Cannabigerol (CBG) is the mother of all cannabinoids. To put it in simple terms, the parent acid that gives birth to CBG also gives birth to the parent acids of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), respectively, as the cannabis flower develops.
Of all the well-known cannabinoids, CBG is somewhat similar to CBD. It is non-intoxicating and may have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. However, CBG may have its own unique set of properties, too. It may offer a potential treatment for conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and glaucoma, which affect millions worldwide.
Yet, information and research on CBG are limited even though we know comparatively much more about THC and CBD.
What Is Cannabigerol?
CBG is one of the 100-odd compounds present in cannabis. Yehiel Gaoni and Raphael Mechoulam discovered CBG in 1964. They also discovered that THC is the main psychotropic substance of cannabis.
CBG’s parent, cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), gives birth to many other cannabinoids. In various stages of the flowering cycle, CBGA is converted into THCA, the precursor of THC, and into CBDA, the precursor of CBD. After that, the cannabis plant is left with only trace amounts of CBGA. The decarboxylation (heating) of CBGA activates the cannabinoid CBG. So, to find CBG in higher concentrations, the cannabis flower has to be harvested several weeks before time.
How Does CBG Work?
Like other cannabinoids like CBD and THC, CBG interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) via both the CB1 and CB2 receptors and stimulates a response. These receptors control several physiological processes such as mood, pain response, and appetite.
CB1 receptors are present in the brain and throughout the body, while CB2 receptors are found mostly in the immune and gastrointestinal systems. The latter are found in the brain, too, but not as densely as CB1 receptors.
A 2018 study indicated that CBG has a stronger affinity for CB2 receptors. It seems to interact with the ECS in several therapeutic ways, but more research is needed to determine exactly how. CBG seemingly interacts with the receptors in a different manner than THC or CBD, producing unique physiological effects.
CBG And The Entourage Effect
All cannabinoids have unique properties and functions. Together, their direct or indirect interactions in the cannabis plant can result in more clinical benefits than what you would get from the isolated compounds. It is known as the entourage effect.
One example of the entourage effect is that CBD and CBG can moderate the psychotropic effects of THC and even increase its therapeutic abilities. A study on leukemia suggested that CBG, combined with other cannabinoids, showed enhanced therapeutic activities on the cancerous cells.
However, not all cannabis-derived compounds can work synergistically. The overall effect depends on the concentrations of the compounds and the subject’s health.
Medical Benefits Of CBG
Cannabis research has, so far, been primarily concentrated on THC and CBD. Minor cannabinoids like CBG got the short shrift. However, in recent years, some studies have uncovered its medicinal benefits and suggested its potential use in the medical field. However, more research and human trials are needed to prove these claims beyond doubt.
A 2018 study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences showed that CBG might be a potential treatment against neuroinflammation and oxidative stress, both of which contribute to neurodegeneration, which may lead to diseases such as Alzheimer’s. CBG may help prevent cell loss and prevent neurodegenerative conditions.
Like most of the common cannabinoids, CBG possesses potent anti-inflammatory properties.
A study published in Biochemical Pharmacology in 2013 showed that CBG reduced bowel inflammation in mice and reduced nitric oxide production via the CB2 receptors. The study suggested that CBG may be tested on patients with inflammatory bowel disease, which is a disorder associated with chronic inflammation of the digestive tract.
Another study in 2014 highlighted the therapeutic effects of a CBG derivative on human immune diseases with both inflammatory and autoimmune components such as multiple sclerosis.
CBG may also possess tumor-inhibiting properties. A study published in the journal Carcinogenesis in 2014 examined the effects of CBG on colon cancer in mice. CBG hindered the progression of colon cancer and selectively slowed the growth of colorectal cancerous cells. Further research is needed to see whether these results can translate into cancer treatment for humans.
One of the major benefits of CBG could be its potential role in the treatment of glaucoma. Glaucoma, a major cause of blindness worldwide, is a condition that damages the optic nerve. Much of this damage happens due to abnormally high pressure in the eye.
CBG can help lower this intraocular pressure. According to a study published in the Journal of Ocular Pharmacology and Therapeutics in 2009, both CBG and THC may help relieve this eye pressure. However, CBG is the better option because of its non-psychotropic properties.
Cancer or AIDS patients often have a weak appetite, which leads to cachexia, which is defined as the weakness and wasting away of the body due to severe chronic illness. A 2017 study published in Behavioral Pharmacology found that both purified CBG and CBG-rich botanical drug substances may act as novel appetite stimulants in such cases.
CBG increased the number of meals consumed as well as the size of the meals in rats. The researchers concluded that CBG-rich botanical drug substances worked more effectively than CBG isolate. However, human trials are awaited.
Another study published in 2019 showed that CBG might be a novel therapeutic option for chemotherapy-induced cachexia as well.
Antiseptic & Antibacterial
A study published in 2021 showed that CBG exhibits anti-bacterial activities against Streptococcus mutans, the most common pathogen associated with tooth decay or cavities. CBG can halt the proliferation of these bacteria.
Another study published in the Journal of Natural Products in 2008 found that CBG, CBD, Delta-9 THC, cannabichromene (CBC), and cannabinol (CBN) showed high potency against a variety of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria. However, the researchers could not figure out their mechanism of action.
Cultivars High In CBG
There are four types of cannabis cultivars. Those high in THC are Type I. Type II has a mixed ratio of CBD and THC. Type III is CBD-dominant. Those high in CBG are called Type IV. Industrial hemp generally has higher concentrations of CBG.
One of the first commercially available CBG-dominant strains was Stem Cells. It grows vigorously and heavily produces large, lime-green flowers covered in crystals. Another CBG-rich strain is White CBG. It contains up to 20% CBG. CBG-dominant hemp is found in Europe, particularly France. There’s also the Auto CBG strain with around 8% CBG.
As people get to know more about the unique benefits of CBG, we are likely to see more research into the cannabinoid as well as more products on the market.
Is CBG Legal?
Both hemp and marijuana belong to the cannabis group of plants. Hemp flowers contain less than 0.3% THC, while marijuana contains more than 0.3% THC, which is the primary psychotropic ingredient of cannabis. That is why marijuana is illegal at the federal level, and hemp is not.
CBG is produced in more significant quantities in industrial hemp plants. And yet, industrial hemp plants, which are grown following several restrictions, lack the full cannabinoid and terpene profile found in whole-plant marijuana. That may restrict the entourage effect.
However, hemp-derived CBG is legal to buy, sell, and consume in the US as long as the product contains less than 0.3% THC.