What Is CBG?
CBG is sometimes referred to as the “stem cell” of cannabinoids because its carboxylated form (CBGA), is the precursor for THC, CBD, and CBC.
Written by Cathy Rozyczko
Edited by Jason Brett on
September 23, 2021
Because harvested and dried cannabis or hemp material only contains trace amounts of cannabigerol (CBG), it is often considered to be a “minor” cannabinoid. But, when you start to take a closer look, a different picture begins to emerge.
Here’s a closer look at the origins of CBG and some of the ways its consumption may benefit you! We’ll also touch on how the CBD industry is branching out into more cannabinoids like CBG to meet consumer demand and provide more well-rounded catalogs of hemp supplements. We’ll show you the most popular categories of CBG supplements and let you know what to look for in choosing the best.
What Is Cannabigerol (CBG)?
First discovered in 1964 by Israeli researchers Yehiel Gaoni and Raphael Mechoulam, CBG plays a significant role in the biology of cannabis plants.
CBG is a non-psychoactive compound that comes from cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), which is the chemical parent to some of the most well-known cannabinoids like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). If you think of cannabinoids as existing in a family tree, CBGA sits at the top, with tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), cannabichromenic acid (CBCA), and CBG as its direct “descendants.”
Naturally occurring enzymes transform the CBGA into THCA, CBDA, and CBCA; heat, say from the sun or a flame, decarboxylates the CBGA, turning it into CBG. Because CBGA is converted into so many different molecules, there is relatively little CBG (less than 1% of the cannabinoid makeup) contained in the cannabis plant.
Generally speaking, if a cannabis strain contains higher amounts of THC and CBD, it will contain less CBG. But as more research is conducted on the potential therapeutic uses for cannabigerol, a high-CBG strain may just be what’s optimal for your needs.
Increasing the CBG content in cannabis strains, CBD oils, and dietary supplements may have some interesting benefits.
What Are the Benefits of CBG?
Like CBD and other cannabinoids, CBG works on the body’s endocannabinoid system impacting the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors. However, unlike cannabinoids like THC, CBG has not been shown to be mind-altering or intoxicating, making it more accessible to a wider audience.
The current research suggests that CBG has great therapeutic potential to help with everything from reducing inflammation to assisting in cancer treatments. Here’s a look at some of what is currently known about CBG.
CBG as an Anti-Inflammatory
In one study performed on mice, CBG was found to reduce the inflammation associated with colitis, a painful inflammatory bowel disease.
Obviously, animal studies are not the same as human studies. More research needs to be conducted on humans in order to solidify CBG’s reputation as an anti-inflammatory therapeutic agent. But given that a significant number of human ailments and diseases have inflammation at their root, this may prove to be a promising discovery, especially to people with chronic health issues.
CBG for Neuroprotection
In a 2018 study conducted in vitro (i.e. in petri dishes), researchers examined CBG’s effect on brain cells that were targeted by neurodegenerative macrophages. In the end, the neurons that were pre-treated with CBG were protected from inflammation and oxidative stress induced by the macrophage, and were less likely to experience cell death.
In another animal study, researchers discovered that CBG was able to protect the neurons of mice with Huntington’s disease. The researchers conclude by stating, “our results open new research avenues for the use of CBG, alone or in combination with other phytocannabinoids or therapies, for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as HD [Huntington’s Disease].”
While more research, specifically on human test subjects, is required, the results so far point to CBG as a potentially potent neuroprotectant.
CBG in Cancer Treatment
In yet another study performed on mice, CBG was found to block the receptors that have been linked to the growth of cancer cells. Specifically, CBG was shown to inhibit the growth of colorectal cancer cells, which ultimately slowed the progression of the cancer. More research is necessary, but CBG may turn out to be very effective in colorectal cancer treatments.
CBG can also help to mitigate the appetite loss that can accompany chemotherapy treatments and work as an appetite stimulant for people experiencing cachexia, the loss of weight and strength that is often seen in those with chronic illnesses. In a study performed on rats, CBG was found to stimulate the appetite and combat cachexia.
Like other cannabinoids, the research on CBG as a cancer fighter is still very early. Again though, the results produced so far are encouraging and continue to pave the way for more studies on the topic.
CBG for Glaucoma
Cannabis has been used for decades to reduce intraocular pressure and relieve conditions like glaucoma. The eye is full of endocannabinoid receptors, so it makes sense that cannabinoids would impact this area.
THC has been attached to this response but it appears that cannabinoids in general, including CBG, can contribute to a reduction in intraocular pressure.
Cannabinoids like CBG are vasodilators. This means that they open, or dilate blood vessels, by preventing the muscles in the walls of the arteries and veins from tightening and closing in. This can reduce the pressure that is a contributor to conditions like glaucoma and hypertension.
CBG as an Antibacterial
Topicals derived from cannabis have been used as antibacterial agents for a long time, but it was only recently that researchers began to examine why. In a 2008 study, all five major cannabinoids (THC, CBD, CBG, CBC, CBN) displayed activity against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) strains.
More research is needed to determine the mechanism of their actions but these results could indicate significant potential for the treatment of bacterial infections in the future.
How to Use CBG
It is possible to use a CBG isolate, but one of the best ways to reap CBG’s potential benefits is to use a full spectrum or broad spectrum CBD oil.
Full spectrum CBD will contain the cannabinoids and terpenes found in the whole plant, including a scant amount of delta 9 THC. A broad spectrum CBD oil will contain all the cannabinoids and terpenes with 0% THC. This is an important distinction depending on where you live.
The 2018 Farm Bill established that in order to pass federal regulations, a CBD oil product should contain 0.3% or less THC content. Many states have also based their legislation around this same number. If you live in a state that has legalized recreational cannabis, you can legally purchase and possess a full spectrum CBD oil that has a THC concentration greater than 0.3%. However, if you live in a more restrictive state, you’ll want a broad spectrum CBD oil. So, before you decide on which product to buy, be sure to understand the laws in your state.
Whether you go with a full spectrum or broad spectrum product, it’s fairly easy to figure out just how much CBG is in the final product. All you have to do is read the Certificate of Analysis (COA).
Most reputable brands third-party lab test their cannabinoid products to ensure that they meet purity and potency standards. The results of these lab tests, called Certificates of Analysis, should be easily accessible on the company’s website. The COA will tell you exactly which cannabinoids are present, and at what concentration. This information will help you narrow down your CBD oil product choice and help you determine if it has enough CBG to satisfy your goals.
Remember, when these cannabinoids are used together, they can increase the effectiveness of one another by way of the entourage effect. Not only will you be getting the benefits of CBG, but you’ll get the natural benefits of all hemp plant’s compounds working together.
Most Popular CBG Products
Want a straight-up CBG product? If a small amount of CBG in your full spectrum CBD oil is not enough, you’re in luck! Many quality CBD manufacturers are now focusing efforts on creating bonafide CBG supplements to provide consumers with its potential therapeutic benefits. Take a look at what’s hot on the CBG market today:
You can now purchase CBG tinctures like these that contain large amounts of CBG. Like the concentrations on CBD oil products, you’ll find these in units of 300mg, 1000mg, and beyond and between. CBG tinctures feature cannibigerol and a carrier oil like MCT or hemp seed oil; sometimes companies will include flavoring. The above CBG tinctures from Nuleaf Naturals are full spectrum, so they’ll contain various cannabinoids and terpenes as well to support the entourage effect. You can also find CBG isolate tinctures, if you don’t want the additional phytocompounds like THC, terpenes, etc.
Like CBD gummies before them, CBG gummies are a tasty, fun way to enjoy the natural benefits of hemp. Also like their predecessors, you can find CBG gummies made with full spectrum, broad spectrum, or isolate, depending on your preference. And finally, like CBD gummies, artificial colors and flavors as well as gelatin (an animal product) are commonly used to make CBG gummies. These vegan CBG gummies from Extract Labs are broad spectrum with 0% THC and no artificial ingredients.
CBG flower is a popular way to experience this trending cannabinoid. You smoke CBG flowers like you would CBD flowers; the heat decarboxylates the CBG flower, activating the cannabinoids by converting them from their raw forms. Also, smoking hemp flowers is one of the most bioavailable ways to consume cannabinoids, meaning absorption is faster and more complete. You won’t need to see any lab results for residual solvents with a hemp flower product like this; but it’s a good idea to verify that your CBG flower, like the one above from Plain Jane, comes from a trustworthy vendor that runs tests for potential contaminants, including heavy metals, pesticides, and microbiological impurities.
CBG isolate powder
CBG isolate powder is a great way to try out the effects of cannabigerol on your own terms. Since this is an isolate product, there are no other cannabinoids or terpenes; a practical approach if you want to see if CBG is right for you. You can easily measure your dosing and slowly increase the amount as you like. Another reason CBG isolate powder is popular is its versatility. Like CBD isolate powder, it’s tasteless and can be put into oils, foods, drinks, and topicals. Like any other cannabinoid product, be sure to get CBG isolate powder from a trusted source. The above CBG isolate from CBDistillery has accompanying test results you can view beforehand that prove its potency and lack of harmful contaminants.
If you prefer to take your cannabinoids on the go, CBG capsules are a great choice. These CBG capsules from CBDfx contain CBD oil infused with CBG isolate; so the concentration of CBG is higher than a traditional full spectrum product, but lower than a strictly CBG product. A lot of companies are doing cannabinoid ratios like this now in their products, in an effort to provide better effects from a stronger synergy (entourage effect). CBG capsules blended with CBD are another way consumers can test the waters with this up-and-coming cannabinoid. Again, make sure the CBG capsules you’re purchasing are manufactured by a company with exemplary safety testing protocols.
It is clear that CBG presents incredible potential for dealing with a wide range of ailments. More research is needed to understand how CBG works on its own and in concert with other cannabinoids but as things stand, CBG may be the helper of the future. Accordingly, CBD manufacturers are now dedicating products and entire product lines to CBG, so people can try it out for themselves in tinctures, gummies, and more.
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