Updated: Jul 27, 2022
Despite being part of human culture for thousands of years, there is still plenty about cannabis that is misunderstood or unanswered. But the language of cannabis can be as foreign as it is complex with words like flavonoid and trichome being part of the basic lexicon. So it’s best to learn intricacies of cannabis in bites — and for this chunk let’s take a closer look at cannabigerol (CBG); one cannabis’ most essential cannabinoids.
Cannabis works on a molecular level with the human body. Thanks to the discovery of the endocannabinoid system, we now know that our body is littered with receptors designed to host cannabis molecules called cannabinoids. CBG is the third-most prevalent cannabinoid in most strains of cannabis. Thanks to its psychoactive properties, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is what first comes to mind when we think of cannabis. But in recent years, the therapeutic potential of cannabidiol (CBD) has pharmacies, chiropractors, and even gas stations racing to get it on their shelves.
However, if not for CBG, the cannabis plant would never produce THC or CBD.
Although CBG is present at low levels (typically less than 1%) it carries a crucial role in the biochemistry of cannabis. During the flowering cycle, cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) serves as the parent molecule that synthesizes developmental acids into mature cannabinoids. This conversion process determines the amount of THC and CBD in a particular strain of cannabis. Regardless, the biosynthesis of CBGA leaves only trace amounts of consumable CBG in the plant.
Good things are happening when CBG is administered. Although the data is limited, this minor cannabinoid could prove to be quite impactful. Based on multiple studies, the efficacy of isolated cannabigerol is increasingly understood. Namely,
CBG can reduce symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Biochemical Pharmacology (2013).
CBG is a well-tolerated appetite stimulant Psychopharmacology (2016).
CBG has potential therapeutic benefits for chemotherapy-induced cachexia Appetite (2006).
CBG carries antiseptic and antibiotic properties and was a potent agent against MRSA Natural Product Communications (1977).
CBG has potential as a neuroprotectant against neurodegenerative illnesses like Huntington’s Disease Complutense University of Madrid (2014).
Like many of the 100+ cannabinoids, CBG also acts as an analgesic, mood-regulator, and anandamide booster. However, despite the growing list of benefits, don’t expect to buy “CBG oil” quite yet. Since CBG is just a tiny part of a cultivar’s cannabinoid profile, it takes thousands of pounds of biomass to create large amounts of CBG isolate. Even more, due to its limited natural presence, it can take three years to breed a strain of cannabis that’s CBG dominant. That said, “CBG dominant” cannabis only carries about 10% of the cannabinoid. While this cannabinoid is the parent of the most commonly discussed cannabinoids, developing plant hybrids with large amounts of CBG is still underway.
Some CBG products did hit the market in 2015, but due to a lack of significant demand and high production costs, CBG’s future may be circumstantial. As the space for CBG develops, this cannabinoid will always play a vital role in the cannabis industry as the creator and distributor of all THC and CBD.