What Is CBG and How Is It Different from CBD?

By now everyone and their grandmother (especially their grandmother, TBH) is well aware of CBD and its purported-borderline miraculous-healing properties. And while the research is slowly validating these claims, anecdotes of CBD’s power have been pouring out en masse. Your neighbor’s dog no longer has arthritis and your best friend’s insomnia and anxiety are suddenly quelled.

But in the corner comes a dark horse: CBG. That’s right, there’s another cannabis compound on the block, and it’s high time you got to know it. We know, it’s a lot to take in, so let’s break it down.

Phytocannabinoids 101

The cannabis plant, like all plants, is made up of several chemical compounds. Within cannabis specifically, these compounds are called cannabinoids. (There are also terpenes, flavonoids, and more, but for the purpose of today’s lesson, let’s focus on cannabinoids). The human body actually has an endocannabinoid system designed to receive these compounds and use them to achieve a healthy equilibrium.

Historically, most people have been familiar with the cannabinoid THC: The compound notoriously known for creating a euphoric intoxication. (Read: It gets you high.) Despite the fact that THC has profound healing powers similar to CBD, it remains stigmatized as the “bad” part of cannabis. That said, of the 120+ cannabinoids present in the cannabis plant, THC is the only compound with the ability to intoxicate.

So, What Is CBG?

CBG stands for cannabigerol and is currently being studied for its potential pharmacological properties but hasn’t been in any clinical trials (yet!). The plant itself is thousands of years old, and one study dates back to the 60s-but common knowledge of it is still new.

So far, in-vitro and rat studies have shown some indications that CBG may help with colitis, neurodegeneration, and cancer.

“We don’t know much about CBG,” says Perry Solomon, M.D., a board-certified anesthesiologist and medical cannabis expert. “It’s not a common cannabinoid,” he explained, noting that it’s not found in large quantities within the cannabis plant, “and you have to get enough to be able to test it and study it.” Due to nearly a century of cannabis prohibition and scarcity of this novel phytocannabinoid, many of the claims about its efficacy are yet to be proven-but that doesn’t mean it’s not important.

“CBG is the precursor to CBD, CBC, and THC,” says Dr. Solomon. It’s sometimes referred to as the stem cell. What does this mean? “CBGA (the acidic, inactive form of CBG) changes, is broken down, and becomes the base molecule that other cannabinoids form from,” including THC, CBD, and CBC.

What Is CBG and How Is It Different from CBD?

Effects and Benefits

Research has shown that CBG is effective in the treatment of a variety of symptoms and conditions. Examples of conditions for which CBG is particularly effective in providing symptom relief are listed below:

  • Glaucoma
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Irritable bowel syndrome

What are the potential benefits of CBG?

There have been some early studies suggesting CBG might be successful as a potential antibiotic against MRSA, as well as for pain and inflammation reduction and even in slowing the growth of cancer cells, Dr. Torradas notes. Its effects, however, have not yet been studied in adults, so it’s important to take this research with a grain of salt.

However, preliminary animal and pre-clinical research has suggested that CBG may be helpful in treating the following conditions:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
  • Movement disorders like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease
  • Anxiety disorders

There have been some early studies suggesting CBG might be successful as a potential antibiotic against MRSA, as well as for pain and inflammation reduction and even in slowing the growth of cancer cells, Dr. Torradas notes. Its effects, however, have not yet been studied in adults, so it’s important to take this research with a grain of salt.

However, preliminary animal and pre-clinical research has suggested that CBG may be helpful in treating the following conditions:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
  • Movement disorders like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease
  • Anxiety disorders

“CBG [research] is in the early stages,” says Dr. Torradas. “More robust research and data is needed and lowering the cost of extraction would help unlock the keys to CBG’s future adoption if these early indications are true,” says Dr. Torradas.

You will likely see CBG listed as an ingredient in some oils and tinctures on the market, but keep in mind that there’s a major lack of regulation of CBD and CBG products in general, so it’s kind of impossible to know what you’re really getting in any product of this kind. Because there is very limited research, it’s also tough to determine how a CBG product would interact with various medications, as well as what side effects it may cause.

What Is CBG and How Is It Different from CBD?

CBG is *not* the same thing as CBD then?

Not exactly—CBG is essentially the “parent” cannabinoid, meaning that every other cannabinoid starts out as CBG and then eventually converts to other cannabinoids like THC or CBD, Riggle explains.

“In terms of how well it connects to CB1 and CB2 receptors, CBG seems to be much more effective and direct than CBD,” says Dr. Torradas. “Similarly to CBD, CBG does not have psychoactive effects (meaning it won’t get you high).”

What’s the Difference Between CBD and CBG?

As mentioned, CBG helps make CBD, so while they’re both cannabinoids, they’re different compounds within the cannabis plant. Additionally, they serve different purposes and may help treat different ailments, despite some potential pharmacological overlap. (Related: How to Buy Safe and Effective CBD Products)

Both CBG and CBD are currently considered non-psychotropic, meaning they won’t alter your state of mind in a way that would inhibit your day-to-day function and mental clarity. They can, however, alter your mind in a way that could potentially relieve anxiety and depression. So perhaps a better description of this would be “non-intoxicating”-it won’t get you high in the way THC can.

Another important note: Like CBD, CBG may counteract the intoxicating effects of THC, says Dr. Solomon. “Studies of CBG seem to show that it activates the CB1 receptor just as CBD does, which essentially decreases psycho-activation,” he says.

This means if you consume cannabis that has a high concentration of CBD and CBG, or consume an isolate of CBG in addition to consuming (read: smoking or eating) cannabis, you could potentially counterbalance the “high” or intoxication. There is CBG naturally found in the cannabis you’re already consuming, but likely not in a large enough quantity to make any difference.

CBG may also increase your appetite. CBG made “lab animals like rats” hungrier, which is not the school of thought with CBD (as far as we know), according to Dr. Solomon. It’s also different from another phytocannabinoid, THCV, which inhibits appetite and may lead to weight loss.

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