CBG vs. CBD vs. CBN vs. CBC - The Ultimate Comparison Guide
Just a few years ago, CBD was the only non-intoxicating cannabinoid widely available. It was not long, however, before CBD was followed by cannabigerol (CBG), and in no time at all, products containing cannabinol (CBN) and cannabichromene (CBC) also started appearing.
While most people know that all of these new hemp compounds are non-intoxicating, common knowledge regarding the unique properties of CBG, CBC, and CBN usually ends there. In this guide, we’ll provide detailed information on each of the non-intoxicating cannabinoids that has recently emerged on the market, and we’ll help you determine which hemp constituent is right for your purposes.
A Whole New World of Cannabinoids is Emerging
Mature Cannabis sativa flower contains hundreds of different compounds, and the majority of these substances are either flavonoids, terpenes, or analogs (copies) of a few common cannabinoids. There are around 6 to 8 fully chemically distinct cannabinoids, and each of these cannabinoids has unique properties.
Starting with the realization that CBD might have therapeutic value in the early 2000s, it took nearly 10 years for breeders to develop biodynamic hemp phenotypes high in CBD instead of THC. It is rather remarkable, therefore, that efforts to breed hemp strains that are high in CBG, CBN, and CBC have evolved at such a rapid pace.
These days, cannabinoid producers have either bred cannabinoid-specific strains or developed processes to convert more widely available cannabinoids, such as CBD or CBG, into rarer compounds like CBN and CBC. Products containing CBD, CBG, CBN, and CBC are now widely available, making it well worth our time to determine their strengths both alone and combined.
What is CBG?
Let’s start our inquiry into the latest additions to the cannabinoid market with cannabigerol (CBG), which is beginning to rival CBD in popularity. CBG is the easiest cannabinoid to derive from CBGa (cannabigerolic acid), which is considered to be the “stem cell” of cannabinoids since it can also convert into CBD, CBC, or THC via enzymatic processes.
Once CBGa has converted into CBG, it becomes stable and won’t undergo an additional transformation into THC or any other cannabinoid.
Instead of deriving CBG from CBGa molecules that have been genetically encoded to become other cannabinoids, hemp producers have developed cultivars that naturally produce high concentrations of CBGa without converting it into anything else. Since CBG breeding is still in its infancy, CBG flower strains with concentrations above 15% are rare, but that is still enough to gain a potent glimpse into everything CBG has to offer.
Like CBD, CBG is non-intoxicating, and hemp users report that the effects of these cannabinoids feel very similar. Under the hood, CBG interacts with your body’s systems via very different mechanisms than CBD; and, based on initial research, CBG appears to offer a few benefits that are entirely unique.
CBN vs. CBD
In terms of chemical structure, CBN is more similar to THC than it is to CBD, which is part of why the effects CBN and THC provide together have been researched so extensively. CBN almost behaves like a fusion of CBD and THC — while it may provide the appetite-stimulating effects of THC, it is less-psychoactive. Many people use CBD as a sedative, but they report mixed results. The vast majority of individuals who have used CBN for sleep, however, report impressive degrees of success, substantiating calls for further research into the sedative properties of this cannabinoid. Due to its potential antibacterial effects, CBN also bears similarity to CBG. This Cannabis sativa compound straddles the middle ground between multiple intoxicating and non-intoxicating cannabinoids, making it a fascinating target of future research for reasons beyond its potential sedative benefits.
What is CBC?
Until recently, the potential usefulness of cannabichromene (CBC) has been thoroughly overshadowed by the breakaway popularity of CBD and CBG. As a result, there still are not any Cannabis sativa phenotypes that feature high concentrations of CBC. CBC is not usually extracted from hemp flower. Instead, it is derived from CBGa, the “stem cell” compound that is the starting point of many different cannabinoids. Like CBD, CBC is considered to be non-intoxicating, which means that it will not make you feel high. CBC feels similar to CBD when you ingest it, but this cannabinoid has a significantly different chemical structure and exerts widely different effects. Little research into CBC has been conducted so far, but the available studies have convinced scientists that it is worth investigating this cannabinoid’s potential cancer-fighting and pain-reducing qualities in further detail. Researchers also believe that CBC might be beneficial for your overall neurological health.
Potential Pain and Inflammation Benefits
A 2008 review of the available evidence covered studies indicating that CBG may act as an agonist at the CB1 and CB2 receptors without causing any intoxicating effects. This review also pointed out that CBG may additionally act as a GABA (what is) re-uptake inhibitor.
These results indicate that CBG might have a relationship with both neuropathic and inflammatory pain. The usefulness of CBG for neuropathic pain was further explored by a 2018 study, indicating that interest in CBG for pain remains strong within the scientific community.
Potential Digestive Benefits
Limited preliminary research has been conducted into the potential digestive benefits of cannabigerol. For instance, scientists have investigated the impact of this cannabinoid on colitis and inflammatory bowel disease.
Potential Antibacterial Benefits
Preliminary research has been conducted into the potential antibacterial properties of CBG. Scientists believe that there are sufficient grounds to further investigate the usefulness of this cannabinoid for bacterial infections.
Like CBG, CBN has been researched for its potential antibacterial qualities. A 2008 study showed, for instance, that CBN eliminated certain types of MRSA bacteria, but these results have not been corroborated by further research. Since these two cannabinoids have different activity profiles, using CBG and CBN in tandem to fight bacterial infections should be a target of future research.
Potential Neuroprotective Benefits
A 2004 study found that CBN delayed the onset of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a type of neurodegenerative disease. Based on this research, scientists suspect that CBN may be useful as a general neuroprotective agent, which would be a reasonable assumption since every other cannabinoid is also believed to have at least some neuroprotective activity.
Potential Appetite Benefits
THC has been used for years as an appetite stimulant, but the intoxicating qualities of this cannabinoid make it undesirable for this purpose. A 2012 pre-clinical study found that CBN increased appetite, which has led some cannabinoid experts to believe that this cannabinoid could serve as an adequate replacement for THC that does not induce significant psychoactive effects.
Other Potential Benefits
While there is only a very limited amount of scientific evidence indicating that CBN might be useful for sleep, consumers have used this cannabinoid extensively as a sleep aid, which has provided a lot of compelling anecdotal evidence. CBN has also been investigated for its analgesic qualities.