Author: Katsiaryna Stsiapanava

If you follow the wellness trends, you've probably heard about cannabinoids and their potential health benefits. The most well-known one is called CBD or cannabidiol. However, there are more cannabinoids behind this guy that may have equally beneficial properties. Let’s consider the latest trend in the cannabinoid scene ㅡ CBG.

Meet CBG!

To understand CBG better, let's step back and find out how cannabinoids interact with our body. The term "cannabinoid" defines compounds that can interact with cannabinoid receptors in the human body. Cannabinoids, enzymes and endocannabinoid receptors are parts of the body's system, which helps to regulate a variety of normal functions, including pain, sleep, mood, appetite, and fertility. This system is called the endocannabinoid system. Each body makes its cannabinoids named endocannabinoids. However, the cannabis plant contains hundreds of biologically active compounds, including many plant-based cannabinoids or phytocannabinoids.

Cannabigerol (CBG) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid derived from the cannabis plant. CBG is the precursor to the most well-known cannabinoids. In which way? When CBGA, the acidic form of CBG breaks down, it becomes the base molecule for other cannabinoids, such as THC, CBD, and CBC. Just as CBD, CBG is also non-psychoactive. Usually, cannabis genetics contain no more than 1% of CBG. Despite its trace amounts, its properties keep gaining more attention from health professionals and consumers.

cbd and cbd hemp extraction painting

Why is CBG hard to catch?

In the media, CBG is notoriously known as "the Rolls Royce of cannabinoids." That is due to the fact that it is very expensive and hard to extract.

It may take thousands of pounds of hemp to produce small amounts of CBG isolate. That is due to the minimum amount of CBG in most hemp. Now some hemp strains contain up to 20% of CBD in the crop. To make the same amount of CBG, producers need to extract 20 times the amount of plant mass.

To get a more significant amount of pure CBG, some producers may harvest early, as a younger plant contains a higher concentration of CBG. Even in this case, the producers need up to 3 times the biomass to equal the same amount of CBD.

There is another issue why it is so hard to get a proper amount of CBG. Due to customer demand, cannabis plants have been bred to make as much THC or CBD as possible. As cannabis plants can only produce a limited amount of cannabinoids, most plants contain less than 2% of CBG. Now the producers are developing strains that could hold the maximum of CBG but with zero amount of CBD and THC.

natural hemp plant growing in a forest

CBG extraction requires highly specialized and expensive equipment and professional personnel. Therefore the genetics of the plant remain the crucial factor. Breeding hemp strains high in CBG helps to lower the costs as less biomass is needed to extract it. Moreover, by developing plant genetics with a focus on CBG, the producers may use more traditional and cheaper purification and extraction processes.

Potential Powers of CBG

CBG may activate CB1, CB2, 5HT1a and Alpha-2 Adrenergic receptors and suppress COX 1/2 Enzyme. Sounds challenging. In which way is it helpful?

CB1 may be useful when managing acute and chronic pain. CB2 has been shown to regulate immunity functions, cause neuroprotective, anti-nausea, anti-inflammatory, and mood-balancing effect. 5HT1a receptors play their part in mood and anxiety control. Alpha-2 adrenergic receptors help manage acute and chronic pain, mood disorders, and blood pressure. Inhibition of the COX 1/2 enzyme can be useful in regulating inflammation and gut problems.

Just as CBD, cannabigerol may feel proud of its potential benefits:

  • Blood pressure. A 2017 study suggested that administration of CBD may reduce resting blood pressure and the blood pressure increase due to stress in humans, associated with increased heart rate.
  • Earlier studies on cannabinoids have shown their potential to alleviate pain. Animal studies have shown that CBG may stimulate receptors linked to pain and heat sensation.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease. Experimental studies suggested that CBG might weaken colitis in a murine model, reduce nitric oxide production in macrophages and reduced formation of levels of damaging reactive oxygen species in intestinal epithelial cells.
  • Antibacterial properties. Cannabinoids have shown potential to address antibiotic resistance. They may act against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus strains.
  • Colon cancer. Studies have shown that CBG may be useful in preventing colon cancer. During the studies, CBG could inhibit the growth of xenograft tumours along with chemically induced colon carcinogenesis. CBG has also shown the potential to hamper colon cancer progression and selectively inhibit the growth of colorectal cancer cells.
  • Numerous scientific research has shown that cannabinoids may decrease intraocular pressure. What is more, they may cause neuroprotection and vasodilatation effect, that additionally benefit in conservative treatment of glaucoma.
  • Cannabinoids have the potential for alleviating acute and chronic neurodegenerative pathological conditions. Studies suggest that administration of CBG may reduce neuroinflammation and improve motor performance. Animal studies show that CBG may cause a neuroprotective effect in Huntington's disease.

Just as CBD, CBG may act against the intoxicating effects of THC. Studies of CBG show that it may activate CB1 receptors just as CBD does, which means that it has the potential to counterbalance the "high" or psychoactive effect.

Are there any CBG products available?

The answer is yes. Even within the CBD market, cannabigerol products such as CBG extract powder or CBG tinctures are relatively new to store shelves. They still may be found at specific stores and unique health shops. Just as with CBD products, CBG oil is the most popular product in the CBG range. It's easy to measure with a dropper and enhance its bioavailability with sublingual use. CBG may also be mixed with other cannabinoids for an "entourage effect", which means a more potent effect of each of them.

Cannabigerol products are legal in the UK if they contain less than 0.2% of THC. To buy CBG product with maximum potency and purity, you should make sure that it was tested by a third-party lab. The test results indicate that CBG items have definite levels of cannabinoids, THC-free, and contain no other harmful compounds. Just as with any medications and supplement, prior consultation with a doctor is needed.

Final points

Clearly, CBG is a grey eminence among cannabinoids. Scientists suggest that it may be as useful as CBD for various health conditions. Even though multiple studies indicate potential benefits of CBG, more research and clinical studies are needed before making any major conclusions. That is while keeping in mind that there's the problem of CBG quantity and quality, as most cannabis plants make only small amounts of CBG. Therefore CBG products may not be available at every store.

So stay tuned and wait a bit longer for the updates about CBG.

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