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CBD Vs CBG: What Should I Choose?

By: Katrina Lubiano

If you're like us and have your finger on the pulse of cannabis news, you've probably seen a lot of buzz surrounding a new cannabinoid, cannabigerol a.k.a CBG.

It's not technically a new cannabinoid by any means, but the popular cannabinoids CBD and THC have long overshadowed its attention. By now, you may be familiar with CBD for its benefits towards supporting a healthy and natural state of well-being.

If you haven't tried it for yourself already, you can find CBD virtually everywhere from your local health store, head-shops, or get it sent straight to your door by ordering online.

This article will explore the differences between CBD vs CBG, the benefits, and how to use these compounds to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

A Short Intro To CBDa And CBGa

Let's start at the very beginning with the raw, unprocessed hemp plant.

Cannabinoids are crystal-like resin glands (trichomes) produced on the flowers of mature cannabis plants. It's believed that the plant has these compounds to protect from harsh climate conditions and pests.

The raw form of CBG is CBGa or cannabigerolic acid. Cannabigerolic acid is often called the stem-cell or the parent molecule to major cannabinoids, including THCa, CBDa, and CBCa.

CBGa is formed in the early flowering period of the cannabis plant (3–4 weeks). As the plant is exposed to UV from the sun, CBGa transforms into either THCa, CBDa, or CBCa, depending on the plant strain and other environmental factors.

Because CBGa transforms into the more abundant cannabinoids, CBG is present in low amounts in mature plants, making it a minor cannabinoid. However, plant breeders are experimenting with genetic manipulation to preserve higher concentrations of CBG in mature crops alongside THC and CBD.

what are cannabinoids infographic

How Do We Get CBD, THC, and CBG?

Heat causes a chemical reaction, called decarboxylation, that breaks off a carbon atom chain, changing the chemical formula from CBDa to CBD, which you get in most CBD oil products. 

However, the effects of decarboxylation are most noticeable with THCa. To activate the compound's psychoactive properties, you need to cure or heat the THCa to break off the carbon chain to get THC to bind to specific receptors. It's also believed that heated cannabinoids have a molecular structure that is a better fit for receptors in the body, making them more bioavailable.

With more research delving into the properties of CBG, we're discovering that CBG shares many benefits similar to CBD and THC. Still, CBG also produces unique effects of its own, thanks to its distinctive molecular structure.

cannabinoid formation infographic

CBD Vs CBG Cannabinoid Structure

If we're comparing the molecular structure of CBD and CBG, that is, the arrangement of atoms that make up the cannabinoid, we'll see that they're quite different. This is important because the molecular structures of these compounds indicate how they may behave in the body, a.k.a their pharmacology.

The shape of these structures gives us an idea of how they bind to different receptors to carry out tasks in the body. You can think of receptors like keyholes, and the shape of certain molecules has to fit perfectly into the receptors to elicit a specific action.

Cannabinoids primarily interact with the body's endocannabinoid system, which is tasked with regulating other body systems, including the immune response, metabolism, hormones, stress, and much more.

There are two main receptors in the endocannabinoid system — CB1 and CB2. CBD has a low affinity to bind to these receptors but instead helps increase the sensitivity of these receptors to bind to internal cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids or phytocannabinoids (plant-derived) found in cannabis

While CBG seems to have a better molecular shape to interact with the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the brain, CBG's shape also allows it to interact at the a2-adrenoceptor site to activate the body's sedative and pain-masking response [1].

cannabidiol vs cannabigerol infographic

What's The Difference Between CBD and CBG?

As CBG is the precursor molecule to CBD, it's no surprise that there are some similarities between them.

However, when it comes to the CBD vs CBG difference, here's a summary:

  • The concentration in mature cannabis plants
  • The molecular structure of the compounds
  • How they interact in the body (pharmacology)

Is CBG Legal?

CBG operates under the same regulations as CBD products in the United States. It's entirely legal as long as it's harvested from hemp plants that contain less than 0.3% THC. However, CBD regulations may still vary from state to state and have the potential to change over time. Always make an effort to stay engaged and actively follow your local state laws to stay informed. 

Like CBD, CBG does not produce psychoactive effects like a high. So you can enjoy the benefits of CBG without worrying about any mind-altering consequences.

CBD Vs CBG — Which Should I Choose?

As more popularity surrounds the cannabis industry in health and wellness spaces, interesting studies are emerging to show us that CBG has unique benefits of its own that shouldn't be underestimated.

While most studies up until now have focused heavily on CBD and THC's pharmacology, CBG is slowly making its way into the spotlight, and it has a promising future.

Here we'll outline which cannabinoid would be best for a particular use case based on current research available. Keep in mind we still have a long way to understand what CBG has to offer fully as new research emerges.

To Support A Healthy Stress Response

Both CBD and CBG can help manage stress.

Stress is part of our fight-or-flight response and experiencing stress is not a bad thing. It's primary function is to boost energy and reaction time to help us out in emergencies — like fighting off a tiger.

While we're not faced with many tigers in everyday life (hopefully), our fight-or-flight response reacts to new stressors such as tight work deadlines, financial problems, health issues, or relationships.

When our stress isn't properly managed, we never activate the rest-and-digest response, which handles our recovery and digestion. When this stress response system is out of wack, it can lead to a constellation of health problems.

GABA is a neurotransmitter that acts as a brake pedal to the stress response [2].CBG and CBD have been shown to slow the breakdown of GABA in the brain, which helps to induce a sense of calm, counteracting the stress response's hyperactivity [3].

Other lifestyle changes you can do to mitigate your stress levels include:

  • Regular exercise
  • Prioritize sleep
  • Eat a well-balanced diet of nutrient-rich foods
  • Take up a meditation practice

To Increase Appetite

CBG may help stimulate your appetite.

There can be many different reasons people may experience a lack of appetite from hormonal changes, adverse side-effects from medications, and illnesses. Low food intake can lead to poor nutrition, fatigue, weakness, and a list of other health issues.

What does science say about CBG vs CBD benefits when it comes to appetite? Well, CBG is also the precursor to the munchie cannabinoid, THC, and these two compounds share appetite-stimulating effects.

CBG is a promising alternative to the high-inducing THC cannabinoid for someone looking to support a healthier appetite. It's been studied that CBG was able to increase the appetite in rats without negative side effects [4].

Here are other ways to overcome a poor appetite:

  • Increase your rate of physical activity
  • Plan your meals
  • Boost the flavor and smell of your food with aromatic herbs and spices
  • Choose calorie-dense foods for more energy

To Natural Inflammatory Response

Both CBG And CBD May Help to Support A Healthy Inflammatory Response.

Inflammation is a natural part of our immune system. It's another powerful mechanism designed to protect us, but it can lead to severe and long-term damage when it becomes out of balance.

In a healthy immune system, immune cells scout the body for potential threats. When you sustain an injury, these cells call for back-up to eliminate the threat, which causes normal inflammatory response [5]. The endocannabinoid system is tasked with maintaining equilibrium in the body, and one of its important functions is tied to regulating the immune response.

A healthy ECS can help make sure that the immune cells don't go overboard on the attack, causing damage to the body's cells [6]. Any compound that strengthens the ECS can have a beneficial outcome for the immune response and inflammation.

According to one study conducted on rats, CBG has limited actions on specific inflammatory markers that cause inflammation in the gut, which helped to reduce signs of inflammatory bowel disease in the rats[7]. While CBD is quite famous for its benefits towards supporting the body's natural inflammatory response, more research is underway for the potential benefits of CBG.

To Support Natural Recovery And Discomfort

Both CBG And CBD May Alleviate Natural Recovery & Ease Discomfort.

During a strenuous workout, you're pushing your muscles to work harder than they're used to, causing microscopic tears to the muscle fibers. This is what's believed to cause achy muscles and discomfort, which can prevent you from hitting the gym again. Many athletes are looking for ways to decrease recovery times between workouts. With less pain in the muscles, you can get back into the action without causing injury and discomfort.

One of the reasons you're feeling pain is the microscopic tears to your muscle fibers, which then induces the inflammatory response we mentioned earlier. Because the endocannabinoid is closely linked to this immune response, any compound that strengthens the ECS can help mitigate the effects of inflammation and the pain that comes with it.

On top of this, both CBD and CBG interact with unique pain-receptors sites to inhibit pain signals to the brain and relax tight or spastic muscles [8].

To Mitigate The Psychoactive Effects Of THC

CBG Has Been Shown To Combat Psychoactive Effects Of THC.

THC is the primary psychoactive compound produced in the cannabis plant. It has an affinity to bind with CB1 receptors. Its interaction with the CB1 receptors causes a flood of neurotransmitter release, including serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, that alters our state of mind and perception associated with the psychedelic high.

If you needed to choose one cannabinoid - CBD vs CBG effects to counteract THC's psychoactive properties, there's only one that does the job. It's been observed that young marijuana strains containing more CBG than THC limited the plant's psychoactive properties.

Upon further investigation, CBG blocks THC's psychoactive effects by preventing THC from binding to the receptors that activate serotonin release [9].

THC is a cannabinoid with many potential health benefits of its own. However, due to its mind-altering effects, it remains illegal in many parts of the world. Even with changes in its legal status, people are still turned-off by the compound. CBG shows promise in mitigating THC's psychoactivity so that more people may be able to include it into their health regimen.


Where Can You Find CBG Oil?

Most hemp-based products focus on CBD because of the limited research surrounding CBG, and it's lower concentration in crop harvests. That being said, you've likely experienced the benefits of CBG in full spectrum hemp extracts.

As the name suggests, full spectrum extracts maintain most of the hemp plant's natural cannabinoid compound, and it's considered the most potent extract type for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Still, most full spectrum extracts only contain trace amounts of CBG.

Thanks to its increasing popularity, hemp breeders are looking to produce higher CBG concentrations in their mature plants. More and more brands are beginning to recognize the benefits of CBG and are supplementing CBG isolate into their full spectrum extracts for an added boost.

Like with shopping for any cannabis product, it's important to remember not all CBD oil or CBG oils will be worth your money.

CBG oil shop now cbd

How To Shop For A Quality Product

While you can find CBD products virtually everywhere from your corner stores, local health food stores, head shops, and even gas stations — buying your hemp extract products online are always your safest bet.

When you shop online, you can access more information than what you can gather on the label off of a shelf.

Here's what you should look for.

Where Does The Company Source Its Hemp?

Hemp is grown worldwide for its many different uses in textiles, biodiesel, and even food. However, not all countries have strict agricultural regulations.

Look for hemp that's organically grown in the United States or Europe with high agricultural standards for food-based crops.

Hemp is particularly sensitive to its environment, absorbing pesticides, heavy metal in the soil, and even radioactive compounds that can end up in the final hemp extract.

Does The Company Provide Third-Party Lab Testing?

Third-party lab testing is a way to hold brands accountable for the products they market.

This isn't a required practice, but more and more brands are making it the standard to send a sample of their product to a non-biased lab to test for cannabinoid profile, potency, and potential contaminants.

Because the CBD industry is still relatively unregulated, you should always look to lab testing to verify what's in the bottle before handing over your hard-earned cash.

Look For Customer Reviews

Before purchasing oil from just any brand, look to see what others have to say about a company's quality and customer service.

A lack of customer reviews or a ton of bad experiences from customers is a red flag — Should steer clear and shop elsewhere.

CBD products aren't cheap. Look for brands who stand behind their product and are known for their customer service, so if you ever run into an issue, you know they'll have your best intentions at heart.

neurogan cbg gummy squares

Final Thoughts: CBG vs CBD

CBG is slowly making its way into the mainstream of the CBD industry, which means you'll soon be able to shop with even more variety in the market.

While there's still more research needed to understand the full benefits CBG has to offer, it's unsurprising that it shares many similarities to CBD and THC. Rather than looking for a CBG isolate, CBG is better off than other cannabinoids, much like CBD is more effective in a full spectrum extract.

When shopping for CBD or CBG oils, make sure you're doing your diligence with research and shopping with reputable brands who can show you transparency in their business practice and have a reliable customer service team who can answer your concerns.

If you've tried a CBG product, we'd love to know your experience. Feel free to comment below.


Resources:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6021502/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6103381/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/168349/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5021742/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2923430/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3044336/#:~:text=Endocannabinoid%20receptors%20in%20immune%20system,mechanisms%20%5B15%2C16%5D.
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23415610/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2503660/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2823359/


Disclaimer

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.

About Katrina Lubiano

Katrina Lubiano is a content writer in the health and wellness space based in Vancouver, Canada — Canada's epicenter for cannabis culture. When she's not working, she enjoys sailing, watercolor painting, and cooking.