The cannabis plant, like all plants, is made up of several chemical compounds. Within cannabis specifically, these compounds are called cannabinoids. Most people familiar with cannabis have heard of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) and their effects, but did you know there are many similar compounds in cannabis? Yes, there comes another cannabis compound on the block known as CBG (Cannabigerol), and it’s high time you should know about it. We know, it’s a lot to take in, so let’s break it down.
Cannabigerol (CBG) is the first non-psychoactive cannabinoid formed in the cannabis plant. This cannabinoid is essential to the formation of THC and CBD, two of the most common cannabinoids. As the plant develops, the CBG is transformed into THC, CBD and other lesser cannabinoids. Hence, CBG is usually found in minimal amounts.
CBG is the precursor from which all other cannabinoids are synthesized, which is why it’s often referred to as the “mother” or “stem cell” of cannabinoids.
How it is made?
Cannabis plants produce cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), the precursor to the three main cannabinoid lines: tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), and cannabichromenic acid (CBCA). CBD and THC both initially start out as CBG. Cannabis plants that tend to be high in CBD or THC most commonly tend to be low in CBG content. Why? Well the reason is because most of the initial CBG is naturally converted to CBD or THC during the growing process of the plant. During the hemp plant growing process, enzymes in the hemp plant break down the CBGA (Cannabigerolic acid – the precursor of all the cannabinoids) and direct it towards one of three paths, CBDA, THCA or CBCA (cannabichromenic acid). Once these cannabinoids are then exposed to ultraviolet heat or light, they become CBD, THC and CBC (cannabichromene).
One of the two options is necessary in order for a CBD producer to create a relatively strong CBG strain. One, they must harvest their crop at an earlier stage than normal. Two, they must use cannabis strains that contain higher amounts of CBG content.
Benefits of CBG
There are many potential benefits to using CBG oil, but many people wonder if these products are truly safe to consume. While not much research has been documented on the potential risks (if any) and side effects on the human body, one 2016 animal study noted that rats responded well to CBG treatment, with no adverse effects.Consumers may find comfort with the knowledge that many other cannabinoids (like CBD) are considered generally well-tolerated, with a good safety profile reported in humans.
Here are a few of the specific health areas that CBG may impact:
- It has anti-inflammatory effects. There has been some compelling evidence that CBG may help alleviate inflammation within the body, particularly as it relates to colitis. For example, a study in mice demonstrated positive effects of CBG on inflammatory bowel disease.
- It may boost appetite. There are plenty of jokes to be made about how cannabis products (especially THC-heavy cannabis strains) give you the “munchies,” but actually, there are many patients whose medical conditions make it hard for them to take in enough nutrients. Preliminary research in rats reveals that CBG may provide some benefits as an appetite stimulant.
- It has antibacterial properties. Scientists recently found in a rat study that CBG was able to kill pathogenic (bad) bacteria. This is a compelling discovery, as researchers continue to seek new ways of combating MRSA and other antibiotic-resistant infections.
What are the health benefits of CBG?
While the research conducted on CBG is still in its infancy, the potential health benefits of CBG could be extensive.
Broadly speaking, the medicinal properties of CBG could be similar to those of CBD. Different scientific studies, like the one published in the British Journal of Pharmacology (Taming THC: Potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects), indicate that CBG lowers pain, reduces the inflammation caused by some disorders like Crohn’s disease, is a major sleep-inducer and has anti-depressive properties.
Likewise, CBG could inhibit the growth of cancer cells and seems to contribute to slowing down the progression of colon cancer. Furthermore, CBG might be a powerful ally in treating glaucoma, since it seems to lower intraocular pressure.
CBG vs. CBD
So now you know what CBG is, but how exactly is this cannabinoid different from CBD? Aside from their unique chemical structures, the primary distinction between the two is defined by how each one interacts with cannabinoid receptors and enzymes that exist within our body. For example, CBG binds with CB1 and CB2 receptors, which exist in various organs of the body; CBD interacts with the same receptors, but only indirectly. This means that CBG has a more direct pathway to activating these well-known receptors, which are an important part of our bodies and may impact several other bodily functions.
It’s also important to note that CBG, like CBD, is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, which means it won’t cause you to feel intoxicated or “high” like cannabis with THC does.
Potential CBG Benefits
So what are the potential benefits of CBG? Well, CBG is laden with tons of beneficial effects that scientists are just starting to learn. Like most cannabis science, most of the studies are limited and are in the early stages of exploration. Nevertheless, most of the initial results indicate that the compound has the potential to help manage the symptoms of various conditions.
It’s worth keeping in mind that this is not definitive since the compound is yet to go through clinical trials. While studies are showing potential, the assertations are, as of now, unfounded.
Here is a look at some of the potential benefits cannabigerol has to offer:
The hemp/cannabis plant is renowned for its pain-relieving potential. According to one study, 97 percent of people who use cannabis use it for chronic pain. A National Academy of Sciences study reported that cannabis is quite useful when it comes to relieving pain. While pain relief is generally attributed to THC, some studies on CBGA and CBG suggest that both compounds may be helpful when it comes to pain relief and might even be more effective than either CBD or THC.
CBG and CBGA may also be useful as anti-inflammatory agents. According to scientists, there’s a possibility that both compounds can be of benefit to people suffering from inflammatory conditions like IBD (inflammatory bowel disease). A study looking at the effect CBG has on IBD was performed on mice subjects. After being induced with colitis, the mice subjects were then given CBG, which effectively relieved inflammation – this shows that CBG has the potential to ease inflammation in humans.
Improved Brain Health
Cannabigerol is probably best known for its potential to act as a neuroprotectant. This may be because of its anti-inflammatory properties, considering that brain inflammation plays a significant role in neurodegeneration. Studies on how CBG affects mice subjects altered to mimic Huntington’s disease. It was found that the compound not only eased inflammation but also served as an active neuroprotectant against brain degeneration. In different studies, the compound has been found to promote neurogenesis.
According to researchers, cannabigerol has shown the potential to serve as an active antibacterial agent, especially when it comes to bacterial strains such as MRSA resistant to common antibiotics. It’s been found that the compound’s ability to manage a particular class of mycobacteria, fungi, and bacteria known as ‘gram-positive bacteria’ is far more superior than that of CBD, CBD, or THC. Scientists are hopeful that these properties will soon be exploited to create new and more effective antibacterial treatment.
It is believed that cannabigerol may also be able to help manage glaucoma due to its ability to reduce intraocular pressure. There are many endocannabinoid receptors in our eyes that can be activated by different cannabinoids such as CBG. When these receptors are activated, the result could be a relief for intraocular pressure. While most cannabinoids have been suggested to help with this, several studies suggest that cannabigerol might be especially helpful with expediting the draining of fluids and decreasing intraocular pressure.
CBG and Cancer
CBG has also shown promise when it comes to fighting cancer. According to scientists, the compound has demonstrated that it can block the receptors that promote cancer-causing cells’ growth. In a study on mice subjects with colorectal cancer, cannabigerol was able to hamper cancerous cells’ growth, effectively decelerating the disease’s progression. While there’s still a lot of research to be done, such studies show CBG’s potential for helping the fight against cancer.
Easing Anxiety and Depression
It’s been found that CBG could be beneficial to emotional regulation. Some studies conducted on rats have shown that the compound inhibits GABA and serotonin (neurotransmitters), which could lead to increased GABA and serotonin levels in the brain. This finding seems to suggest that CBG might possess antidepressant qualities. It is worth noting that CBG inhibits the uptake of GABA more effectively than both THC and CBD. Considering that the compound is non-psychoactive, this is promising news as it could serve as a useful cannabinoid alternative to tetrahydrocannabinol when it comes to alleviated depression.
Useful Bladder Dysfunction Aid
Cannabigerol may also be useful for managing bladder dysfunctions. There are lots of individual stories out there about how cannabis has helped people with bladder problems. One study was conducted to see how four cannabinoids – CBDV, CBD, THCV, and CBG – affect bladder contractions. By the end of the study, the researchers found that cannabigerol was the most effective in inhibiting muscle contractions in the bladder and concluded that it might prove beneficial for treating the different, uncomfortable symptoms related to bladder disorders.
Psoriasis is a condition that affects the skin causing it to redden or thicken. CBG may help by inhibiting this effect, effectively preventing the symptoms. While more studies are still needed, it’s worth noting that CBG has shown the potential to be a useful tool in fighting skin conditions.