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You've probably noticed that cannabinoid wellness products have exploded in popularity lately. One product that's making big waves is cannabigerol, also known as CBG.
Now you might be wondering, what is CBG, how is it different from other cannabinoids like CBD and THC, and what does it do?
Join us as we explain everything you need to know about CBG and why this lesser-known cannabinoid is becoming so popular.
What is CBG?
CBG is known as the father or grandfather of all cannabinoids because they're all derived from CBG. Cannabinoids like THC and CBD come from CBG.
When a cannabis plant is growing, the first acid found on the plant is CBGA. As time passes and the plant matures, enzymes begin converting the CBGA into either THCA, CBDA, or CBCA.
CBGA mostly gets turned into either CBDA or THCA, with a small amount converting into CBCA.
Remember, the acidic form—like THCA—is how most cannabinoids exist on the plant or bud. Only through UV light or heat exposure do the acidic forms turn into the active forms we know and love.
This process of converting the acids into their active forms is called decarboxylation. While that sounds fancy, you probably do it every time you smoke or vaporize flower.
If you've ever made your own edibles with buds, it is likely that the first step is to decarboxylate your flowers.
You might be wondering, how do we get CBG if it transforms into other cannabinoids?
The thing is, not all of the CBGA gets converted into other cannabinoids. A very tiny amount, usually less than 1%, stays as CBGA or CBG until the flowers are ready to harvest.
As you can see, there's not much CBG leftover naturally, so bulk CBG needs to be purified from a lot of plant material. Researchers have found that harvesting a cannabis plant six weeks into its flowering period yields the most CBGA since much of it hasn't converted yet.
Some breeders are looking to create a high-CBG strain, but the most reliable method is through purification.
How Is CBG Different From CBD?
Like CBD, CBG alone won't get you high, but they both work a little differently when it comes to the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The ECS is a complex system involved with sleep, mood, appetite, pain, stress, memory, and more. In the ECS, there are two different types of receptors, called CB1 or CB2.
When a cannabinoid interacts or connects with these receptors, something happens. For instance, when THC interacts with CB1 receptors, we feel the psychoactive effects—or the “high” from cannabis.
We can think of the ECS as a lock-and-key system where the locks are the receptors, and the cannabinoids are the keys.
CBD can unlock CB2 receptors, but it doesn't do it often. CBD can also fit into CB1 receptors, but it can't unlock it.
That stops THC from entering the lock, which is why strains with high CBD have a weaker psychoactive effect because CBD blocks THC.
So what about CBG? It works differently than CBD by being able to unlock both CB1 and CB2 receptors. It often unlocks CB2 receptors but rarely unlocks CB1 receptors.
That's why even though CBG can connect with a CB1 receptor, it won't cause any psychoactive effects alone.
Furthermore, CBG has been found to activate the α-2 adrenoceptor and block the 5HT1A receptor, but more on these later.
On a molecular level, CBD and CBG don't seem too different. However, this slight difference significantly impacts the range of possible therapeutic effects that CBG has.
So What Does CBG Do?
Interest in CBG has started to ramp up, and so has the research. Although there aren't as many studies on CBG as other cannabinoids, the news looks overwhelmingly positive.
For starters, researchers found that CBG may have neuroprotective effects. That means that CBG could potentially protect neurons like brain cells from damage and degeneration.
Protecting neurons from damage could reduce the effects of, or protect from, diseases like Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's, and multiple sclerosis.
Like we mentioned a bit ago, CBG also interacts (or unlocks) a receptor called the α-2 adrenoceptor. Scientists found that this interaction may reduce vasoconstriction and improve blood pressure.
That means CBG could be a good candidate for a natural anti-hypertension medication.
Researchers have been on the lookout for strong antibacterial compounds because of the threat of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. It turns out that CBG is the most potent antibacterial cannabinoid discovered so far.
One paper found that CBG significantly reduced the volume of an infectious antibiotic-resistant bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus.
On top of all that, researchers found back in 2013 that CBG could help reduce major inflammatory illnesses like Crohn's disease. CBD also has anti-inflammatory properties, but from this paper, researchers found that CBG may be the stronger of the two.
That’s not all… CBG also has anti-cancer properties. Scientists researching colon-tumors found that CBG could potentially slow cancer-cell growth.
Everything we've mentioned so far is just CBG on its own, but what about together with CBD?
Researchers found that when CBG and CBD work together, they may decrease the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes. With obesity and aging, fat cells can stop functioning correctly and cause insulin resistance/increased blood pressure.
CBD and CBG are the only cannabinoids that help the fat cells maintain their functionality, possibly leading to a decreased risk of metabolic diseases.
Now you might be wondering, how do I get CBG? Luckily, you can already find it in small amounts in most full-spectrum or broad-spectrum CBD oils or tinctures.
However, as we mentioned earlier, you can also find purified CBG oils and tinctures. These are typically much more expensive, and oils with high amounts of CBG have not been widely used like CBD.
At the moment, it looks like researchers are just getting a peek into all the potential benefits of CBG. However, there's still a lot to be learned about CBG and whether it will be the next big thing. Try it out for yourself here!