A Conclusive Guide To Cannabigerol (CBG)
Anastasiia Myronenko is a Medical Physicist actively practicing in one of the leading cancer centers in Kyiv, Ukraine. She received her master’s degree in Medical Physics at Karazin Kharkiv National University and completed Biological Physics internship at GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research, Germany. Anastasiia Myronenko specializes in radiation therapy and is a fellow of Ukrainian Association of Medical Physicists.
- The Origins Of CBG
- The Endocannabinoid System (ECS)
- CBG and The ECS
- CBG’s Therapeutic Aspects
- CBG’s Medicinal Aspects
- CBG: Any Side-Effects?
The cannabis plant has at least 113 different cannabinoids- with THC and CBD being two of the more popular ones. But with new research coming into play- could cannabigerol, or CBG, be a cannabinoid to watch out for? It seems highly likely that medical science hasn’t tapped into all the benefits that the cannabis Sativa plant can provide us with- and a plant with such a variety of different cannabinoids, two of which seem to have taken the world by storm with their vast range of properties, might just be able to provide more.
We can’t completely place the blame on researchers. CBG is pretty low on the scale of abundance- in the average cannabis Sativa plant, research tells us that CBG concentrations are often found at a 1% for every 20-25% of CBD and 25-30% of THC. Low in concentrations, rare on the market but brimming with possibilities, CBG is still fresh on potential. And with a higher concentration of CBG found in younger cannabis plants (of certain strains), there’s the scope for hope that cannabis farmers and scientists are working towards finding a way towards extracting the most CBG out of cultivars. CBG is non-psychoactive as it is therapeutic. In terms of comparison, this makes CBG a little more like its sister cannabinoid CBD and a little bit unlike THC, which has the power to intoxicate the system and alter things like perception, mood, appetite and cognition. Yet, unlike CBD, CBG seems to affect the ECS receptors directly, managing to bind with them without causing psychoactivity.
The Origins Of CBG
Known as the ‘mother’ of all cannabinoids, CBG begins as CBGA- the acidic form of CBG. CBGA is often found in the younger cannabis plants. By the time the plant matures, CBGA breaks off into CBG, CBD and THC. You can say that CBD and THC are derivatives or the acidic form of CBG. Low levels of CBG in the adult cannabis plant are accounted for because plant enzymes are efficient in breaking up CBGA into THC and CBD at higher levels than reducing CBGA into just CBG. Essentially the break up of CBGA into CBG is just decarboxylation which is a much rarer phenomenon. News articles do report that, in order to yield higher concentrations of CBG, farmers and cultivators have attempted genetic manipulation and the cross-breeding of cannabis plant strains. This, paired with new knowledge that CBG is often found at higher concentrations 6-8 weeks after the plant has grown, shows us that many are eager to witness CBG’s potential.
As for what role CBG takes in the body- since it is the originator for CBD and THC, as well as a sister cannabinoid, it stands to reason that CBG affects the endocannabinoid system in similar ways to THC and CBD. If we’re placing CBD, THC and CBG on a spectrum of engagement with the ECS, it can be claimed that CBG lands itself smack bang in the middle of CBD and THC.
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS)
The ECS is responsible for maintaining homeostasis in the body- in other words, it controls many of the processes which happen within us, regulating and moderating factors which we tend to take for granted. From regulating mood, temperature, libido and even cognition, the ECS has a wide role to play in managing the body’s vital processes- it does so by controlling most processes which operate within the central and peripheral nervous systems. The ECS has receptors all over the body, which connect with the right molecules- cannabinoids or endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids are produced by the body, and released according to what process needs to be monitored- when these endocannabinoids connect with the right ECS receptors, modulation occurs. These ECS receptors are pretty much split into two different types: CB1 (found mainly in the central nervous system) and CB2 receptors (found mainly in the peripheral nervous system). When engaged, CB1 receptors tend to control cognition, perception, appetite, and emotion. CB2 tends to control the function of immune cells and inflammation, especially in the gut region.
Phytocannabinoids are not produced by the body- they’re found in the cannabis Sativa plant. But they work similarly to endocannabinoids because they trigger change in the ECS- promoting chemical and metabolic processes into action. The difference between endocannabinoids and cannabinoids is that cannabinoids aren’t produced by the body- so, where endocannabinoids are produced endogenously (which allows the body to release a specific concentration of the endocannabinoids specifically for balancing the body) cannabinoids can be taken at whim, setting off an imbalance in the system. Another difference is that some cannabinoids can attach to ECS receptors directly, and others trigger change in the ECS indirectly.
For example, THC is a cannabinoid which can directly attach to ECS receptors- which is what causes the intoxication, or ‘high’, one might feel after taking THC. Because THC works much like an exogenous endocannabinoid, it has a high affinity for ECS receptors, binding to CB1 and CB2 at high rates. This is what makes THC psychoactive when CBD is not- when our CB1 and CB2 receptors are suddenly strongly engaged, everything alters from cognition to memory to appetite. For years, scientists have claimed that CBD, being an indirect stimulant for the ECS, increases concentrations of anandamide in the body. Anandamide is an ECS receptor which promotes therapeutic benefits within the body. CBG works in a similar way to THC. It actively binds to ECS receptors.
Since only endocannabinoids or cannabinoids can trigger change in the ECS, it’s safe to say that the cannabis Sativa (or hemp) plant, with its cocktail of cannabinoids, might have a significant role to play in urging the body to balance itself- this is especially vital if the body fails to produce, or overproduces, certain endocannabinoids resulting in bodily imbalance. If cannabinoids are the only external molecules which can fit into ECS receptors and help promote change, conducting research on each and every cannabinoid seems like the right thing to do. Since the discovery of THC and CBD, the popularity of cannabinoids has shot up. And with CBG beginning to make a name for itself in the wonderful world of health and wellness, the opportunity to unlock the potential of the 113 different cannabinoids shouldn’t be understated.
CBG and The ECS
When it comes to ECS receptors and cannabinoids, for so long our only two options have been limited: THC, with its intoxicatingly high proclivity in binding with anything remotely resembling CB1 or CB2. And on the other end of the spectrum, CBD, and its low affinity for binding to either receptor. CBG makes a name for itself by being able to bind with ECS receptors- without causing intoxication. And it is the receptors in the brain which CBG tends to bind the most with, eliciting a therapeutic response without completely altering our perception. Much like CBD, CBG also promotes higher quantities of anandamide in the system, while doing its own binding.
CBG’s Therapeutic Aspects
Now, we aren’t too sure on why CBG is non-psychotropic. Since it can bind to receptors, much in the way that THC can, there’s some confusion lingering on why exactly CBG doesn’t alter cognition, memory and perception- especially since CBG molecules do specialise in binding to CB1 and CB2 receptors directly. Some have suggested that CBG doesn’t quite flood the system in the same way that THC does- and it engages with CB1 receptors at a lower rate than THC, meaning that it doesn’t alter brain perception and cognition in the way that THC does. In other words, CBG doesn’t have such a high affinity for such a wide variety of ECS receptors around the body in the way that THC does. This also coincides with research, factoids and articles which tell us that taking CBG in higher doses can bring about euphoria and relaxation. So CBG has the potential to uplift the mood, even if that altered sense of perception is simply brought about by CBG binding to ECS receptors at a higher level. This is similar to the way that CBD works, where we see that higher concentrations of CBD mean higher concentrations of anandamide lingering in the system, binding to ECS receptors and effecting bliss. But this doesn’t necessarily make CBD or CBG psychotropic- we would probably call this by its commonly used definition- ‘therapeutic’, or, at best, ‘relaxant’.
Another reason why CBG might not be intoxicating is because it, just like CBD, actively counteracts the intoxicating effects of THC. Many THC symptoms are rooted with anxiety, paranoia, panic and the potential for chronic psychosis which both CBD and CBG have shown to actively work against. Since both CBD and CBG have been shown to increase levels of anandamide, the bliss molecule, in the system, it can be ascertained that higher levels of anandamide soothe symptoms which are associated with THC, calming and relaxing the body and brain.
And, aside from its potential to lift mood and evoke relaxation in the body and brain, CBG might also be a key player in the world of medicine.
CBG’s Medicinal Aspects
Since newfound interest in CBG has grown, research tells us that there’s scope for potential to use CBG for a number of ailments.
CBG and Cancer
Pre-clinical studies have shown that CBG could help cancer patients. CBG has the potential to deactivate the TRPM8 ion channel- which can help to keep tumours at bay. Inhibiting this channel could mean that many different types of cancers could be prevented- since cancers often come about by unchecked (and undetected) tumour growth, which has the potential to spread. With CBG present in higher concentrations studies also show that higher levels of apoptosis can occur (programmed and regulated cell death, preventing tumours), prevention of oxidative stress can also occur (this happens when too many free radicals are present in the body, leading to potential genetic mutation and inciting disease) and immunity levels, in general, spike. In concentrated doses, all types of cancers might be prevented with calculated levels of cannabinoids in the system. Since having a large variety of cannabinoids in the system can promote the ‘entourage effect’, leading to more beneficial results. By combining CBG, THC and CBD, researchers have helped to combat the growth of tumours.
CBG and Mental Illness
From helping to inhibit the reuptake of GABA, a neurotransmitter responsible for a number of therapeutic benefits from muscle relaxation to tension relief, having CBG in the system can be great for relieving anxiety, depression and other chronic mental illnesses. Since inhibiting GABA uptake can also result in higher levels of dopamine and serotonin, both neurotransmitters which are responsible for wellbeing and happiness, CBG serves a wider beneficial complement.
CBG and Inflammation
Research has also shown that CBG could help prevent inflammation on a number of levels- from helping with symptoms of IBS to easing colitis. Since more research shows that inflammatory disease, such as IBS, stems from stress and the body’s inability to produce anandamide and 2-AG on its own, having CBG (and CBD) in the system can seriously help to combat this. Both CBD and CBG can prevent the degradation of 2-AG and anandamide, leading to higher levels of these receptors in the system. CBG can also bind with CB2 receptors in the gut to help ease inflammation.
Not just limited to the gut, inflammation of the skin might also be eased with CBG in the system (or applied topically). Psoriasis, in particular, is an inflammatory response which shows on the skin and sometimes the joints. It happens when white blood cells (T-Cells) attack healthy skin cells without cause. As a result, the skin’s blood vessels dilate and the surface of the skin begins to inflame. Arthritis or swollen joints can also occur in acute levels of psoriasis- when the body’s immune cells start to attack other cells around the body.
CBG’s engagement with the ECS can help raise immunity overall. Since activating the ECS at a higher rate can lead to increased homeostasis, having higher levels of CBG can prevent the overactivity of T-Cells.
CBG and Glaucoma
Glaucoma, an eye condition which renders the optic nerve damaged, can be debilitating. Since the optic nerve is responsible for sending messages from the eye to the brain, its damage (often due to high blood pressure in the optic nerve) can render a lifestyle full of chronic pain- and potentially blindness. CBG can help combat glaucoma, especially near the early stages- studies have shown that CBG is a vasodilator, which means it can help to widen the optic nerve when applied topically to help prevent constricted blood flow. Likewise, CBG has been shown to relieve tension in muscles and nerves, allowing the optic nerve to loosen and relax a little more, relieving pain and allowing for accessible blood flow.
CBG and Bacterial Infections
Studies have also shown that CBG could help combat bacterial infections. In particular, CBG has been shown to kill the bacterium, MRSA- commonly found in hospitals. MRSA tends to be harmless, unless entered from an open wound which is what makes it deadly. In a hospital environment, where many insertions and wounds tend to occur and immunity tends to be at a low in patients, MRSA finds itself a threat. In fact, CBG has been so promising in eliminating MRSA, especially the strain which has become resistant to antibiotics, that research can successfully elaborate on why CBG is so helpful in killing the bacterium. Studies tell us that CBG eradicates the biofilm which most bacteria have around them, rendering them useless. Another point in CBG’s favour- MRSA, as most bacteria, tends to get used to certain antibiotics, quickly developing resistance. With CBG, there’s no scope for this: no matter how many times CBG was administered to the same strain of MRSA, it succeeded in destroying the outer layer of biofilm.
CBG: Any Side-Effects?
Since CBG is a relatively new cannabinoid, more precautions are being taken with it. While side-effects are rare (and not really well researched), within the world of rat testing, CBG seems relatively harmless.
Scientists do prescribe caution when taking CBG with some medication- this is purely due to lack of research. So far, the medications with which to avoid taking with CBG are: anticancers, antibacterials, antihistamines, heart rhythm drugs, cholesterol medications, corticosteroids and more. Experts urge seeing a healthcare provider before taking CBG with any long-term, prescribed medication. This is because, it’s been theorised that CBG might affect how some medicines are metabolised- although there’s not been too much research done on how or why these theories have come about.
While many scientists have yet to find a high enough concentration of CBG to study how it specifically works on our systems, there’s speculation enough. This speculation, compiled with a few bits of research and medical trials, has helped to draw a rough conclusion on the beneficial effects that CBG might have on the body. While we might not be able to delve into clear depths, there’s enough evidence to suggest that this new cannabinoid might be useful to us in the future.
In the meantime, we at Alphagreen, hold out hope for the potential for new discovery, more healing and improved lifestyles for the world.
How Is CBG Different From CBD?
CBG, (cannabigerol) is pretty much another cannabinoid found within the cannabis Sativa plant. Unlike CBD (cannabidiol), CBG is found at a lower concentration (at 1% for every 20-25% of CBD). This is because CBG, in its acidic form, turns into CBG and THC as the cannabis plant matures. Essentially, CBG is the ‘mother’ of CBG and THC- and, so, very little of this cannabinoid is left when the cannabis plant matures. When there is enough CBG to ingest, unlike CBG, this particular cannabinoid attaches to ECS receptors.
How Is CBG Similar To CBD
CBG, much like CBD, doesn’t have psychoactive properties. Also similar to CBD, CBG can potentially counteract any anxiety, paranoia or cognitive imbalance that THC can induce. Much like CBD, CBG has a host of holistic and therapeutic benefits- from reducing pain and inflammation to potentially helping cancer patients. Unfortunately, because CBG’s discovery has manifested recently (and there’s very little produced by the cannabis plant) there’s less research on it- making it hard to determine what exactly CBG can do for the system.
How Much CBG Is Found In The Cannabis Plant?
CBG is found at a naturally low yield within the cannabis Sativa plant- even hemp. For every 25% of CBD, there is 1% of CBG. Research has shown that, in younger cannabis plants, there’s a higher quantity of CBG, meaning it is at its highest concentration when the cannabis plant is not yet fully formed (usually around the 8 week mark). However, with the help of cross-breeding, early-extraction (and, perhaps, decarboxylating CBGA outside of the cannabis plant, in a laboratory, before it has a chance to convert into CBD and THC) there is hope that CBG will become more abundant.
Can CBG Be Harmful?
As of now, there’s very little which suggests that CBG has side-effects or causes serious harm. However, because research is limited, it’s always recommended that you consult with a medical professional before taking CBG.
How Can I Take CBG?
Just like CBD, CBG can be consumed- sublingually or mixed with a drink in its oil form. I can also be applied topically and smoked via vape. If you are considering smoking CBG, bear in mind that you might need a specialised vapouriser, as CBG has a much lower boiling point than its sister cannabinoids.
Is CBG More Expensive Than CBD?
Because it is low in frequency (making it high in demand- especially with new research hinting towards CBG’s therapeutic appeal) CBG can come at a much higher price than CBD. But, there’s no cause to worry- with more demand tends to come more ways to extract CBG from the cannabis plant. Comparing CBG to CBD’s earlier days, the cost of CBD has dramatically lowered, as the popularity and yield of CBD has dramatically risen. We hope to see the same for CBG in the near future!