While there's no doubt that CBD has become a hot topic in health and wellness, there's a new cannabinoid making a notable impression in the scene - CBG.
We're calling it a "new" cannabinoid, but it's not technically new. CBG is only now taking center stage in pharmacological studies and making a splash in cannabis product marketing, but CBG is considered a minor cannabinoid with major potential.
In this complete guide to the newest cannabinoid on the block, we'll get into what researchers are saying about the effects of CBG, what CBG is suitable for, and how to use CBG oil for yourself.
What Does CBG Stand For?
CBG stands for cannabigerol.
Cannabis sativa plants are a natural source of over a hundred phytochemicals known collectively as cannabinoids. To date, most medicinal research focuses primarily on the most abundant cannabinoids, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol), which have both shown incredible, natural health benefits in mammals.
The acidic form of cannabigerol, CBDa (cannabigerol acid), is the parent molecule to better-known cannabinoids —CBDa transforms into THCa and CBDa, essentially the raw, unprocessed forms of THC and CBD.
When dried and heated, a chemical reaction, called decarboxylation, removes the cannabinoid molecule's carboxylic acids; transforming THCa, CBDa, and CBGa into, THC, CBD, and CBG.
Why Does Hemp Produce Cannabinoids?
It's amazing how cannabis plants produce so many compounds that interact with the human endocannabinoid system — but why does it produce them in the first place?
It's believed that cannabinoids protect the cannabis plant from the sun's harmful UV radiation and harsh climate conditions. Another theory as to why cannabis plants produce cannabinoids is to defend against pests. Many cannabinoids have both anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.
A flowering hemp plant begins to produce crystal-like molecules, known as cannabinoids. CBGa emerges around the 3/4-week mark of the flowering phase. As the plant is exposed to ultraviolet radiation from the sun, the CBGa molecule transforms into either THCa, CBGa, or CBCa. This is where the CBG cannabinoid aptly gets its reputation as the parent molecule.
To yield more CBG from the hemp crops, farmers need to harvest their crops before the molecule transforms into other cannabinoids, or hyper-concentrate the small amounts of CBG in full grown hemp plants. However, this harvest will substantially lack THC and CBD levels produced in the later flowering phase.
What Is CBG Good For?
As a cannabinoid, CBG benefits our body's endocannabinoid system (ECS) and the name "cannabinoid" in the ECS is no coincidence. Its discovery in 1992 came from research looking for how the active compounds in cannabis interact with our bodies.
It turns out these plant-made cannabinoids behave similarly to endogenous (internal) cannabinoids to relay messages within the ECS. The ECS behaves as a modulator for our immune system, nervous system, and nearly all the body's organs .
This explains why THC, CBD, and CBG effects are so extensive. As we've briefly mentioned, CBG is the parent molecule to the most notable cannabinoids, THC and CBD. CBG's importance was once tied strictly to its transformation into these compounds — however, researchers have highlighted CBG's unique properties and interactions with the endocannabinoid system.
CBG Benefits According To Recent Studies
As research progresses in the cannabis space, more and more attention is placed on CBG. It's important to note that research is still in its early phases, and there's still a lot to uncover about the benefits of CBG and potential side effects.
We've rounded up the most interesting research to date on the mother of all phytocannabinoids. These findings give insight into what is CBG used for and opens up potential in future research into CBG oil benefits.
CBG May Help To Support Focus
Users often report a sense of alertness or focus related to CBG. One of the possible explanations for this effect is that CBG has shown great potential as a neuroprotectant. CBG helps to support healthy inflammatory function and has even been shown to possibly support neurogenesis, the growth of new brain cells - possibly leading to greater capacity for focus and attention.
CBG May Help To Support A Healthy Appetite
Marijuana, the cannabis plant potent in the psychoactive compound THC, has been comedically associated with the munchies. CBG seems to share this appetite-stimulating trait with THC. Inducing appetite can help certain people get an adequate amount of nutrients into their bodies.
Overindulging in junk food is typically what comes to mind with the marijuana munchies. However, there are cases in which an increase in appetite is beneficial, such as for those experiencing a lack of appetite for various reasons.
In a study conducted with rats, CBG was found to increase the appetite in well-satiated rats without producing any dangerous side-effects [ 2].
CBG May Help To Support A Normal Stress Response
One of the many reasons people turn to hemp-derived CBD oil is to manage their emotional well-being. It turns out that CBG may be more beneficial to help support a normal stress response over its famous counterpart, CBD.
Both CBD and CBG help to inhibit the breakdown of the neurotransmitter, GABA. Increased concentrations of GABA may have potent relaxation effects that help to regulate the stress response .
However, there's another mechanism at play in which CBG helps to support stress management. CBG happens to be a potent 5-HT1A serotonin receptor antagonist . Studies suggest that CBG inhibits serotonin's uptake, which means a higher concentration of this neurotransmitter may stay active in the brain, helping to support mood .
CBG May Help to Support Eye Health
There's a high concentration of cannabinoid receptors in eye tissues. It turns out, the endocannabinoid system may play a vital role in maintaining eye health.
High levels of eye pressure ( ocular hypertension) can result in poor blood flow to the optic nerves, affecting vision. Research suggests that cannabinoids, and notably, CBG, may help to regulate a healthy level of intraocular eye pressure .
CBG May Help to Support A Normal Inflammatory Response
While CBD is best known for its role in supporting a healthy immune response, CBG has shown effects on particular inflammatory channels in mice related to inflammatory response [ 7].
According to a recent study, CBG limited the actions of significant inflammatory markers, including IL-1, IL-10, iNOS, and interferon-γ.
The concluding observation in the study found that CBG helped to support a normal inflammatory response.
CBG Shows Promise To Support Healthy Metabolic Process
A study published in 2019 supports CBG's potential in effecting fat storage. Specifically, adipocyte tissues closely related to obesity .
This study was conducted via computer simulation, but its positive findings help to progress this research into animal and human studies on CBG and fat metabolism needed to substantiate this benefit.
CBG May Help to Support Comfort
One of the more popular reasons people seek out hemp-based products is to help alleviate discomfort naturally.
CBG is found to exhibit more analgesic (comfort-inducing) effects than THC and is a much better GABA reuptake inhibitor than both THC and CBD . Additionally, While we've briefly touched on GABA's effects on the stress response, it's also a muscle relaxant.
Does CBG Get You High?
A large concern people have when using a cannabis product is its potential for a high feeling. CBG is non-psychoactive and will not get you high. In fact, some research suggests that CBG may work to counteract the psychoactive effects of THC, making it a useful anti-psychotic compound .
THC produces a high mainly by activating the CB1 endocannabinoid receptor in the central nervous system. The activated CB1 receptors release a cascade of feel-good hormones, such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, associated with high marijuana use.
THC may also interact with serotonin receptors, we mentioned one earlier, 5HT1A. Serotonin has many important jobs, but it plays a vital role in our perceived senses: mood, heart rate, and blood pressure in the central nervous system. CBG counteracts the effects of THC by binding to the CB1 receptors and the 5HT1A receptor.
Aside from producing a high, THC has its own set of health benefits. However, it's psychoactive properties make it an undesirable compound for most people — and its legal status remains problematic in most parts of the world. Plant breeders are still looking for ways to include higher concentrations of CBG to high THC marijuana strains to help offset potent psychoactive effects.
Is CBG Legal?
Hemp-derived CBG oil is controlled under the same laws as CBD. As long as the CBG is derived from hemp crops that contain less than 0.3% THC, it's legal in the United States and Canada. Yet, CBD regulations for sales and purchase may vary state by state and have the potential to change over time. We highly encourage you to always stay engaged and actively follow your local state laws to stay informed.
Because we're only now beginning to understand CBG benefits, it can be hard to source CBG oil-only products (We made one!). You'll find CBG in most full spectrum hemp products and select oils that enrich their CBD with CBG.
What Is CBG Oil?
The hemp plant is home to a lot of naturally occurring cannabinoids, including one we're sure you've heard of, Cannabidiol (CBD). However, the cannabis plant hosts many other minor cannabinoids: CBN, CBG, and Delta-8 THC.
CBG is unique in that it plays a very specific role in the chemistry of cannabis. CBG is the precursor to both THC and CBD. It's for this reason that total amounts of CBG typically make up less than 1% of the total plant makeup, as it transforms to create other cannabinoids within the plant.
You've likely encountered CBG in small amounts in full spectrum CBD oils because the nature of full spectrum extracts is to maintain as much of the natural phytochemical profile of the hemp crops as to produce well-rounded benefits.
In the same way that full spectrum hemp products produce more potent effects over CBD isolate-based products, CBG in full spectrum form is the best form of CBG oil. This is because of a phenomenon called the entourage effect. Plant compounds will yield greater health effects in combination with complementary compounds. Remember, cannabis plants produce over a hundred different cannabinoids that all compound their effects in the ECS.
While you may see more and more CBG isolate products hitting the market, the best way to add cannabis products into your lifestyle is in a range of cannabinoids either in full spectrum extract or THC-free broad spectrum extracts.
What Are The Side Effects Of CBG?
Now that we have a better understanding of the question, "what does CBG do?" It's important to look at potential side effects.
There currently aren't enough clinical trials in humans to determine the potential side effects of CBG. However, CBG, like other cannabinoids, has very low toxicity and it is generally well tolerated. In the clinical trials with rats, where high doses of CBG was used, there were no significant adverse effects .
What Are The Main Differences Between CBG and CBD?
Because cannabigerol is the precursor molecule for cannabidiol, there's no surprise that these cannabinoids have many similarities.
The main differences between the two compounds include:
- Availability on the market- CBD products are much more abundant
- CBG is produced in earlier flowering hemp crops
- CBG is an appetite stimulator while CBG is an inhibitor
What To Look For In A Quality CBG Oil
Responsible Hemp Sourcing
There's a reason why reputable cannabis brands take so much pride in their hemp sources — a quality product begins at the source.
Nutrient-rich soil, adequate sunlight, and water contribute to the hemp plant's ability to produce high levels of cannabinoids. Because cannabis plants are so efficient at taking in the nutrients from their surroundings, they're also susceptible to absorbing harmful contaminants from the environment such as pesticides, heavy metals, and radiation.
Only purchase CBD and CBG oil products from clean, industrial hemp sources.
Unfortunately, trusting that a brand has a quality hemp source isn't enough. The CBD industry is so new, there isn't a lot of regulation in place for who can and can't sell products online. This is where third-party testing comes in to shed some light on business practices.
While this isn't a mandatory industry practice, third-party lab testing has become a standard. Companies will send a sample of their products to unbiased third-party labs to have it tested for cannabinoid potency and the presence of harmful contaminants.
Checking with the lab testing is a good practice for buying a cannabis-based product.
Final Thoughts: CBG Benefits
Most of the research surrounding the cannabis plant has centered around THC and CBD, as they're the most abundant compounds. However, there are over a hundred more minor cannabinoids that contribute to the many health benefits of hemp extracts that are worth looking into.
As the parent molecule to many different cannabinoids and its non-psychoactive effects, CBG stands out as the next big compound. You'll likely be seeing more of it the health and wellness space as more selective breeding, early crop harvesting, and CBG isolation become more popular.
As for shopping for any health-related product, you should always do your due diligence when it comes to research as not all cannabis products are made equal. To make sure you're getting safe and effective CBD and CBG oils, shop from reputable brands, check where the hemp is sourced, and reference third-party lab testing.
If you've tried CBG before, let us know what you think in the comment section below.
The statements made regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All information presented here is not meant as a substitute for or alternative to information from health care practitioners. Please consult your health care professional about potential interactions or other possible complications before using any product.