Introduction: What is Cannabigerol (CBG) and Why You Must Know About It
Cannabigerol (CBG) is also called the “Rolls Royce” of cannabis, and that’s a claim we certainly don’t refute. We are sure you’ve heard about Cannabidiol (CBD) but what about CBG? Today, we’re going to shine the spotlight on this essential cannabis compound that has yet to garner the same buzz as the other more prized compounds such as CBD and THC. We are sure this phytocannabinoid is about to steal the spotlight in the medicinal world!.
You’re probably wondering why people call it the “Rolls Royce” of cannabis. The answer is, it’s just as rare. The CBG content in most cannabis plants is often lower than 1%. Further, we don’t find CBG in most commercial cannabis strains; this is because you can only collect it during the earliest stages of the plant’s flowering cycle. After it is converted into other cannabinoids. CBG production is expensive, this is because in order to maximize CBG yield, growers have to sacrifice whole crops often having to harvest them weeks before their optimal harvest times.
It was first discovered in Israel in 1964 by cannabis researchers Yehiel Gaoni and Raphael Mechoulam. It’s the precursor from which all other cannabinoids are synthesized, which is why we often refer to it as the “mother” or “stem cell” of cannabinoids. This unique property leaves CBG with tremendous therapeutic promise.
As innovation continues, more is being revealed about CBG and the other 120+ cannabinoids that comprise what’s considered the full-spectrum. Although researchers are still gathering data on the benefits of all the cannabinoids that comprise cannabis it is clear that Cannabigerol (CBG) is growing in both awareness and popularity and will have tremendous medicinal value in the very near future.
Basic Biology, Taking a Deeper Dive Into the World of Cannabis to Understand CBG
Before taking a deeper look at CBG, it’s essential that we first learn about the chemistry of cannabinoids. The most essential point that we can get across is the fact that everything that happens in the cannabis plant occurs because of biosynthesis!
Biosynthesis is the production of complex molecules within living organisms or cells- in this case, cannabis! Biosynthesis refers to the production of complex chemical compounds from simpler precursors in living organisms such as the cannabis plant. This process usually involves enzymes that will catalyze the reaction. For Cannabis these two essential enzymes are:
■Geranyl pyrophosphate (GPP or sometimes GDP)
■ Olivetolic acid (OLA)
These are the building blocks, the parent molecules of all cannabinoids, and when combined they do some pretty incredible things.
Phytocannabinoids and Exo/Endocannabinoids
Are you curious how CBG actually works in our bodies? We are too!
CBG works like the other cannabinoids by interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS functions to support homeostasis or the self-regulating processes that help our bodies remain stable and functioning.
There are three key components that makeup the ECS:
There are both CB1 and CB2 receptors.
Our bodies produce cannabinoids on their own. These are known as Endogenous Cannabinoids, or being produced from the inside.
The two main enzymes are FAAH, which breaks down anandamide, and MAGL, which breaks down 2-AG. These enzymes ensure that endocannabinoids get used when they’re needed, but not longer than necessary.
The cannabis plant, like all plants, is composed of many chemical compounds. These compounds, produced by cannabis specifically, are called cannabinoids. (There are also terpenes, flavonoids, and more that we discuss further in this article).
The body’s endocannabinoid system is designed to receive these compounds and use them to achieve a healthy equilibrium.
Experts have identified two key endocannabinoids to date: anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglyerol (2-AG). These compounds are similar to cannabinoids, but they’re produced by your body. When we consume cannabinoids in smoked or edible form , we consider them exocannabinoids or coming from outside our body’s.
We have endocannabinoid receptors located throughout our bodies. There are two main endocannabinoid receptors: CB1 receptors, that we can mostly find in the central nervous system and CB2 receptors, that we can find in our peripheral nervous system, especially immune cells.
The ECS controls our core physiological processes like pain, mood, appetite, memory and much more. When our nervous system falters, the compounds derived from cannabis may help our bodies regain their natural balance and stability!
When we consume cannabis, these compounds are used to communicate on a cellular level within certain neurotransmitters. This concept is the foundation of cannabis as medicine.
Acidic And Non-Acidic Cannabinoids
Cannabinoids come in two distinct types: acids and non-acids. THC and CBD are the non-acidic forms, while THCA and CBDA are the acidic forms.
The acidic form occurs in raw cannabis, while the non-acidic form occurs in cannabis which has undergone decarboxylation. Basically acidic cannabinoids are the precursors of the non-acidic cannabinoids and these non-acidic cannabinoids are where all the psychoactive effects reside. Although both the acid and non acidic forms have unique medicinal benefits.
Now that we covered all that, it is time to jump into how this all plays into CBG.
How Does CBG Compare to CBD and THC?
By now, most people are familiar with CBD and THC, but we’re only beginning to understand the potential of CBG. This is often a surprising fact because the truth is, it always comes before these other cannabinoids. It is the chemical parent of all the 120 plus cannabinoids found in the plant including THC and CBD.
The “precursive” nature of CBG allows it to interact with both CB1 and CB2 receptors in the body in ways other cannabinoids structurally can’t.
CB1 and CB2 receptors regulate physiological processes such as mood, pain response, and appetite. Recent preclinical research has indicated that CBG has a stronger affinity for the CB2 receptor which is heavily involved in the regulation of the body’s immune system, and plays an important role in fighting inflammation.
CBGs unique effect on the body’s endocannabinoid receptors produce physiological effects unlike any other cannabinoid. That’s right! Continue reading to see how CBG is helping to advance medical science and how it’s giving patients a better understanding of their bodies in ways never thought possible.
Okay, Now What Exactly is Cannabigerol (CBG)?
CBG is one of the more exciting compounds for forward looking cannabis enthusiasts, and until recently, it was one of the least researched cannabinoids. CBG is a compound still not on the radar of many within the industry.
Like we talked about before, CBGA is the acidic precursor for CBG, and for all other cannabinoids. This means that because CBGA breaks down into these other cannabinoids — including CBD and THC — as the plant ages it loses it’s CBG content as it is transformed into these other essential compounds by plant enzymes. Younger cannabis plants are much higher in CBG than mature plants. This is the basis for cannabigerol’s lofty nickname, the “Rolls Royce” of cannabis.
Random fact: Did you know all cannabinoids start off as CBG?
CBGA is the first cannabinoid produced in the sticky trichomes of flowering cannabis plants but as the buds mature through a series of natural reactions, known as photosynthesis, this ignites the process of transforming CBGA into one of the three major cannabinoid precursors:
■THCA or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid
■ CBDA or cannabidiolic acid
■CBCA or cannabichromenic acid
This explains why the CBG content found in today’s cannabis strains are so low compared to the THC and CBD content which is normally considerably higher (Often upwards of 20%).
When cannabinoids produced from CBGA are heated, aged, or exposed to UV light, they’ll lose a CO2 molecule and will turn into their active or “decarbed” form, THC, CBD and CBC in a process known as decarboxylation.
Some cannabis breeders are developing CBG-rich strains just in the same way they first produced THC hybrids and then CBD heavy strains.
Strains that contain higher levels of CBG are non-psychotropic meaning they won’t alter your state of mind in a way that would inhibit your day-to-day function and mental clarity. It actually acts as a buffer to the psychoactivity of THC. CBG heavy stains react with the cannabinoid receptors in the brain but instead of getting you high it instead alters your mind in a way that could potentially relieve anxiety and depression.
Because of the fact that CBG is transformed into the many other amazing cannabinoids that means it is not plentiful, and that it takes a lot of biomass to isolate and extract a considerable amount of CBG, making it expensive to produce.
In order to obtain higher yields of CBG, specialist plant breeders have started experimenting with genetic manipulation and cross breeding. These same experts have also pinpointed the optimum extraction window in order to preserve the highest amount of CBG possible, usually extracting around week 6 instead of week 8 of the flowering cycle.
What are the Potential Health Benefits of CBG?
Until rcently, the therapeutic properties of CBG have not been studied as thoroughly as those of other compounds.
CBG cannabis strains will hopefully be used therapeutically as an antidepressant, and as a much less addictive painkiller. We also know that it can kill or slow bacterial growth, reduce inflammation, (particularly in its acidic CBGa) inhibit cell growth in tumour/cancer cells, and promote bone growth.
Below we will highlight the most important and well documented medicinal effects of CBG:
■ May treat glaucoma and relieve intraocular eye pressure:
Glaucoma patients who have taken CBD on its own have found that it does not help with glaucoma, but THC helps tremendously for this same subset of patients. Using CBG may be a way to treat the symptoms of glaucoma without the intoxicating effects.
■ CBG has incredible antibacterial properties, particularly for MRSA:
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or “MRSA” is a type of staph infection that is resistant to methicillin (a common type of antibiotic), rendering it a particularly threatening or even fatal for patients with resistance to this antibiotic. In a 2008 study, CBG showed promise for treating MRSA as an antibacterial agent. Could CBG be the next in line antibiotic option for these patients?
■ Contributes to GABA reuptake inhibition:
CBG inhibits GABA uptake, which could lead to muscle relaxation, tension relief, and sensation of calm and peace in the body and brain, according to Bonni Goldstein, M.D. When talked about pharmacologically, GABA uptake inhibitors are already used to treat anxiety. CBG may act as the next natural remedy for these patients who show symptoms of anxiety.
■ Could help inflammatory bowel disease, colitis, and IBS:
Rats were studied in 2013 for the use of CBG for colitis, and the results were positive, concluding that it reduced the effect of colitis. According to the study, IBD patients have been experiencing “successful management of abdominal pain, joint pain, cramping, diarrhea, poor appetite, weight loss, and nausea” with the use of cannabis, but there are not many studies just yet exploring CBG as an isolated compound. This could be very promising for patients looking for relief from their gut related issues.
■May treat Huntington’s and other neurodegenerative diseases:
A 2015 study on mice found that “the use of CBG, alone or in combination with other phytocannabinoids or therapies, [could be a] treatment of neurodegenerative diseases,” such as Huntington’s disease. CBG may normalize the expression of abnormal genes linked to brain degeneration.
■ CBG as treatment for inflammation, including skin inflammation:
A 2007 study looked at CBG’s ability to treat eczema and psoriasis, and as mentioned, it may help reduce the inflammation caused by IBD.
Now you know why CBG is one of the most promising compounds in medical research!
Despite the medical appeal and consumer demand there’s one big hurdle to face, though: CBG is notoriously expensive to produce.
Why is CBG so Difficult to Produce?
With no intoxicating effects and a growing number of potential therapeutic uses, why hasn’t CBG surged in popularity?
The main difficulty for realizing the potential of CBG has been due to it’s insanely high cost of production! People actually think it’s one of the most expensive cannabinoids to produce, often taking thousands of pounds of biomass to produce a minute amount of CBG isolate.
Compared to other popular cannabinoids like CBD and THC, CBG is usually in the 1-2% range. This means you need to extract 20 times more flower to get the same amount of CBG as other compounds
CBG also poses another huge problem to cultivators. The longer a plant matures the more likely the CBG content present will be converted into other cannabinoids. This leaves growers with two options:
1) Grow cannabis with the only purpose being optimizing CBG content, meaning harvesting weeks before optimal harvest times.
2) Allow the plant to fully mature so that it can be sold for other purposes outside of CBG.
In the future, CBG may be produced in a process known as “Cannabinoid Biosynthesis” making the commercialization of these extremely rare compounds much more logistical and streamlined. Scale and quality control are essential in the cannabis world and a streamlined process like this could play an essential role in expanding product diversity in the very near future. By using yeast to produce other cannabinoids that are expressed less frequently in cannabis like CBG, companies like Hyasynth Bio could revolutionize the future of these compounds making them available to patients and consumers worldwide at affordable prices.
The Promising Future of CBG
While the studies above are somewhat limited, and more research needs to be done to say conclusively that CBG can help with any of these issues, CBG shows great promise as a potential therapeutic treatment for a wide variety of conditions and symptoms.
With a more balanced effect and by reducing both anxiety and the feeling of “being high,” CBG should be on the radar of all cannabis enthusiasts seeking its health benefits.
Interestingly, scientific research also suggests that CBG may have a very interesting future as an insecticide and fungicide. Indeed, it efficiently repels insects when combined with limonene, and is a great fungicide when combined with caryophyllene, a sesquiterpene commonly found in different plants.
We’re facing a very special moment in regard with cannabinoid research. We are collecting more and more data from the scientific community, which demonstrates the high therapeutic potential of these molecules and grants them a very promising future in preventing and treating a large number of medical conditions and symptoms.
CBG may ultimately emerge as the most diverse therapeutic cannabinoid out there! This is an incredibly exciting time in the history of cannabis! Thank you for exploring it with us here at Hoja.