Learn about CBG and its great potential
for treating inflammatory conditions, cancer,
managing anxiety, promote sleep and so much more.
CBG: The mother of all Cannabinoids
Written by our editorial team
Last updated 6/03/2021
The endocannabinoid system plays an essential role in maintaining the equilibrium in the human body that is required for our survival. Cannabinoid receptors normally respond to the endocannabinoids produced in our bodies, but they can also be triggered by similar compounds found in the Cannabis plant, which are called phytocannabinoids.
So far, we have mentioned THC, CBD, THCv and CBC. Each of them interacts with the endocannabinoid system differently, producing a combination of beneficial effects unique to each cannabinoid. This time, we will explore CBG – another major non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in Cannabis sativa.
One problem about CBG is that its concentration in most strains of Cannabis sativa is very low, which made it difficult to study. However, recent breakthroughs in genetics have produced varieties with high concentrations, allowing experts to make up for the time lost. So far, it has been shown that CBG has great potential for treating inflammatory conditions and cancer. Additionally, it has also been proven that CBG can reduce the psychoactive effects of THC.
In this short article, we explore these prospective use cases and other potential benefits of CBG in pharmaceutical and medical settings. If you want to learn more, then do not hesitate to read through.
- CBG is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis.
- It is referred to as “the mother of all cannabinoids”.
- It interacts with both CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors.
- Until recently, it was difficult to study since the concentration of CBG is low in most varieties of Cannabis sativa. However, cannabis strains with a high concentration of CBG have been produced by cross-breeding.
- Among others, CBG has been shown beneficial in:
- Managing anxiety and sleep;
- Regulating inflammation in conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease;
- Preventing the development and progression of colon cancer;
- Reducing the psychoactive effects of THC;
- Increasing appetite.
1. What is CBG and how does it work?
CBG is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis. It is produced early in the cannabis flowering cycle in the breakdown of its direct precursor CBGA. Since CBGA is also converted into other major cannabinoids, such as THC, CBD and CBC, CBG is sometimes referred to as the “mother of all cannabinoids”. (Figure 1)
Figure 1: Most major cannabinoids stem from CBGA – CBG’s direct precursor
In terms of its action, it is a partial agonist of the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors. And what does this mean? According to the Webster’s New World Medical Dictionary, an agonist is any “substance that acts like another substance and therefore stimulates an action”.
Within the context of the endocannabinoid system, an agonist can therefore be defined as any cannabinoid that acts like an endocannabinoid when it interacts with the cannabinoid receptors in our bodies. Since CBG is an agonist of the CB1 and CB2 receptors, this means that CBG interacts with both major cannabinoid receptors in our bodies – CB1 and CB2.
The opposite of an agonist is an antagonist. While agonists activate cannabinoid receptors, antagonists prevent their activation. When both an agonist and antagonist interact with a receptor, the resulting activation is less pronounced. In other words, the effects of the activation are weaker. (Figure 2)
Figure 2: The action of agonists and antagonists on receptors
2. The effects and benefits of CBG
For many years, it was difficult to study the effects of CBG. This is because its concentration in most varieties is very low compared to other cannabinoids, such as THC or CBD. However, recent breakthroughs in genetic modification and crossbreeding of different cannabis strains have produced strains with extremely high concentrations of CBG and CBGA.
But despite its low concentration, certain beneficial effects of CBG have already been identified. Interestingly, CBG shares many of its benefits with CBC, which we discussed in our previous article. These shared effects include:
1) Managing anxiety
Recent studies have shown that the CBG can be useful in treating anxiety. Some studies go as far as describing effects that are not comparable to the benefits of other cannabinoids, such as CBD, THC or CBN. Additionally, it has also been shown that CBG impacts muscle relaxation and deep sleep, indicating that the cannabinoid might be useful in treating conditions such as insomnia.
2) Regulating inflammation
Along with some other cannabinoids – namely CBC and CBN – CBG has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. This finding indicates that CBG could potentially be used to treat certain inflammatory conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which affects millions of people worldwide.
As explained in our previous article, inflammatory bowel disease encompasses a variety of conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, Chron’s disease and ulcerative colitis. One 2013 study on mice found that CBG is effective in reducing the severity of colitis, calling for further studies to be conducted on patients suffering from inflammatory bowel disease.
3) Preventing and treating colon cancer
Just like CBC, CBG has also been studied for its promising anti-cancer properties. In one study, it was found that CBG prevents the growth of colon cancer cells and slows the progression of the disease. According to the authors of the study, this is because it interacts with specific targets involved in the onset of cancer.
In addition to these shared benefits with CBC, it has also been shown that CBG has certain unique effects, such as:
1) Reducing the psychoactive effects of THC
CBG has been proven to inhibit the psychoactive effects of THC. This is because CBG acts as a competitive antagonist for the CB1 receptor. This means that once CBG antagonizes the CB1 receptor, THC can no longer bind to it to produce its psychoactive effects.
2) Stimulating appetite
A relatively recent study on rodents found that CBG acts as a powerful appetite stimulant. What is more, it was found that it is well-tolerated and produces no negative side effects. This indicates that CBG could be used to treat certain eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa.
3. CBG vs. CBD
CBG and CBD share quite a few similarities. For instance, both of them have been shown to have anti-anxiety effects and a potential for treating insomnia. Moreover, both have been studied for their benefits in reducing inflammation and in cancer prevention and treatment. However, while they seem to share certain effects, the two cannabinoids also differ from one another in certain aspects.
Aside from the obvious difference of having different molecular structures, CBG and CBD also differ in terms of certain pharmacological effects. For instance, CBD exhibits anti-nausea effects when it interacts with certain serotonin receptors in our bodies. One study found that CBG reserves this effect, indicating that CBG acts as an antagonist of the same serotonin receptors, which prevents CBD from interacting with them.
Another major difference between the two cannabinoids is also the extent of research conducted on each of them. After all, CBD is one of the most extensively studied cannabinoids found in cannabis to date. This means that we know far more about CBD and its effects than we do about CBG.
In fact, we know so much about CBD that we believe it deserves two separate blog posts. This is why we will dedicate our next two articles solely to CBD. The first one will discuss CBD in general and its interaction with the endocannabinoid system, and the second one will focus on its beneficial effects.