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CBG Vs. CBD
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What Is CBG And How Does It Compare To CBD?

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Science is beginning to unveil the potential of many formerly untapped cannabinoids. CBG is one of them. How does this up-and-coming chemical compare to CBD?

The cannabis plant produces a diverse array of molecules, including well over 100 cannabinoids. Limited clinical trials and animal studies have demonstrated the therapeutic potential of THC and CBD for specific conditions. As researchers begin to study their cannabinoid counterparts, the hype is developing around other compounds, like cannabigerol (CBG). Scientists have uncovered numerous promising attributes, piquing the interest of medical researchers and businesses alike.

WHAT IS CBG?

What Is CBG?

Israeli organic chemist and cannabinoid "godfather" Raphael Mechoulam first isolated CBG, alongside THC, in 1964. Shortly after, research[1] published in the journal Psychopharmacologia assessed no behavioural changes in rhesus monkeys who were administered with the molecule. It was ruled non-psychoactive. CBG is classed as a minor cannabinoid, occurring in low concentrations in landrace and selectively bred strains. However, breeders have developed chemovars with CBG profiles of 100% by eliminating certain enzymes. These strains are destined to draw significant attention as CBG research advances.

THE MOTHER MOLECULE

Researchers have labelled CBG the “parent” or “stem cell” cannabinoid as it’s the central chemical precursor to many other cannabinoids. Specific enzymes convert CBG into corresponding molecules. This is known as cannabinoid biosynthesis[2]. All cannabinoids first exist as cannabinoid acids in the raw plant. High temperatures initiate a reaction known as decarboxylation, which removes a carboxyl group from each molecule. This reaction, for example, transforms THCA into THC and CBDA in CBD. By this logic, CBG exists as CBGA in the raw plant.

CBG Molecule

The enzyme CBGA synthase converts several organic compounds into CBGA. Additional enzymes then break down the mother molecule into major cannabinoids, depending on the reaction. THCA synthase, CBDA synthase, and CBCA synthase use CBGA as a substrate to produce the respective cannabinoid acids. Nonenzymatic processes create more than 60 other cannabinoids from CBGA.

MECHANISM OF CBG

MECHANISM OF CBG

Aside from its key role in cannabinoid biosynthesis, CBG has been probed scientifically for its therapeutic potential. The molecule exerts multiple mechanisms of action, partially activating CB1 and CB2 receptors[3] of the endocannabinoid system and stimulating[4] the vanilloid receptor-1[5]—a site involved in pain signalling. The cannabinoid also works to block serotonin and CB1 receptors.

Let’s explore what science has to say about CBG. How do these mechanisms impact the body? And what is the quality of the existing data?

WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF CBG?

What Are The Effects Of CBG?

CBG has demonstrated a range of promising qualities in animal and cell studies. Unfortunately, high-quality human trials are lacking, but existing research serves as an indicator of what future studies might reveal.

CBG INHIBITS KERATINOCYTE HYPERPROLIFERATION ASSOCIATED WITH PSORIASIS

Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition characterised by excessive production of skin cells. This state is called keratinocyte hyperproliferation. These cells build up, form scale-like patterns on the skin’s surface, and become red and inflamed. The exact cause of the condition isn’t understood, but immune and genetic factors play a role. White blood cells perceive the skin cells as foreign invaders and attack—inflammation ensues.

A 2007 study[6] published in the Journal of Dermatological Science documents the effects of multiple cannabinoids on keratinocyte proliferation. THC, CBN, CBD, and CBG all inhibited excess cell production. CBG was able to achieve maximum inhibition at the lowest dose: 2.5–3μM.

Cannabinoid receptors located in the skin play a role in modulation of skin cell proliferation. However, CBG has a low affinity for these receptors. Researchers suggest that the cannabinoid achieves its results via other means. The authors of the paper suggest that the tested cannabinoids present a "potential role for cannabinoids in the treatment of psoriasis".

CBG REDUCES INTRAOCULAR PRESSURE IN ANIMAL MODELS

Caused by a buildup of fluid in the eye, intraocular pressure is the underlying factor behind most cases of glaucoma. This increase in pressure eventually inflicts damage to the optic nerve, resulting in eye pain and blurred vision. A 1990 study[7] in the Journal of Occular Pharmacology investigated the pressure-reducing effects of CBG and THC in animals, finding both cannabinoids to produce a modest effect when applied topically to the eyes of cats. Researchers observed a significant reduction in pressure after delivering cannabinoids directly to the cornea. A large increase in the fluid release was noted. The researchers state that CBG may have therapeutic potential in the treatment of glaucoma.

CBG REDUCES COLITIS IN MOUSE MODEL OF IBD

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) affects millions of people around the world. The incurable condition produces symptoms of diarrhoea, bleeding ulcers, and stomach pain. A 2013 study[8] explored the effects of CBG on a mouse model of colitis, a form of IBD characterised by inflammation of the lining of the colon. The administration of CBG reduced the colon weight/length ratio, boosted antioxidant activity, and decreased levels of nitric oxide—all indicators of an anti-inflammatory effect. Overall, researchers stated that the cannabinoid could be considered for clinical experimentation in IBD patients.

CBG IS NEUROPROTECTIVE IN ANIMAL MODELS OF HUNTINGTON’S DISEASE

A 2015 study[9] published in the journal Neurotherapeutics documents the effects of CBG when administered to rodent models of Huntington’s disease. The researchers describe the cannabinoid as an "extremely active" neuroprotectant. CBG appeared to improve motor deficits and preserve neurons against toxicity. Researchers also observed a slight improvement in the gene expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that promotes the survival of neurons.

CBD VS CBG: SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES

CBD Vs CBG: Similarities And Differences

CBD and CBG bear several similarities and differences. However, comparing the two at this stage is relatively futile. Much more high-quality research has been poured into CBD. Other likenesses and distinctions could exist that we’re simply not aware of yet. But let’s take a look at what we do know.

  • BOTH CBD AND CBG ARE NON-PSYCHOACTIVE

CBD and CBG have a low binding affinity for the CB1 receptor, whereas THC achieves its psychotropic effects by stimulating this site in the central nervous system. CBG acts as a partial agonist to this receptor, stimulating it to a degree wherein no psychotropic effect occurs. However, both CBD and CBG work as antagonists to the CB1 receptor as well, temporarily inhibiting[10] the uptake of the endocannabinoid anandamide.

The non-psychotropic nature of CBG and CBD makes them appealing candidates for clinical study, as many consider the "high" caused by THC to be an undesirable side effect.

  • BOTH CANNABINOIDS SHOW POTENTIAL AGAINST INFLAMMATION

We know from the aforementioned 2013 study that CBG exerted an anti-inflammatory action in a mouse model of colitis. Similarly, CBD has been shown[11] to reduce inflammation in mouse models of Alzheimer-related neuroinflammation, retinal inflammation, and kidney tissue injury.

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  • CBG’S ANTI-SEIZURE EFFECTS REMAIN UNEXPLORED

CBD has gained serious traction as the active ingredient[12] in an FDA-approved treatment for rare forms of childhood epilepsy—namely, Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. A 2017 trial[13] published in The New England Journal of Medicine administered CBD to children diagnosed with Dravet syndrome. The double-blind, placebo-controlled trial found a significant decrease in seizure frequency compared to placebo. CBG’s anti-convulsant effect has yet to be studied. Whether the cannabinoid produces similar outcomes remains unknown.

  • CBG MAY IMPROVE APPETITE

Cannabis is known to increase appetite. This mechanism manifests as “the munchies”, a state of intense hunger and cravings. THC has long been associated with this phenomenon. However, a 2016[14] study published in the journal Psychopharmacology states that cannabis extracts void of THC still induce hunger.

The authors explain that CBG could be the cause of appetite enhancement. In rats, CBG more than doubled total food intake and increased the number of meals. In contrast, CBD was shown to reduce hunger during an epilepsy study[15]. Decreased appetite occurred in 19% of participants as an adverse event.

A FRUITLESS COMPARISON?

It’s helpful to compare cannabinoids to explore the possible applications of each. However, the research is too limited to draw concrete conclusions. Future high-quality research is the only way to accurately compare the properties of these fascinating molecules.

HIGH-CBG STRAINS

High-CBG Strains

The cannabis community hasn’t paid much attention to CBG. We can’t fault them either—the research is shallow and incomplete. Breeders will likely turn their focus to the cannabinoid as more studies confirm its actions. Selective breeding for high levels of CBG is likely. However, some strains already exhibit relatively high levels of the cannabinoid.

Destroyer is one example of a high-CBG variety. Breeders created this pure sativa cultivar by blending Meao Thai with a Mexican/Colombian hybrid. Her flowers are rich in different cannabinoids, producing 20% THC, 1% CBD, and high levels of CBG. This mix provides a clear and lucid head high.

Exodus Cheese is another high-CBG strain. The dense flowers of this indica-dominant specimen produce 18% THC, 0.2%, CBD, and 0.26% CBG. The high is deeply stoning and will quickly carry you off to sleep.

Luke Sumpter

Written by: Luke S.
Luke S. is a journalist based in the United Kingdom, specialising in health, alternative medicine, herbs and psychedelic healing. He has written for outlets such as Reset.me, Medical Daily and The Mind Unleashed, covering these and other areas.

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Disclaimer:
We are not making medical claims. This article has been written for informational purposes only, and is based on research published by other externals sources.

External Resources:
  1. Psychopharmacological activity of the active constituents of hashish and some related cannabinoids | SpringerLink - https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF00404218
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com
  3. Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2503660/#b51
  4. https://www.sciencedirect.com
  5. Vanilloid receptor-1 is essential for inflammatory thermal hyperalgesia | Nature - https://www.nature.com/articles/35012076
  6. https://www.sciencedirect.com
  7. A comparison of the ocular and central effects of delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabigerol. - PubMed - NCBI - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1965836
  8. Beneficial effect of the non-psychotropic plant cannabinoid cannabigerol on experimental inflammatory bowel disease. - PubMed - NCBI - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23415610
  9. Neuroprotective properties of cannabigerol in Huntington's disease: studies in R6/2 mice and 3-nitropropionate-lesioned mice. - PubMed - NCBI - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25252936
  10. Molecular Targets of the Phytocannabinoids-A Complex Picture - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5345356/#R53
  11. http://labequipcorp.com
  12. https://www.fda.gov
  13. https://www.nejm.org
  14. Cannabigerol is a novel, well-tolerated appetite stimulant in pre-satiated rats | SpringerLink - https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00213-016-4397-4
  15. https://www.sciencedirect.com

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