Cannabigerol (CBG) Introductory Guide
Most of us attribute the effects of cannabis to cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). After all, they’ve received the most attention from the media, health experts, and researchers.
In reality, the cannabis plant contains hundreds of active compounds known as cannabinoids. This includes cannabigerol (CBG), which is present in relatively small concentrations in most cannabis plants.
But what is CBG?
Research suggests that CBG may have multiple potential benefits, such as stimulating appetite. As a result, CBG oil and other CBG products have been growing in popularity.
In this introductory guide, we’ll cover the key facts you need to know about CBG and explain why there’s so much hype around it.
What is CBG?
CBG belongs to a group of more than 120 natural compounds called cannabinoids, which are largely responsible for the health effects of cannabis. ¹
Like CBD, CBG can’t get you high because it’s non-intoxicating. It’s made from cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), which is the first cannabinoid produced by the cannabis plant. ²
CBGA is, in fact, the starting point for most cannabinoids. Specific enzymes turn it into tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), or cannabichromenic acid (CBCA), which are acidic forms of the cannabinoids most of us are familiar with.
When these acidic cannabinoids are exposed to heat (such as when people smoke cannabis), they’re transformed into their “active” form: THC, CBD, and CBC. ³
Cannabis plants typically have low (<1%) CBG levels because much of the CBGA is converted into THCA, CBDA, and CBCA. ⁴ As a result, CBG is typically considered a minor cannabinoid.
However, hemp producers are exploring different ways to grow the plant to obtain higher CBG levels.
CBG offers many potential benefits. That’s why there’s been growing interest in this non-intoxicating cannabinoid and CBG products are beginning to appear on the market. Some people even think CBG could become the next CBD.
Is CBG Legal?
CBG and any other cannabinoid isolated from hemp — the variety of cannabis with extremely low (no more than 0.3%) THC levels — is legal in the U.S.
Hemp was made into a legal, agricultural crop by the 2018 Farm Bill, leading to an explosion in hemp-derived, cannabinoid-rich products.
On top of that, some U.S. states allow for the recreational use of marijuana (the high-THC variety of cannabis), which means marijuana-derived CBG is also legal in these states.
The CBG isolated from both cannabis strains – hemp and marijuana – are also legal in Canada.
Meanwhile, in other countries, the legal status of cannabis, and by extent CBG, varies drastically. In many places, such as the Middle East and most of Africa, all types of cannabis are banned and, as is CBG.
Other countries may allow hemp, which means CBG products made from it are also legal. Many countries also have medical-only programs for access to cannabinoids or have a legal gray area where it’s not currently clear whether CBG and other cannabinoids are allowed.
How Does CBG Work?
There isn’t enough research to completely explain how CBG works. Having said that, current findings suggest that CBG produces its effects by influencing the endocannabinoid system as well as other parts of the body.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays an important role in our health by regulating stress, anxiety, sleep, mood, immunity, inflammation, metabolism, pain, and many other processes. ⁵
Its overall purpose is to keep our bodies in a state of healthy balance called homeostasis. You can think of homeostasis as a pair of perfectly even scales.
When something tilts one of the scales, such as anxiety, stress, or inflammation, the ECS is activated to restore balance.
The ECS can be stimulated by cannabinoids naturally made by our bodies (endocannabinoids) through different cannabinoid receptors (CB1 & CB2).
Receptors are like locks found on different cells that only respond to specific keys; in our case, different cannabinoids.
There are also enzymes that specifically create and break down these endocannabinoids to control ECS activity.
Research suggests that CBG doesn’t bind very strongly to either CB1 or CB2 receptors. However, it seems to reduce the reuptake of anandamide, one of the main endocannabinoids made by your body, increasing its levels. ⁶
Studies have also shown that CBG can interact with adrenergic, serotonin, and TRPV receptors, which have a wide variety of similar health-related roles in the body. ⁷
CBG and the Entourage Effect
Aside from the above, CBG is also likely to play a part in the “entourage effect” — the theory that all of the cannabinoids and other components of cannabis work together in synergy, producing greater effects than any compound alone. ⁸
As demonstrated by multiple studies, this effect seems to be responsible for the greater efficacy of whole-plant cannabis preparations in comparison to isolated cannabinoids.
For example, there’s evidence that CBD enhances the therapeutic and decreases the side effects of THC, which means using them together can produce greater results. ⁹
Although further research is needed, CBG can likely have similar interactions with other compounds in cannabis.
The Different Types of CBG Products
Just like CBD, CBG products can come in three main extraction types: isolate, full-spectrum, and broad-spectrum.
Isolate refers to the pure form of any cannabinoid. A CBG isolate would mean that it doesn’t contain any other compounds except for CBG. Isolate can be sold in a powder form or formulated into CBG oils and other products.
Full-spectrum CBG is a whole-plant extract that contains CBG, CBD, THC, and all other cannabinoids found in the hemp plant.
This is usually made from hemp that’s been grown specifically for high CBG content because regular hemp has low CBG levels. The amount of CBG in this extract should be higher or similar to CBD.
Full-spectrum hemp extracts also contain terpenes.
Terpenes are natural compounds that give cannabis and other plants their distinct aromas and flavors. They have also been demonstrated to have beneficial health effects and work in synergy with cannabinoids. ¹⁰
That means they can also play a major role in the entourage effect. For instance, the terpene myrcene is known for its sedative, pain-relieving, and muscle-relaxing effects, which may work together with THC to produce the “couch-lock” experienced by some cannabis users. ¹¹
Another way to make full-spectrum CBG is to combine a regular full-spectrum CBD extract with CBG isolate to bring up its low CBG levels.
Lastly, broad-spectrum CBG is identical to full-spectrum but with one difference: all of the THC has been removed.
What is CBG Oil?
The three types of CBG extract can be sold in the same wide variety of products as CBD. This includes CBG oils, capsules, edibles, topicals, and much more. Such CBG products are still relatively new so they will be harder to find than their CBD counterparts.
The Effects of CBG
Because CBG research is still in its infancy, we don’t know too much about CBG’s effects and side effects. One study in rats found that CBG stimulated appetite without producing any significant side effects. ¹²
Other studies have suggested other beneficial properties, such as reducing different types of inflammation. However, human research is needed before we fully understand CBG’s effects.
There isn’t one correct amount of CBG to take. It varies by individual, based on your body weight, body chemistry, the symptoms you’re hoping to improve, and their severity.
Other factors that can influence CBG dosage include the type of product you’re taking, its concentration, and the delivery method.
On top of that, CBG is a relatively new and under-examined cannabinoid, so there isn’t a lot of scientific or anecdotal data on how much you should take.
Your best bet is to apply CBD’s general dosing recommendations to CBG. The vast majority of CBD users take anywhere from 10 mg to 50 mg of CBD one to two times per day.
That means you can start by taking a low (10-15 mg) dose of CBG and see how it affects you. If there’s no effect, increase the dosage incrementally, making sure to stop and check how you feel after every dose.
Do this until you can notice the desired effects or benefits and stick to that dosage in the future.
Choosing the Right CBG Extract
Another important tip to keep in mind is to choose the optimal type of CBG for your needs. If you’re looking for the greatest benefits and want to get the most out of the entourage effect, then full-spectrum CBG products will be your best option.
Meanwhile, if you need to avoid THC, broad-spectrum CBG products will be the better choice. Finally, if you just want pure CBG and nothing else, you should choose products containing CBG isolate.
CBG Benefits & Health Conditions
There isn’t a lot of research looking at CBG because it’s a minor cannabinoid. Having said that, the few studies that have been done paint a promising picture, suggesting that CBG may have multiple potential benefits:
- One study found that CBG and other cannabinoids may have antibacterial effects. ¹³
- A mouse study found that CBG reduced bladder contractions more effectively than four other cannabinoids, suggesting its potential use in bladder dysfunction disorders. ¹⁴
- Another mouse study showed that CBG had beneficial effects on inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). ¹⁵
- Another animal study reported that CBG seemed to reduce neuroinflammation in mice with multiple sclerosis (MS). ¹⁶
- CBG might also have neuroprotective properties, as it protected the neurons of mice with Huntington’s disease. ¹⁷
- A study of multiple cannabinoids reported that CBG can reduce keratinocyte proliferation, the process largely responsible for psoriasis. ¹⁸
- A study in rats found that CBG had appetite-stimulating effects that can have many exciting applications, such as offering a non-intoxicating alternative to THC for counteracting weight loss in people with HIV, cancer, and other serious conditions. ¹⁹
- A test-tube study found that CBG inhibited colorectal cancer cell growth while another reported similar effects on human carcinoma cells, suggesting potential anti-cancer effects. ²⁰ ²¹
It’s far too early to conclude anything from these findings because they’re limited to animal and test-tube research. Still, they do suggest that CBG can have similar and some unique benefits when compared to CBD, paving the way for its increased use.
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