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What Is CBG and What Are the Benefits of This Cannabinoid?



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What Is CBG and What Are the Benefits of This Cannabinoid?






By now, most people familiar with cannabis have heard of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol)
and CBD (cannabidiol)
and their effects, but did you know there are many similar compounds in cannabis? A lesser-known cannabinoid called cannabigerol (CBG), while not present in large quantities in most strains, is nonetheless worth learning about for a number of reasons.

How Is CBG Made?

CBG is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid, meaning it doesn’t produce the “highs” that are synonymous with THC. Because it is present in low levels (usually less than 1%) in most cannabis strains, CBG is considered a minor cannabinoid. Amazingly, however, THC and CBD start out as CBG—it’s the chemical parent of THC and CBD (Figure 1). Cannabis plants produce cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), the precursor to the three main cannabinoid lines
: tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA
), cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), and cannabichromenic acid (CBCA).

Figure 1: CBG-A is the chemical precursor of THCA, CBDA, and CBCA (not shown). Enzymes within cannabis turn CBGA into either THCA or CBDA, which can be subsequently decarboxylated (“activated”) by light or heat energy to create THC or CBD. (Amy Phung/Leafly)

Specific enzymes in the plant break CBGA down and “direct” it toward one of the three lines. The acids are exposed to ultraviolet light or heat, and voila, they become the cannabinoids we know: THC and CBD. In most strains, CBGA is immediately converted to either THCA or CBDA. Thus, more THC means less CBG and CBD (and vice versa) by nature of how these compounds are synthesized.

To obtain higher yields of CBG, breeders are experimenting with genetic manipulation and cross-breeding of plants. For example, Subcool Seeds
is crossing strains to produce higher CBG contents. Scientists can also extract higher levels of CBG from budding plants by pinpointing the optimum extraction time, about six weeks into an eight week flowering cycle. A medicinal strain called Bediol
is produced in this fashion by the Dutch company Bedrocan BV Medicinal Cannabis.

CBG’s Potential Medical Benefits

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The human body’s built-in endocannabinoid system (eCS)
works to keep the body in its balanced state of homeostasis. While there are specific details about how cannabinoids work
, in general the endocannabinoid system performs different functions specific to each area of the body. For example, at an injury site, the eCS can help regulate immune cells to limit inflammation.

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CBG has been found to act on very specific physiological systems and problems, and results for medicinal use are promising:

Scientists are excited about these initial CBG results and are promoting future research with CBG alone or CBG in combination with other cannabinoids and therapies for the treatment of multiple maladies. Because it is non-psychotropic, CBG has a promising wide range of potential applications not only for the problems mentioned above, but also as an analgesic, therapy for psoriasis, and as an antidepressant.