You’ve probably heard of CBD and THC; both are components of the hemp plant with significant therapeutic properties. But there are over 100 such unique phytocannabinoids in hemp. Cannabigerol – CBG for short – is another, and it’s gaining momentum in the cannabis community. However, research on the compound is still in its infancy, and people are only beginning to understand the potential of this cannabinoid. This article will take a closer look at CBG: what it is, what the medical benefits are, and how it differs from CBD.
Cannabigerol – the mother cannabinoid
CBG is short for cannabigerol and is one of the cannabinoids found in the hemp plant – molecules with therapeutic effects. THC and CBD are probably the best-known cannabinoids. CBG has similarities to CBD, but it occurs naturally in the hemp plant in less than 1 percent concentrations and is therefore considered a minor cannabinoid.
CBG is often referred to as the parent cannabinoid because it is the first cannabinoid acid to develop in the plant. The other cannabinoids develop from it. It is the chemical mother, so to speak, of CBD, THC, CBC, and CBN.
Cannabigerol, like most cannabinoids, is not psychoactive and thus does not cause a high feeling. The reason is that industrial hemp contains no more than 0.2 percent THC – the component of the plant that induces a high.
How is CBG produced?
Cannabigerol can practically only be extracted from young, immature hemp plants (up to 6 weeks old), as this is where the highest amount of the chemical compound is present. The older the plant becomes, the less CBG it contains because by then, other cannabinoids have already formed from the cannabigerol.
Initially, all cannabinoids in the hemp plant exist as cannabigerol acid (CBGA). During plant growth, enzymes transform CBGA into THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid), CBDA (cannabidiolic acid), or CBCA (cannabichromenic acid). It is only with the help of decarboxylation that the acidic cannabinoids are converted into non-acidic forms such as THC, CBD, and CBC. This is done with very high heat or UV light by removing a carboxyl group from each molecule. The acidic form THCA thus becomes THC.
After harvesting, the plants are dried before being further processed. After drying and processing, the cannabis plant contains only trace amounts of CBG (less than 1 percent). This is part of the reason why the cannabinoid has received so little attention from manufacturers and researchers. However, according to recent studies, cannabigerol is an essential cannabinoid with great potential and is gaining popularity in the cannabis community.
The average cannabis plant found on the market today has way more CBD and THC compared to CBG, making the compound very valuable and therefore expensive. The more THC or CBD found in the plant, the less CBG is present. However, through experimentation, there are now growers who have created strains that have a higher CBG content.
What is the effect of CBG on the body?
The effect of CBG on the body is not really well researched. However, what is known is that CBG – like CBD – acts on the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a biological system that affects the regulation of various physiological and cognitive functions. If our bodies are not balanced, then this can lead to a deficiency of endocannabinoids. This, in turn, leads to ailments such as sleep problems, anxiety disorders, chronic pain, or disease. Phytocannabinoids such as CBG and CBD help the body to compensate for the deficiency.
Studies have shown that the cannabinoids in the hemp plant positively affect our endocannabinoid system by interacting with and “docking” with our CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are located in the brain and regulate mood, emotions, coordination, movement and appetite, among other things. CB2 receptors are found in the immune system, and they affect pain and inflammation.
What are the potential benefits of CBG?
The cannabis plant can do a lot of good for the human body with its valuable ingredients such as cannabinoids, vitamins, terpenes, proteins, and minerals.
Some promising animal studies have shown that CBG has potential in treating the following health conditions:
– CBG is being researched in its role as a neuroprotector, which means that it could help fight neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, Alzheimer’s, and other diseases related to the brain.
– One study (1) was able to show that CBG could have considerable potential in fighting cancer due to its anti-tumor properties.
– The cannabinoid has antibacterial and antifungal properties, potentially even stronger than CBD and THC.
– According to a study conducted in animals, the compound helps against inflammation in some cases, thus inflammatory bowel disease. (2)
– CBG may help against glaucoma by lowering the eye pressure, thus providing tear drainage. (3)
– Like THC, the cannabinoid is an appetite stimulant, making it suitable for eating disorders.
CBG can be ingested like any other cannabis product; however, the most popular is probably the oil. It can also be smoked, vaped, or used to make infusions, tinctures, or edibles.
The difference between CBD & CBG
As mentioned earlier, CBG is the precursor to CBD. Although CBD is derived from CBGA, the two cannabinoids are very different; both in chemical structure and concentration in the plant, most cannabis plants contain up to 25 percent CBD and only about 1 percent CBG.
They have in common that they both work with the endocannabinoid system, and their effects are non-psychoactive. CBG, however, works with the ECS differently compared to CBD. It binds directly with the CB1 and CB2 receptors and could potentially better deliver its therapeutic benefits to the system. Scientists think CBD and CBG help with chronic pain, depression, inflammation, anxiety, or insomnia. CBG increases the effects of CBD through the entourage effect, and at the same time, it slows down the high induced by THC. It does this by inhibiting the CB1 receptor, the same receptor that THC binds to and triggers euphoria or a high.
CBG vs. CBD; which is better?
Both cannabinoids have their benefits, and the answer varies depending on the individual and the reason for use. CBD is derived from CBG and therefore has much in common with the active ingredient; both show positive effects for various overlapping physical and psychological ailments. For example, both counteract the intoxicating effects of THC. CBG is found only in minute amounts in the hemp plant and is therefore rarer and more expensive than CBD. CBG has many potential health benefits, but more research is needed.
- Orrego-González E, Londoño-Tobón L, Ardila-González J, Polani a-Tovar D, Valencia-Cárdenas A, Velez-Van Meerbeke A. Cannabinoid effects on experimental colorectal cancer models reduce aberrant crypt foci (Acf) and tumor volume: a systematic review. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2020;2020:1-13.
- Borrelli F, Fasolino I, Romano B, et al. Beneficial effect of the non-psychotropic plant cannabinoid cannabigerol on experimental inflammatory bowel disease. Biochemical Pharmacology. 2013;85(9):1306-1316.
- Colasanti BK. A comparison of the ocular and central effects of tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabigerol. Journal of Ocular Pharmacology and Therapeutics. 1990;6(4):259-269.