As medical cannabis patients you may be familiar with the effects of both CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). But have you heard about any of the secondary cannabinoids? Like what is CBG (cannabigerol)?
If you’re curious about the potential benefits CBG may have, as well as how it works in the body, you’ve come to the right place.
What Is Cannabigerol (CBG)
Simply put CBG is a cannabinoid found in cannabis – like CBD and THC – though it was only isolated in the 1960s, long after its more well-known counterparts. Because of CBG’s role in cannabis plant growth, this important building block is known as the mother cannabinoid.
The reason? In the early life stages of the cannabis plant, one of the first compounds to emerge is a proto-CBG pre-cannabinoid known as CBGA. Once this early-phase cannabinoid can soak in more of the sun’s rays, it becomes CBDA and THCA, the progenerators of CBD and THC.
As the plant continues to mature, CBDA and THCA change into their final cannabinoid forms, CBD and THC. If left to its own devices, the amount of CBGA that will convert to CBG is minimal — most of it becomes CBD or THC unless there’s an intervention to create more CBG.
Is CBG Intoxicating?
No, CBG is not intoxicating, according to the journal Nutraceuticals, unlike THC, which can cause a “high” sensation when you consume cannabis. That means CBG is more similar to CBD in that regard, as CBD also does not produce a psychoactive feeling.
However, CBD and CBG should not be conflated with one another, as these two compounds are different on a molecular level. Still, they do have similar attributes, such as anti-inflammatory properties and the way they interact with THC.
While CBG doesn’t make you feel high, it does work together with THC in your body. Specifically, it can reign in the anxiety or paranoia that THC may cause, making the overall cannabis experience more enjoyable (via the British Journal of Pharmacology).
How Does CBG Work?
Like CBD and THC, CBG works because it binds to receptors in your endocannabinoid system (ECS). This network of natural compounds, enzymes, and receptors throughout your body helps regulate your metabolism, immune system, nervous system, digestion, mood, and more.
CBG binds to the CB1 receptors in your ECS – notably found in your brain and gut – though not as strongly as THC does. Since this type of receptor is connected to your perception and mood, that’s both why THC makes you feel high while CBG can temper it.
In addition to working holistically with THC, CBG has been shown to have other therapeutic effects for the mind and body. Yet, since CBG is almost always a secondary cannabinoid and found in small amounts in most strains, it may be hard to really feel these pure effects in most available cannabis products.
But that doesn’t mean things won’t change in the future. As Australia’s library of medical cannabis products continues to grow, so too will the number of unique formulations of secondary cannabinoids like CBG.
What Does the Research Say About CBG?
Given that CBG is a newer player in the cannabis space, most of the research on the topic is preliminary. Bearing that in mind, much of it is promising and indicates that CBG may provide many benefits as a medical cannabis constituent.
For one, the journal Psychopharmacology found that CBG may increase appetite. It may also help decrease inflammation associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), according to Biochemical Pharmacology.
Patients with Huntington’s disease may be heartened to know that CBG has potential for protecting the brain, according to Neurotherapeutics. Another study in Cells showed CBG may stop cancer cell growth before it takes over — at least in the Petri Dish.
In all these cases, studies on humans are needed to confirm these findings. This is the golden era of cannabis research, and there has never been more interest in the plant, and in it’s isolated cannabinoids.
Is CBG Safe?
In general, CBG is considered to be safe for healthy adults to consume. According to the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, however, more research is needed on this cannabinoid to fully understand how it works in the body.
CBG-forward products are relatively new in Australia, but research has been promising so far for appetite, IBD, and neuroprotection. Additional studies will provide more information as they are conducted.
The Future of CBG
CBG research may be in its infancy, but like CBD and THC, this cannabinoid could have the potential to help a wide variety of patients. Like all areas of medical cannabis research, the future of CBG as a therapeutic compound is bright.
If you want to know more about this fascinating secondary cannabinoid or medical cannabis in general, we’d love to help. Alternaleaf is an Australia-wide telehealth service connecting patients with cannabis doctors — all from the comfort of your home.