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CBG – The Parent of Both CBD and THC

While CBG serves as the building block for other, more-recognizable beneficial cannabis compounds, the non-psychoactive cannabinoid has demonstrated to also offer potential therapeutic applications itself.

The cannabis plant contains more than 100 cannabinoids, a unique class of active chemical compounds that act on receptors in our cells and alter the release of neurotransmitters in the brain. It’s likely you’ve heard of the two most popular cannabinoids – CBD and THC – but are you familiar with CBG?

While CBG is not present in large quantities in most cannabis strains, study findings suggest that it’s worth learning about.

What is CBG?

CBG, or cannabigerol, is considered a minor cannabinoid because in most cannabis strains it’s found in low concentrations, usually less than 1 percent in marijuana and less than 2 percent in hemp.5 First discovered by scientists in 1964, CBG is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, meaning that it won’t cause a euphoric “high” like THC.13 Further, CBG is known to block the psychoactive effects of THC.

CBG: Precursor to CBD and THC

CBG is considered the precursor, or “chemical parent,” because all other cannabinoids, including the major cannabinoids CBD and THC, start as CBG.

Cannabis plants produce cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), the non-acidic form of CBG. Specific enzymes in the plant then break CBGA down into other acidic cannabinoids, namely (cannabidiolic acid) CBDA and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA). Once the cannabis plant is aged or heated, a process called decarboxylation, these acids convert to CBD and THC.

CBG precursor

If you’re a cannabis producer interested in extracting higher yields of CBG must pull the compound from budding plants earlier than usual, typically six weeks into the eight-week flowering cycle, before CBG is converted into other compounds. Nowadays, breeders are also experimenting with crossbreeding and genetic manipulation.

Effects of CBG

When you consume cannabis, the body absorbs CBG as well as the other cannabinoids present. CBG and other cannabinoids have a similar chemical makeup to the body’s naturally synthesized endocannabinoids, allowing them to interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, a regulatory network responsible for keeping many of the body’s functions in balance.

The endocannabinoid system has two types of cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2. CBG has been found to act as a CB1 antagonist, meaning it can dampen the receptor’s associated biological response by partially binding with and blocking it. Studies suggest CBG also binds to CB2 receptors, but its pharmacological activity there is currently unknown.7

CBG has also been shown to acts as an antagonist on 5-HT1A receptors, which controls the release of the neurotransmitter serotonin. With G-protein-coupled α2-adrenergic receptors, however, CBG acts as an agonist, binding and activating the receptors to potentially influence the release of norepinephrine and epinephrine.7

Studies also indicate that CBG acts on vanilloid receptor 1 (TrpV1), which detects and regulates body temperature and pain response.11

Furthermore, CBG has been demonstrated to possibly increase levels of Anandamide, one of the body’s natural endocannabinoids that binds with cannabinoid receptors to regulate functions like appetite, sleep, and memory. CBG has been shown to inhibit the enzymes that break down Anandamide.11

CBG in cannabis

Benefits of CBG: What Research Has Found

While cannabis has been used therapeutically for thousands of years, only over the last few decades have scientists begun to identify the plant’s compounds and understand how they interact with the body’s natural systems to promote wellness. Researchers have yet to fully understand CBG and the volume of studies continues to be limited.

Still, the studies that have been done on CBG have revealed several possible therapeutic applications.10

Glaucoma Treatment

Studies have found that CBG increases aqueous flow, reducing intraocular pressure in cases of glaucoma.21 A 1990 animal study found that CBG combined with THC increased aqueous flow by two to three times.8

CBG benefits for glaucoma

Neuroprotective Properties

CBG has been shown to have neuroprotective properties, convincing scientists that the cannabinoid alone, or in combination with other cannabinoids or therapies, may be beneficial for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases like Huntington’s disease.22

Appetite Stimulant

A 2016 animal study found evidence that CBG can act as a well-tolerated appetite stimulant. In the study, CBG was able to elicit hunger without causing any adverse side effects.4

Encourage Bone Growth

CBG and other cannabinoids showed that their interaction with CB2 receptors stimulated bone marrow stem cells, suggesting they could be beneficial for both promoting new bone growth and formation and helping the healing of bone fractures.20

Anti-Tumor Properties

A 2006 laboratory study found evidence that an array of cannabinoids, including CBG, were able to slow the progression and growth of tumors related to such cancers as:

  • Breast
  • Prostate
  • Colorectal
  • Stomach
  • Glioma
  • Thyroid
  • Leukemia cancers15,16

Another study in 2014 found that CBG effectively hampered the growth of colon cancer.3

Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Like other cannabinoids, CBG has been shown to reduce inflammation, prompting researchers to suggest it could be beneficial for the treatment of autoimmune diseases.6 CBG has demonstrated that it inhibits cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), an enzyme responsible for inducing the inflammatory response.19

CBG’s anti-inflammatory properties have also been shown to potentially be beneficial for inflammatory bowel disease and multiple sclerosis.2,14

Overactive Bladder

Researchers have found evidence that CBG and other cannabinoids are effective for reducing bladder contractions, suggesting they may be beneficial for treating various bladder dysfunctions.17

Skin Conditions

CBG has been shown to possibly inhibit keratinocyte proliferation, suggesting that it could play a therapeutic role in the effort to soothe skin conditions like psoriasis.18,23

CBG for psoriasis

Antibacterial Properties

CBG has also demonstrated antifungal and antimicrobial properties.12 In a 2008 study, CBG was highly effective against Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a highly prevalent, yet antibiotic-resistant strain of bacteria.1

Learn More about Cannabinoids

CBG is one of more than 100 cannabinoids in medical marijuana that have so far been identified. More well understood cannabinoids, like CBD and THC, have also demonstrated therapeutic potential.

You can learn more about what research has discovered about the possible benefits of cannabinoids by visiting our education page.

 

References:

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  2. Borrelli, F., Fasolino, I., Romano, B., Capasso, R., Maiello, F., Coppola, D., Orlando, P., Battista, G., Pagano, E., Di Marco, V., and Izzo, A.A. (2013, May). Beneficial effect of the non-psychotropic plant cannabinoid cannabigerol on experimental inflammatory bowel disease. Biochemical Pharmacology, 95(9), 1306-16. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006295213000543?via=ihub.
  3. Borelli, F., Pagano, E., Romano, B., Panzera, S., Maiello, F., Coppola, D., De Petrocellis, L., Buono, L., Orlando, P., Izzo, A.A. (2014, December). Colon carcinogenesis is inhibited by the TRPM8 antagonist cannabigerol, a Cannabis-derived non-psychotropic cannabinoid. Carcinogenesis, 35(12), 2787-97. Retrieved from https://academic.oup.com/carcin/article/35/12/2787/335166.
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  10. Deiana, S. (2017). Chapter 99 – Potential medical uses of cannabigerol: A brief overview. Handbook of Cannabis and Related Pathologies, 958-67. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780128007563001150.
  11. De Petrocellis, L., Ligresti, A., Moriello, A.S., Allarà, M., Bisogno, T., Petrosino, S., Stott, C.G., and Di Marzo, V. (2011). Effects of cannabinoids and cannabinoid-enriched Cannabis extracts on TRP channels and endocannabinoid metabolic enzymes. British Journal of Pharmacology, 163(7), 1479–1494. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3165957/.
  12. Elsohly, H.N., Turner, C.E., Clark, A.M., and Elsohly, M.A. (1982, December). Synthesis and antimicrobial activities of certain cannabichromene and cannabigerol related compounds. Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 71(12), 1319-1323. Retrieved from http://jpharmsci.org/article/S0022-3549(15)44421-1/pdf.
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  19. Ruhaak, L.R., Felth, J., Karlsson, P.C., Rafter, J.J., Verpoorte, R., and Bohlin, L. (2011). Evaluation of the Cyclooxygenase inhibiting effects of six major cannabinoids isolated from Cannabis sativa. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, 34(5), 774-778. Retrieved from https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/bpb/34/5/34_5_774/_article.
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  21. Szczesniak, A.M., Maor, Y., Robertson, H., Hung, O., and Kelly, M.E. (2011, October). Nonpsychotropic cannabinoids, abnormal cannabidiol and canabigerol-dimethyl heptyl, act at novel cannabinoid receptors to reduce intraocular pressure. Journal of Ocular Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 27(5), 427-35. Retrieved from http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/jop.2011.0041.
  22. Valdeolivas, S., Navarrete, C., Cantarero, I., Bellido, M.L., Muñoz, E., & Sagredo, O. (2015). Neuroprotective Properties of Cannabigerol in Huntington’s Disease: Studies in R6/2 Mice and 3-Nitropropionate-lesioned Mice. Neurotherapeutics, 12(1), 185–199. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4322067/.
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Post by Eve Ripley

Eve is a writer specializing in cannabis education and editorials related to cannabis industry news.

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