Countless consumers have already heard of CBD. It’s popularity is spreading and availability is becoming more accessible as it hits the shelves in stores across the country. But cannabis doesn’t only produce two cannabinoids, even if THC and CBD are currently the most popular. The cannabis plant produces more than one hundred other cannabinoids, each having its own distinct chemical properties.
One of the most promising cannabinoids is called cannabigerol, or CBG. Anecdotally, CBG has already been said to be a better anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety treatment than CBD or marijuana . Offering many potent therapeutic benefits, CBG could be the next rising star of the cannabis plant.
The Endocannabinoid System
Before getting into the details of CBG, it’s important to understand how CBG and other cannabinoids work with the body. Cannabinoids have a very specific effect on the human system. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) functions as a way to stabilize the body and return to homeostasis when trauma or danger are introduced. If some sort of disruption is introduced in the body, the ECS will activate and control the situation to make sure all systems it controls remain at an optimal level. This is a fundamental function of human physiology because all the internal systems need to be in a state of equilibrium to work effectively.
There are three primary elements that make up the endocannabinoid system:
- Endocannabinoids: Compounds that are produced by the body, but are very similar to the chemical compounds in cannabis, like CBD or CBG.
- Cannabinoid Receptors: Receptors found on the surface of cells throughout the body. Any endocannabinoids or ingested cannabinoids will bind to these receptors. The action of binding allows them to communicate with different systems in the body, helping the ECS maintain an equilibrium in each of the specific systems.
- Enzymes: After endocannabinoids attach themselves to the cannabinoid receptors and the ECS has maintained stabilization, enzymes break down the endocannabinoids to prevent overcorrection. Each type of endocannabinoid has a specific enzyme that works at breaking it down effectively.
The endocannabinoid system maintains equilibrium in the immune, digestive, and nervous systems. Because cannabinoids can so easily interact with the ECS they are able to have an effect on any number of issues that may arise within those systems, making them potentially powerful tools to use when battling certain conditions and diseases.
What is CBG
Like CBD or THC, CBG comes from the cannabis plant. In the hemp plant, CBG is present in much lower quantities than CBD, yet is still one of the most important compounds because it is the “mother” cannabinoid that all other cannabinoids are synthesized from. It is only measurable at around 1% in most cannabis, so CBG would be what’s considered a minor cannabinoid however it still offers exciting potential for therapeutic benefits.
CBG is created when specific enzymes break down the CBGA of the plant and then direct it to one of three different places. These broken down acids are exposed to either ultraviolet light or heat and become the cannabinoids THC or CBD. Most of the time CBGA is converted into THCA or CBDA, meaning that the more THC a product has, the less CBD it will also have. This ratio can also be reversed and at its core is simply a product of nature and how the products are synthesized.
Some breeders are even experimenting with CBG and genetic manipulation in order to obtain strains that produce more CBG. Scientists are able to extract high levels of CBG from plants simply by pinpointing the optimal time for extraction, which is usually about six to eight weeks into the flowering cycle. Being able to determine the best time to extract and optimize the process means consumers will likely be able to get their hands on CBG products sooner than later. With all of the potential uses for CBG, this is very important to many people.
Research has found CBG helps very specific systems and problems, including:
- Glaucoma. Endocannabinoid receptors are abundant in the eye structures, giving CBG the opportunity to attach to them and increase its ability to alleviate intraocular pressure, a common issue with glaucoma. CBG also acts as a vasodilator and offers neuroprotective effects, all of which benefit those suffering from glaucoma .
- Inflammatory bowel disease: In animal experiments, CBG was found to be effective in reducing bowel inflammation in those subjects suffering from IBD .
- Huntington’s disease: In a recent study, CBG was shown to protect neurons in mice with Huntington’s disease, possibly easing cell degeneration in the brain .
- Cancer: CBG has shown the potential in the fight against cancer. Specifically, it may be able to block receptors that cause cancer cell growth. In one study of mice, it did inhibit the growth of colorectal cancer cells, actually slowing the growth of colon cancer. The study found that CBG hindered tumors and colon carcinogenesis, opening up interesting possibilities for the use of the cannabinoid in the treatment and curing of colon cancer .
- MRSA: Studies have shown CBG may be a very effective antibacterial agent, especially against Staphylococcus aureus, better known as MRSA. MRSA is notoriously difficult to treat and resistant to many different types of drugs, so being able to use a topical CBG treatment for relief is potentially life-changing to many patients living with MRSA .
- Cachexia: Recent research has shown that a very specific form of CBG that has been purified to remove even trace elements of THC can effectively stimulate appetite in rats. This opens up the possibility of treatment for the muscle wasting and weight loss seen in late stage diseases like cancer . Because the treatment would also be non-intoxicating, it may prove especially beneficial for a great number of people.
- Bladder dysfunction: A study focused on CBG and bladder dysfunction showed that the cannabinoid tested best at inhibiting muscle contractions, adding potential for the compound to work effectively in preventing many bladder dysfunction disorders .
CBG vs CBD
As mentioned earlier, CBG is known as the mother cannabinoid because all other cannabinoids come from it. Molecularly they are different compounds that come from the same plant, yet they are very similar in many other ways.
Both CBG and CBD are non-psychotropic, making them especially interesting options for people looking for relief without the need or desire to also feel intoxicated. Both compounds are actually able to counteract the intoxicating effects of marijuana and THC products when taken together.
It is possible that CBG will increase a person’s appetite while CBD hasn’t shown that effect in any current studies.
These two compounds are more closely related than not, so the benefits of both will be somewhat balanced to the other, yet studies are slowly showing that each has its own benefits and additional strengths when compared to the other.
The two will also work together to give maximum benefits using something called the entourage effect. While each of these cannabinoids on its own has the potential to be a powerful and healing compound, when they are all combined together they can bring additional benefits. All of the cannabinoids work together synergistically and have the ability to amplify the combined effect. Research has shown that removing even one of these compounds may reduce the effectiveness of the compounds compared to the results when they are allowed to work together . This is a powerful benefit and something to consider when deciding whether to try one or both of these compounds.
Expect to see more CBG isolated products hit the shelves in the coming years as research and technology progress. The benefits of CBG are still being realized and as time goes on, users will likely find more reasons to try this specific cannabinoid product. While many may opt to continue with CBD products or products containing all the cannabinoids for the full entourage effect, many will find exactly what they need in CBG alone. It’s an exciting time for the cannabis plant and all of its byproducts and CBG is yet another on that list. Soon its name will be as well known as its cousin CBD.