Comparing Cannabinoids: CBD vs. CBG vs. CBN

As popular as CBD is, it’s far from the only cannabinoid on the market.

Because the Farm Bill of 2018 legalized hemp and hemp-derived substances like cannabidiol (CBD), other cannabinoids from the hemp plant are now federally legal. These include cannabinol (CBN) and cannabigerol (CBG), among others.

As the research into these compounds continues, we’re starting to see promising health benefits, without intoxication. However, common knowledge about these substances typically stops there.

In this article, let’s dive into CBD, CBG, and CBN, so you can understand the differences between these three popular substances.

DISCLAIMER: This article is intended for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before seeking out any specific products or treatments.

What is a cannabinoid & how does it work?

Before we dive into the differences, let’s talk about what makes these three substances the same—the fact that they’re all cannabinoids.

But what exactly is a cannabinoid?

Simply put, they’re the naturally occurring compounds found in the resinous glands of cannabis plants. Practically, they’re known for a wide range of therapeutic and medicinal effects.

Cannabinoids work by antagonizing the human endocannabinoid system, which can lead to any of the following benefits:

  1. Pain relief
  2. Anti-inflammation
  3. Anxiety reduction
  4. Nausea relief
  5. Skin treatment (e.g. acne, rashes, eczema)
  6. Seizure relief

While each cannabinoid has its own unique properties and benefits, they can also work synergistically to help the body process them more efficiently. What’s more, you can also combine them with non-cannabinoid substances—like menthol or arnica—to compound their relieving effects.

What are the differences between CBD vs. CBG vs. CBN?

Now that we’ve gone through the basic function and benefits of cannabinoids, let’s specifically dive into the most popular compounds.


Next to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD) is the most popular of the cannabinoids, namely because of its abundance in the cannabis plant. In hemp specifically, it’s the most abundant cannabinoid.

CBD’s popularity is also due to the fact that it provides pain and inflammation relief, without the psychoactive effects that THC has. As a result, it’s generally considered “safer” to consume. It’s also the cheapest cannabinoid to lawfully extract and produce, which makes it a popular commercial option.

In fact, CBD has proven so effective at preventing and relieving seizures that it is now approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a pharmaceutical. Currently, that is the extent of its regulation on the federal level.

Generally, CBD is available to consume as tinctures, gummies, pills, topicals, and more. Some of the benefits include:

  1. Anti-inflammatory
  2. Sedation & sleep
  3. Anti-anxiety treatment
  4. Epilepsy treatment
  5. Treat opioid addiction
  6. Ease diabetic complications


Despite the popularity of CBD, cannabinol (CBN) was actually the first cannabinoid to be discovered, back in 1930. It does not occur naturally, but forms as the THC degrades in a plant as a result of age or exposure to heat or oxygen. Currently, it’s only available in trace amounts.

Although it has some intoxicating effects, some research indicates that CBN is only a quarter as potent as THC.

Possible benefits of CBN include:

  1. Sedative & sleep
  2. Anti-inflammatory
  3. Pain relief
  4. Bone tissue growth


Cannabigerol (CBG) comes from the precursor cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), which is known as the “mother of all cannabinoids.” All the cannabinoids we previously discussed start out as CBGA and break down when exposed to light and heat.

CBG is extremely rare, appearing in less than 1% of cannabis. Because of this, it requires a delicate extraction process, making it very valuable—and expensive. However, there are some efforts among hemp producers to develop cultivars that naturally produce high concentrations of CBGA, without converting it into another substance. Although this process is in its infancy, it has returned some promising results.

Here are some possible benefits of CBG:

  1. Skin biome health & regeneration
  2. Pain relief and muscle relaxation
  3. Anti-inflammatory
  4. Anti-anxiety treatment
  5. Antidepressant
  6. Glaucoma treatment
  7. Neuroprotective properties
  8. Anti-bacterial
  9. Appetite stimulator
  10. IBS and bladder dysfunction treatment

Final thoughts
When developing your own product to take to market, how do you decide which of the cannabinoids to choose from? How do you maximize their benefits and provide the greatest possible value to your customers?

Although CBD and these other cannabinoids are growing in popularity, it’s important to avoid jumping on the bandwagon for its own sake. Cannabinoid-based wellness products don’t just work because they have a particular substance in them. They must be properly mixed, contain high-quality ingredients, and tailored to provide a specific, tangible benefit.

Here are some of our tips to maximize your success with CBD, CBG, CBN, and other cannabinoids:

  1. Start with the intended benefit you want to offer. Then, work backwards to identify the key ingredients to use.
  2. Consider your budget. Some of these substances require delicate extraction and cost more than others. Make sure you’re being cost-effective without sacrificing product quality.
  3. Remember that these cannabinoids have a compounding effect. If possible, combine them to create synergies that improve the quality of your product.
  4. Don’t neglect quality, non-cannabinoid products. For instance, if you want to reduce inflammation, consider combining any of the cannabinoids we discussed with arnica or a similar substance.
  5. Test every substance you use for quality and concentration accuracy. You don’t want to market a faulty product!

Of course, given the complexity of these substances and the unregulated nature of the market, you shouldn’t go it alone. When you have a trusted partner in your corner, you can benefit from expert advice at every stage of the process.

The result? A high quality product that satisfies your customers and keeps them coming back for more.

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