The use of cannabidiol (CBD) has exploded in recent years. It is arguably one of the most popular cannabinoids on the market, and can be found in CBD products such as beverages, gummies, and tinctures. However, you may not be as familiar with its chemical precursor: CBG, or cannabigerol. CBG is just one of more than 100 cannabinoids in the Cannabis sativa plant, but it may be even more important than others because it is the chemical compound from which the other cannabinoids, including the well-known CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC — the chemical that gets you high), are created.
We want to help you understand the differences between these important compounds. This guide will help explain what CBG is, how it differs from other cannabinoids, and why scientists are starting to take a closer look at its potential uses and benefits.
What Are Cannabinoids?
After years of research, scientists who studied the way marijuana acts on your body made a surprising discovery in the 1990s — your body has an endogenous cannabinoid system (ECS) that creates its own compounds, known as endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids are molecules that bind to cannabinoid receptors throughout your body, such as in the brain, nervous system, immune system, gastrointestinal system, heart, and lungs. When endocannabinoids bind to receptors, they can affect the way your body acts and feels.
While endogenous means created by the body, exogenous compounds are found outside the body. Exogenous cannabinoids, called phytocannabinoids when created by plants, are almost exclusively found in the Cannabis plant and produce their effects because they also interact with your ECS. Phytocannabinoids are compounds like THC, CBD, and CBG. With the exception of THC, these compounds are referred to as minor cannabinoids.
Researchers want to more fully understand the different types of exogenous cannabinoids because of their potential therapeutic applications. Much research on cannabinoids is just in the infancy stages, and many studies so far have only focused on THC and CBD. As more scientific evidence comes to light, researchers are becoming more interested in other cannabinoids like CBG for their potential uses, although no human studies have been performed to date.
What Is CBG?
CBG is one of the phytocannabinoids present in Cannabis. It is often referred to as the “mother of all cannabinoids” or the “stem cell cannabinoid” — it interacts with plant enzymes and converts into the three primary cannabinoid precursors: THCA, CBDA and CBCA. Although CBG typically accounts for just up to 1% of all the chemical compounds found in the Cannabis plant by the time it is harvested, it plays a crucial role in the production of the major cannabinoids.
As with THC and CBD, CBG is present in the Cannabis plant as CBGA, or cannabigerolic acid. CBGA is the chemical which, after undergoing a process known as decarboxylation, forms CBG and other cannabinoids. Decarboxylation is a chemical reaction that occurs with time, light, or heat and results in the release of carbon dioxide to form these cannabinoid compounds.
CBD vs. CBG: How Does CBG Differ from Other Cannabinoids?
Unlike other cannabinoids, CBG is not found as abundantly in the Cannabis plant. Unlike THC, CBG is a non-psychoactive compound, so like CBD, it won’t get you high. Also like CBD, CBG appears to interact with the same cannabinoid receptors in your body, which may have potential relevance for its pharmaceutical uses and researchers are looking at a number of possible and promising applications.
The Potential Benefits of CBG
In an interview with Project CBD, Dr. Ethan Russo, a neurologist and researcher in the cannabis field, says that CBG may have a number of uses and benefits and has “great potential.” While full human trials have yet to be completed for CBG, many promising studies are beginning to uncover its benefits. You can explore these fuller spectrum products for yourself in either capsule or tincture.
- Cannabigerol Action at Cannabinoid CB1 and CB2 Receptors and at CB1–CB2 Heteroreceptor Complexes. Front Pharmacol
- The Endogenous Cannabinoid System: A Budding Source of Targets for Treating Inflammatory and Neuropathic Pain. Neuropsychopharmacology
- Evidence that the plant cannabinoid cannabigerol is a highly potent α2-adrenoceptor agonist and moderately potent 5HT1A receptor antagonist. Br J Pharmacol
Incorporating CBG into your wellness routine is still tricky, as there aren’t many products on the market yet. Consider one of Upstate’s high-quality CBD products, which contain many of the minor cannabinoids and other compounds that interact with the human endocannabinoid system. It’s always advisable to consult a physician or other qualified healthcare professional before trying CBG, CBD any new supplement.
Stacy Mosel, LMSW is a health and wellness writer, as well as a licensed social worker, yoga enthusiast, certified Reiki practitioner, and musician. She received a bachelor’s degree in music from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1999 and a master of social work from New York University in 2002.