CBD vs. CBG vs. CBN vs. CBC and other Cannabinoids

CBD may be the cannabinoid of the moment but there are a number of other cannabinoids which are also showing promise in the world of health and disease prevention. Chief among them are CBG, CBN and CBC, which all bring to the table unique properties with the potential for future therapeutic application.
Written by 
Dr Shane McKeown, Acute Internal Medicine (AIM).
|Last Updated:
cbd vs cbg vs cbn vs cbc

While THC and CBD are indeed more well known and readily available, for those who are looking to treat specific ailments the new interest in the other cannabinoids is great news. At the forefront are their common abilities in treating pain and related neurological conditions, medical concerns that still present modern medicine with considerable obstacles.

CBD and THC may be the most widely known cannabinoids, but there are hundreds of other compounds that are derived from the cannabis plant including terpenes, flavinoids and of course other cannabinoids.

While there are numerous forms of cannabinoid, there are really around 8 different distinct cannabinoid compounds. Interest in these natural chemical compounds is picking up thanks to the extensive research and potential therapeutic action of cannabinoids in recent years.

Note that all of these cannabinoids are non-psychoactive, just like CBD. THC is the only cannabinoid which appears to have an intoxicating effect.


CBD, or cannabidiol, currently leads the pack when it comes to the potential health benefits of cannabinoids. Currently being investigated for it’s ability to treat a wide variety of ailments from cancer, to Alzheimer’s and epilepsy, while little is fully proven it’s promise in the health and medical space is undisputed.

It is this interest in CBD and it’s health benefits, and the need to study it separately from psychoactive THC that has spurred on breeding of cannabis plants with low THC and high cannabinoid content.

This has brought to the fore the possibility that other cannabinoids could also help in health and disease prevention.

As technology and research develops at a rapid pace now is the time to familiarise yourself with CBD alternatives and what they could do for you.


CBGa, or cannabigerolic acid, is the ‘mother’ of cannabinoids. Discovered over 30 years ago by japanese scientists, surprisingly little research has been carried out on this important compound.

We do know that there are initial studies surrounding heart, gut and metabolic health.

In the lab, CBGa seems to reduce the amount of oxidative stress that the heart experiences, meaning in the future it could be helped to treat or prevent cardiovascular disease. In a computer model, CBGa seems to protect the metabolism and reduces the risk of accumulating excess fat and developing type II diabetes.

Finally, CBGa has been seen to inhibit cell cancer cycles and even speed up cancer cell death.

All these studies and findings are very preliminary however, and there are many animal and human trials that must take place before we can say with any certainty that CBGa will be of significant benefit to us.

Further research is high on the priority list, especially as we know that CBGa is the precursor to CBG, CBD, THC and CBC.


CBGa is the precursor which forms a number of cannabinoids, but it is most easily converted into CBG, otherwise known as cannabigerol. CBG represents the ‘end of the line’ in terms of cannabinoid transformation. Once CBGa has been changed into CBG it won’t go on to form THC, CBD or CBC.

The benefits of CBG are aligned with CBD but with a few extra effects that are unique.

The first unique property is that heat or UV radiation break it down into the other cannabinoids rapidly, so strain growers are having to breed carefully to come up with higher conentraiton strains.

CBG seems to show promising results in both neuropathic and inflammatory pain. Although there are only a handful of studies that sugges the link, continuing research shows that impacting both CB1 and CB2 may be the key behind CBG’s analgesic effects.


CBN or cannabinol is what gives cannais it’s ‘fine wine’ effect. This is because THC breaks down over time into CBN, giving you less of a psychoactive effect.

For a long time there was anecdotal evidence that CBN was the compound that gave cannabis some of it’s sedating effect. However there is no known research supporting this and it seems to simply be a persistent rumour.

Rather than growing THC-rich cannabis and waiting for it to turn into THC, scientists are able to chemically transform CBD (cannabidiol) into CBN.

While CBD has shown promise in certain areas of brain and mental health like epilepsy and anxiety, CBN may have an effect in another area of brain and neurological disease. A single study of those suffering with a neurological disorder called ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) found that CBN helped delay the beginnings of nerve damage that are associated with the disease.

While investigating the effects of cannabinoids on the appetite of rats, researchers found that CBN actually increased feeding, whereas CBD has the opposite effect and appears to restrict appetite.


Finally we come to cannabichromene, or CBC. This has even less research available than other cannabinoids, perhaps in part due to the fact that it isn’t extracted from hemp or cannabis but is derived from the precursor CBGa.

A common theme between cannabinoids seems to be their widespread impact on neurology and brian health. CBC is no different, with research from almost 10 years ago showing that it promotes the healthy transport of chemical messengers called neurotransmitters in your brain.

This is another angle through which cannabinoids may help combat Alzheimer’s, adding to building research regarding CBD and the disease.

For those who use CBD for pain relief, CBC may be a compound of interest to you. Many chronic pain conditions carry with them some element of inflammation, which both adds to the pain and continues localised damage and immune response.

Both CBD and CBC both attach to TRPV1 receptors in your body, which are responsible for managing and reporting inflammation and the pain that results from it. However CBC attaches more than CBD whilst also impacting 5-HT1A receptors which can help in reducing blood pressure.


It is an exciting time for cannabinoid fans worldwise as research scientists discover new, potent ways to treat our minds and bodies. We are fortunate that only THC within the cannabinoid family exerts psychoactive effects, as this makes accessing the medical benefits easier on many levels.

All the cannabinoids discussed seem to have some level of impact on pain and pain perception. These two concepts are closely linked to mental well being and neurological health, another area these compounds seem to collectively target.

Finally, both CBG and CBN have very preliminary data to suggest that they could be useful in fighting bacterial infections. While there is nothing solid yet, this is a very important finding in a world where antibiotic resistance is becoming a serious threat worldwide.

The future of cannabinoid based health is promising and clear to build year on year.


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Dr Shane McKeown
Dr Shane McKeown
Acute Internal Medicine (AIM)
Dr Shane McKeown is a UK clinician with experience in both Medicine and Surgery. With a strong background in education, he currently teaches all grades of doctor and sits as examiner for foreign medical staff looking to work in the United Kingdom. Working within rehabilitation and therapy, he utilizes complementary treatments like CBD to provide holistic care where it is most effective. His expertise with CBD continues to be called upon by numerous brands to optimise their product offerings.

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