Cannabigerol (CBG) is one of the many active compounds, known as cannabinoids, that occur 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 people often use CBD for its medicinal benefits. Unlike THC, CBD does not cause its consumers to get high. Patients frequently use it in the treatment of pain and inflammation, nausea, seizures, anxiety, PTSD, and depression.
CBG exists in lower concentrations than THC or CBD. 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. We will look at what it is, how it works, and exactly how it could be useful.
What Is CBG?
CBG was first discovered in Israel in 1964. Marijuana researchers Yehiel Gaoni and Raphael Mechoulam had just managed to isolate CBG, THC, and CBD from the cannabis plant. They may not have realized how important this was at the time. However, it was this discovery that went on to become the entire basis of our understanding of the plant today.
CBG occurs in lower concentrations than THC and CBD and differs from these compounds in several ways.
Unlike THC, CBG has no psychoactive properties, and therefore will not get you high. It exists in some varieties of industrial hemp as well as other, more potent, marijuana strains.
Despite people often overlooking CBG in favor of THC and CBD, it seems that it could also be potentially beneficial. However, CBG research is still in its infancy. There is no doubt that we still have much to learn about this compound.
However, thanks to scientists like Gaoni and Mechoulam, we now know a lot more about these cannabinoids. Research has shown that CBG and other cannabinoids have a remarkable effect on the human body.
How Does CBG Work?
Like other cannabinoids, CBG works by influencing 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 that our bodies produce. They bind with CB1 and CB2 receptors. Their role is to help regulate many of our physiological functions and maintain a state of internal balance.
CB1 receptors are primarily in the nervous system and brain. CB2 receptors are 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, provoking an anti-inflammatory effect.
The cannabinoids in the cannabis plant also can 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. It has also shown 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 body’s endocannabinoid system is known as the ‘entourage effect.’ Scientists are only just starting to comprehend the full implications of this. Although, some have suggested that using these cannabinoids in combination is more beneficial than using any one alone.
What Is CBG Used For?
We still don’t fully understand the health benefits of CBG. 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 appears to have anti-inflammatory properties. Therefore, it could potentially help in the treatment of many different chronic diseases.
One study on CBG for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) produced some interesting results. The researchers 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 scientists can confirm the anti-inflammatory properties of CBG, it may have broad applications far beyond the treatment of colitis. Chronic inflammation is most often associated with painful conditions such as arthritis. However, it is also 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 to prevent and treat these potentially fatal conditions. Although more research is required, cannabinoids, including CBG, could offer one such hope.
The Neuroprotective Effects of CBG
Aside from anti-inflammatory effects, CBG may also 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 produced some interesting results. It found that CBG 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 demonstrated antibacterial effects. When researchers tested it against various strains of Staphylococcus aureus bacterium in a laboratory, CBG was found to have significant antimicrobial properties. This finding could be especially crucial in the future, as antibiotic resistance is now becoming more and more commonplace.
CBG as an Appetite Stimulant
CBG also shows great promise as an appetite stimulant, as scientists discovered in a 2016 study on CBG for appetite. They gave rats either CBG or placebo and observed their feeding habits. The rats who ingested CBG increased their number of meals and doubled their overall food intake. However, the amount eaten at meals, and the duration of meals was unaffected.
The researchers did not observe any adverse effects in rats treated with CBG. This potentially could make 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 they are capable of reducing 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.
Other Uses for CBG
CBG is just beginning to emerge from under the shadow of THC and CBD. Now research is shedding more light on its potential health benefits. 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 accurate, then CBG could also be useful in combating the symptoms of depression.
Final Thoughts on CBG
It is true that CBG is not the most well-known of all the cannabinoids. Although, it appears to have a dramatic influence over many of the body’s vital systems. There is still so much more to learn about this cannabinoid and how it affects us. However, the initial research is extremely promising.
More research needs to be carried out to understand the endocannabinoid system fully.
This will help us understand the role that cannabis plays in human health and disease. However, we are getting closer and closer all the time. Hopefully, in the near future, we will have a fuller understanding of how these cannabinoids impact our health and well-being.