Whether you visited this page because you have heard something about CBG and its potential benefits, or you just came here to make sure that the “G” is not a typo, you should probably stay for a little longer.
This article will present the ins and outs of the most important cannabinoid nobody talks about. CBG, or cannabigerol, is often referred to as “the mother of cannabinoids” and plays an important role in how cannabinoid celebrities THC and CBD are formed. While often overlooked, possibly due to its scarcity in the plant itself, CBG is gaining a lot of traction lately as more and more companies are starting to focus on its production. And it was about time—CBG was first discovered in the 60s but most of the research on it has only taken place during the last decade.
Keep reading to find out what’s the deal with CBG, its potential benefits, and how it can be used.
Cannabigerol is one of the organic compounds found in the cannabis plant—aptly named cannabinoids. It is considered a minor cannabinoid, as a harvested plant will generally contain up to 1% of CBG (rarely up to 2%). But how does CBG come to be?
The cannabis plant produces CBGA—the “A” there stands for acid, meaning that CBGA is the acidic form of cannabigerol. Cannabigerolic acid is the real star of the show here, as it is a precursor to the three main cannabinoids, THC, CBD, and CBC. Simply put, without CBGA we wouldn’t have THC or CBD.
During the lifetime of the plant, natural enzymes (called synthases) transform CBGA into THCA, CBDA, and CBCA. These, in turn, are transformed into THC, CBD, and CBC through the process of decarboxylation—the removal of a carboxyl group with the application of heat. The small amounts of CBGA that remain on the plant after the formation of the other cannabinoids, are in turn decarboxylated and turned into CBG.
What’s important here, is that almost all CBGA turns into THCA and CBDA early in the process. This means that the amount of CBGA left for the formation of CBG is very low, which is also the reason for the low yields. Compared to THC and CBD, CBG yields are often 10 or even 20 times lower. Due to that, one way to obtain a CBG rich extract is to harvest the plant much earlier in its cycle, and before CBGA forms the acidic precursors of CBD and THC. In this case, THC and CBD are sacrificed in order to maximize the amount of CBG produced. Another way to increase the CBG yield is to cross breed plants and optimize them for CBG production, which is a demanding and probably risky process, especially considering the low demand for CBG products on the market right now.
CBD and CBG both derive from cannabigerolic acid. But while they do have a lot of similarities, they are also very different cannabinoids.
Starting with some of the similarities, both CBD and CBG act on the endocannabinoid system, and share a wide array of potential benefits. For example, cannabinoids have exhibited antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties in a wide array of studies. On top of that, both CBG and CBD mediate the psychotropic effect of THC, i.e. they reduce the “high”. And they have both been observed to participate in the entourage effect, magnifying the therapeutic effect of each one when administered together.
An advantage that CBG has over CBD is the way it interacts with the endocannabinoid system. While CBD’s ability to directly interact with the brain’s cannabinoid receptors is limited, CBG binds directly to the CB1 and CB2 receptors and provides more direct effects to the system.
Outside of their organic properties, CBG is much harder to extract and produce than CBD. Due to the scarcity of CBG in the cannabis plant, its production is a much more expensive and often more delicate process. Most companies choose to focus on the extraction of CBD isolate, making CBG products comparatively rare and much more expensive.
While CBG first appeared in literature in 1964, it hasn’t been as thoroughly researched as the more abundant cannabinoids. But still, there have been numerous reports about the potential benefits of CBG.
One of the earliest papers to study CBG in comparison to other cannabinoids (1984) observed that THC, CBD, and CBG had a positive effect on intraocular tension. But unlike CBD and THC, CBG did not cause conjunctival erythema and hyperemia, making it a preferable treatment.
CBG, as well as other cannabinoids, has been shown to posess antimicrobial properties, and exhibited “potent activity against a variety of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)” in a 2008 study. These cannabinoids have been also shown to have analgesic or anti-inflammatory properties, and have shown a lot of promise when it comes to treating pain.
A 2018 study investigated the binding properties of CBG to cannabinoid CB1 (CB1R) and CB2 (CB2R) receptors and reported that CBG “may exert beneficial actions with therapeutic potential”.
A recent (January 2020) study found that CBG exhibits antibiotic properties against drug-resistant bacteria. Researchers used CBG to treat mice infected with MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and observed a similar level of in vivo efficacy to vancomycin which was used as the antibiotic control.
CBG has also shown potential when it comes to treating inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), alleviating inflammation in multiple sclerosis, protecting the nerves in Huntington’s Disease, and inhibiting the growth of carcinogenic cells in the colon.
CBG is often referred to as the mother of cannabinoids. It has been said to help maintain homeostasis in the body, and is an essential key to the entourage effect. CBDistillery now offers a CBD oil tincture that provides a 1:1 ratio of CBG to CBD featuring 1000 mg of cannabinoids in total, available in 30 mL bottles.
The limited research on CBG also means that there is no reliable information about potential side effects. From what we know, and from previous research on CBD, cannabigerol seems to be very easily tolerated, has very low toxicity, and there have not been any significant side effects observed as long as it is consumed in normal doses.
As always, it is advisable to consult with your physician before adding CBG to your regime, especially if you are on prescribed medication.
No, CBG won’t get you high. Like CBD, cannabigerol is mildly psychoactive but not psychotropic. CBG and CBD affect the brain very differently to THC, and they do not come with intoxicating effects. In high concentrations, CBG may induce effects of relaxation and euphoria, but the majority of the effects that this cannabinoid has on your system are not psychological.
We have previously explained why CBD won’t make you fail a drug test. The same rules apply to CBG. CBG isolate and broad-spectrum oil that contains CBG are generally safe to consume before a drug test. If your CBG oil contains THC, then there is a risk of a failed drug test—depending on the sensitivity of the assay and the THC content of your product.
CBG oil is not as common as CBD oil due to the higher costs associated with its production. And where it is currently offered, the prices are higher (often double) that of the already expensive CBD oil products.
While full-spectrum CBD oil products, as well as broad-spectrum CBD oils, often come with CBG in their formulas, it is usually contained in trace amounts. If you are specifically looking to add CBG in your regime, our recommendation is to simply bite the bullet and buy CBG oil from a reputable source that does third-party testing. If you are looking for a more complete regime and the entourage effect, then go for a full-spectrum tincture—or a broad-spectrum one if you want a THC-free CBD oil. Just make sure you check the lab test reports, as some broad-spectrum products only contain a selection of cannabinoids, and often in trace amounts.