What is CBG?

2 min read

When talking about the cannabis plant, many people have heard about cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

However, there are other cannabinoids that provide a number of health benefits to the endocannabinoid system as well. One of these is CBG.

CBG stands for cannabigerol and is a chemical compound that is present in very low levels—usually under one percent—within various cannabis strains. [1]

Because it isn’t found in higher concentrations, it is commonly called a minor cannabinoid. Yet, this title is a bit of a misnomer because CBG is actually a building block for three of the better known cannabinoids found within the marijuana plant.

Specifically, cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) is the precursor to cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), and cannabichromenic acid (CBCA) since all of these of these chemical compounds are created when CBGA is broken down by specific enzymes.

After this breakdown, these acids are then exposed to ultraviolet light or heat, which is when they become the non-acidic versions of CBD and THC.

The way CBG works is by interacting with the human body’s cannabinoid receptors—which consist of both CB1 receptors found within brain cells and the spinal column and CB2 receptors that are located in other parts of the nervous system—providing a variety of positive health benefits as a result.

Many of these health benefits exist because CBG is an anti-inflammatory chemical compound. For instance, one study published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation found that the CBG derivative VCE-003.2 offers anti-inflammatory effects for mice injected with Parkinson’s disease. [2]

The Parkinson’s Foundation explains that Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that will afflict almost one million people by the year 2020, with symptoms that include tremors, slowness of movement, rigid limbs, and troubles walking and with balance. [3]

A similar study found that this same CBD derivative also shows positive anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects in mice models of Huntington’s disease, a condition characterized by degeneration of brain cells. [4]

Research has also discovered that leaf extracts taken from the cannabis sativa plant offers medicinal benefits due to their antibacterial effects. [5]

This makes CBG and a number of the other cannabinoids contained within the cannabis plant beneficial to all-too-common bacterial infections such as staphylococcus aureus (the technical term for a staph infection) and E. coli.

Other studies have found that CBG may even be helpful to those who have been diagnosed with MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), which is a bacterial infection that is highly resistant to many antibacterial drugs. [6]

Some studies have connected CBG to positive benefits for individuals diagnosed with cancer. This is critical as the National Cancer Institute reports that more than 1.7 million new cancer diagnoses are made annually, with approximately 609,640 people dying from this one chronic health condition every single year. [7]

For instance, one study published in Archives of Pharmacal Research found that, out of a number of cannabinoids that were tested, CBG had “the highest growth-inhibitory activity against the cancer cell lines.” [8]

In simpler terms, CBG offered the highest level of promise for potentially keeping oral cancer cells from growing and this inhibited cancer cell growth means that we may begin to see fewer incidences of this disease and/or enhanced cancer recovery.

CBG can also help cancer patients because it acts as an appetite stimulant, which is big for those undergoing chemotherapy, while also relieving chronic pain. [9][10]

Additional research has found that CBG helps individuals suffering from immune system diseases that are both inflammatory and have autoimmune components. [11] This would include conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

Individuals with bladder dysfunction may also benefit from CBG. For instance, one study investigated a number of different cannabinoids and found that CBG, CBD, CBDV (cannabidivarin), and THCV (delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinvarin) all decreased bladder contractions – with CBG reducing acetylcholine-induced contractions specifically. [12]

CBG is like CBD in that it is not a psychoactive cannabinoid.

In other words, you won’t get the same psychoactive effects with CBG that you get when you ingest THC via many of the products commonly found in medical marijuana dispensaries, which, in addition to medical cannabis, includes other items such as cannabis edibles and CBD oil that also contains THC.

Because the psychoactive side effects of THC can range from paranoia and anxiety to red eyes and dry mouth [13], should you decide to use a product that contains both CBG and THC, these potential effects can be decreased by choosing low doses of products that contain high THC strains. Staying hydrated helps as well.

View Sources Last Edited: August 10, 2019

[1] Havelka, J. “What Is CBG and What Are the Benefits of This Cannabinoid?” Leafly. Accessed Mar 18, 2019. https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/what-is-cbg-cannabinoid

[2] Garcia, C et al. “Benefits of VCE-003.2, a Cannabigerol Quinone Derivative, Against Inflammation-Driven Neuronal Deterioration in Experimental Parkinson’s Disease: Possible Involvement of Different Binding Sites at the PPARƴ Receptor.” Journal of Neuroinflammation. Jan 16, 2018; 15(19). Doi: 10.1186/s12974-018-1060-5. https://jneuroinflammation.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12974-018-1060-5

[3] “What is Parkinson’s?” Parkinson’s Foundation. Accessed Mar 18, 2019. https://parkinson.org/understanding-parkinsons/what-is-parkinsons

[4] Diaz-Alonso, J et al. “VCE-003.2, a Novel Cannabigerol Derivative, Enhances Neuronal Progenitor Cell Survival and Alleviates Symptomatology in Murine Models of Huntington’s Disease.” Scientific Reports. Jul 19, 2016; 29789. https://www.nature.com/articles/srep29789

[5] Naveed, M et al. “In Vitro Antibacterial Activity of Cannabis Sativa Leaf Extracts to Some Selective Pathogenic Bacterial Strains.” International Journal of Biosciences. Feb 20, 2014; 4(4): 65-70. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/159c/e24af35ffc6e262e14371d964db468c74e29.pdf

[6] Tandon, C & Mathur, P. “Antimicrobial Efficacy of Cannabis Sativa L. (Bhang): A Comprehensive Review.” International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences Review and Research. May – Jun 2017; 26, 94-100. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/779b/dcbc1c1a5542e0d47c6ac27220782386707e.pdf

[7] “Cancer Statistics.” National Cancer Institute. Accessed Mar 18, 2019. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/understanding/statistics

[8] Baek, S.H. et al. “Boron Trifluoride Etherate on Silica-A Modified Lewis Acid Reagent (VII). Antitumor Activitiy of Cannabigerol Against Human Oral Epitheloid Carcinoma Cells.” Archives of Pharmacal Research. June 1998, 21:353. Doi: 10.1007/bf02975301. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF02975301

[9] Brierley, D et al. “Cannabigerol Is a Novel, Well-Tolerated Appetite Stimulant in Pre-Satiated Rats.” Psychopharmacology. Oct 2016; 233(19-90): 3603-3613. Doi: 10.1007/s00213-016-4397-4. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00213-016-4397-4

[10] Russo, E. “Cannabinoids in the Management of Difficult to Treat Pain.” Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management. Feb 2008; 4(1): 245-259. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2503660/

[11] Carrillo-Salinas, F.J. et al. “A Cannabigerol Derivative Suppresses Immune Responses and Protects Mice from Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelits.” PLOS One. Apr 11, 2014. Doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0094733. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0094733

[12] Pagano, E et al. “Effect of Non-Psychotropic Plant-Derived Cannabinoids on Bladder Contractility: Focus on Cannabigerol.” Natural Product Communications. Jun 2015; 10(6): 1009-12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26197538

[13] Rahn, B. “What Are the Side Effects of High-THC Cannabis?” Leafly. Aug 4, 2016. https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/what-are-the-side-effects-of-high-thc-cannabis