Why CBG Is The New CBD
Cannabigerol, or CBG, is what is known as a minor cannabinoid—but don’t let that designation fool you. CBG is considered “minor” because it is found in much lower levels (like 1 percent or less) than THC and CBD in most cannabis strains. But CBG is shaping up to be the next CBD.
As you will see with many of the amazing minor cannabinoids—like CBC, THCV, and CBN—their abundance in the plant (or lack of it) has nothing to do with the abundance of therapeutic effects they have to offer.
Hemp strains with higher CBG can be cultivated, like how it was done with THC in medical marijuana, which went from being 2-3 percent THC in the 60s and 70s, to currently containing 5-30 percent in some strains. In fact, CBG is more plentiful in industrial hemp than in marijuana to begin with.
But what is really remarkable about CBG, is that there wouldn’t be any THC or CBD without it in the first place. Who’s minor now?
CBG vs. CBD?
Like CBD, CBG is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid that is found in cannabis plants, which, as you probably already know, includes marijuana and hemp. (Remember: marijuana=high, hemp=not high.) But as the potential medicinal applications of CBG are becoming known, people are asking, “What is CBG compared to CBD?”
While CBG is considered a minor cannabinoid, it’s actually the parent chemical to CBD and THC. Cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) is the first cannabinoid formed in cannabis plants, making it the precursor to three principal cannabinoid lines: cannabinolic acid (CBDA), tetrahydrocannabinol acid (THCA), or cannabichromenic acid (CBCA). Through enzymatic actions, CBGA is broken down and directed toward one of these three lines, thus giving life to all other cannabinoids.
So, CBG is the parent to CBD. They’re related but different. CBG was only discovered as recently 1964, and the significant role CBGA plays in the cannabis plant wasn’t discovered until 1975. So, our scientific understanding of the cannabinoid is still relatively new (even though humans have been using cannabis medicinally for centuries) Speaking of scientific understanding, this might be a good place to pause and do some quick review of cannabinoid science before we go further down the CBG path.
CBG and CBD are cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that have a wide range of therapeutic effects. They are produced in three main places:
- In plants, like cannabis (marijuana, industrial hemp). These are known as phytocannabinoids (THC, CBD, CBG, THCV, etc.).
- In the brain of all mammals (you, your dog, your cat). These are known as endocannabinoids (anandamide, 2-AG).
- In the lab. These are known as synthetic cannabinoids (dronabinol and nabilone).
Cannabinoids activate their own receptors (CB1 and CB2) in our endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a network of receptors in your body involved in the function of the immune system, the central nervous system, and various organs. It’s responsible for regulating appetite, pain sensation, mood, memory, sleep, neuroprotection, and homeostasis (your inner balance and wellbeing). It is believed that when you address something out-of-whack in the ECS, you can get at the problem, not just the symptom.
The Difference Between CBD and CBG
Like CBD, CBG belongs to the non-intoxicating group of cannabinoids—i.e., it won’t get you high. Also like CBD, this increasingly sought-after cannabinoid exists in industrial hemp in much higher levels than it does in THC-dominant marijuana.
Research has shown that the higher levels of CBG in industrial hemp may be caused by a recessive gene. The theory is that the plant prevents the formation of one of the cannabinoid syntheses (a chemical reaction). This makes non-intoxicating industrial hemp the perfect place for breeders to begin experimenting with growing higher CBG-yielding strains.
How CBD and CBG do differ is in some of the ways they interact with the ECS. Research shows that cannabinoids have their own unique ways of working in the body, and this can make them especially beneficial in treating certain conditions.
CBG interacts with the ECS differently than CBD, and even THC. But the list of effects it is known for and the evidence from studies so far suggest that it just might be the new CBD.
How Does CBG Work?
To understand how CBG works, we’ll have to take a look at how cannabinoids interact with their own receptors in the ECS, and with other receptors in other systems in the body.
There are two kinds of cannabinoid receptors–CB1 and CB2. CBG acts similarly to THC with cannabinoid receptors—but has very different effects. Remember, CBG cannot get you high like THC. This is why researchers are eager to find out if CBG can produce many of the benefits of THC without the intoxication. Many people already using high CBG strains say that it can.
However, CBD research so far shows that, unlike CBG and THC, CBD acts mostly indirectly with cannabinoid receptors. Which means the CBD molecule blocks other molecules, like THC, from connecting with the receptor. That’s why high CBD, low THC strains of marijuana are known to be more relaxing; the CBD moderates the euphoric and paranoiac effects that THC is known for.
So, CBG interacts with cannabinoid receptors directly at times, whereas CBD tends to act indirectly. This could explain why CBG and THC (famously) can stimulate appetite, but CBD does not.
Similar to CBD, CBG affects the body by causing an increase in anandamide levels. Anandamide is an endocannabinoid that helps in the regulation of body functions. It occurs naturally in the body.
Functions regulated by anandamide include sleep, appetite, and memory. Anandamide, like the phytocannabinoid THC, acts strongly on CB1 and CB2 receptors to produce its effects.
In the brain, CBG inhibits the uptake of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an inhibitory neurotransmitter responsible for reducing excitability (anxiety and fear responses).
CBG is also known to antagonize the serotonin receptors, implying that it could help treat depression. An antagonist, in molecular terms, is a molecule that blocks a receptor and inhibits the actions of an agonist.
CBD is known to interact with serotonin receptors as well, but when it does, CBD acts directly, or as an agonist. In doing so, it has the potential to relieve anxiety.
The pharmacology of cannabinoids is still being studied. But as you can see, researchers are discovering that each cannabinoid—like THC, CBD, and CBG—seems to have a unique way of carrying out its effects. And yet, they are similar.
Think of basketball players on a team. They’ve likely learned the same skills, but each brings a kind of natural refinement of those skills which they perform a little differently, in their own way.
If we take the basketball metaphor a little further, we can understand the entourage effect. Each cannabinoid and other beneficial plant nutrients is a member of the team. They all play slightly different positions, possessing slightly different strengths in their talents, and when they work together as a team, more is accomplished in the game (your health and wellbeing) than could be accomplished individually.
This is why full-spectrum and broad-spectrum products are important.
What Are the Potential Benefits of CBG?
It’s important to remember that the majority of cannabinoid research has been done in the lab—in test tubes and on animal models. Human trials have been done for some cannabinoids, but much more is needed. That, however, does not mean that we don’t have evidence to suggest the potential benefits of CBG.
Unfortunately, thanks to years of cannabis prohibition in the U.S., there are still many knowledge gaps in cannabinoid science. Thankfully, now that industrial hemp is legal and medical marijuana is becoming more widely accepted, researchers are eager and able to start filling in those gaps.
That being said, the amount of anecdotal evidence suggesting that cannabinoids have real game-changing medical applications is likely unprecedented and should not be ignored.
If parents of children with intractable forms epilepsy had waited for CBD to be tested in human trials, their children may not have survived. Some of them even moved to states where CBD was legal (before it was legal everywhere in the U.S.) to be able to treat their children without being harassed by child services or being arrested.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who changed his mind about medical marijuana in 2013, admitted what many doctors, legislators, and average Joes do once they see how cannabinoids can help patients.
“I was too dismissive of the loud chorus of legitimate patients whose symptoms improved on cannabis. … Instead, I lumped them with the high-visibility malingerers, just looking to get high.”
Thankfully, we’re moving past that now. High-quality cannabinoids are known for their favorable safety profile, but there is so much more that can be learned from clinical trials. If cannabinoids are helping so many people now, imagine how we’ll be able to fine-tune them with more human testing.
So far, here are some of the therapeutic effects that researchers have discovered about CBG in laboratory testing:
- Neuroprotective effects: A study conducted in 2015 on animal models of Huntington’s disease showed that CBG served effectively as a neuroprotectant.
- Slows the growth of tumors: A review article published in 2009 showed that CBG and other cannabinoids inhibited the growth and progression of various cancer cells and tumors.
- Treatment for depression and anxiety: A 2016 report has suggested that CBG and other non-psychotic cannabinoids could effectively treat depression and anxiety.
- Stimulation of bone healing and formation: The effects of CBG on bone formation were investigated in a 2007 study.
- Treatment of glaucoma
- Reduction of inflammation
- Treatment of overactive bladder
- Skin treatment
Can CBG Help Fight Aging?
Some cannabinoids seem to be especially packed with age-fighting benefits. The amazing cannabinoid CBG may be able to help fight aging.
Preclinical studies show that CBG could potentially help with some of these age-related conditions:
- Slowing tumor growth (According to Cancer.Net, “Age is the greatest risk for developing cancer.” Sixty percent of people with cancer are 65 or older.)
- Healing of and formation of new bone
- Sleep conditions
- Depression, anxiety, and mood
- Bladder issues
Can CBG Help with Depression and Anxiety?
As was stated above, CBG could potentially help treat depression and anxiety through several mechanisms of action in the body.
It is known to antagonize serotonin receptors, which can help moderate depression.
But another amazing thing that it does is help to increase our anandamide levels. Anandamide is an endocannabinoid (made on-demand in the body) that acts similarly to THC—that is, it’s one of our natural good mood chemicals. It keeps a lot of other important things in check, like appetite, pain, and sleep.
It is believed that deficiency in anandamide can lead to depression, anxiety, and mood disorders.
As if to keep us from getting too high on life, our body also makes an enzyme called fatty acid amide hydrolase, or FAAH for the sweet and short version. And what does FAAH do? It breaks down anandamide.
Here’s where CBG comes in …
CBG inhibits FAAH, allowing your natural mood enhancer to stick around in your system a bit longer. It’s like a lovely little chemical ballet being performed especially for you in your body—without getting you intoxicated. And without nearly the side effects of a more traditional medicine like Xanax.
Can CBG Be Used to Help Treat Cancer?
Several studies have been conducted to see if cannabinoids could be used to help treat cancer.
CBD and THC are known to have palliative applications for patients being treated for cancer, such as treatment for nausea, stimulation of appetite, and relief for chronic pain caused by chemotherapy.
CBG, as can be gleaned from the possible therapeutic effects listed above, also has the potential to give relief to patients enduring cancer treatment. Not only is it known to reduce pain, inflammation, and depression, one study conducted in 2016 showed that CBG was able to elicit hyperphagia (increased appetite) in animal models.
Excitingly, several cannabinoids, including THC, CBD, CBG, CBC, THCA, and CBDA, have been shown in preclinical studies to exert anti-proliferative/pro-apoptotic effects in human breast cancer, human prostate cancer, human colorectal cancer, human gastric cancer, and several types of cancer in rats. This means that, in the lab, these cannabinoids, amazingly, either stopped cancer growth or programmed cell death in the cancer cells.
A 2009 review, conducted by major researchers in the cannabinoid science field, states that “prostate carcinoma cells were found to be quite resistant to the action of phytocannabinoids, with only CBD and CBG exerting anti-proliferative effects.”
Additionally, a 2014 study found that “CBG hampers colon cancer progression in vivo and selectively inhibits the growth of CRC [colorectal cancer] cells, an effect shared by other TRPM8 antagonists.” The researchers recommend that “CBG should be considered translationally in CRC prevention and cure.”
With more research, we may one day be able to target very specific cancers with very specific cannabinoids—cannabinoids that do not have the harmful side effects than traditional cancer treatments are currently famous for.
How to Use CBG?
When a new cannabinoid comes on the scene, it’s often confusing to know how to use it. Understanding how to use CBG involves knowing what form it comes in and how it can fit into a full spectrum cannabinoid regimen.
Hemp-derived CBG will soon be available in tincture and flower forms. Tinctures are simply CBG oil that is taken orally. CBG flowers can be vaped, smoked, or used in baking (so many fun ways to get the benefits of CBG!).
CBG can be added to your daily full or broad-spectrum CBD regimen to really round out the synergistic power of your cannabinoids.
Why Go Full Spectrum?
With the full spectrum cannabinoid experience, you get the pure extracted oil of the hemp plant that contains unmodified cannabinoids and compounds. This means it contains an array of cannabinoids, vitamins and minerals, fatty acids, flavonoids, and terpenes.
Choose full spectrum for what experts in cannabinoid science call the “entourage effect.” When all these cannabinoids and whole-plant players are presented together, they work synergistically to optimize relief and well-being.
Full-spectrum CBD is what we choose when we want the most holistic, maximum form of relief.
Broad-spectrum gives you the whole plant, but without the THC.
Quality Matters Most
As you probably already know, cannabinoids are known to have a good safety profile with minimal and tolerable side effects, when experienced. But that can only be said for high-quality cannabinoid products.
While industrial hemp-derived cannabinoids are legal, they are not currently regulated by the FDA. This means that the quality assurance of the product is left up to the manufacturers. Transparency of a cannabinoid product is very important for several reasons. Here’s just one very important reason: Industrial hemp is a bio-accumulator, which means that it will absorb heavy metals and chemicals from the soil. In some countries, like China, farmers will plant a crop of hemp to clean out their soil, and then sell the tainted hemp to be used for CBD.
You can learn some quick, simple tips here that will ensure you are getting only high-quality cannabinoid products.