What is CBN? The entourage effect with CBD, CBN and CBG

what is cbn cannabinoid

What is CBN? The entourage effect with CBD, CBN and CBG

  • The interaction of various cannabinoids in broad-spectrum CBD is thought to enhance the effects of the extract through the “entourage effect”.
  • CBD is more abundant in cannabis than CBN and CBG, and has been the subject of more research.
  • CBN is the product of the breakdown of THC, but it is less potent and intoxicating.
  • CBG is the “mother cannabinoid” from which all other cannabinoids derive.
  • CBN is illegal in the UK, while CBD and CBG are legal provided they contain non-detectable THC.

In the world of cannabinoids, the entourage effect of broad-spectrum CBD products is thought to be the main benefit of plant-based CBD over synthetic or isolated CBD products. The “entourage effect” is based on the hypothesis that the effects of the whole cannabis plant are greater than the sum of its individual cannabinoids, due to an interaction between them. 

There is growing evidence that supports this hypothesis, indicating that the effects of broad and full-spectrum cannabis extracts may not be attributed to an individual cannabinoid (eg. CBD). In fact, several preclinical studies have examined the effects of cannabinoids administered in combination.

CBD interest over the years

In recent years, there has been an explosion of interest in CBD (cannabidiol), with a substantial increase in demand because it has been found by many people to be of benefit in various health conditions.

These products, which may naturally contain several different cannabinoids, are available to buy without prescription by the consumer, but there can be confusion over which are plant-based and which are made in a lab (e.g. synthetic products, which contain only synthetic CBD).

The synthetic form of CBD would not provide an entourage effect, so it is worth checking that the CBD brand you’re buying is plant-based, as well as independently tested and in the process of obtaining Novel Food Authorisation.

what is cbn cannabinoid

What is CBN cannabinoid?

Cannabis-based products have gained widespread media attention over the last decade due to medical CBD-dominant extracts being licensed for anticonvulsant effects in children with intractable epilepsy. These formulations are prescription medications. 

CBN (cannabinol) is a product of the breakdown of THC, but it is much less potent and not intoxicating. Animal studies have shown that CBN can be sedative and anticonvulsant1, and the compound has also demonstrated significant anti-inflammatory properties. While it is often taken for sleep improvement, it is recognised that more research is needed on CBN in humans.

How does CBN cannabinoid work?

It has been suggested that CBN contributes to the “entourage effect” either by working in concert with other cannabis phytochemicals at one site in the body, or by activating other complementary pathways.

However, an “entourage effect” could also arise from pharmacokinetic or pharmacodynamic effects in the body, on absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion of the cannabinoids. So different cannabinoids such as CBD, CBN and CBG (cannabigerol) may contribute to this.

what is cbn cannabinoid


CBD, CBN and CBG are three of over 100 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. CBD is more abundant in cannabis than CBN and CBG, and has been the subject of more scientific research over the last several decades. As a result, we have a greater understanding of CBD and its effects than of CBN and CBG, although all three cannabinoids are still in the early research stage.

While preclinical studies suggest that CBN and CBG may have similar therapeutic potential to CBD, more human research is needed before we can draw conclusions about their possible benefits and side effects.

Another key difference between CBD, CBN and CBG is their formation. CBG is known as the “mother cannabinoid”, because it is the precursor molecule from which all other cannabinoids derive, including CBD and CBN. For this reason, mature cannabis plants contain very low levels of CBG and higher levels of other cannabinoids. The two most abundant cannabinoids are CBD and THC, from which CBN is formed.

Is CBN legal?

CBN is currently illegal in the UK, while CBD and CBG are legal provided that products contain non-detectable levels of THC. In addition, all CBD and CBG ingestible products are subject to Novel Food approval in the UK.

Can I take CBG and CBD together?

It is fine to take a combination of CBD and CBG, staying within the maximum recommended daily dosage of 70mg in the case of CBD. This should contribute to any “entourage effect” as discussed above. 

Who can take CBG or CBD?

As always, if you’re pregnant, breast-feeding or taking prescription medication, it’s recommended to check with your doctor BEFORE taking any supplement, including CBD, CBN and CBG.

Why choose Naturecan?

It’s clear that more studies, especially in humans, are needed to really explore the extent of the “entourage effect” and to more fully understand the mechanisms involved. Meanwhile, choosing a plant-based, broad-spectrum NDTHC (non-detectable THC) CBD Oil from a trusted supplier like Naturecan is a great start!

Naturecan offers:

  • A pure, high quality, plant-based, NDTHC CBD Oil that is independently tested – that’s every batch!
  • A range of options for the Naturecan customer to choose how to take their CBD – Oils, capsules, foods, gummies, vapes and even skincare products!

Naturecan has submitted applications for their CBD products to the UK Government Regulators, the Food Standards Agency, for a Novel Food License. A similar application to EFSA will follow in due course.

Written by Moyra Cosgrove, SENR Registered Nutritionist and DProf candidate at LJMU, and reviewed by our compliance expert, Paul Holmes, Scientific & Regulatory Affairs Manager at Naturecan, BSc Medicinal and Biological Chemistry, Member of UKAS/FSA CBD Food Product Approval Expert Group


1. Turner C.E., ElSohly M.A., Boeren E.G. Constituents of Cannabis sativa L. XVII. A review of the natural constituents. J. Nat. Prod. 1980;43:169–234. doi: 10.1021/np50008a001.

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