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Our guide to CBG

CBD (cannabidiniol) has proved hugely popular among consumers, but increasingly cannabigerol (CBG)is being mixed in as a supplement to CBD- and THC-based products for recreational use. It is even replacing CBD as the main component of products.  Like CBD, CBG isn’t intoxicating and it won’t get you high.  It is less researched than CBD, so here is our  essential guide to CBG.

CBG blog pic

What are CBG and CBGA?

Cannabigerol (CBG), is really the stem compound which gives rise to other cannabinoids as the plant matures.  It is just one of over 100 cannabinoids found in cannabis. Its acidic form, cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), is the foundation of many other major and minor cannabinoids.

CBGA is the precursor to three compounds:

  • Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA)
  • Cannabidiolic acid (CBDA)
  • Cannabichromenic acid (CBCA)

As the cannabis plant matures, a group of enzymes break down CBGA to produce these three main cannabinoids. By the end of the harvest, most of the CBGA has fully converted into THCA, CBDA, and CBCA.

Any leftover CBGA can turn into CBG, meaning that creating CBG is both time dependent and comparatively difficult, because it is only one of the products of CBGA.  It is found in very low concentrations in the mature plant, about 1% by dry weight. By comparison, CBD rich strains of the plant can reach 20-25% of CBD by dry weight.  So it’s a precious and rare resource, and research is only just developing compared to CBD and THC products.

A higher CBG content is available when the plant is harvested early or is bred specifically to have a high CBG content. But that means that the plants are smaller by weight, and so the amount of CBG is frustratingly low.  That’s why CBG is comparatively expensive.

CBGA

Copyright Rahul NachnaniWesley M. Raup-Konsavage and Kent E. Vrana Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics 

How CBG Works

CBG interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The endocannabinoid system is responsible for maintaining internal homeostasis of many important biological processes related to mood, sleep, memory, appetite, reproduction, and immune responses.

The ECS is composed of a system of cannabinoid receptors found throughout the body: CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are usually found in the nervous system and brain. CB2 receptors are mainly found in the immune system.  For a full explanation, you can see our post on the ECS here. 

Cannabigerol, in particular, binds to both receptors. CBD also affects these receptors, possibly by different mechanisms.    Research is still ongoing and sparse in human subjects, but and so the exact mechanisms by which CBG acts are less well understood than CBD.

Of particular interest is the fact that it binds to anandamide, which regulates motivation, appetite, sleep, pleasure, and pain.  This is known as the ‘bliss molecule’  because it enhances pleasurable rewards. No coincidence that it is found in chocolate!

CBG also reacts with CB2 receptors in the gastrointestinal and immune system, although the mechanisms are unclear.

CBG especially binds to α-2 receptors.  Research on peripheral α-2 agonism effects centre around their antihypertensive, sedative, and analgesic functions. α-2 receptors  are also implicated in a wide range of neuropsychiatric diseases.   CBG has potent effects, at least in animal studies, so we’d suggest that ingestion may unpredictably change blood pressure, induce sedation, and interact with other cardiovascular medications.  As with any natural remedy, start low in dosage.

CBG also affects serotonin receptors such as the 5-HT1A receptor, which affect mood and depression.

Research avenues may show that CBG has  the following therapeutic benefits without the psychoactive effects of THC.

  • Antimicrobial
  • Antibacterial
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anticancer
  • Reduction of eye pressure (glaucoma)

We’d like to stress, however, that CBG is unlicensed and the research is ongoing and at an early stage, mainly in animal studies, so we make no medical claims for its efficacy.

But CBG has show effects in animal studies in a number of research areas,  including Crohn’s disease, Huntingdon’s Disease and bladder dysfunction, colon cancer and appetite stimulation.  Of course, moving from studies in mice to humans requires a lengthy period of research.

CBG interactions with medication

Not much is known about how CBG might interact with over-the-counter or prescription medications, as well as vitamins or supplements.

If you take any kind of medication, it’s best to check with your healthcare provider before trying CBG oil. It’s especially important if you take a medication that contains a grapefruit warning.   There are a wide range of medications of this type, so please err on the side of caution and check before taking CBG.

If you are on anti-depressant, psychiatric or serotonin related medication, CBG may affect their operation in unpredictable ways, because it acts powerfully on serotonin pathways.

Taking CBD and CBG together

Since CBD and CBG operate on the same CBD1 and CBD2 receptors, it makes sense that they may affect each other when taken together.  And indeed in mice, CBG acts to oppose the anti-nausea effects of CBD as they both act on the same receptor.   So if you are on anti nausea medication, you might want to think twice about CBG!   In other cases,

CBD vs CBG

While there are many great similarities between CBD and CBG, they also have some notable differences. Some of the main differences between the two cannabinoids are:

  • Structure: CBD and CBG have varying molecular structures. This means that the way their carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen atoms are arranged is different. What this translates to is that because the molecular structures are different, CBD and CBG will be able to bind with the brain’s endocannabinoid receptors in unique ways. This allows them to have different effects within the body.
  • Bodily Effects: CBD and CBG activate receptors in different ways. For example, CBD has anti-nausea effects and binds to receptors as an activator, while CBG acts as a blocker or antagonist. Interestingly, when the two cannabinoids bind to the same place, they have opposing effects on each other, thus balancing one another out.
  • Appetite Stimulant: Scientific studies showed that CBG encouraged animal subjects to eat double the amount of their food while another study reported that CBD caused an overall reduction in appetite.

 

CBG products

You’ll find CBG in combination with CBD in many products, and of course in broad spectrum and full spectrum CBD products.   In some ways, CBG and CBD cancel each other out, or simply have the same effect.  In other ways, CBG acts more on mood and CBD on physical effects, so they may increase the range of effects you might experience.

CBG products are becoming more prevalent than ever, especially in oil form. Still, CBG oils are relatively expensive and rare compared to other cannabinoid oils.

Common CBG-derived products include:

 

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