You may know her children, THC and CBD, but have you met CBG, the mother of cannabinoids?
Cannabis and hemp are an incredible source of healing medicine. Usually people focus on the two most plentiful and popular cannabinoids, THC and CBD. These active compounds have huge therapeutic benefits, but they’re just the tip of the iceberg. There are over 400 compounds in this plant, including around 120 cannabinoids and 200 terpenes. Many of these active compounds have natural medicinal benefits.
One of the overlooked cannabinoids is the one responsible for all the rest:
CBG, the mother all cannabinoids.
What is CBG?
CBG, or Cannabigerol, is a common cannabinoid found in cannabis and hemp plants. This powerful cannabinoid comes is not intoxicating, but does offer a whole host of therapeutic benefits.
Research suggests that CBG can help stimulate the growth of new brain cells – even in elderly patients.
It may also stimulate bone growth, relieve pain and reduce inflammation. But that’s not all. It has been shown to have anti-tumor and antibacterial properties, help with glaucoma, mediate bladder dysfunction, manage skin conditions. Like CBD, CBG is also showing benefits for stress, anxiety and depression.
CBG is getting a reputation as a powerful compound that can help with a variety of conditions.
CBG’s Many Forms
CBG, like all cannabinoids, comes in different forms. It begins in an acidic form as CBGA, or cannabigerolic acid, which can transform into its neutral form, CBG, along the way.
This is generally how things work when it comes to chemical transformations in botany and biology. Under certain conditions, like heat, light or oxidation, molecules morph. Chemicals transform into new chemicals, which then transform again. The cycle can go on for many iterations as the chemical structure shifts over a period of time.
Take THC, for example. It’s the most well-known and abundant cannabinoid in most types of cannabis. THC is actually created by the acidic precursor THCA. But if you add a little heat, like the flame from a lighter, a heating element in a vaporizer, or the hot air in an oven, and THCA transforms into THC. This process is called decarboxylation. Without decarboxylation – you won’t get high. This is becuase THCA is considered to be non-psychoactive, whereas THC is highly psychoactive.
While decarboxylation is most commonly talked about with THC and THCA, other cannabinoids have their own acidic precursors. CBD comes from CBDA, CBC come from CBCA, and of course, CBG starts its life as acidic precursor CBGA.
Why CBG is “The Mother of Cannabinoids”
So if all cannabinoids come from their own acidic precursors, why is CBG called the mother of cannabinoids? Well, as it turns out, CBGA isn’t only the acidic precursor for CBG. It’s also the acidic precursor for all the other cannabinoids’ acidic forms.
At first, there is just CBGA, and then with the right conditions, it morphs into either CBG or one the varied acidic precursors that precede cannabinoids. THCA, CBDA, and CBCA all begin as CBGA. Once transformed into these acidic precursors, the chemicals go on to become medicinally potent forms – like THC and CBD. These chemicals can then shift again with age, turning cannabinoids like THC into other cannabinoids like CBN and Delta-8 THC.
In this way, CBG’s acidic form gives rise to every single cannabinoid in the plant – earning the name “The Mother of Cannabinoids”. Sometimes people refer to the entire class of CBG related cannabinoids this way. Others only refer to CBGA as the mother of cannabinoids, and call CBG in its neutral form the “princess of pot”. Since she’s the only non-acidic cannabinoid to form directly from CBGA – the title seems to fit.
What are the Benefits of CBG?
CBG has many beneficial effects that researchers are starting to notice. Like with a lot of cannabis science, the studies are limited and still in the early phases of exploration. But the early results show CBG has huge potential to treat a variety of different conditions.
Here are a few of the ways that researchers think CBG might be medicinally useful:
CBG for Pain Relief
Cannabis is popular for its pain relieving properties. One study found 97% of patients using cannabis were using it for chronic pain. And a study by the National Academy of Sciences reported conclusively that cannabis is an effective treatment for pain. This pain relief is often attributed to THC. But studies on CBG and CBGA suggest these both provide pain relieving benefits, too. One study even found that CBG was more effective at managing pain than either THC or CBD.
CBG is Anti-Inflammatory
Another potential use for both CBG and CBGA is as an anti-inflammatory agent. Scientists believe that these compounds may help to those with inflammatory conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). One study looked at CBG’s effect on IBD specifically. Scientists induced colitis in mice subjects and looked for inflammatory markers. The researchers found that giving the mice CBG did relieve their inflammation. They suggested human trials following this early indicator of success.
CBG for the Brain
CBG may be most well-known for its potential as a neuroprotectant. This may come from CBG’s anti-inflammatory powers, since inflammation of the brain can play a role in neurodegeneration. In studies of CBG’s effect on mice altered to mimic Huntington’s disease, CBG not only reduced inflammation, it was an active neuroprotectant against degeneration of the brain. In other cases, CBG has even been shown to promote neurogenesis, the growth of new brain cells.
CBG for Cancer
CBG also shows promise as a cancer-fighter. CBG may help by blocking the receptors that cause cancer cells to grow. In one study on mice with colorectal cancer cells, CBG was able to inhibit the growth of the cancerous cells, slowing down the progression of the disease. In addition, some studies in labs have shown CBG inhibits the growth of prostate cancer cells, while others show inhibition of oral cancer cells. While there is a lot of research still to be done, these studies shows exciting possibilities for the treatment of cancer with CBG.
CBG for Eye Health
CBG may also help with treating glaucoma, because of the way it reduces intraocular pressure. Our eyes contain many endocannabinoid receptors which can be activated by cannabinoids like CBG. When activated, the result can be a shift in intraocular pressure. While cannabinoids in general have been suggested as helpful for this, some studies show that CBG may be particularly helpful with decreasing pressure and expediting the draining of fluids.
Research also suggests that CBG can be an effective antibacterial agent, particularly against bacterial strains like MRSA, which are resistant to the usual antibiotic drugs. In fact, CBG’s ability to fight against a particular class of bacteria, mycobacteria, and fungi called ‘gram-positive bacteria’ is superior to that of THC, CBD, or CBC. Perhaps in the future, these properties can be harnessed to create a new anti-bacterial treatment.
Bladder Dysfunction Aid
CBG may also be useful for bladder dysfunctions. There are plenty of anecdotal stories of cannabis helping patients with bladder issues. One study looked at the effects of four different cannabinoids (CBG, THCV, CBD and CBDV) on bladder contractions. The researchers found CBG was the most effective at inhibiting muscle contractions in the human bladder. They concluded that it may be useful for treating this uncomfortable symptom of many bladder disorders.
CBG for Psoriasis
Another condition that CBG may be able to help with is psoriasis. In this condition, the normal mechanisms that regulate skin development goes awry, leading to a thickening and/or reddening of the skin. But CBG inhibits this effect, which researchers suggest could prevent these symptoms. While more human studies are needed, CBG may be a helpful tool in the battle against psoriasis.
CBG for anxiety and depression
Finally, researchers have noted that CBG could be helpful for emotional regulation. Studies on rats show that CBG inhibits uptake of the neurotransmitters serotonin and GABA, which can lead to increased serotonin and GABA levels in the brain. This suggests CBG may have antidepressant qualities. And when it comes to GABA, CBG inhibits uptake more effectively than CBD or THC. This is promising news, since CBG is also non-psychoactive, it could be a helpful cannabinoid alternative to THC when it comes to alleviating depression.
Using CBG Yourself
While the studies above are somewhat limited, and more research needs to be done to say conclusively that CBG can help with any of these issues, CBG shows great promise as a potential treatment for a wide variety of conditions and symptoms.
If you suffer from any of the above conditions, CBG might be an option worth trying out.
But how does one start using CBG? It’s rare to see CBG products advertised when shopping for cannabis or hemp products. So you need to know what to look for. Checking the product’s test results for CBG levels is one easy way to do this. But not all products have test results like this to check.
Still, as CBG is becoming more popular, cultivators are starting to figure out how to breed high CBG plants for the medical cannabis market as well. A few new cannabis strains have come out to meet this demand, such as Mickey Kush created by TGA Genetics Subcool Seeds. This strain is known for being rich in both CBG and THC.
Ebbu, a Colorado based cannabis research company focused on the science of maximizing yields of particular cannabinoids, is taking another route. Genetically edited cannabis plants that produce only CBG. Their CBG only plant is in development and should be available in the near future.
Whether through selective breeding, or genetic engineering, cultivators are determined to produce higher levels of this important cannabinoid. In the future perhaps we will see more products designed to have these high levels of CBG. Until then, the best route may be to look to high CBG hemp for your CBG needs.
So what are you waiting for? Try out the mother of all cannabinoids yourself, and see if she can help you.