What is CBG?
Put simply, CBG is the mother of all cannabinoids. But it is her children, CBD and THC, who are far more famous than she is.
Science first met CBG in the 1960s but mostly ignored her since and it is only now, with the greater focus on the therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids, that CBG is finally gets the attention she deserves.
Healing medicine abounds in hemp and cannabis. Over 400 active compounds dwell in each plant, including about 200 terpenes and 120 cannabinoids, many with natural medicinal benefits. THC and CBD stole the show early on, but it is now time for CBG to take center stage.
CBG is responsible for THC and CBD, and all the rest of the cannabinoids in hemp plants. Before the THC and CBD compounds can exist, first, there is CBG, their mother molecule.
CBG stands for cannabigerolic acid, which uses enzymes to convert into cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), the precursor of CBD and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), which is the precursor of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). In short, CBG makes CBDA, which becomes CBD and THC.
So, non-psychoactive, but more potent than CBD, CBG works directly on the body’s endocannabinoid system more quickly than the other active compounds.
CBG & the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)
The ECS is a comparatively more recent discovery. Discovered in the 1990s, the endocannabinoid system helps regulate critical functions like mood, appetite, sleep and memory. In general, the endocannabinoid system maintains health and balance in the body.
The human body produces its endocannabinoids as needed. The naturally formed chemicals bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors in the central and peripheral nervous systems. Scientific speculation argues that the body produces endocannabinoids for the runner’s high, as just one example. Research on THC shows cannabinoids bind to these same CB1 and CB2 receptors to generate the effects of getting high, anxiety, feelings of euphoria, and even “the munchies.”
Most recently, the medical benefits of CBG are finally being connected with its role in the endocannabinoid system. Initial evidence suggests that cannabigerol acid helps correct imbalances in the ECS system, helping to maintain better health, much like CBD, only even better.
One unique characteristic is the potential ability to reduce or eliminate the adverse effects of THC, like psychosis or paranoia. Much like a mother calms her child. As it interacts with the CB1 and CB2 receptors, it can inhibit the intoxicating effects of the THC overall.
Research is ongoing concerning the Therapeutic Aspects of the ECS for Cancer and CBG’s ability to counteract cachexia from chemotherapy. Cachexia is the body wasting away as a consequence of chemotherapy cancer treatments.
What is unique about how CBG works?
CBG is the mother molecule of both CBD and THC.
Only THC is psychoactive.
Only THC will create a high.
Each compound occurs in varying concentrations in the cannabis plants, and each has a different chemical structure.
Individually, each cannabinoid has unique properties, but several overlap. When CBG and CBD are combined together, the CBD benefits become longer-lasting and more pronounced. CBG typically amplifies other cannabinoids in all the full-spectrum products.
What are the medical benefits?
Studies remain limited, while science is still in the early exploration phases. Initial results are encouraging and show tremendous potential for a wide variety of medical conditions.
The pain-relieving properties of cannabis are well-known. The National Academy of Sciences concluded that cannabis is effective for pain relief. The Hawai’i Journal of Medicine & Public Health published a study stating that 97 per cent of patients who use cannabis do so to treat chronic pain.
While many assume the pain relief comes from the high associated with THC, studies on CBG going back into the 1990s demonstrate pain relief, too.
Protecting the Brain
CBG acts as a neuroprotectant against the degeneration of brain function. There is hope for reduced inflammation, the promotion of neurogenesis, and even the growth of new brain cells.
Inflammation is often an early symptom in degenerative diseases. The ability of cannabigerolic acid to rebalance the body to reduce inflammation is of particular interest to researchers. Studies are ongoing, especially into the effects on Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).
Showing promise as a cancer-fighter, blocking cell receptors, CBG inhibited growth and slowed down the disease in lab tests. Research focus currently includes prostate, oral and breast cancers.
CBG, as an antibacterial agent, gives us a fighting chance against antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains like MRSA.
CBG reduces intraocular pressure, the primary symptom in glaucoma. Eyes are full of endocannabinoid receptors, so cannabinoids are generally helpful, but cannabigerolic acid looks particularly promising to decrease eye pressure and expedite fluid draining.
When normal skin regulation mechanisms go awry, a thickening or reddening of the skin is called psoriasis. CBG balances the body through the endocannabinoid system, which inhibits the formation of psoriasis.
Lots of anecdotal accounts tell of cannabis patients with improved bladder issues. The effects of four cannabinoids were researched for bladder contractions. CBG was the most effective at inhibiting bladder muscle contractions.
Depression and Anxiety
CBG is helpful for mood control. Studies on rats show an inhibited uptake of the neurotransmitters GABA and serotonin, which increases the brain’s GABA and serotonin levels.
These increased levels should create antidepressant effects. Cannabigerolic acid inhibits GABA uptake more effectively than THC or CBD. This is promising since a non-psychoactive cannabinoid alternative to THC is welcomed by many to alleviate depression and anxiety.
Why is CBG expensive?
Simply put, CBG makes up a tiny percentage of the cannabinoids in the plant. Even though hemp strains contain 20 percent CBD, the CBG in the same crop is just one percent. So, producers must extract 20 times more of the acid to get the same concentration. Once the CBG converts into the other cannabinoids, there’s not much left to extract.
The other option is to produce an entire crop solely to process cannabigerolic acid. Early on in the plants’ life-cycle, prior to the CBG conversion into the other cannabinoids, the growers can harvest the whole crop.
More breeding of cannabis strains high in CBG is bound to make production more accessible and bring prices down soon.
The Future of CBG
Studies remain limited, but research has finally started to move ahead rapidly. CBG shows incredible promise alone and in combination with other cannabis compounds.
Cultivators are determined to increase production levels, so watch for more products with high levels of the mother of all cannabinoids, CBG.