CBD vs CBN vs CBG vs CBC: Learn the Difference

Hemp oil bottles on a table

Since the federal government finally let us reap the benefits of low-THC hemp plants, you’ve watched CBD (cannabidiol) proliferate. As the therapeutic cannbinoid market grows, you keep hearing about other useful cannabinoids.

In addition to CBD, there’s cannabinol (CBN), cannabigerol (CBG), and cannabichromene (CBC). You’ve done some research, but honestly, these all start to look like alphabet soup after a while.

Plus, in the bigger picture, there’s so much to learn about hemp plants, the endocannabinoid system, cannabinoid receptors, and cannabinoids’ effects, similarities, and differences. It’s time-consuming to separate facts from exaggerated ‘miracle cure’ claims.

It doesn’t have to be overwhelming. 

Below, we clearly list everything you should know about CBD, CBN, CBG, and CBC, their similarities and differences. You’ll also get a thorough summary on all four compounds, what they are, what they do, their legality, and where to find them.

CBD vs CBN vs CBG vs CBC Comparison Table

Here’s your crash-course about these cannabinoids’ chemical structures, history, effects, legality, and more.






Chemical formula





Year discovered






2nd most abundant cannabinoid;

Antagonist of cannabinoid receptors;

The first U.S. CBD pharmaceutical has been approved 

Forms when THC degrades;

CBN content increases as dried cannabis ages 

‘Mother of all cannabinoids’;

CBG and CBGA (cannabigerolic acid) produce all the cannabinoids;

Only found in small amounts (1%) in plants 

3rd most abundant cannabinoid;

Forms when CBDA (cannabidiolic acid) degrades 



Counteracts THC effects;


Alters pain perception

Mildly psychoactive;




May improve mood and motivation


Alters pain perception 

Medical Benefits

Pain reliver;



Nausea/vomiting relief;

Treats seizures;








Muscle relaxation;


Pain reliever;



May treat anxiety and depression;

Could treat glaucoma;



Appetite stimulant;

May treat IBD

Pain reliever;


Promotes healthy brain function;

May treat depression;


THC Content

Contains no THC;

Counteracts THC’s psychoactive effects

Contains no THC;

Comes from THC degradation;

Mildly psychoactive;

Combining with THC may enhance some benefits


Contains no THC 

Same molecular formula, but contains no THC, different atoms and chemical properties; 

Combining with THC may enhance some benefits

Show Up in Drug Test?


Unlikely, but can cause positive result for THC 



Legalities in the US

Federally legal;

Some states may require doctor’s approval 

Federally legal 

Federally legal

Federally legal conditionally;

Hard to find CBC that meets legal standards 


No high;

Feeling calmer;

Pain relief

Possibly improved sleep;

Reduced pain and inflammation

No high;

Improved mood, brain function, and motivation;

More energy;

Pain relief

No high;

Improved mood and brain function;

Pain relief


Possible side effects in large doses

Mildly psycoactive;

Possible side effects in large doses

Possible side effects in large doses

Possible side effects in large doses

Check Price

Check prices of CBD products here.

Check prices of CBN products here.

Check prices of CBG products here.


Hopefully this overview has simplified the mass of information about CBD, CBN, CBG, and CBC. Now that you have a reference point, let’s get deeper into the cannabinoids’ characteristics, their legality, and where to find them.

What is CBD?

In high-THC cannabis plants, cannabidiol (CBD) is the second most abundant cannabinoid out of over a hundred total cannabinoids, making it a major cannabinoid. However, the plants producers use for CBD instead of high-inducing THC have way more CBD (up to 25%) than THC (0.3% THC max).

CBD is non-intoxicating, and, as a CB1 receptor antagonist, likely blocks THC’s intoxicating effects when one takes both together. Though researchers have known about CBD since the 1940s, it has historically been challenging to research until the 2018 legalization of hemp. 

Now that hemp with less than 0.3% THC is legal in the United States, scientists can more freely explore the potential medical uses of CBD. There is already one cannabidiol drug for multiple sclerosis symptoms and cancer-related pain approved in New Zealand and Canada, and one for rare forms of childhood epilepsy approved in the United States.

What are the medical benefits of CBD?

Beyond CBG’s currently approved medical uses, many people swear by its efficacy. 

Trials have yet to confirm these uses as medically valid, but there is reason to believe that CBD will someday be an approved treatment, since the medical research on it has just begun. 

CBD for Pain

Early research suggests CBD may be an effective pain reliever, to the extent that researchers have suggested more study to determine whether CBD could play a major role in treating acute and chronic pain.

In a study into CBD’s potential ability to relieve nerve pain, CBD has struck researchers for how well patients seem to tolerate it and how it may be a more effective alternative to approved therapies. 

Another study on chronic pain patients found that 94% of those who used CBD experienced quality of life improvements, and 53% were able to reduce or eliminate opioids.

CBD for Sleep

One study saw that 66.7% of patients had improved sleep scores. When researchers have surveyed CBD users, 48.2% said they fell asleep faster with CBD.

Preliminary research supports the idea that CBD may help treat insomnia and improve REM behavior.

CBD for Depression and Anxiety

Scientists have also identified CBD as a potential depression and anxiety therapy. CBD’s possible impacts on depression symptoms are limited to animal studies and are not as certain. 

But the cannabinoid’s anxiety reducing effects and mechanisms are increasingly apparent, though CBD is not yet an approved anxiety treatment.

Nonetheless, anxiety and depression are probably two of the most common reasons people take CBD.  And CBD users self-report notable improvements in depression and anxiety.

Some have even looked into CBD as a way to help people such as healthcare professionals whose mental health has suffered as a result of COVID-19.

CBD for Nausea

There are also surveys suggesting that CBD could be effective at quelling nausea in some patients.

CBD for Dogs

CBD seems to offer pain relief and quality of life improvements for dogs with osteoarthritis without presenting serious adverse effects. 

CBD for Inflammation

Due to how CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system, thus regulating inflammation, CBD is thought to have effective anti-inflammatory properties. This is one of the ways this cannabinoid helps relieve pain.

CBD for Athletes

In studies of CBD use among athletes, it appears to improve pain, muscle spasm, sleep, and appetite.

Is CBD Legal in the US?

CBD is legal in the United States as long as it comes from a plant with less than 0.3% THC and as long as the CBD product contains under 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBD is subject to FDA regulation. Some states require a doctor’s approval to get and use CBD.

Does CBD Show Up in Drug Tests?

Drug tests do not screen for CBD. But if you have used a product containing THC beyond the legal limit, the THC could very well show up.

Where to Buy CBD Products Online?

CBD products are available in a few options to suit your preference.

  • Capsules and softgels are the form of CBD that are just like taking your daily vitamins and supplements.
  • Topicals that you apply directly to the body are ideal for addressing aches and pains.
  • Gummies– Just like gummy vitamins, CBD gummies are a convenient and pleasant-tasting way to take precise doses.
  • Tincture oils are a direct way to take CBD that give you dosage control and the ability to blend it into food and drinks.

It’s not always easy to find top-quality, lab-tested, and certified CBD products for a fair price. But that’s what you’ll find when you shop the Nature’s Legend collection of trusted CBD products.

What is CBN?

Compared to CBD, cannabinol (CBN) is a lesser-known cannabinoid. So, what is CBN? 

CBN exists in small amounts in plants and is a byproduct of THC when THC degrades due to plants aging, heat, and/or oxygen. Still, the two are different compounds with distinct chemical structures, and it would not be accurate to say CBN ‘contains’ THC.

The first scientists to study CBN thought it might be the compound responsible for cannabis’s psychoactive effects. Though CBN is mildly intoxicating, it is only about 10% as intoxicating as THC.

What are the medical benefits of CBN?

Though effects that impair users’ faculties are not ideal, CBN has a few potential applications.


Though more research is necessary to establish this use, CBN is widely considered to be a sedative that may enhance the efficacy of other sedatives according to animal studies, and may be more effective when combined with other cannabinoids. It could eventually be an approved sleep aid.


CBN may have immunosuppressant properties and could eventually treat autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.


Animal studies indicate possible analgesic effects of CBN that could lend to pain relief in some contexts such as chronic muscle pain disorders with minimal side effects.

Is CBN Legal in the US?

CBN is legal as long as it comes from hemp plants (less than 0.3% THC), since the 2018 Farm Bill removed such cannabinoids from the Controlled Substances Act.

Does CBN Show Up in Drug Tests?

Though unlikely, it is possible for CBN to cause a drug test to come back as positive for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), especially if you have otherwise negligible trace amounts of THC in your system.

Where to Buy CBN Products Online?

Especially in the case of cannabinoids as rare as CBN, high-quality, affordable products are hard to track down. When you shop Nature’s Legend CBN products, you’ll find reasonable prices that never sacrifice quality.

What is CBG?

What is CBG, and why do people call it the ‘parent cannabinoid’ or the ‘stem cell of cannabis’? CBG bears the nickname, ‘mother of all cannabinoids,’ because CBG and its acidic form/precursor CBGA produce the rest of the 100+ cannabinoids as a hemp plant develops.

This process typically leaves behind very little CBG- about 1%. So it’s difficult and expensive to isolate CBG in quantities suitable for conducting research and making products. As a result, there was minimal scientific research into this unique and cannabinoid.

Similar to CBD, CBG is not psychoactive. So many are hopeful it could help treat many conditions without impairing patients’ functioning. Though CBG itself does not contain THC, some CBG products, namely full-spectrum ones, can have trace amounts of THC.

What are the medical benefits of CBG?

Now that scientists are able to look further into CBG, they’re finding out about many possible health applications. 

Pain Relief

CBG’s potent analgesic and anti-inflammatory characteristics could make it excellent for pain relief. In some surveys of patients taking CBG for pain, as many as 73.9% claim it works better than regular medicine. Other surveys reflect 51.2% of users scaling back or stopping pain medication use.

Mitigating IBD

Lab experiments have identified CBG as a possible treatment for inflammatory bowel disease, as it reduces colon inflammation and other markers in mice.

Managing Anxiety and Depression

Since CBG may help regulate GABA and other neurotransmitters, it has promise as a possible anxiety and depression remedy. 

Neuroprotective Properties

There are cannabigerol quinones that have demonstrated signs of protecting from inflammatory neuronal damage in autoimmune diseases such as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and MS.

Is CBG Legal in the US?

Since CBG originating from low-THC (under 0.3%) no longer fits the Controlled Substances Act’s definition of marijuana, it is fully legal now.

(We will add an internal link pointing to the “is cbg legal” blogpost, which talks about this topic in detail, once it’s published)

Does CBG Show Up in Drug Tests?

Drug tests identify marijuana use by flagging psychoactive THC, not CBG, so CBG does not show up on drug tests. However, there can be low levels of THC in full-spectrum CBG products, so, after taking large amounts, it’s theoretically possible for someone to test positive for THC.

(We will add an internal link pointing to the “can you fail a drug test from cbg” blogpost, which talks about this topic in detail, once it’s published)

Where to Buy CBG Products Online?

CBG may be the most unusual and rare cannabinoid. It’s hard to produce CBG products, so the price tag can add up fast. Luckily, Nature’s Legend supplies a collection of top-tier CBG products from certified facilities and tested in third-party labs.

What is CBC?

Since most people have never heard of this one, you’re surely thinking, ‘what is CBC?’ But actually, CBC comes right behind CBD in abundance in cannabis plants. Depending on the strain, CBC is either the second or third most abundant cannabinoid. Some strains may have more CBC than CBD.

When cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) breaks down from UV light or heat, it forms CBC. Containing no THC, CBC is non-psychoactive, like CBD and CBG. However, some of its effects could become stronger when combined with other cannabinoids.

What are the medical benefits of CBC?

Here are some of the ways CBC may be medically helpful:

Pain Relief

CBC has a triple-threat of anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and anti-nociceptive effects, meaning that it alters the brain’s pain perception. This makes CBC a great option to study its efficacy as a pain and inflammation reliever.


Alongside other cannabinoids, CBC has been able to fight medicine-resistant strains of MRSA.


In mice, CBC has exhibited effects similar to an anti-depressant.

Is CBC Legal in the US?

Just like other non-THC cannabinoids, CBC from hemp plants is now legal in the U.S. as of 2018. However, it’s hard to find legal CBC that comes from low-THC plants, since producers rarely breed plants to be low in THC and high in CBC.

Does CBC Show Up in Drug Tests?

Since CBC has no THC, and drug tests normally only spot the presence of THC, CBC will not make you test positive for marijuana on a drug test.

How to Choose Which Cannabinoid is Best for You?

If you’ve been looking into how cannabinoids can help people manage conditions, chances are you have something in mind that you deal with. That’s your starting point in seeking out natural remedies

Know your goal.

What problem is bothering you that you feel cannabinoids could help you feel better? Is it primarily one of the aforementioned conditions/issues or a combination? Are you already undergoing treatment?

Talk to your doctor.

Discuss all treatment or self-treatment with your doctor, especially if you’re already on any medications. 

Cannabinoids have mild, limited side effects compared to some pharmaceuticals, but they aren’t completely free from unwanted effects. Plus, drug interactions are a risk you must clear with your doctor.

Rule out what you don’t want.

Particularly, if the idea of mild psychoactive effects is a no-go for you, you can say CBN is probably not right for you. 

Also, inform yourself about the difference between flower, full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate cannabinoid products. These each have a different possible range of THC content up to 0.3%. So, if you’re avoiding THC at all costs, opt for isolate cannabinoids.

Remember cannabinoids’ limitations.

There’s reason to be optimistic about how people will use these compounds in medically proven ways in the future, but remember that we’re not quite there yet. With the exception of one official CBD-based drug for rare forms of epilepsy, these cannabinoids are not approved treatments for any conditions in the U.S.

FAQs About Cannabinoid Products

Is CBD better than CBG?

No. CBG is similar to CBD, but tend to work better in tandem in a phenomenon called the entourage effect.

Is CBN stronger than CBD?

Yes. CBN has mild psychoactive effects, while CBD has none.

Is CBN or CBG better for anxiety?

Though neither are approved treatments for anxiety, there is evidence that CBG helps lower anxiety. Talk to your doctor if you suffer from anxiety.

Is CBN or CBG better for sleep?

Some people say CBG helps them sleep, and CBN may work as a sedative, but neither are approved sleep aids.

How long does it take for CBN to take effect?

It’s impossible to say exactly. This depends on how you take it, the dosage, what kind of food you’ve eaten and how recently, etc. 

If you’re not feeling the effects of a cannabinoid, resist the urge to take more, since excessive use can lead to unpleasant side effects.

Can you take too much CBN?

Yes. Taking too much CBN, though not gravely dangerous, can cause unpleasant side effects like significant drowsiness.

Can CBD and CBG be taken together?

Yes. Due to the entourage effect, these two cannabinoids may actually be more effective together.

Which cannabinoid do you find most intriguing?

There’s so much to know about all the cannabinoids, and we only covered four. Though the science is still emerging, it’s fascinating to watch the knowledge about cannabinoids unfold before our eyes.

If you’re ready for a natural remedy with minimal side effects, hopefully you can now match yourself with a cannabinoid or two that might help. And you can also rest assured about their legality. 

Now you also know about a trustworthy place to buy CBD online and compare products that come from Colorado-grown hemp and use the latest research. 

Nature’s Legend can be your go-to for other affordable, high-quality products including CBG and CBN, plus special offers like CBD bundles and free-shipping.

Between the steadily growing case for cannabinoids and the ease of buying online, there’s never been a better time to try.