What Is CBG and Is It the Same as CBD?

Products from cannabis plants have become mainstream, as CBD and THC are the most notable derivatives. However, could there be a better cannabinoid out there? We discuss CBG, cannabigerol, and its potential uses and medical benefits.

Key takeaways:

What is CBG (cannabigerol) and what does it do?

CBG (cannabigerol) is a naturally occurring cannabinoid in the cannabis plant. Although it was isolated in 1964, there has been much less research into it than the more common chemicals, cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is probably because CBG is found in low concentrations within the cannabis plant, making up 1% of cannabinoids compared to CBD, which makes up 20–25%.

CBG interacts in the body using the endocannabinoid system, which is made up of two cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2. In addition, it has been found to work on multiple other receptors and modulate other enzymes to produce its beneficial effects.

Researchers have also used CBG as the model for developing other possible medications. Although this research is in its infancy, studies have shown CBG to have great potential in many areas of health and wellness. Potential benefits of CBG include anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and neuroprotective properties, which can significantly impact various disease states.

What is the difference between CBD and CBG?

CBG is the precursor chemical to the development of CBD and THC in the cannabis plant. THC is the psychoactive component of cannabis, producing the “high” many people experience when smoking marijuana. However, CBG and CBD do not have these properties and will not produce the “high” feeling seen with THC.

Like CBD, CBG interacts with the endocannabinoid system within the body but at a higher degree than CBD, producing greater effects on the cannabinoid receptors.

Additionally, CBG has a much broader effect on the human body than CBD and can interact with a receptor known as the adrenergic alpha-2 receptor, affecting blood pressure and alertness. CBG and CBD also differ in that CBG can block a type of serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for depression, whereas CBD activates this receptor. This is thought to play a role in CBG's potential to enhance antidepressant medications and protect the brain from oxidative stresses, but these claims are yet to be fully proven.

How is CBG made?

CBG is made by the cannabis plant in low quantities, as it makes the CBD and THC found in mature plants. Due to this process, many growers have developed strains with high concentrations of CBG. By removing the enzymes necessary to produce CBD and THC from the plant, CBG is not used up and can be found in higher concentrations.

CBG has been nicknamed the “mother of all cannabinoids” because CBD and THC are made from it. However, it is important to note that CBG cannot be converted to THC or CBD in the body due to the lack of enzymes needed to make these conversions.

What are the benefits of CBG?

As research continues using CBG, some significant health benefits have been attributed to this molecule. These benefits include:

Decreased severity of Huntington's disease

In mice, CBG was shown to decrease the death rate of striatal neurons and reduce inflammation markers. This resulted in improved motor deficits and reduced Huntington aggregates, the mutant protein responsible for Huntington's disease. This suggests a neuroprotective role of CBG.

Gastrointestinal anti-inflammatory

CBG is shown to reduce the levels of inflammatory mediators in the colon. This was seen in a study involving a mouse model simulating human inflammatory bowel disease. Although these are preliminary animal findings, this provides hope for the potential use of CBG in certain bowel diseases.

Improved appetite

CBG was found to increase feeding and reduce weight loss in mice treated with chemotherapy. Alternatively to THC, which is already approved to help stimulate appetites in cancer patients, CBG may have a similar benefit on the appetite of cancer patients without the mind-altering effects of THC.

Antibacterial

CBG has one of the most potent antibacterial actions of all tested cannabinoids. It effectively kills Staph aureus, dangerous bacteria becoming increasingly antibiotic-resistant.

Anticancer properties

CBG has been shown to have anticancer effects on animal models of colon cancer and mesothelioma. One benefit was shown in the colon, where CBG improved recovery rates of damaged tissues. In mesothelioma, it prevented the spread of cancer cells through alterations in the expression of certain genes.

How to use CBG?

Currently, there are four forms of CBG on the market. We will discuss the most popular methods of administering CBG.

CBG oil

Similar to other forms of cannabinoids, like CBD, this form can be taken in one of two ways. For the best absorption, placing the recommended number of drops under the tongue is recommended. Hold the liquid under the tongue for 30–60 seconds and swallow the remainder. Also, you can place the drops of oil into food or drink; however, the absorption is more variable with this method.

CBG crystals

The crystals of CBG typically come in a powder form that can be taken by letting the powder dissolve under the tongue, then swallow the remainder of the powder. Additionally, you can mix the powder into a smoothie or snack, but the absorption is more variable.

CBG pills

If you do not feel comfortable measuring doses, the simplest way to take CBG is to buy it in pill form. These have been already formulated so you receive the same dose with each capsule and all you do is swallow the pills. Similar to other methods that are swallowed, the absorption can be more variable depending on other foods and liquids ingested at the same time.

CBG ointments and creams

These forms are not recommended if you want the effects to be systemic (affect the whole body). Typically, these are applied to the affected skin and absorption is limited to the local area it was applied. This form has the lowest risk of side effects, as they do not get into the bloodstream in any significant amount.

Are there side effects of CBG?

In regular uses of CBG, especially when treating anxiety, insomnia, depression, and other issues, the most common side effects include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Sleepiness
  • Increased appetite
  • Dry eyes

However, it is important to remember CBG is in the early stages of use and research, with very little data reporting adverse side effects. Always discuss the use of any new product with your physician and pharmacist.

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