What Is Cannabigerol (CBG)?
Cannabigerol (CBG) is a type of cannabinoid obtained from the cannabis plant. It’s often referred to as the mother of all cannabinoids. This is because other cannabinoids are derived from cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), an acidic form of CBG.
Other more common cannabinoids obtained from cannabis plants include cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
CBG is found in smaller quantities than other cannabinoids in cannabis plants. In most strains of the plant, only 1% of CBG can be found compared to 20 to 25% of CBD or 25 to 30% of THC.1
This makes consumer products derived from the cannabinoid rare and often expensive. However, CBG is growing in popularity as a result of the host of potential benefits the cannabinoid has to offer.
How CBG Is Made
CBG is derived from young cannabis plants because they contain higher amounts of CBG than fully developed plants.
Some strains of cannabis like White CBG, Super Glue CBG, and Jack Frost CBG also have higher CBG content than other strains. These strains are specifically cultivated to produce higher quantities of CBG.
Both CBD and THC start as CBGA, an acidic form of CBG. This is why younger cannabis plants contain higher concentrations of CBG.
In fully developed plants with high concentrations of THC and CBD, you’ll find very low concentrations of CBG. This happens because most of the CBG has already been converted to CBD and THC as the plant developed.
Due to the difficulty of getting CBG, cannabis growers have been experimenting with cross-breeding and genetic manipulation to help cannabis plants produce more CBG.
How CBG Works
CBG is processed by the body’s endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is made up of molecules and receptors in our bodies that are responsible for keeping our bodies in an optimal state regardless of what’s going on in our external environment.
In our bodies, CBG imitates endocannabinoids, the natural compounds our body makes.
Cannabinoid Receptors in the Body
Our body contains two types of cannabinoid receptors—CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are found in the nervous system and brain, while CB2 receptors are located in the immune system and other areas of the body.
CBG works by binding to both receptors where it’s thought to strengthen the function of anandamide, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in enhancing pleasure and motivation, regulating appetite and sleep, and alleviating pain. Unlike THC, CBG has no psychotropic effects, so it will not give you a high.
Like CBD, CBG has been used to combat pain without having the intoxicating effect of cannabinoids like THC.
Research shows that CBG can also have therapeutic effects. However, human studies on this are sparse and more research needs to be done in this area.
Some promising animal studies show that CBG might ultimately be found useful for the following therapeutic benefits listed below.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
Inflammatory bowel disease is a condition that causes chronic inflammation in the bowel. It affects millions of people across the globe and is incurable.
An experimental animal study conducted in 2013 observed the beneficial effects of CBG on inflammatory bowel disease.2
Researchers induced inflammations similar to IBD in the colons of mice and then administered CBG. CBG was found to reduce the inflammation and the production of nitric oxide. It also reduced the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the intestines. They concluded that CBG should be considered for clinical experimentation in IBD patients.
In an animal study, researchers found that CBG has therapeutic potential for the treatment of glaucoma.
Reseachers administered CBG to cats with glaucoma and noticed a reduction in eye pressure and an increase in aqueous humor outflow, a fluid produced by the eye which maintains eye pressure and provides the eye with nutrition.3
Huntington's disease is a condition that causes a breakdown of nerve cells in the brain. In a 2015 study, researchers examined the potential neuroprotective properties of CBG and other cannabinoids in mice who had an experimental model of Huntington’s disease.
It was observed that CBG acted as a neuroprotectant, protecting the nerve cells in your brain from damage. It also improves motor deficits and preserves striatal neurons against 3-nitropropionic acid toxicity.4
A 2020 study on the antibiotic potential of cannabis, found that CBG has antibacterial properties. Especially against methicillin-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a bacteria which causes staph infections and is drug-resistant.5
Fighting Cancer Cells
In a 2014 study, researchers observed the effects of CBG on rats with colon cancer. They observed that CBG showed some promise in blocking the receptors that cause cancer cell growth and inhibiting the growth of colorectal cancer cells.
They suggested that the use of CBG should be considered translationally in the cure and prevention of colon cancer.6
How to Use CBG
The most common way CBG is produced for consumers is as an oil. You can get the benefits of CBG by using pure CBG oil. However, CBG oils are rare and expensive.
The good news is that you can also get some of the benefits of CBG from using broad-spectrum CBD oils. Broad-spectrum CBD oils contain all the cannabinoids found in a cannabis plant including CBG, but it doesn’t include THC.
When cannabinoids are used together, they can increase the effectiveness of each other by a phenomenon called the entourage effect.
CBG vs. CBD
CBG is often compared to CBD because it shares many similarities and they both act on the endocannabinoid system.
Both CBG and CBD are non-psychoactive which means they will not alter your state of mind in the way THC will.
They can however reduce the psychotropic effect of THC if you consume a cannabis plant. One of the biggest differences between CBD and CBG is the quantity which is found in most cannabis plants. Most cannabis plants contain only 1% of CBG, but up to 25% of CBD.
The way CBG interacts with our endocannabinoid system is different from CBD. CBG binds directly to both CB1 and CB2 receptors and might be more efficient at delivering its benefits into our systems.
The production difficulties of CBG makes it very scarce. It’s much harder to produce than other cannabinoids like THC and CBD. Since CBG shares many similarities with CBD, manufacturers would rather produce CBD.
When CBG is produced, products derived from it are very expensive. However, CBG has a host of promising potential benefits and more research is being done into easing the production and availability of the cannabinoid.