CBN, CBG, and CBC: What’s the Difference?
Meta description: CBN, CBG, and CBC are cannabinoids naturally present in cannabis. Read on to learn more about the differences between these cannabinoids.
There is a wide range of cannabinoids that can be extracted from the cannabis plant depending on the growth phase, light, and heat exposure at any given time. Cannabidiol (CBD) is the most well-known and widely used cannabinoid, and a lot of research is being performed on its potential health benefits. However, the lesser-known cannabinoids CBN, CBG, and CBC are becoming increasingly popular due to their potential to help with certain diseases and benefit overall health.
What exactly are these other cannabinoids? And how do they differ from CBD?
CBG is a cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. It is found at relatively low levels and is the precursor to many other cannabinoids, including CBD.
What Is CBG Used for?
CBG is a relatively new discovery within the world of cannabinoids. However, it has been associated with several physiological benefits, including:
Inflammatory bowel disease: A study looking at CBG in mice with inflammatory bowel disease found that CBG reduces gut inflammation (1).
Bacterial infections: CBG has demonstrated antibacterial properties. In particular, it has shown evidence as a strong antibacterial against bacterial strain MRSA (2).
Cancer: Preliminary studies of CBG in cancer management have been promising. A 2014 study looking at rats with colon cancer found that CBG helped to reduce tumor growth (3).
Bladder dysfunction: CBG has also been shown to impact bladder contractions. A recent study found that CBG reduced acetylcholine-induced contractions in the bladder, indicating its potential for controlling bladder dysfunctions (4).
Glaucoma: CBG is thought to be responsible for the benefits seen from the use of medicinal cannabis to treat glaucoma. CBG has been linked to reduced intraocular pressure (5).
Huntington’s Disease: CBG has also shown to provide protective properties against the degeneration of neurons in the brain. One study demonstrated the potential for CBG to protect against Huntington’s disease in mice by aiding in the prevention of nerve degeneration (6).
CBG has a wide range of potential medicinal benefits. Further research into this cannabinoid will help to solidify its therapeutic role as scientists and medical professionals learn more about it.
What Is the Difference Between CBD and CBG?
CBD and CBG both come from the cannabis plant, but they are slightly different compounds made during the maturation process of the plant.
During the maturation of the cannabis plant, CBGA, or acidic CBG, is converted into acidic precursors CBDA, CBCA, and THCA. These precursors are then further broken down into CBD, CBC, and THC. Any CBGA that is not converted into these is decarboxylated to form CBG. So essentially, CBG is the precursor to the other cannabinoids.
Because of this, very little CBG is found in cannabis plants, while there are high amounts of the more well-known CBD. And as it is less well-known, there is much less research on CBG. However, that will likely change as scientists learn more about CBG and its benefits.
CBD and CBG also differ concerning the pathways they activate within the body. Most cannabinoids bind to CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors. But CBD has a low affinity for these receptors and instead acts indirectly. CBG is known to act explicitly on CB1 and CB2 receptors, specifically in the brain.
The mechanism of action further solidifies the differences between these two compounds. Although they come from the same plant, they are quite different substances. They act differently at the molecular level, explaining the variations in the biological responses.
What Is the Difference Between CBD Oil and CBG Oil?
CBD oil is a popular product made by extracting CBD from the cannabis plant and diluting it with oil. Similarly, CBG oil is made by extracting CBG from the cannabis plant and then diluting it with oil. They are both used similarly, as you can add them to foods, drinks, or under the tongue. However, as outlined above, they do exhibit slightly different effects because they act on different receptors.
Is CBG a Controlled Substance?
In short, CBG is not a controlled substance. CBG is not classed as a psychotropic substance because it cannot cause a high.
The FDA has stated that there are parts of the cannabis plant that do not contain THC, and CBG is one of those parts. CBG is not an approved drug by the FDA and is not deemed a controlled substance.
How Does CBG Make You Feel?
CBG does not cause the high that people associate with cannabis-based products. It has been reported to counteract the feelings that THC induces in people.
CBG has also been linked to reducing anxiety and pain levels, aiding in overall mental health and well-being (7).
CBG makes its impact by acting on cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 to activate the endocannabinoid signaling pathway (8). The activation of these receptors, and the subsequent activation of downstream proteins, leads to the effects exhibited by the body after the consumption of CBG.
CBN is a cannabinoid that is formed when THC is heated or exposed to oxygen. It is formed as the cannabis plant ages.
What Is CBN Used for?
While there is still little research into the uses of CBN, it has been associated with many benefits, including:
Sleep: Due to the sedative properties, CBN is associated with prolonging sleep periods, proving its potential as a sedative or sleeping tablet (9). Further research is needed to determine the efficacy of CBN as a sedative.
Analgesia: CBN has also shown potential in the field of pain relief. A study in rats found that CBN acts as an analgesic for several pain disorders, demonstrating its potential benefits as a pain reliever (10).
Antibiotic: CBN, like other cannabinoids, has demonstrated potential antibacterial properties. Studies have found CBN to be particularly effective against the bacterial strain MRSA (11).
Inflammation: As with other cannabis products, CBN has also been shown to reduce inflammation levels (12). There is potential to utilize the anti-inflammatory properties of CBN to treat inflammatory diseases.
Cancer: There is also some research suggesting that CBN, alongside other cannabinoids, can stop the growth and spread of tumors (13).
Glaucoma: As with CBG, CBN has promise as an effective treatment for glaucoma by reducing intraocular pressure (14).
Anti-convulsant: CBN has also shown potential as an anticonvulsant for the treatment of seizures, such as those associated with epilepsy (15). Further research would solidify the therapeutic potential of CBN for epilepsy.
Appetite: A somewhat surprising role of CBN is that it stimulates appetite (16). This is important for people suffering from a loss of appetite, which is very common in those undergoing chemotherapy. If CBN is proven to significantly stimulate appetite, this could help to alleviate some of the associated issues for these people.
There are some exciting potential uses of CBN across a wide range of conditions. Further research into this cannabinoid will help scientists understand these benefits and the potential role of CBN as a therapeutic agent.
What Is the Difference Between CBN and CBD?
While both of these molecules are part of the cannabis plant, they have completely separate origins. CBN is a byproduct of light and heat on THC, meaning that CBN levels are variable in the cannabis plant. Meanwhile, CBD levels are abundant in the plant as they are a direct product of CBDA.
Aside from their different chemical origins, CBD and CBN are not widely different in function. They both exhibit functions that are thought to benefit a wide range of diseases and conditions.
The key difference between the two is that they have different psychoactive abilities. CBD is known to produce none of the psychoactive properties demonstrated by THC. And CBD is even known to counteract these responses. However, as CBN is a byproduct of THC, it still possesses the potential to produce mild psychoactive effects. While it will not produce a high as seen with THC, CBN does have the ability to alter your psychoactive state, particularly as a sedative.
CBN has been labeled as “the new CBD” due to its health benefits without producing the signature euphoric high seen with THC.
How Does CBN Affect the Body?
Unlike THC, CBN is not specifically classed as psychoactive; however, there is currently little research into the effects of CBN. Some studies claim that instead of producing psychoactive properties, CBN is thought to produce a calming effect.
Other studies still believe that CBN is responsible for very mild psychoactive effects. Yet CBN is associated with sedative effects, which could explain both sides of the argument.
CBN acts on specific receptors within the body called cannabinoid receptors. These receptors, known as CB1 and CB2, are bound by cannabinoids to exhibit a response. They are activated by the body’s naturally occurring cannabinoids but can also be activated by external compounds such as CBN, THC, and CBD.
CBN binds specifically to CB2 receptors, which are found throughout the body but are most abundant in the central nervous system, immune tissues and blood cells. This allows it to impact a wide range of systems, including inflammation and immunity.
Increased levels of CBN in the body mean more of these receptors can be activated, leading to an increased response by the body. This leads to the effects demonstrated on conditions such as pain, inflammation, and sleep.
Is CBN Good for Anxiety?
CBN has been shown to aid in the management of anxiety. Due to the sedative properties of CBN, it can produce calming effects. This can help to relieve some of the anxious feelings exhibited by those suffering from anxiety.
As well as the calming effects, CBN’s ability to improve sleep duration and quality can help with anxiety. One of the symptoms of anxiety is the inability to sleep due to worrying thoughts and agitation, so CBN has the potential to help with that anxiety-related problem.
There is currently little research into the use of CBN for anxiety, but the preliminary evidence, as well as the known effects on the body, strongly indicate a positive impact on anxiety.
Is CBN Good for Pain?
CBN has been shown to be capable of reducing pain levels. It is thought that CBN can act on neurons to work as an analgesic and reduce the levels of pain within a body. It can act in a similar way to THC in order to reduce pain; however, it does not come with the associated high and psychoactive effects that THC induces.
CBN has also demonstrated potential as an anti-inflammatory. Many chronic conditions, such as arthritis, are characterized by consistent inflammation of the body leading to long-term pain. CBN’s anti-inflammatory properties could reduce pain by reducing inflammation.
A 2019 study at the University of British Columbia looked at the role of cannabinoids, specifically CBN, and pain relief in rats. The study found that CBN “may provide analgesic relief for chronic muscle pain disorders,” demonstrating the potential for CBN as pain relief (17).
What is CBC?
CBC is a lesser-known cannabinoid from the cannabis plant. CBC is formed from the precursor CBGA, which is converted to CBCA and then subsequently converted to CBC following exposure to heat or light. It is not believed to have psychoactive properties and has been reported to have a wide range of beneficial effects.
Is CBC Psychoactive?
CBC is not classed as a psychoactive substance and will not cause the euphoric high seen with THC. This is because it does not bind to the CB1 receptors in the body that THC binds to. Instead, CBC binds to other receptors in the body that cause a variety of results, including decreased inflammation and pain.
What Is CBC Good for?
CBC, while relatively understudied, has been proven to be beneficial for a number of conditions, including:
Inflammation: CBC has been associated with reduced inflammation, leading to it being labeled as having anti-inflammatory properties. A recent study on rats found that CBC was associated with decreased inflammation, indicating its therapeutic potential as an anti-inflammatory (18).
Pain: CBC, like other cannabinoids, is thought to act as an analgesic. This is thought to be associated with their anti-inflammatory properties. Reducing inflammation in chronic inflammatory conditions reduces pain. Because of this, CBC has been associated with pain relief.
Cancer: CBC has had a lot of publicity as a potential cancer-fighting agent as it has been reported to halt tumor growth and progression. A recent study in mice found that cannabinoids, including CBC, may be effective in reducing tumor growth (19). This shows promise for CBC as a potential therapeutic agent for cancer treatment in the future.
Acne: Another interesting finding is that CBC may help with acne. Researchers have found that CBC acts as a powerful inhibitor of acne by minimizing lipid production and exhibiting anti-inflammatory effects (20). CBC demonstrates promise as an acne preventative.
CBC shows the potential for acting as a therapeutic agent in a wide range of conditions. Further research into the therapeutic benefits of CBN will help solidify the preliminary benefits seen by this cannabinoid.
What is the Difference Between CBD and CBC?
CBD and CBC both originate from the cannabis plant. However, they differ in both their structure and function. CBC is formed from the breakdown of CBCA following exposure to light and heat, whereas CBD is formed from the breakdown of CBDA. Both of these cannabinoids act on the endocannabinoid signaling pathway, but unlike CBD, CBC preferentially acts on CB2 receptors, which could indicate some of the therapeutic differences between the two cannabinoids (21).
Neither of these cannabinoids is classed as psychoactive substances, but they do both appear to reduce inflammation and pain, indicating their therapeutic potential. Additionally, CBC has also indicated the potential to help with acne.
As CBC is less studied, there is not as much research into its therapeutic potential as there has been with CBD. Yet CBC could be just as effective as CBD. More research needs to be done in order to further develop the understanding of CBC before it can thoroughly be compared to CBD.
The Bottom Line
There are many different cannabinoids and some have not even been studied yet. While CBD is the most well-known cannabinoid, there is a range of others that are showing potential as therapeutic agents for a wide range of health conditions.
CBN, CBG, and CBC are all examples of cannabinoids that show immense potential, and further research into these compounds will help to solidify their possibilities in helping with certain diseases and disorders.