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.
What is CBG?
Cannabigerol (CBG) is another interesting non-psychoactive cannabinoid derived from the cannabis plant and is typically most abundant in low-THC and high-CBD cannabis strains, including hemp. Most cannabis genetics only contain trace amounts of CBG— (about 1%) but its properties are garnering attention from health professionals and consumers. Because it is present in low levels, this lesser-known cannabinoid called CBG is worth learning about for a number of reasons.
It’s important to know that CBG is the non-acidic form of CBGA, which is the parent molecule from which several additional cannabinoids are produced. Once a cannabis plant fully matures, the majority of the CBG within the plant is already converted into CBGA. As a result, CBGA turns into other cannabinoids. Despite this conversion, CBG is often referred to as the ‘stem cell’ or ‘parent’ of other cannabinoids.
In 1975, researchers discovered that CBGA (the acid form of CBG) was the first cannabinoid formed in the cannabis plant.
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.
Differences between CBG, CBD, and THC
The main difference between CBD and THC is that while THC can make you high, CBD has no psychoactive effects. CBG, on the other hand, is similar to CBD in that it also is non-psychoactive. One of the major differences between CBD and CBG is size. CBG is present in smaller quantities in the hemp plant while other compounds such as CBD and THC are present in much larger quantities.
THC stimulates parts of the brain causing the release of dopamine – creating a sense of euphoria and well-being. It also has analgesic effects, relieving the symptoms of pain and inflammation while CBG is known for its anti-bacterial effects. It has also been found to inhibit the uptake of GABA, this causes a feeling of relaxation that is normally associated with CBD. CBD itself has a long list of medicinal properties. The main of which relieve things such as chronic pain, inflammation, arthritis, spasms and epilepsy and schizophrenia. CBD has also been shown to have some anti-cancer properties, and new uses are being found all the time as more research is conducted.
Check out the video below to know more differences between CBG and Cannabidiol (CBD).
Medical Benefits of CBG
Before learning about CBG’s medicinal properties, it is important to know that CBG is non-impairing, and non-intoxicating. Users don’t have to worry about feeling high after consumption because CBG can act on the body’s central nervous system without creating a psycho-active high. Research has shown that CBG is effective in the treatment of a variety of symptoms and conditions. Examples of conditions for which CBG found to be effective in providing symptom relief are listed below:
CBG for Eye health. A 1990 study found that "cannabigerol and related cannabinoids may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of glaucoma." Our eyes contain many endocannabinoid receptors which can be activated by cannabinoids like CBG. When activated, the result can be a shift in intraocular pressure.
Antibacterial agent. Not only does CBG contain anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, and anti-septic properties, but it also holds efficacy in battling against MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). In a 2008 study, CBG showed promise for treating MRSA as an antibacterial agent.
Dr Perry Solomon, M.D., a board-certified anesthesiologist and medical cannabis expert said this is an area where CBG shows real promise. "It's thought to help with MRSA," he said. "CBG has potential to treat bacteria that are resistant to traditional antibiotics."
CBG for anxiety and depression. Studies on rats show that CBG restricts uptake of the neurotransmitters serotonin and GABA, which can lead to increased serotonin and GABA levels in the brain. This suggests CBG can provide anti-anxiety and potentially anti-depressant effects. And when it comes to GABA, CBG prevents uptake more effectively than CBD or THC. As CBG is also non-psychoactive, it could be a helpful cannabinoid alternative to THC when it comes to alleviating depression.
CBG for pain relief. In 2013, rats were studied for the use of CBG for colitis, and the result shows that CBG reduced the effect of colitis. According to the study, IBD patients have been experiencing "successful management of abdominal pain, joint pain, cramping, diarrhea, poor appetite, weight loss, and nausea" with the use of cannabis, but there are not many studies just yet exploring CBG as an isolated compound.
CBG is Anti-Inflammatory. A 2007 study looked at CBG's ability to treat psoriasis, and as mentioned, it may help reduce the inflammation caused by IBD.
CBG for cancer. CBG also shows promise as a cancer-fighter. A review article in 2009 showed that CBG could potentially slow tumor growth. A 2014 study found that CBG inhibited tumor growth in colon cancer, and 2006 study including cannabigerol noted it may help with breast cancer. In 2016, it was shown to be an appetite stimulant in rats, which could help patients undergoing chemotherapy.
CBG for the brain. In a recent 2015 study, CBG was shown to protect neurons in mice with Huntington’s disease, which is characterized by nerve cell degeneration in the brain.
While the studies above are somewhat limited, and more research needs to be done to say conclusively that CBG can help with any of these issues, CBG shows great promise as a potential treatment for a wide variety of conditions and symptoms.
Scientists are excited about these CBG results and are promoting future research with CBG alone or CBG in combination with other cannabinoids and therapies for the treatment of multiple ailments. Because it is non-psychotropic, CBG has a promising wide range of potential applications not only for the problems mentioned above, but also as an analgesic, therapy for psoriasis, and as an antidepressant.
Want to learn more about CBG? Watch this video now.
What does the future hold for CBG? Few years ago, nobody could have predicted that CBD would become popular as a cannabinoid promoted for its health and wellness potential and widely adopted by a whole new user group of mainstream consumers. Cultivators are starting to figure out how to breed high CBG plants for the medical cannabis market as well. A few new cannabis strains have come out to meet this demand, such as Mickey Kush created by TGA Genetics Subcool Seeds. This strain is known for being rich in both CBG and THC. But how does one start using CBG? It’s rare to see CBG products advertised when shopping for cannabis or hemp products. So you need to know what to look for.
More on CBG
The cannabis herb contains more than 100 special medicinal molecules called cannabinoids. These chemicals are categorized as phytocannabinoids because they are derived from a plant. The human body produces similar molecules called endocannabinoids that interact with a specialized system of receptors found in the brain, central nervous system, and immune system that compose the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Like most cannabinoids other than tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabigerol (CBG) is non-psychoactive and has been found to act on very specific physiological systems. Lastly, did you know that CBG can impact the body by increasing anandamide levels? Anandamide is a naturally-occurring cannabinoid that helps regarding the regulation of biological functions like sleep, memory, pain sensations, and appetite.
With our fair economic model, Himalayan Hemp organisation aims to preserve the indigenous hemp strains. Phytochemical compounds found in Himalayan Hemp are unique in terms of geodiversity and should be studied further as they can provide cure for many illness. Support our movement to legalize cannabis in India and find out more about our co-operative model.
Note: If you're consuming cannabis in its intactness (whether that's smoked or eaten), you'll be getting a little bit of CBG in its natural form. There haven't been any reports of conflicting side-effects to CBG but to restate, there's not enough research on it yet. So check with your doctor before adding any medication or supplement to your menu.