What is CBG & What are it’s Potential Benefits?

 What is CBG & What are it’s Potential Benefits?
A scientist examining a marijuana leaf (Engdao Wichitpunya/123rf)

Cannabigerol (CBG) is one of the most important cannabinoids in cannabis. Often called the “mother of all cannabinoids,” it holds promise as a treatment for diabetes, ALS, and Huntington’s disease, although human studies are lacking. Like CBD, CBG is not considered intoxicating and will not make you high in addition to its potential medical applications. 

The endocannabinoid system plays a significant role in many of the popular and well-known effects of THC and CBD. CBG, however, works primarily through different mechanisms, which explains its different effects. A wide range of conditions is currently being treated with it, including dementia, PTSD, ADHD, Huntington’s disease, ALS, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, colitis, and pain, among others. 

However, when it comes to CBG, the word “potential” is crucial. It’s still too early to say whether CBG is relevant for humans based on the evidence scientists have found regarding animal models. Unlike THC and CBD, there’s virtually no scientific information about the safety or dosage of CBG-dominant products. 

What makes CBG so popular? 

Since its discovery by Rephael Mechulam and Yehiel Gaoni in 1964, CBG has often been referred to as “the mother of all cannabinoids.” 

CBG is often referred to as “the mother of all cannabinoids” by marketers to make it seem as if it is responsible for the benefits of other cannabinoids, but there is little science to support this. 

CBGA, the “mother of all cannabinoids”, is produced by the plant first, and then converted into other cannabinoids. CBGA produces THCA, CBDA, and CBCA because it is necessary for the plant to make them. Despite its importance for scientists researching the plant, this does not imply that it has superior therapeutic properties. 

CBG typically occurs in much lower concentrations than other cannabinoids like THC and CBD – around 0-1% in a cannabis flower. Breeders have been developing CBG-dominant varieties in recent years, and companies have been producing CBG oils and flowers as a result of the hype surrounding CBG. 

There is remarkably little research on the safety of CBG-dominant products. A regulatory loophole that makes hemp-derived products accessible and legal may be responsible for much of the hype about CBG. CBG is often proposed as CBD’s heir from a scientific perspective, but there isn’t much to it yet.

CBD vs. CBG 

A scientist working with cannabis extracts (Kristijan Aranjos/123rf)

CBG or CBD: which is better? It depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. As CBG binds to different receptors in the body, it produces a variety of effects. In some conditions, such as hypertension, CBG shows potential benefits that CBD does not. CBD is helpful in other cases, like controlling seizures, while CBG is not. CBD and CBG can have similar effects on other symptoms, such as inflammation and pain. It really depends on what you’re trying to accomplish.

CBG, however, lacks research on its safety and efficacy. CBD products are often sold as dietary supplements due to a regulatory loophole, but CBD has been extensively studied for its safety and efficacy in a variety of symptoms and conditions. The same regulatory loophole makes CBG products accessible, but there isn’t enough research to assess their safety and efficacy, especially if they interact with other drugs. 

What is the mechanism of action of CBG?

CBG, unlike THC, interacts primarily with receptors of the endocannabinoid system, while TRPs and PPARs produce most of its effects. As a result, CBG’s effects are different from those of THC, which is important to know.

The receptors CBG interacts with may be useful for treating neurodegenerative and metabolic conditions, but others may interact with medications used to treat depression. Science is still learning how CBG works, but here’s a simplified review of what we know. 

PPARs and CBG

There are three main types of PPARs (Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptors) – PPAR alpha, gamma, and delta. In addition to its role in the functioning of the nervous system, PPAR-gamma is also involved in the mechanisms that lead to diabetes and obesity. Medications designed to treat diabetes (type II) that target this receptor have been associated with serious side effects.

CBG is suggested to be an agonist (activator) of PPAR-gamma, which may explain its potential role in treating neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and metabolic diseases such as diabetes and high cholesterol. 

Alpha-2 adrenoceptors and CBG 

As a potent agonist (activator) of alpha-2-adrenoceptors, CBG may have antihypertensive, sedative, and analgesic properties. Additionally, it may improve prefrontal cortex functioning, which may be relevant to conditions such as ADHD, tic disorders, PTSD, and dementia. All this is exciting, but it’s important to note that researchers’ understanding of this mechanism is still very limited, and CBG hasn’t been formally tested for any of these conditions.

CBG research is based solely on animal models or lab studies conducted in test tubes. Currently, scientists do not know how CBG interacts with the three types of alpha-2 adrenoceptors. Thus, CBG’s effectiveness for these conditions remains unknown. CBG may also cause adverse effects related to alpha-2 receptors, such as blood pressure changes, sedation, or interactions with other cardiovascular drugs.

How CBG works with TRP receptors 

A large and diverse family of receptors, TRPs (Transient Receptor Potentials) sense and feel temperature changes. Plant chemicals like capsaicin and menthol, as well as phytocannabinoids, can interact with TRPs. CBG can activate some of these receptors to varying degrees (TRPV1, 2, 3, and 4) and block others (TRPM8). This may explain how CBG might help with chronic pain, inflammation, and skin health in a similar way to CBD. 

Brain synapses communicating (Shutterstock)

The interaction between CBG and serotonin

Mood, happiness, sleep, and hunger are all regulated by serotonin, a neurotransmitter. In particular, serotonin is well known for its role in depression and the group of medications called SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) that affect it. Many endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids, like CBD and CBG, interact with the 5-HT1a receptor that serotonin binds to.

Since CBG acts as a potent antagonist (blocker) of 5-HT1a, it could easily alter the effects of other psychiatric medications.  The way CBG affects serotonin, however, has not been thoroughly studied. Some researchers fear the potentially dangerous consequences of high-CBG products being available to the public before their drug interactions and effects are better understood.

How CBG works on cannabinoid receptors

As a cannabinoid agonist, CBG binds to the two main cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2), but this interaction appears to be weak and produces complex pharmacological effects. There is no knowledge of CBG’s activity on GPR-55, a receptor increasingly referred to as a “potential CB3 receptor.”

CBG’s benefits

In neurodegenerative conditions such as Huntington’s disease, ALS, Parkinson’s disease, and Multiple Sclerosis, CBG has a rich pharmacological profile that could be beneficial. Also, it may be beneficial in inflammatory conditions such as colitis, as well as metabolic disorders such as diabetes and obesity. It’s extremely important to note that CBG research is still in its infancy and very limited. In humans, there is no scientific evidence of its efficacy or safety.

In order to find the right strain for you, use the following information. Choosing cannabis products with CBG may make sense if CBG shows promise for the condition you’re treating. In order to avoid potential contraindications and drug interactions, you should avoid using CBG-dominant products such as CBG oil unless prescribed by a health care professional who specializes in cannabis therapy. 

CBG could potentially have benefits for neurodegenerative conditions. (Cathy Yeulet/123rf)

Neuroprotective potential of CBG

Neurodegenerative conditions such as Huntington’s disease, ALS, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis are being studied using CBG as a potential treatment. The neuroprotective properties of CBG (and CBD) are thought to be mediated through their interaction with the PPARγ receptor (which is not technically part of the endocannabinoid system).

  • Huntington’s disease and CBG
    Huntington’s disease research shows that CBG may be beneficial in preventing striatal neuron death, reducing inflammation, and improving motor function. Several studies were more promising than others, and even more importantly – the studies were conducted in cell cultures or animal models and have not yet been tested on humans.
  • ALS and CBG
    Researchers have found that a derivative of CBG (called VCE-003.2) can improve neuropathological symptoms and delay the progression of ALS in mice. Human application is still unclear, but PPAR-gamma and antioxidant effects are thought to be responsible.
  • Parkinson’s disease and CBG
    In another 2018 study, the authors of the same CBG derivative were able to reduce three types of inflammation associated with Parkinson’s disease in mice. In this study, mice were used, so it’s unclear if the results apply to humans.
  • Multiple sclerosis and CBG
    Multiple Sclerosis related inflammation in the central nervous system and impairments of motor function can possibly be treated with a CBG derivative, according to a 2012 study. It’s thought that CBG works as an antioxidant by reducing inflammation and preventing cellular damage, but we only know that it’s effective in mice so far.

There is a possibility that CBG could help with gastrointestinal disorders

  • Colitis and CBG
    The researchers suggested that CBG could be effective in treating colitis and preventing inflammatory bowel diseases, according to a 2013 study on CBG. It was found in a 2020 study that CBG was more effective than CBD for treating colitis in mice. The scientists then compared CBG and fish oil, CBD and fish oil, or all three together, and found that CBG combined with fish oil was more effective than CBD and fish oil and that all three together were most effective. 
  • Weight loss and appetite loss associated with CBG and chemotherapy
    CBG has been shown to increase appetite and reduce weight loss associated with chemotherapy, although it did not have any impact in an earlier study. As far as appetite and CBG are concerned, the jury is still out. CBG is an interesting research direction because, unlike THC, which is being investigated as a weight loss therapy, it won’t make you high. 
Research has suggested that CBG could be effective in preventing and treating colitis. (pitinan/123rf)

Diabetes and hypertension can be treated with CBG

One-third of adult Americans suffer from metabolic syndrome, a condition caused by diabetes and hypertension. As a potential treatment for insulin resistance and hypertension, CBG shows promise as a potential treatment for metabolic syndrome, which includes high glucose, obesity, hypertension, and high cholesterol. Even though the evidence is preliminary, it seems very promising. 

  • High blood pressure
    CBG is the only cannabinoid known to activate alpha-2 receptors, which may explain its role in treating high blood pressure. 
  • Resistance to insulin
    CBD and CBG together may be able to increase insulin sensitivity, according to a study published in 2020. Because CBG activates PPAR-gamma, and there are already FDA-approved diabetes drugs using the same mechanism, this makes sense.

How to use CBG

Many marijuana products on the market today have varying levels of CBG. (Darrin Harris Frisby/Drug Policy Alliance)

CBG has great therapeutic potential, but science has a long way to go before we know how and when to use it. CBG oil, CBG cannabis flower, or any other CBG-dominant product should be avoided. As CBG’s potential drug interactions, dosing recommendations, and contraindications are still being investigated, you should exercise particular caution if you take prescription medications. 

It is common for marijuana chemovars to have varying levels of CBG on the market today. You might want to seek out products or strains that contain at least some CBG if you already use cannabis for one of the conditions that could be helped by CBG (Huntington’s disease, ALS, Parkinson’s disease, MS, etc). In general, you should avoid products that contain CBG unless you have consulted a healthcare professional with cannabis expertise.

Cannabigerol is one of the most interesting cannabinoids because it has the potential to treat many incurable and burdensome conditions. Currently, the research on its use is too limited to provide good guidance. Until its safety and efficacy are more properly understood, you may want to wait before jumping on the CBG bandwagon.

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