CBG vs. CBD: Are They Any Different?

If you’ve puffed a cannabidiol (CBD) flower or consumed CBD products, such as tinctures, capsules, gummies, or oil, you must have experienced its calming effects (like never before!) on your mind and body.

Those relaxing over-the-cloud effects might have even led you to think that no other medication could calm you down as well as CBD does. Well, you might not be completely mistaken.

Being a cannabis-derived cannabinoid with high medicinal benefits, CBD is an on-the-rise pharmaceutical product in the market.

Considering its unique characteristics and several health benefits, CBD has been completely legalized in the USA (now, you know what’s the next destination on your bucket list!), and public review regarding the potency of CBD has been greatly promising.

Although CBD has been popular among the masses and the scientific community, its precursor cannabigerol (CBG) remained the lesser-known derivative of the cannabis plant.

However, CBG is also effective in therapeutic terms, even though it has not yet been studied as widely as CBD.

Both CBD and CBG are cannabinoids that may be derived from cannabis plants – both hemp and marijuana. Yet they are remarkably and distinctly different chemical compounds.

Wait, is that too much “chemistry” for you?

Here, let us simplify it for you.

What Is CBG? How Does It Differ From CBD?

CBG and CBD demonstrate chemical similarities, but they differ in their mechanisms of action, including their chemical formulae. For better understanding, let’s take a closer look at both compounds:

#1. Chemical formula & molecular structure

The chemical formula of CBD is C21H30O2, whereas that of CBG is C21H32O2. Due to the different proportions of carbon (C), hydrogen (H), and oxygen (O) atoms, the chemical structure of the two molecules differs remarkably.

Additionally, our body possesses a class of neurotransmitter receptors, including cannabinoid and endocannabinoid receptors. These receptors are triggered upon encountering external factors/ligands (here, CBD and CBG molecules), largely influencing several vital bodily functions. Ultimately, on entering the human body, due to their different chemical compositions, both molecules interact differently with these receptors that regulate different functions.

Moreover, considering the differences in the water solubility of the two chemical substances, CBD and CBG exhibit different levels of bioavailability in the body.

#2. Therapeutic effects

Since CBD and CBG have different mechanisms of action, their likely effects, including therapeutic ones, differ substantially. Let’s explore a bit more by starting with the very popular CBD.

#2.1. CBD

CBD is known to exert several good effects on the user’s body, including dealing with stress-associated psychological problems.

#2.1.1. Relaxant for mood disorders: The relaxing properties associated with CBD are beneficial in several psychological conditions, such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Vaping, smoking CBD flowers, and orally consuming CBD capsules and oil as well as sublingual administration of CBD tinctures have proven useful in treating mood disorders.

#2.1.2. Potent against disorders with disorganized thoughts: Research also demonstrates the strong potency of CBD against cognitive disorders. A study conducted in 2019 endorsed the antipsychotic properties of CBD, which can treat mental conditions such as minor psychosis or even full-fledged schizophrenia.

#2.1.3. Effective against neurological problems: The plethora of studies have analyzed and demonstrated the positive effects of CBD on neurological conditions such as epilepsy.

#2.2.CBG

Retrospectively, although a lot of research seems to have centered around CBD, there is a dearth of literature for understanding CBG. Nevertheless, CBG reportedly exerts some therapeutic effects on the body by directly interacting with CB1 and CB2 receptors. Some of these effects are as follows:

#2.2.1. Appetite stimulation: In 2017, a study was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of CBG on appetite stimulation in rats. It was concluded that CBG stimulates appetite in rats. This is relatively equally significant to the appetite-associated effect exerted after CBG consumption in patients experiencing conditions, such as decreased hunger, severe loss of appetite, and cachexia, which is a serious disorder in patients with cancer, HIV/AIDS, congestive heart failure, etc.

#2.2.2. Effective against glaucoma: CBG is reportedly effective in treating glaucoma, a common eye disorder that, generally, affects people over the age of 40 and is the leading cause of blindness among people over 60. CBG works by reducing the intraocular pressure, i.e., the fluid pressure inside the glaucoma-affected eye. Combined with other cannabinoids, CBG works as a powerful vasodilator and neuroprotector. This further proves CBG’s effectiveness against glaucoma.

#3. CBG is the precursor of CBD, CBD is the by-product

Derived from hemp plants, CBG is the non-acidic form of Cannabigerolic acid (CBGA). CBGA is the parent compound of the acidic forms of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THCA, cannabidiol or CBDA), and many other such cannabinoids.

CBG represents only as minute as about 1% of CBGA that remains without being synthesized and generates calming effects after its consumption.

CBG is produced from CBGA by decarboxylation, i.e., one CO2 molecule is separated at a time from a CBGA molecule. CBD is one of the indirect byproducts of the CBGA compound, constituting nearly 40% of the plant extract.

i.e., CBGA = CBDA = CBD

Effects of CBG

As mentioned earlier, both CBD and CBG molecules are known to interact differently (due to their distinct chemical composition) with the body’s endocannabinoid receptors, triggering different receptors and producing varying, almost opposite, reactions from them.

Several pieces of research have compared the effects of CBD and CBG on serotonin receptors. In one such study, it was seen that CBD countered nausea through its affinity for the 5-HT1A serotonin receptors, acting as an activator/agonist. On the other hand, CBG acted as an antagonist/blocker for the 5-HT1A receptors. These studies, thus, indicate that CBG could induce nausea among users if used in high doses, whereas due to antiemetic properties, CBD could counteract such undesirable effects.

CBG is a phytocannabinoid that is often referred to as exocannabinoid or exogenous cannabinoid, suggesting that it is the external factor whose entry into our body triggers the endocannabinoid system to react.

CBG binds to the cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 in the body but has more affinity to the former than the latter. This binding theoretically endorses the effectiveness of CBG in mental disorders. Although not extensively researched, it has been proposed that the ligand/receptor binding in the case of CBG enhances tumor cell necrosis. Being an integral constituent of hemp plants, CBG is considered to be a supportive drug in cancer treatment.

Therefore, considering the larger picture, it is implied that the interplay of CBD and CBG gives rise to the wide range of their medicinal uses.

Why Are We Hearing Of CBG Only Now?

CBG was discovered by Raphael Mechoulam and Yehiel Gaoni in 1964. However, it is only recently that CBG has gained research appeal. The following are a few reasons that hindered the research progress for CBG:

Because it lacks psychoactive properties, like those of THC, CBG initially did not receive much scientific attention. The initial research was mainly centered around the chemical properties of CBG and not on its therapeutic uses. It was thus deemed inert to the human body. Although further research is challenging due to the lack of availability of CBG, future studies are demanded to better comprehend the chemical and therapeutic properties of the compound.

CBG has been late in stirring up the interest of the scientific community. This could be due to its possible role in the entourage effect associated with hemp consumption. This effect is a highly coveted mind-altering experience, which is nearly absent with the consumption of CBD isolates. Hence, it is the assortment of effects from CBD, CBG, and several other cannabinoids, except THC. Nevertheless, the circumferential and basic research on the therapeutic use of CBG has been promising.

Another issue restricting the research on CBG is the significantly scarce commercial availability of the compound. This could be attributed to the 1% constitution of CBG in hemp plants, making it difficult to extract. It is nearly impossible for potential buyers to procure CBG isolates. Nevertheless; one can procure CBD and CBG products such as oil in 50/50 proportions by weight.

Pricing remains to be another critical factor hindering some quality research in terms of CBG. Pure CBG products are reportedly at least five times costlier than CBD products. Due to exorbitant prices, the market also has not witnessed any penetration or availability of CBG products.

Final Thoughts

Although the internet is flooded with plenty of studies and updates on CBD, CBG remains to be fully elucidated for lack of proper understanding of its effects on human health.

Moreover, gaps between the availability of CBD and CBG products remain to be bridged.

So far, there have been no apparent side effects of consuming CBG. But to reiterate our previous statement, there has not been enough research to come to an irrefutable conclusion regarding CBG’s safety.

Thus, it is highly advisable to always check with a doctor before incorporating CBD and CBG into your daily regimen.

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