Cannabigerol (CBG) is one of the many active compounds known as cannabinoids that can be found in the cannabis plant.
Most people are familiar with the cannabinoids Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is best known for its psychoactive effects, while CBD is often used for its medicinal benefits. CBD is non-psychoactive and is frequently used in the treatment of pain and inflammation, nausea, seizures, anxiety, PTSD, and depression, to name just a few.
CBG is found in lower concentrations than THC or CBD, and for a long time it has been somewhat overshadowed by these other cannabinoids. However, in recent years, scientific interest in CBG has been growing at a steady rate.
In this article we will explore CBG in more detail, looking at what it is, how it works, and exactly how it could be used.
What is CBG?
CBG was first discovered in Israel in 1964. At this time, marijuana researchers Yehiel Gaoni and Raphael Mechoulam had just managed to isolate CBG, along with THC and CBD, from the cannabis plant itself. They may not have realized how important this was at the time, but it was this discovery which went on to become the entire basis of our understanding of the herb today.
CBG is found in lower concentrations than THC and CBD, and it differs from these compounds in a number of ways. Unlike THC, CBG has no psychoactive properties, and therefore will not get you high. It can be found in some varieties of industrial hemp as well as other, more potent, marijuana strains.
Despite often being overlooked in favor of THC and CBD, it seems that CBG could provide a wealth of benefits of its own. However, CBG research is still in its infancy, and there is no doubt that we still have much to learn about this compound.
However, thanks to scientists like Gaoni and Mechoulam, what we do know is how CBG and other cannabinoids have such a remarkable effect on the human body.
How does CBG Work?
Like other cannabinoids, CBG works by influencing what is known as the endocannabinoid system within our bodies. The endocannabinoid system is a complex collection of receptors (CB1 and CB2 receptors), chemicals called endocannabinoids, and enzymes. Endocannabinoids are compounds produced by our bodies that bind with CB1 and CB2 receptors to help regulate many of our physiological functions and maintain a state of internal balance.
CB1 receptors are found in the nervous system and brain, while CB2 receptors are found elsewhere in the body, mainly in the cells of the immune system. Many different endocannabinoids can bind with these receptors, but the most well-known are anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). AEA binds primarily with CB1 receptors and acts very much like a neurotransmitter, affecting our cognitive function and mood. On the other hand, 2-AG binds with CB1 and CB2 receptors and has an anti-inflammatory effect.
The cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant also have the ability to bind with these receptors due to their similar shape. THC binds with CB1 receptors, altering the way you think and getting you high. CBD does not bind with these receptors easily but does influence the way that they react with other cannabinoids.
Research has shown that CBG binds primarily with CB2 receptors and that, in high doses, it could block other compounds from binding with CB1 receptors. However, CBG does not appear to alter the effects of THC.
This complex interaction between the various plant cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system of the body is known as the ‘entourage effect.’ Scientists are only just starting to comprehend the full implications of this, but some have suggested that using these cannabinoids in combination is more beneficial than using any one alone.
What is CBG Used for?
The health benefits of CBG are still not fully understood. However, initial research suggests that it may be a useful tool in the treatment of a wide range of physical and psychological conditions. Let’s take a look at the existing research on CBG and how it could affect your health.
The Anti-inflammatory Effects of CBG
CBG is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties, meaning that it could potentially help in the treatment of many different chronic diseases.
One study on CBG for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) found that CBG reduced inflammatory markers in mice with induced IBD and relieved colitis. Based on these findings, the study’s authors suggest that CBG should be tested further in human subjects as a treatment for IBD.
If the anti-inflammatory properties of CBG can be confirmed, it is likely to have broad applications far beyond the treatment of colitis. Chronic inflammation is most often associated with painful conditions such as arthritis. However, it has also been linked to many serious disorders including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, depression, and cancer.
It is therefore highly desirable to find new ways of reducing inflammation in order to prevent and treat these potentially fatal conditions. Although more research is definitely required, cannabinoids including CBG could offer one such hope.
The Neuroprotective Effects of CBG
As well as having anti-inflammatory effects, CBG is also thought to act as an antioxidant and protect the nervous system from damage. It does this in a similar way to the endocannabinoid 2-AG.
Another animal study on the neuroprotective effects of CBG found that this cannabinoid could help to improve motor deficits and preserve neurons in neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington’s disease.
The Antimicrobial Effects of CBG
CBG, along with some other cannabinoids, has been shown to have antibacterial effects. When tested against various strains of the notorious Staphylococcus aureus bacterium in a laboratory, CBG was found to have significant antimicrobial properties. This finding could be especially important in the future, as antibiotic resistance is now becoming more and more commonplace across the globe.
CBG as an Appetite Stimulant
CBG also shows great promise as an appetite stimulant. In a 2016 study on CBG for appetite, rats were given either CBG or placebo, and their feeding habits were observed. The rats who ingested CBG increased their number of meals and doubled their overall food intake, although the amount eaten at meals and the duration of meals was unaffected.
The researchers did not observe any adverse effects in the rats treated with CBG, making this cannabinoid a promising therapy for conditions such as anorexia and cachexia.
CBG for Bladder Problems
A 2015 study on cannabinoids for bladder dysfunction found that these compounds have the ability to reduce acetylcholine-induced bladder contractions in mice. Among all of the cannabinoids tested, CBG was one of the most effective along with Δ9-tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV). CBG has also been shown to reduce these contractions in human subjects.
CBG for Cancer
Due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, CBG could also potentially be used as a weapon in the fight against cancer.
A study on CBG for colon cancer found that this cannabinoid may be able to inhibit the growth of cancerous cells and it appears to have anti-tumoral properties in mice. It could, therefore, act as both a prevention and a cure for this life-threatening disease some time in the future.
Cannabinoids have also been researched as a treatment for breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, skin cancer, pancreatic cancer, bone cancer, glioma, lymphoma, and head and neck cancers. Although the initial results are encouraging, more knowledge is needed before cannabinoids could be considered for clinical trials in human subjects.
Other Uses for CBG
CBG is just beginning to emerge from under the shadow of THC and CBD in terms of its potential advantages for health. It has been suggested that, as well as influencing the CB1 and CB2 receptors, CBG may affect α2-adrenoceptors and 5-HT1A serotonin receptors in the nervous system.
It is also possible that CBG could block the reuptake of the neurotransmitter noradrenaline by cells. If this proves to be true, then CBG could also be useful in combating the symptoms of depression.
Final Thoughts on CBG
Although CBG is not the most well-known of all the cannabinoids, it appears to have a dramatic influence over many of the body’s vital systems. Although there is still so much more to learn about this cannabinoid and how it affects us, the initial research is extremely promising.
It is clear that far more needs to be done in order to fully understand the endocannabinoid system and the role that cannabis plays in human health and disease. However, we are getting closer and closer all the time, and hopefully, in the near future, we will finally be able to see the full picture of how this amazing herb and its components can impact our health and well-being.