The hemp plant has hundreds of compounds that each have their own health benefits, which is why the hemp plant is more like a medicine cabinet than a single medication. By isolating the compounds we need, we can create medicine for all sorts of health issues. Hemp researchers focus on cannabinoid compounds when examining hemp’ components. You may already know about cannabidiol (CBD) but, what about cannabigerol (CBG)? Both of these cannabinoids have incredible health benefits, but they react with your body in different ways.
When you understand how cannabinoids work with the human body, you can make an informed decision for your well-being. Let’s talk about the differences between CBD and CBG and how you can benefit from each compound.
CBD: Natural Medicine
The compound known as cannabidiol (CBD) is one of two primary cannabinoids in hemp and has no psychoactive effects. This lack of impairment makes CBD a popular choice for many patients. Patients use CBD to relieve pain, mood disorders, sleep problems and many more symptoms.
CBG: The Parent Cannabinoid
In the young hemp plant, CBG acts as the first form of CBD, THC and cannabichromene (CBC). CBG is a member of the CBG group of cannabinoids that includes cannabigerolic acid (CBGA). The enzymes in a young hemp plant turn CBGA into cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), or cannabichromene acid (CBCA). These acids then break down into CBD, CBC or THC. Research suggests that CBG can kill bacteria, reduce inflammation, relieve pain and resolve even more symptoms.
Cannabinoids have such an impact on our health because they work with our natural systems. We each have an endocannabinoid system (ECS) that uses and makes cannabinoids. When a cannabinoid attaches to one of the system’s CB1 or CB2 receptors, it regulates our bodily functions. CBD and CBG have different interactions with the ECS that provide unique benefits.
CBD works by enhancing the ECS’ ability to relieve symptoms. It does not attach to the CB1 or CB2 receptors like most other cannabinoids. Instead, it blocks the fatty acid FAAH, which breaks down the endocannabinoid anandamide. Our bodies create anandamide, and it attaches to the CB1 receptor to impact our nervous systems. Some people have an anandamide deficiency or need extra anandamide to relieve their symptoms. With FAAH blocked, anandamide can stay in your system for a longer time in higher amounts.
Meanwhile, CBG seems to act as a partial agonist of the CB1 and CB2 receptors. This means it activates these receptors, but only to a certain extent. While CB1 receptors affect the brain, nerves and spinal cord, CB2 receptors influence the immune system. Since CBG binds to both types of receptors, it benefits all of these parts of the body.
All of this has yet to be proven in clinical trials, but there are some early studies showing that CBG may be a promising treatment for several conditions. Keep in mind, this isn't definitive proof, but studies that have been conducted and show promise.
May treat glaucoma and relieve intraocular pressure.A 1990 study looked at the use of CBG for glaucoma and found that "cannabigerol and related cannabinoids may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of glaucoma." However, you should continue to take doctor-prescribed glaucoma medication, and only take CBG or cannabis as an addition to your Rx meds and after consulting your doctor, says Dr. Solomon.
Have antibacterial properties, particularly for MRSA.Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or "MRSA" is a type of staph infection that is resistant to methicillin (a common type of antibiotic), rendering it a particularly threatening or even fatal bacterial infection. In a 2008 study, CBG showed promise for treating MRSA as an antibacterial agent.
Contributes to GABA reuptake inhibition.CBG inhibits GABA uptake, which could lead to muscle relaxation, tension relief, and sensation of calm and peace in the body and brain. GABA uptake inhibitors are already used to treat anxiety.
- Could help inflammatory bowel disease and colitis. Rats were studied in 2013 for the use of CBG for colitis, and the results were positive, concluding that CBG reduced the effect of colitis. According to the study, IBD patients have been experiencing "successful management of abdominal pain, joint pain, cramping, diarrhea, poor appetite, weight loss, and nausea" with the use of cannabis, but there are not many studies just yet exploring CBG as an isolated compound.
May work for Huntington's and neurodegenerative diseases.A 2015 study on mice found that "the use of CBG, alone or in combination with other phytocannabinoids or therapies, [could be a] treatment of neurodegenerative diseases," such as Huntington's disease. "CBG normalized expression of abnormal genes linked to brain degeneration, showing that it's a neuroprotective compound," said Dr. Goldstein
Potentially fights cancer.A review article in 2009 showed that CBG could potentially slow tumor growth. Another study from 2016 concluded that "the preclinical data strongly support the notion that non-psychoactive plant-derived CBs [cannabinoids, including CBG] can act as direct inhibitors of tumor progression as well as enhance the activity of first-line therapies." A 2014 study found similar results, reporting that CBG inhibited tumor growth in colon cancer, and 2006 study including cannabigerol noted it may help with breast cancer. In 2016, it was shown to be an appetite stimulant in rats, which could help patients undergoing chemotherapy.
Showing major promise for inflammation, including of the skin.A 2007 study looked at CBG's ability to treat eczema and psoriasis, and as mentioned, it may help reduce the inflammation caused by IBD.
Available CBD and CBG Products
You can find more CBD products available than CBG products. We have anecdotal and scientific evidence that shows CBD’s effectiveness, but we don’t have much information about CBG. As a result, most producers focus on CBD instead of CBG. Certain growers breed CBG-rich strains, such as John Snow. Otherwise, they don’t create products such as oils or topicals.
ConclusionScientists are excited about these initial CBG results and are promoting future research with CBG alone or CBG in combination with other cannabinoids and therapies for the treatment of multiple maladies. Because it is non-psychotropic, CBG has a promising wide range of potential applications not only for the problems mentioned above, but also as an analgesic, therapy for psoriasis, and as an antidepressant.
Shape: Dominique Astorino
Blog: Marijuana Doctors