Most people have heard about delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), the two most popular cannabinoids, but there are actually many more cannabinoids that are virtually unheard of outside of the medical community. Cannabinoids are chemical derivatives of the cannabis plant that interact with the cannabinoid receptors in the human body. One of these minor cannabinoids is cannabigerol (CBG), and, although few studies have focused on the benefits of CBG in comparison to the relatively abundant research available on CBD and THC, it has some promising medical potential.
WHAT IS CBG?
CBG is considered a minor cannabinoid because it’s present in very low quantities (less than 1%) in most strains of cannabis. It is actually the parent chemical of THC and CBD. Cannabis plants produce cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), which is then turned into tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) through enzymatic processes. Through light exposure or heat energy, these three acids breakdown into CBG, THC, or CBD, respectively. CBGA is usually immediately converted to either THCA or CBDA, which is why in most strains it’s present in such a low amount. As CBG continues to be researched, however, demand for this cannabinoid is increasing. Some breeders are crossing strains in order to obtain higher yields of CBG. It’s also possible to extract CBG from budding plants a couple weeks before flowering.
Although technically not listed as a scheduled controlled substance in the US, CBG could fall under the label of a “marijuana extract” which was added as a Schedule I drug as of 2016. Laws regarding cannabis products in the US are confusing and often differ across state lines. This legal ambiguity and contradiction can hinder further research, but hopefully in the future there is more legal clarity at the federal and state levels regarding cannabis products in the US.
WHAT ARE THE POTENTIAL BENEFITS OF CBG?
Although some cannabinoids like CBD have been the focus of research for decades, CBG has only recently started to gain more interest in the scientific realm. Studies have been promising, which is one reason isolate products like our CBG oil drops have been gaining attention especially among those affected by IBS, ALS, and chronic pain.
- CBG has been shown to induce hyperphagia (increase appetite). A 2016 study tested the effects of 120-240 mg/kg of purified CBG in rats and found that these doses “more than doubled total food intake and increased the number of meals consumed.”
- Another more recent study administered 120-240 mg/kg of CBG-rich botanical drug substance (ie. cannabis with high CBG content but still devoid of its active ingredient, THC) to rats and found similar increases in appetite. Importantly, both these studies also tested ambulation and neuromotor capability and found CBG had no adverse effects on these functions, supporting the fact that CBG is non-psychotropic.
- In one experimental study on mice, CBG was shown to relieve symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a disease that currently has no cure and affects millions of people. Scientific evidence already suggests that cannabis use can help with IBD symptoms, but CBG could be an effective non-psychotropic reliever.
- In an in-vitro experiment imitating the molecular neurodegeneration associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), CBG alone (as well as in combination with CBD) reduced neuroinflammation and oxidative stress, suggesting CBG could have potential therapeutic applications. Another similar study found that a cannabigerol derivative may even promote neurogenesis and neuroblast formation! These results also support the theory of the entourage effect: the idea that different cannabinoids can work together in unique ways. A small body of research and much anecdotal evidence among users about the entourage effect has resulted in demand for products that combine cannabinoids like CBD and CBG or use full-spectrum hemp extract which includes all cannabinoids, terpenes, and essential vitamins and minerals found in the hemp plant.
CAN CBG GET YOU HIGH?
Psychoactive, or psychotropic, medications (PMs) are drugs that affect cognitive and psychological functions and are often prescribed for psychiatric diseases. Cannabis is considered such a drug as it contains THC, a chemical responsible for the “high” of marijuana. CBG, on the other hand, is considered non-psychotropic because it has not been shown to impact neuromotor capabilities in any meaningful way, and thus can’t cause a high like marijuana can. Many non-psychotropic medications (non-PMs) are those that are prescribed for physical diseases but can also influence brain function, and this influence can be beneficial. As Vincent Hede, MD and Cedric Deville, MD elaborate on in a literature review published last year (2019), using non-psychotropic drugs can have many benefits. These alternatives often have fewer side effects, lead to more research and study about their mechanism of action, and often have minimal development cost. Based on current research, CBG has a lot of potential as a non-psychotropic alternative medication for many diseases and illnesses, and the list continues to grow as more research comes out and CBG gains more attention.