Cannabis Science

25 August 2021

The Truth About Cannabigerol

Another cannabinoid discovered in cannabis plants recently hit the headlines as having the potential to change the future of modern medicine substantially. Fortunately, as the legalization of the forbidden fruit is finally ascending on most of the world, the ability to deeply research the effects of cannabis is beginning to unfold.

Recent studies into Cannabigerol (CBG) reveals a potent ally in many facets of the human body. The minor cannabinoid is found to impact cancer cells, displays antibiotic properties, and suppresses acute nausea, to name a few of its’ attributes. In addition, CBG helps alleviate the sketchy side effects of other cannabinoids, namely Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

This little powerhouse holds many secrets yet to be discovered. Hopefully, with future worldwide legalization, it is only a matter of time before the truth about cannabigerol is exposed. At that point, the medical industry will have full power to enact legal research into its abundant benefits.

In the meantime, an early investigation into CBG unveils a mighty influencer responsible for creating other cannabinoids in cannabis plants. Additionally, the chemical compound impacts how these other molecules react with the human body. CBG is showing great promise in the coming years to help further achievements in modern medicine.  

Learning More About CBG in Cannabis Plants 

Cannabigerol Acid (CBG-A) is the building block for creating all other cannabinoids cradled within a cannabis plant’s genetics. Known as ‘The Mother of all Cannabinoids,’ acidic CBG-A molecules begin forming when the plant is young in the vegetative stage. 

Through a series of responses from enzymes as growth further develops in the flowering phase, CBG-A converts into Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid (THC-A), Cannabidiolic Acid (CBD-A), and Cannabichromenic Acid (CBC-A). Once the cannabis plant is harvested, dried, and cured, a final step through decarboxylation converts all the acidic forms into psychoactive cannabinoid molecules, which affect the mind and body.

Cannabigerolic acid is famously known as the precursor to all other cannabinoids. The more CBG-A that flows through a cannabis cultivar, the better chance for a vast cannabinoid profile. However, once the conversion to the psychotropic molecules occurs, only trace concentrations of CBG-A remain in the plant. 

Growers wanting to capture CBG, especially from a cultivar known to produce the cannabinoid readily, will often harvest several weeks early for optimal activation. Fortunately, modern cannabis breeders recognize the benefits of this minor cannabinoid and are performing crossbreeding trials to produce higher concentrations of CBG in certain strains.

Taking Care of Her Offspring

As a good mother, CBG sets her own agenda within the human body. As cannabis reacts with receptors situated through the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), neurotransmitters relay messages to CB1, CB2, and other receptors. Some cannabinoids, including the endogenous anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglyerol within the body, easily bind with receptors; others are antagonistic towards the union.

CB1 receptors reside in the brain and central nervous system of the body. CBG is a partial agonist to these receptors, meaning it prefers to bond and stimulate a response. Now, THC has a strong affinity with the CB1 receptors, sending neurotransmitters into hyper-drive as they try to maintain homeostasis within the mind and body. 

CBG wants nothing to do with that. You see, this tiny molecule is also a competitive antagonist to CB1 receptors, scheming to block THC’s mind-altering tactics. While appreciating its contribution to medicinal benefits from a particular strain, reducing the psychoactive effects of THC helps medical patients eliminate paranoia and anxiety.

On the other hand, CBG has a strong affinity toward the CB2 receptors, influencing the immune system. This favourable bonding helps the body fight pain, reduces inflammation, and regulates appetite. CBG and Cannabidiol (CBD) generally share many of the same qualities from their influence on the body. However, at times, they do not always see eye to eye. 

While expressing similar pharmacological attributes compared to CBD’s effects on the body, a study by Rock et al. on rodents describes CBG’s differing interaction with the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor. Whereas CBD products activated the receptor, CBG pushed in and blocked the communication, leading to relevant suppression of acute nausea. 

Potential Medical Benefits from CBG

Due to legality issues, clinical studies into how cannabinoids affect humans are limited. Very few trials conducted on people are published, and those that do often come from synthetic cannabinoids produced by big pharmaceutical companies.

Fortunately, when scientists discovered that all mammals have an endocannabinoid system, studies began appearing performed on rodents, monkeys, and other small animals. Initial trials concentrated on how the major phytocannabinoids, THC and CBD, affected the endocannabinoid system. 

But as research discovers the multitude of other cannabinoids and terpenes present in cannabis plants, science is digging deeper into uncovering their benefits. As CBG is the stem cell for cannabinoid manifestations, many scientists are all eyes on this productive molecule.

Glaucoma

A study in 2009 using both Delta-9 THC and CBG was performed on cats to determine whether the cannabinoids could reduce intraocular pressure. Initial findings were dismal after applying topical treatments of individual cannabinoids to the cat’s eyes. However, when the team used osmotic pumps and extraocular cannulas on the cornea in addition to the topicals, ocular tension declined considerably.

In the second phase of the experiment, THC was first administered topically to rodent’s eyes. This procedure resulted in a thick discharge that increased after waking from sleep episodes. CBG, on the other hand, did not initiate the gooey discharge. The findings suggested CBG might hold therapeutic value in treating glaucoma.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

IBD is a group of disorders, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, which causes inflammation in the intestines. Millions of people suffer from it, and there is no cure. In 2013, Borrelli et al. investigated the effects of CBG in a colitis study performed on mice. 

The group found CBG works effectively in reducing inflammation in the intestines. In addition, CBG combated nitric oxide production and decreased the formation of reactive oxygen species in intestinal cells. Their conclusion eluded CBG could be considered for clinical trials as a possible treatment  for patients suffering from IBD and colorectal cancer. 

Colon Carcinogenesis

Another study by Borrelli’s team in 2014 using mice showed that CBG blocks specific TRPM8 cannabinoid receptors while activating others and consequently inhibits the reuptake of endocannabinoids. The results showed CBG hindered the growth of tumours and the progression of colon cancer. As a result, the scientists advocated that CBG should be considered translationally to prevent and even potentially cure the dangerous disease. 

Movement Disorders

Several studies on mice reveal CBG’s high potential in alleviating movement disorders such as Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease. For example, a study in 2012 by Granja et al. revealed cannabigerol as a potent anti-inflammatory that helps reduce swelling and degenerative processes in the brain and spinal cord due to MS.

Another study on mice by Valdeolivas et al. in 2014 revealed CBG as a powerful neuroprotectant for Huntington’s disease. The group’s trials found the potent cannabinoid improved motor functions and antioxidant defences against the debilitating ailment. Their conclusions suggest CBG has a high potential for future exploration in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. 

Antibacterial Agent

More recently, a study conducted in 2020 by Farha et al. implies CBG has antibacterial properties in the fight against Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). This antibiotic-resistant staph infection has plagued medical professionals for years. The team found that cannabigerol targeted the cell membrane of MRSA bacteria in mice, reducing its ability to spread. This monumental discovery has the potential to directly benefit the medical industry with further investigation on human trials.  

Other Potential Benefits

Additional medical trials on animals reveal CBG as a potent ally in wellness treatments as an antidepressant, helping to increase motivation while regulating sleeping disorders. Cannabigerol is an appetite stimulant and is also effective in reducing cancer cells, relieving pain, and exhibits antimicrobial and antifungal properties.

More importantly, as CBG does not initiate psychoactive responses, its potential for becoming a polydrug in developing other beneficial medications in the future is showing great promise.

CBG Genetics

While CBG-A is the fundamental cannabinoid found in cannabis, by the time most cannabis plants finish their growth cycle, low concentrations of this valuable chemical compound remain in the plant. Growers must cut down their plants several weeks early before THC and CBD synthase to reap the benefits of CBG while compromising the full effect of a particular strain.

When hemp became legalized in the United States with the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, many cultivators discovered increased levels of CBG found in some industrial hemp strains. With low levels of THC and moderate CBD thresholds, CBG synthesized readily in certain hemp strains. Hemp producers have been able to capitalize on CBG products such as CBG oils and tinctures.

As cannabis breeders continue discovering genetic diversity in this remarkable plant, the potential for medical advancements is unlimited.

Post author
Charle Thibodeau
Charle’ Thibodeau is a freelance writer with almost a decade´s experience, specializing in cannabis content for the past two years. A strong motivation to educate, inform, and promote the culture surrounding this miraculous plant is her earnest mission.
See more from Charle Thibodeau

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