What you should know about Cannabigerol (CBG) and why it's important
Most people that are new to consuming cannabis are familiar with THC, CBD, and CBN. These three cannabinoids are what most people think of when they're talking about the psychoactive effects of cannabis. However, there are over 100 different cannabinoids that have been discovered so far, and many of these are just now being investigated. One cannabinoid that is catching the attention of the cannabis industry for its potential therapeutic effects is Cannabigerol (CBG).
CBG is a naturally occurring phytocannabinoid that is produced in the cannabis plant (obviously). One of the most important things to understand when it comes to CBG and many other cannabinoids found in cannabis, is that they all stem from cannabigerolic acid or CBGA and the concentrations of cannabinoids varies throughout the maturation of the plant.
Cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) is the precursor molecule to all of the major cannabinoids. When young, most cannabis plants are growing their leaves and stems rapidly which means that CBG is being converted into other cannabinoids including tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), cannabidivarinic acid (CBDVA), cannabichromenic acid (CBCA), etc. Since most CBG has been converted to other cannabinoids, there is usually very little in the way of CBG in a fresh cannabis plant.
CBGA -> CBDA -> CBDVA -> CBGV -> THCV + CBD
THCV -> CBN
CBGA -> THCVA -> CBCA -> CBDVA -> CBG + CBC
It all starts with CBGA, the building block for all of the cannabinoids. When this compound is exposed to enzymes, either in its acidic or carboxylate form it can be transformed into different cannabinoids.
Chemical makeup depends on what the CBGA has been exposed to during the growth cycle of the plant. This is one reason why profiles in cannabis can vary significantly depending on when and how it was grown with CBG content potentially decreasing as the cannabis plant matures.
As a young plant, CBG serves as a regulator that tells the plant it needs to take steps to ensure its survival. Enzymes are responsible for making these conversions possible. Enzymes are special proteins that increase the rate at which chemical reactions happen without being consumed in the process.
Enzymes are present in all living things and each enzyme works towards a different task specific to its parent molecule. The enzymes responsible for converting each cannabinoid are: THCA synthase (CBG-A), CBDA synthase (CBD-A), CBD synthase (CBD-A), CBCA synthase (CBC-B), THC synthase (CBD-B).
Cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), cannabigerovarinic acid (CBGV), cannabigerovarin (CBGV), and cannabigerol (CBG) are all a chemical precursor to CBG. These cannabinoids can be found in THC-free hemp extract strains which can be incredibly appealing for those that do not wish to produce THC.
*Side note to vent, hemp crops can be incredibly useful and it's unfortunate they ever got lumped in with the war on drugs. CBG is just one of a multitude of non-psychoactive hemp products that can be produced from this same crop.*
The difference between THC and CBD has to do with their interaction with our naturally occurring endocannabinoid system. The two main cannabinoid receptors are known as CB1 and CB2 receptors, both of which have unique functions in the human body. Cannabinoids can interact with these same receptors in different ways to produce the effects that you feel.
CB1 receptors are found in the brain and nervous system, whereas CB2 receptors are present throughout the body's immune system. CBG binds to cannabinoid receptors and is presumed to improve anandamide, a receptor neurotransmitter known for improving pleasure and motivation, appetite control, and sleep management. It is thought that CBG may boost anandamide levels in the body.
The endocannabinoid system is partially responsible for maintaining homeostasis - balance within your body despite changing external conditions.
The important question people always seem to gravitate towards when talking about cannabinoids. CBG, unlike THC, is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid which means that it will not produce any mind altering effects. This makes CBG benefits ideal for people who are looking for the therapeutic properties without the mental side effects.
Some people are particularly sensitive to THC, the primary psychoactive component of cannabis, and feel uncomfortable or anxious. This may be due to previous drug experiences, a predisposition, or a simple lack of THC tolerance. In some cases people are unable to consume enough of the active ingredients of cannabis simply because they aren't able to tolerate the effects of THC. For these people CBG is an ideal cannabinoid since it has many of the same health benefits without the 'high'. If you'll recall from earlier CBG and THC share a precursor, this means that plants low in THC may have higher CBG/CBD ratios.
Because of increased research and emerging research CBG oil is becoming more common. CBG isolate means that the product only carries CBG - think isolated - while full spectrum means that the plants chemical profile (including minor cannabinoids) is maintained.
CBG and CBD are both nonpsychoactive; however you should do some research to determine if CBG vs CBD is a better fit for your needs. Both CBG naturally found in plants and CBG oil provide potential benefits, however sometimes effects can be modulated by the presence of other cannabinoids and terpenes. CBG Oils and CBG oil tinctures are both taken orally.
Similar to the other major cannabinoids the acidic form of CBG (CBGA) is the naturally occurring form and must be biologically activated prior to providing therapeutic benefits.
As with many cannabinoids the research has unfortunately lagged behind due to outside forces - war on drugs, manufactured stigma, etc. The effects of CBG are mostly based on animal studies and test tube experiments, as little clinical research has been done to evaluate its effects on humans.
CBG has been shown to possess therapeutic potential which includes anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, analgesic and more. That being said, I'm just a person on the other end of this with no medical background. This does not qualify as professional medical advice and when in doubt talk to your doctor or other qualified health provider.
CBG works to reduce inflammation by inhibiting prostaglandin, which are signaling molecules that produce inflammation in the body. CBG has shown promising anti inflammatory effects for conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel diseases and more. Many existing prescription medications used to treat these conditions work only partially and come with significant side effects.
Antioxidants neutralize free radicals which cause oxidative damage. Oxidative damaged can lead to cell death and may play a role in the development of certain degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease or cancer. In an animal study mice were given CBG daily for seven days before being exposed to oxygen deprivation. After 90 minutes of being deprived of oxygen the CBG treated mice showed significantly less brain damage.
In a study published in the Journal of Natural Products, CBG's antibacterial and antifungal properties were tested against several different types of fungi and bacteria. Tests showed that CBG was able to protect against bacterial and fungal infection. While the study suggests more testing should be done, it is a promising result for those suffering from conditions such as candida overgrowth.
Similar to antibacterial and antifungal properties, studies have shown that CBG may provide protection against developing different types of infections which include both bacteria and fungi. More research is needed to determine whether CBG can actually fight infections.
The potential analgesic properties of CBG were discovered within an investigation on the other cannabinoids. Many people are familiar with THC's pain relieving effects, however there is little information available on non psychoactive cannabinoids. A study found that CBG provided moderate levels of pain relief and worked as an anti-inflammatory agent even at low doses. This may be ideal for those looking for relief without a psychoactive high.
While there is a decent amount of research on CBG there is still much information that needs to be discovered, especially potential negative effects from long term use.
It has been shown that CBG acts as a GABA inhibitor which means it may not be ideal for people with low levels of GABA. GABA (gamma amino butyric acid) is an inhibitory neurotransmitter which helps calm the brain and body, people with low GABA may want to avoid using CBG long term.
CBG is one of the lesser known cannabinoids but still holds great potential for medicinal uses. Although studies are limited on humans more research is being done every day that will hopefully uncover all the amazing potential benefits of CBG. This is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of health conditions and should not be relied on as such. The world of cannabis is fascinating and I hope this gets you excited to do some of your own research. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it.
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