Cannabinoids – CBG – Cannabigerol
At this point, anyone familiar with the compounds within cannabis knows about the famed cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). But there is another cannabinoid that is just as important and far less well known. Cannabigerol (CBG) is an exceptional cannabinoid that has been researched for its various medical benefits.
One hundred and thirteen cannabinoids have been identified so far, each with its own distinct effects. Among those 113 different chemical compounds, another cannabinoid that stands out is cannabigerol (CBG).
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that interact with the cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 in your brain. THC is the most well-known cannabinoid because of its psychoactive effects. But other cannabinoids like CBD, CBC, and, yes, CBG are gaining in popularity thanks to their powerful medicinal effects. CBG may well be the next cannabinoid to become the focus of medical cannabis research, as initial studies find a wealth of potential.
A non-psychoactive cannabinoid, CBG’s antibacterial effects can alter the overall effects of cannabis. CBG is known to kill or slow bacterial growth, reduce inflammation, (particularly in its acidic CBGA form,) inhibit cell growth in tumour/cancer cells, and promote bone growth.
How Is CBG Made?
CBG is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid, meaning it doesn’t produce the “highs” that are synonymous with THC. Because it is present in low levels (usually less than 1%) in most cannabis strains, CBG is considered a minor cannabinoid. Amazingly, however, THC and CBD start out as CBG – it’s the chemical parent of THC and CBD. Cannabis plants produce cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), the precursor to the three main cannabinoid lines: tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), and cannabichromenic acid (CBCA).
To obtain higher yields of CBG, breeders are experimenting with genetic manipulation and cross-breeding of plants. Scientists can also extract higher levels of CBG from budding plants by pinpointing the optimum extraction time, about six weeks into an eight week flowering cycle.
The human body’s built-in endocannabinoid system (eCS) works to keep the body in its balanced state of homeostasis. While there are specific details about how cannabinoids work, in general the endocannabinoid system performs different functions specific to each area of the body. For example, at an injury site, the eCS can help regulate immune cells to limit inflammation.
CBG’s Potential Medical Benefits
CBG has been found to activate the CB1 receptors of the endocannabinoid system and therefore impacts the central nervous system. This effect may help to reduce some of the less desirable consequences associated with smoking too THC-rich cannabis, such as paranoia. CBG has also been identified to influence the CB2 receptor; however, its mechanism of action here is not yet well understood.
Researcher Ethan B Russo published a paper in the British Journal of Pharmacology that takes an in-depth look at the effects of phytocannabinoids and terpenoids, their medicinal qualities and how they may work together to generate more powerful effects.
Russo states that CBG has antifungal properties, pain killing properties and has been shown to exhibit antidepressant qualities also. CBG may also have a role to play in psoriasis and MRSA. CBG may also be able to tackle anxiety and muscular tension due to its ability at inhibiting the uptake of a brain chemical called GABA. Russo points out that CBG may work in synergy with other components of the cannabis plant such as the terpenoids phytol, linalool, caryophyllene oxide and limonene.
CBG has been found to act on very specific physiological systems and problems, and results for medicinal use are promising:
- Endocannabinoid receptors are prevalent in eye structures, and interestingly, CBG is thought to be particularly effective in treating glaucoma because it reduces intraocular pressure. It is a powerful vasodilator and has neuroprotective effects to boot.
- In animal experiments involving mice, CBG was found to be effective in decreasing the inflammation characteristic of inflammatory bowel disease.
- In a recent 2015 study, CBG was shown to protect neurons in mice with Huntington’s disease, which is characterized by nerve cell degeneration in the brain.
- CBG is showing great promise as a cancer fighter. Specifically, CBG was shown to block receptors that cause cancer cell growth. In one such study, it was shown to inhibit the growth of colorectal cancer cells in mice, thereby slowing colon cancer growth. CBG inhibited tumors and chemically-induced colon carcinogenesis, therefore demonstrating a very exciting possibility for a cure for colorectal cancer.
- European research shows evidence that CBG is an effective antibacterial agent, particularly against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) microbial strains resistant to several classes of drugs. Since the 1950s, topical formulations of cannabis have been effective in skin infections, but researchers at the time were unaware of the plant’s chemical composition.
- In a very recent 2017 study, researchers showed that a form of CBG purified to remove delta-9 THC was a very effective appetite stimulant in rats. This may lead to a novel non-psychotropic therapeutic option for cachexia, the muscle wasting and severe weight loss seen in late stage cancer and other diseases.
- In a study that looked at the effects of five different cannabinoids on bladder contractions, CBG tested best at inhibiting muscle contractions, so it may be a future tool in preventing bladder dysfunction disorders.
Thanks to modern science and advances in lab testing, the world rediscovered CBD almost ten years ago. Now, thanks to advances in breeding techniques and farming, the world is discovering CBG. Given recent advances, who knows where hemp will be in another decade?
As the research of this interesting phytocannabinoid continues to blossom and breeders continue to create strains with larger quantities of the molecule, CBG will, without a doubt, be awarded its rightful place among the pantheon of healing cannabinoids. As cannabis medicine evolves over time, it will be interesting the see CBG play a role as an individual cannabinoid, as well as in synergy with other components of the cannabis plants that are showing vast potentials such as cannabinoids and terpenoids.