Cannabigerol (CBG) is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid found in cannabis. CBG has many potential therapeutic benefits, including antibacterial, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory qualities. Cannabigerol sourced from hemp plants is legal in most countries as it contains less than 0.3% THC.
Cannabigerol (CBG) was first discovered by Yehiel Gaoni and Raphael Mechoulam in 1964. It is one of more than 100 cannabinoids present in cannabis. Interest in CBG is on the rise due to its non-psychoactive properties and pharmacological potential.
Cannabigerolic acid, or CBGA, is the foundational molecule from which many other cannabinoids are made. CBGA is converted into THCA, the precursor of THC, and into CBDA, the precursor of CBD, during the flowering cycle. Once this conversion process is complete, the cannabis plant contains only trace amounts of CBGA, which is why it's available at higher concentrations several weeks before harvest. CBG is formed from the decarboxylation of CBGA, which activates the cannabinoid.
CBG interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system by interacting with both CB1 and CB2 receptors and stimulating a response. These receptors regulate physiological processes such as mood, pain response, and appetite. Recent preclinical research has indicated that CBG has a stronger affinity for the CB2 receptor. CBG seems to interact with the endocannabinoid system in a number of possibly therapeutic ways that are not yet fully understood. CBG appears to interact with the body's endocannabinoid receptors differently than either THC or CBD, producing unique physiological effects.
While there's an abundance of awareness around the major cannabinoids THC and CBD, less is known about CBG. CBG shares some similarities with CBD: it seems to be anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial. However, CBG also boasts its own unique set of properties, offering potential therapeutic benefits such as treatment for inflammatory bowel disease and glaucoma in animal tests.
CBG and the entourage effect
All cannabinoids have their own unique pharmacologic activity. When cannabinoids are combined, as in whole-plant extracts, however, direct or indirect interactions can occur which modify the overall clinical effect. This interaction is known as the entourage effect. It's important to note that some, but not all phytocompounds in cannabis, may act synergistically. The overall effect on the organism depends on the concentrations of the compounds and the health of the organism.
One of the reported benefits of the entourage effect is that the presence of other compounds such as CBD and CBG can help to “tame” the intoxicating effects of THC, potentially increasing its therapeutic abilities. For example, test tube research on leukemia has suggested that anti-cancer activity is enhanced when CBG is combined with other cannabinoids. It's possible that future research will reveal more about the specific interactions of CBG with other phytocannabinoids.
Cultivars high in CBG
Cannabis cultivars that are high in CBG are referred to as Type IV cannabis. If you're unfamiliar with the other types, Type I is THC-dominant, Type II is mixed-ratio of CBD/THC, and Type III is CBD-dominant. CBG-dominant hemp is also found in Europe, particularly France. Industrial hemp tends to have higher concentrations of CBG than THC-rich cultivars.
One of the first commercially available CBG-dominant cultivars was Stem Cell. Stem Cell grows vigorously and produces masses of large flowers.Another popular cultivar producing up to 20% CBG concentration is White CBG. Panakeia is a new addition to the field that has been specially developed for its high CBG content (18%). It contains no THC.As CBG-rich cultivars become more commonplace, expect to see research into CBG grow.
Potential medical uses
After its discovery in 1964, CBG research progressed at a relatively slow pace due to its low concentration in most cannabis plants. In recent years, however, a bevy of studies has begun uncovering its pharmacological properties and potential medical uses.
Inflammation and oxidative stress are both contributors to neurodegeneration, which is linked to diseases such as Alzheimer's. According to a 2018 test-tube study published in the “International Journal of Molecular Science,” CBD may protect against both neuroinflammation and oxidative stress, possibly helping to prevent cell loss
Like so many of its cannabinoid cousins, CBG boasts potential anti-inflammatory characteristics. Inflammatory bowel disease, which refers to disorders associated with chronic inflammation of the digestive tract, may benefit from treatment with CBG. A 2013 preclinical study on mice found that CBG reduced bowel inflammation , nitric oxide production (which is generated at high levels in certain types of inflammation), and oxidative stress in intestinal cells. Other research on mice has demonstrated that CBG may help to address inflammation or suppress immune responses in diseases characterized by inflammatory or autoimmune components.
CBG also boasts tumor-inhibiting properties. A 2014 study published in “Carcinogenesis” tested the effects of CBG in a mouse model of colon cancer. CBG was found to promote cancer cell death and inhibit the growth of tumors, hampering the progression of colon cancer. Clinical research will provide more significant insights into whether these results can be translated into cancer treatment for humans.
Individuals living with AIDS and cancer commonly experience anorexia, or reduced appetite, and cachexia, which refers to weakness or wasting of the body. CBG represents a non-psychoactive alternative to THC that may stimulate appetite. A 2017 study published in “Behavioral Pharmacology” found that purified CBG works as an appetite stimulant in rats, increasing the number of meals consumed, along with the cumulative size of the meals. CBG incorporated into a botanical drug substance appeared to work even more effectively than CBG as an isolate.
Antiseptic and antibacterial
MRSA, or Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, is a superbug capable of causing infections that are very difficult to treat in humans. CBG (along with CBD, CBC, THC and CBN) possesses antibacterial and antiseptic qualities that have shown promise in treating MRSA. A 2008 study published in the “Journal of Natural Products” found that CBG displayed highly potent activity against a strain of MRSA. However, its mechanism of action remains elusive.
Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the world. CBG has been shown to help lower intraocular pressure, which causes much of the damage from glaucoma. In a 2009 study published in the “Journal of Ocular Pharmacology and Therapeutics,” CBG and THC were both found to help relieve pressure in the eye. The study also found that, unlike THC, CBG did not affect certain phases of sleep.
Hemp-derived CBG vs Marijuana-derived CBG
Although both hemp and marijuana are considered cannabis, hemp produces less than 0.3% THC, while marijuana produces more than 0.3% THC and is, thus, illegal at the federal level.
When it comes to discerning which CBG is better, there's no clear answer. CBG is more prevalent in industrial hemp plants, increasing its legal accessibility and making production more efficient. However, industrial hemp lacks the full cannabinoid and terpene profile found in whole-plant marijuana. CBG derived from hemp, therefore, may offer a weaker entourage effect.
The origin of CBG will impact its legality. In the US, and many countries around the world, products sourced from industrial hemp are mostly legal (with some clear restrictions regarding the consumption of cannabinoid-infused foods and drinks).
Products, including CBG, derived from marijuana plants containing more than 0.3% THC are illegal in many states of the US and at a federal level. This is also true in many other nations.