By now, most people are familiar with cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), but we’re only beginning to understand the beneficial potential of cannabigerol (CBG) – which is surprising because…
The truth is, CBG came first. It is the chemical parent of both CBD and THC.
Discovered in Israel in 1964 by marijuana researchers Yehiel Gaoni and Raphael Mechoulam, CBG has no psychoactive effects and is showing great promise in treating a wide variety of conditions.
CBG: The “Stem Cell” of Cannabinoids
While cannabis plant grows, it produces cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) which is the first cannabinoid that forms within the plant.
As the precursor to three major cannabinoids, cannabigerolic acid has the remarkable ability to transform into either tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), or cannabichromenic acid (CBCA).
Through activation by light and heat, these compounds are transformed from their acid state into THC, CBD, and CBC. The conversion takes between 6-8 weeks during the plant’s flowering cycle.
Because of its transformative nature, CBG is frequently referred to as the “stem cell” of cannabinoids and is driving exciting new research and applications.
But How Does CBG Actually Work in Our Bodies?
CBG works by interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS functions to support homeostasis (self-regulating processes that help our biological systems remain stable and functioning).
There are three key components the ECS:
Cannabinoid receptors – CBG interacts with both CB1 and CB2 receptors
Endocannabinoids – CBG is believed to boost anandamide, an important endocannabinoid
Metabolic Enzymes – CBG is thought to interrupt the metabolic activity that produces the psychoactive effects of THC
CBG Interacts with Our Cannabinoid Receptors
There are two main 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.
Though it interacts with both receptors, CBG primarily bonds with CB2.
Together, CB1 and CB2 receptors regulate neurohormones which actively affect physiological processes including mood, pain response, and appetite. When cannabinoids like CBG interact with these receptors, it activates a response and produces physiological changes.
The interaction of CBG with different receptors in the body is showing promise treating a wide range of conditions.
These interactions are so interesting because…
CBG Has Been Shown to Have Naturally Strong Healing Properties
Research has already shown that CBG has some remarkable healing properties. For instance —
CBG is Anti-Inflammatory Studies suggest that CBG has strong anti-inflammatory properties, making it an exciting potential option for formulating topical treatments for arthritis, and muscle and joint pain, as well as treatments to address gut inflammation on a cellular level.
CBG is Antibacterial and Antifungal Like all major cannabinoids, CBG exhibits antibacterial, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties.
CBG is Antioxidative CBG has been shown to aid in preventing or delaying some types of cell damage. Its antioxidant properties reduce damage-causing free radicals and raise one of the body’s own naturally occurring antioxidants, superoxide dismutase.
CBG is Neuroprotective A 2015 study examining CBG found that it was “extremely active as a neuroprotectant” – meaning it has properties that help protect and heal our nervous system. The research pointed to CBG as a potential treatment for diseases like Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s.
CBG is an Appetite Stimulant CBG has been observed to be an effective appetite stimulant and interacts with several molecular targets that are known to be involved in the regulation of appetite.
But here’s the most exciting part…
CBG May Ultimately Emerge as the Most Diverse Therapeutic Cannabinoid
Rapidly evolving research is already indicating that CBG may emerge as one of the most therapeutically diverse cannabinoids.
Research Indicates CBG May be Highly Effective For Treating These Conditions While research continues to reveal new potential uses for CBG almost daily, early studies have indicated that it may be effective as a treatment for some of the most common conditions including —
Depression CBG is believed to boost anandamide, the endocannabinoid responsible for increasing dopamine levels and regulating appetite and sleep. Sometimes referred to as the “bliss molecule,” evidence has shown that increased levels of anandamide can lead to improved mood. Balanced anandamide levels stimulate feelings of happiness and well-being, while low levels are associated with a wide range of conditions including depression and schizophrenia.
Anxiety Evidence shows that CBG may inhibit the brain’s uptake of gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA). Blocking the brain’s absorption of this amino acid leads to increased extracellular concentrations of GABA which is beneficial in treating anxiety, insomnia, muscle tremors, and certain types of chronic pain.
Osteoporosis CBG and other cannabinoids have been shown to be effective in promoting bone growth, healing fractures, and strengthening connective tissues. It is currently being considered as a treatment for osteoporosis.
Glaucoma Other cannabinoids have also been used to treat glaucoma, but CBG has proven to be a particularly useful treatment for glaucoma that reduces intraocular pressure.
Colon Cancer Research indicates that CBG inhibits tumor growth. A 2014 study found that CBG slows the progression of colon cancer by selectively blocking the growth of colorectal cancer (CRC) cells.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) MRSA is a strain of Staphylococcus aureus (Staph) that has become resistant to many common antibiotics, making it particularly challenging to treat. Due to strong antibacterial and antifungal properties, CBG has shown remarkable promise as a treatment.
Overactive Bladder Research conducted in 2015 found that among the major cannabinoids CBG was the most effective at reducing bladder contractions and alleviating the symptoms of overactive bladder.
Psoriasis and Eczema Clinical trials of CBG topical formulations are already underway. Due to its inflammatory properties, CBG has been shown to be an effective treatment for psoriasis, eczema, and other skin conditions.
Overall Pain CBG among other cannabinoids has been shown as effective in reducing overall pain from a wide range of conditions including multiple sclerosis and cancer. It has been shown to be even more effective as a pain reliever than THC.
An Important Note: Cannabinoids Work Better Together The effects of CBG are further enhanced when used with other cannabinoids and terpenes – this is known as the entourage effect.
The idea behind the entourage effect is that the compounds in cannabis work synergistically. For example, largely non-psychoactive compounds – like terpenes — can modulate the plant’s psychoactive effects, and boost therapeutic benefits.
So, how do we get all those beneficial compounds out of the humble cannabis plant?
Production and Extraction Methods
Production Most strains of cannabis contain only trace amounts (less than 1%) of CBG; however specific hemp strains are being cultivated to produce higher concentrations of this critical cannabinoid intentionally.
According to Medical Genomics, producers like OregonCBD who have primarily focused on producing high-quality strains of CBD, are now turning their attention to cultivating CBG-rich plants.
Plant breeders are experimenting with cross-breeding and genetic manipulation to produce higher concentrations of CBG. And since industrial hemp produces CBG, and CBG can become THC, CBD or CBC, in the future, the mass production of the major cannabinoids may primarily rely on cultivating hemp.
Extraction There are two main methods of extracting CBG from hemp: CO2 extraction and ethanol extraction.
CO2 Extraction The CO2 method is the most used and involves extracting and distilling oil from the plant material to separate it from the non-active elements. The CBG oil that is produced from this method can be used in different ways – for instance ingesting or vaping. CO2 is often favored because it does not leave behind residue and ensures that the final product is pure. It is a method that has been deemed safe and has been standardized for herbal supplements and foods.
Ethanol Extraction Some producers prefer ethanol as an extraction method; however, it is more expensive and time consuming. It involves soaking hemp flowers in alcohol, agitating, then filtering separate cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes. Next, the mixture is heated to cook off the alcohol. The CBG oil that is produced from this method contains the healing qualities of the entire plant.
A Promising New Method of Extraction A newly-patented method of CBG extraction presented by Phytoplant Research S.L. is promising to help producers scale production using inexpensive equipment. The company is positioned to revolutionize traditional CBG extraction methods with a groundbreaking new technique.
According to the company’s Director, Dr. Xavier Nadal, “The new patented method is the first ever that purifies CBG without the use of chromatographic techniques. It permits scaling up the production of pure CBG using non-expensive equipment… The result is a more efficient purification process that is cost-effective and environmentally friendly.”
The new extraction method is the result of a 4-year effort to improve the productivity of their CBG plant varieties and find new, efficient purification methods. Their efforts have also resulted in the success of the company developing the most productive CBG-rich cannabis plants in the world.
The Future of CBG
We are witnessing an exciting time in cannabinoid research. Without question, the unique transformative properties of CBG will continue to place it at the forefront of cannabinoid research for years to come.
Worldwide studies continue to reveal data leading to new ideas for potential uses, which will continue to fuel innovation in production and extraction methods, and the development of new products.
And in the US, the recent passage of the Farm Bill legalizing the production of hemp and hemp-derived compounds, the market for cannabinoids like CBD and CBG is expected to grow exponentially.
In 2018, the market for CBD alone topped $600 billion, making it an attractive option for many of the country’s commercial crop farmers. The enthusiasm for cultivating and producing cannabinoid products shows no sign of slowing.
And here’s more good news…
CBG is Just One of the Many Beneficial Cannabinoids Found in Cannabis.
CBG is only one of more than 100 cannabinoids present in cannabis.
Of course, the most popular non-psychoactive cannabinoid is currently CBD which is now available in a wide variety of therapeutic forms like – oils, creams, drinks, edibles, bath salts, and many other things.
So, if you’re interested in trying CBD, you have a lot of options.