This means that CBD can potentially reduce the intoxicating effects of THC while lengthening the high. The combination of THC and CBD, plus other cannabinoids and terpenes, working better than the sum of their parts is a phenomenon called the entourage effect.

Research has found that CBD can work on many parts of the endocannabinoid system, making it a potent anti-inflammatory, pain reliever, mood booster, and other health benefits. Low to moderate doses may produce anti-anxiety effects, while higher doses become more sedating.

What is CBG?

CBG, the decarboxylated version of CBGA, is considered the “mother of all cannabinoids” as it is the chemical precursor to both THCA and CBDA, which become THC and CBD, respectively, when introduced to heat. Younger cannabis plants have high levels of CBG that eventually get concerted to CBD and THC later in the plant’s life cycle. While CBG is at relatively low levels in mature cannabis plants, some breeders have undertaken to select for higher levels of CBG later in the marijuana plant’s life.

Science has yet to research CBG and how it works in the body deeply. Early research believes it acts on CB1 and CB2 receptors, meaning it competes with THC (when taken together) to act on the body’s endocannabinoid system and can potentially lessen the “high” of THC.

Varieties of marijuana with high CBG levels are reportedly more stimulating and energizing, particularly when they have terpenes like terpinolene and limonene. This means CBG could be helpful in soothing anxiety, boosting fatigue, and easing the heaviness of depression. Other research suggests that CBG may have some anti-cancer properties, particularly when used in the entourage effect with other cannabinoids.

Similarities and Differences Between CBG and CBD

CBG is technically CBD’s parent compound, but it exists in much smaller quantities in medical marijuana than CBD. They produce a similar range of effects, including:

  • Energizing and fighting fatigue
  • Soothing stress and uplifting mood
  • Impact on appetite, potentially helping with weight loss  

The most noticeable difference is that CBD is far more naturally occurring in marijuana than CBG. A pure CBG product on the market would have to have been sourced from many cannabis plants, compared to a pure-CBD product with the same amount per dry weight. 

What is CBN?

CBN is another cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant that is a metabolite of THC, formed as the chemicals break down. It’s considered a major cannabinoid, and while it’s much more plentiful in older cannabis plants, it still exists in relatively minor quantities.

Much speculation surrounds CBN’s effects, with some anecdotes suggesting it has more sedative effects that increase the sleepiness caused by THC. This indicates that it could partially be an agonist (block) of the CB1 receptors that THC acts on, meaning it stays in your system longer. Others still claim it has no effect.

Due to CBN’s perceived sedative properties, it could be a valuable tool for individuals looking to fight insomnia, manage chronic pain, or stimulate and regulate an impacted appetite. High levels of CBN in cannabis flower indicate formerly high levels of THC, so it’s likely that a high-CBN strain was once very potent.

Similarities and Differences Between CBN and CBD

CBN and CBD have more differences than they are alike, but they can benefit users when used together in the entourage effect. CBD is energizing in lower doses and more sedative in higher amounts. Used together with CBN, the cannabinoids could be helpful as an insomnia or pain-relieving tool or to replace strong benzodiazepine prescriptions. 

The Bottom Line: Which is Best For You?

CBD and CBG are potentially useful for many applications thanks to their anti-stress and anti-inflammatory properties. Together, they can influence each other’s behavior and potentially produce more effective benefits. 

However, more research is needed to understand whether CBD or CBG are better for specific conditions or how they truly complement each other. CBN is potentially much more relaxing and pain-relieving and could combine with CBD at higher doses to produce more potent effects. 

Which cannabinoid is best for you depends entirely on your cannabis goals, lifestyle, and physiology. If you’re ready to explore cannabinoid-based products, check out EVN’s selection of CBD options.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is stronger CBN or CBG?

Stronger is a subjective term and depends entirely on the amount of CBN or CBG in a given cannabis product. CBN reportedly produces more sedative and pain-relieving effects, whereas CBG is more energizing and anti-inflammatory. 

Is CBG or CBD better for sleep?

CBD is often a more popular choice for those seeking to achieve restful sleep, as CBD in higher doses has been shown to have sedative qualities. CBG is better suited for daytime use thanks to its more energizing properties.

Is CBG stronger than CBD?

Stronger is a subjective term and depends entirely on the amount of CBG or CBD in a given cannabis product. Both cannabinoids can be energizing and have anti-inflammatory properties, but you’re more likely to find higher levels of CBD in cannabis than CBG, making it potentially more potent. 

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