- What is CBG?
- The Endocannabinoid System
- Benefits of CBG
- Why Isn’t CBG More Available?
- The Future of CBG
Cannabinoids like THC and CBD may take the center stage when it comes to the popular cannabis consciousness, but there are plenty of beneficial cannabinoids playing quiet supporting roles in the plant.
Out of over 200 individual compounds that have been identified in the cannabis plant so far, over 120 are cannabinoids.
Cannabis researchers are just beginning to delve into the health benefits of these less common cannabinoids.
One of the cannabinoids showing a lot of future promise is CBG.
What is CBG?
Cannabigerol (CBG) is one of the minor cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant.
There are plenty of reasons that it has been so little studied historically, but a major one is that less than 1% that shows up in the fully developed buds of most strains.
Despite this seemingly small amount, CBG plays a major role in the cannabis plant.
So much that it’s been dubbed “The Mother of All Cannabinoids“.
CBG begins as CBGA, or cannabigerolic acid. CBGA is the precursor molecule that will develop into three of the main cannabinoids produced by the plant: Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid (THCA), Cannabidiolic Acid (CBDA), and Cannabichromenic Acid (CBCA).
Once a molecule like THCA is heated, the acid chain at the end breaks off.
This makes it the “activated”, psychoactive THC molecule known and loved by many.
Early on in the cannabis plant’s growth cycle, there’s a much higher percentage of CBGA available. However, as the cannabis plant reaches maturity, specific enzymes are produced which determine whether CBGA breaks down to become THCA, CBDA, or CBCA.
Because most of the CBGA produced by the plant ends up transformed into THC or CBD, there’s only a tiny percentage of CBG remaining in the buds.
The Endocannabinoid System
Every vertebrate, from humans to snakes, has an Endocannabinoid System. This regulatory biological system of cannabinoid (CB) receptors helps to regulate both the physical and mental processes in your body.
This includes everything from memory to pain-sensation.
In the endocannabinoid system, the majority of CB1 receptors are located in the brain. These CB1 receptors primarily bond with cannabinoids like THC, which is what causes the molecule’s psychoactive effects (aka getting stoned).
CB2 receptors are located throughout the body. CB2 receptors primarily bond with cannabinoids like CBD, which is what causes CBD’s pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects.
CBG is a little different than THC and CBD in that it binds to both of the cannabinoid receptors in the brain and the body.
Recent studies have shown that CBG actually binds to these receptors even more efficiently than CBD. Some researchers believe that this may make CBG an even more effective and beneficial cannabinoid than CBD in some instances.
This could have an enormous impact on cannabinoid-based medical treatments in the future.
Benefits of CBG
So far, studies are showing that CBG may have positive benefits over a wide range of health issues.
CBG may act like CBD in promoting stress and anxiety reduction when consumed.
It may also have a hand in reducing the paranoia that excess consumption of THC can cause.
In patients going through chemotherapy or dealing with other appetite-suppressing issues, CBG may help to stimulate appetite.
The anti-inflammatory effects of CBG may be the most beneficial of all cannabinoids in reducing intraocular pressure that causes disorders such as glaucoma.
Preliminary studies on animals have shown that CBG may have neuroprotective properties. Treatments with CBG may be able to reduce the impact of neurodegenerative disorders such as Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.
CBG may have an anti-inflammatory effect that can aid in the treatment of bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Cannabinoids such as CBG may have an effect on bladder dysfunctions caused by involuntary bladder contractions. These can cause problems with involuntary urination.
Cannabinoids like CBG may be able to kill harmful bacteria, and show some promise in fighting particularly aggressive bacterial infections like MRSA.
In some animal models, CBG has been shown to inhibit tumor growth and reverse the growth of other cancer cells.
While the health benefits of CBG show a lot of promise, further studies will have to be done in order to prove the effectiveness of the cannabinoid. However, getting access to isolated CBG can be a challenge.
Why Isn’t CBG More Available?
With all these numerous potential benefits being studied so far, one would assume that there would already be an explosion of CBG products similar to CBD. However, CBG is notoriously difficult to cultivate, making it one of the more expensive cannabis products to produce.
As mentioned above, higher amounts of CBG only exist in the cannabis plant for a short time.
When the plant has matured enough to begin blooming, the CBG molecule has already been transformed into the THC, CBD, and CBC contained in those bud’s trichomes. The remaining CBG accounts for less than 1% of the yield.
Plant scientists and growers are currently breeding specialized strains of cannabis plants that are higher in CBG.
They’ve also begun to focus in on the most ideal development period in the cannabis plant to extract the highest percentage of CBG before it turns into other cannabinoids. This is usually around 6 weeks into the breeding cycle. This also means that cannabis cultivators must choose between producing CBG or THC and CBD, since plants can’t contain high percentages of both.
All this makes CBG the most expensive cannabinoid to isolate.
According to an interview in Forbes, it takes 20 times the amount of biomass to create a similar amount of CBG as to create a normal amount of CBD.
Add to that the costs of owning and operating specialized chemistry equipment to isolate CBG, and it’s just not feasible for most companies to get into the CBG game yet.
The Future of CBG
Although many people have not heard of it, CBG has too much potential to remain unknown for long.
It may be a little harder to isolate than CBD or THC, but plenty of companies are starting to offer the anti-inflammatory, energy-producing, pain-relieving, brain-restoring, health effects of CBG to consumers.
For a cannabinoid that shows so much beneficial promise, CBG will certainly join THC and CBD on the center stage of the popular consciousness in the near future.