You certainly know about tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and cannabidiol, or CBD , the two most famous cannabinoids of upward of 100 found in cannabis plants. As popular as those CBD products are, few folks even know about cannabigerol, or CBG. Despite its obscurity, scientific data suggests that CBG offers some interesting benefits on its own. Some even tout it the next big trend to hit the cannabis market.
Cannabinoids are unique classes of chemical compounds. They are active, which literally means they act on specific receptors in cells to manipulate the release of hormones, neurotransmitters, and other cellular mechanisms essential for healthy function. CBG is one of them, produced in small quantities by cannabis plants, both marijuana and hemp. Because levels are low, science calls a minor cannabinoid.
However, when you buy CBG oil, you will not find it minor. Discovered in 1964 by Ralph Mechoulam and Yehiel Gaoni, two world-renowned scientists from Israel, CBG begins its life as cannabigerolic acid, or CBGA. Cannabigerol synthesizes into an active cannabinoid as plants age and mature, or when you expose it to heat. It is non-psychoactive. It will not make you “high.” Actually, CBG suppresses the intoxicating effect of THC.
The non-acidic variant of CBGA, CBG has the important role of being the foundational cannabinoid from which all others derive. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the first cannabinoid that cannabis plants produce is CBGA, which then converts into others at different times in its cycle. Being the very first molecule, all cannabis plants make CBGA, the non-acidic version of CBG, in their trichomes.
As plants age and mature, various enzymes cause CBGA to break down into acidic cannabinoids, converting them into completely new ones. Most of the time, CBGA converts into cannabichromene acid, or CBCA, cannabidiolic acid, or CBDA, and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, or THCA. After heating, or decarboxylation, these compounds convert again into their active counterparts, CBC, CBD, and THC.
Although rare, sometimes CBGA will convert into CBG. It does too sometimes when you heat or age it. Breeders are now crossbreeding plants and experimenting with manipulating their genes to express higher levels of CBG. Scientists are extracting high concentrations from buds about six weeks into their eight-week flowering cycle. CBG is highest then, not yet converted into other cannabinoids.
As a cannabinoid, and like the many others, CBG works by interacting with the endocannabinoid system to influence the body and its functions. The endocannabinoid system is a vast network of signaling responsible for maintaining homeostasis and keeping the body functioning healthily and in balance. The cannabinoids in cannabis are very similar to your own endocannabinoids, made by your own body.
They work similarly too. CBG interacts with the endocannabinoid receptors of your endocannabinoid system. These receptors are CB1 and CB2. Cannabigerol specifically acts as a mild CB1 antagonist, which means it suppresses a particular biological response by partly binding to and partly blocking a certain receptor. Studies show CBG attaching to CB2 receptors, but teams are investigating its pharmacological action.
Evidence also shows CBD increasing Anandamide levels. Anandamide is an important endocannabinoid responsible for ensuring efficiency of the entire endocannabinoid system. What is more, CBG inhibits Anandamide-breaking enzymes, which means more of it to ensure smooth governance of the whole system. However, Cannabigerol affects more than just the endocannabinoid system.
Studies show CBG behaving as an agonist of 5-HT1A receptors. These oversee the production of serotonin, a vital neurotransmitter. In its 5-HT1A-agonist role, Cannabigerol binds and activates G-protein-coupled a2-adrenergic receptors to influence the release of epinephrine and norepinephrine. Studies show Cannabigerol acting on vanilloid receptors too, which detect and regulate sensation and response.
CBG is CBD. Well, it once was. CBG is the cannabinoid that converts into CBD. However, despite this, they are different cannabinoids with different effects and different mechanisms of action. They have differing effects on the endocannabinoid system, with both suppressing CB1 as indirect agonists preventing receptor access to other chemicals, but with CBD unable to bind to CB2 the way CBG does.
Both are non-psychoactive, which means neither can make you stoned. Full-spectrum CBD products contain all the cannabinoids in a plant, which includes CBG and CBD. Compared to using Cannabigerol isolate, a full-spectrum product offers the health benefits of all available cannabinoids, and not just those of CBG. The more cannabinoids you consume, the better for you.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, this philosophy is the “entourage effect,” a method of enhancing the benefits of cannabis therapy by consuming a larger, fuller spectrum of cannabinoids, terpenes, and even flavonoids. They all work together to heal you synergistically. Whole plant medicine is undeniably more effective than using just parts of it.
CBG is legal. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp and all of its cannabinoids at the federal level. Only THC remains prohibited, but since hemp contains trace quantities of it, hemp cannot make users “high.” It is therefore widely available in extract form. Best CBD products are especially popular, but because plants contain so little Cannabigerol, extracting it is more expensive.
As Forbes explains, the process of acquiring CBD extract comes with several notable hurdles. It is not so easy to buy CBG oil. However, you can find it if you know where to look. You can find it in any dispensary, or in any store, that sells a quality full-spectrum CBD oil. It will contain Cannabigerol. Alternatively, you can find a supplier directly or ask a budtender if he or she can order pure CBG oil for you.