Cannabigerol, more commonly known as CBG, is one of the more than 120 cannabinoid compounds found within the cannabis plant that has quickly piqued the interest of investors, scientists and medical professionals with its promise to revolutionise modern medicine.
CBG might be the new kid on the block in the cannabinoid industry but it is, quite literally, the mother of CBD and THC, with both CBD and THC initially starting out as CBG. In fact, CBG is the first cannabinoid that develops in the cannabis plant and is found in low concentrations (usually less than 1%) in most cannabis strains, which is why it is sometimes referred to as the “stem cell” of cannabinoids.
As tiny as it may be, we wouldn’t have CBD or THC without CBG so it really is an essential cannabinoid. From its potential pharmacological benefits to why it is set to supplant CBD, here we round up everything you need to know about the next big thing in cannabinoids.
CBG is not the same as CBD
While CBG and CBD are alike in that they are both non-psychoactive cannabinoids and have similar-sounding names, there are a number of crucial differences that makes them behave in very different ways.
For a start, CBG and CBD are different compounds within the cannabis plant and have very different molecular structures. This affects how they bind with the brain’s two cannabinoid receptors: CB1 receptors, which are primarily in the brain and nervous system, and CB2 receptors, which are more prevalent in the immune system. CB1 and CB2 receptors control neuro-hormones, which can affect your mood, pain response and appetite.
CBD mostly interacts with the endocannabinoid system on an indirect basis, while CBG interacts directly with the brain’s receptors. This means CBG and CBD have varying effects on the body. For example, early studies have shown that CBG can help to stimulate appetite but CBD does not, while other preliminary research shows CBG might be useful in treating multiple medical conditions that CBD does not.
Essentially, CBG’s ability to interact directly with our cannabinoid receptors makes it more effective than CBD.
Another key difference is what happens to CBG and CBD during the cannabis plant’s lifecycle. CBG is only present in small quantities in a cannabis plant’s early growth cycle, while abundant amounts of CBD are found in the plant throughout its growth cycle.
As the cannabis plant matures, CBG concentrations reduce but CBD concentrations increase. This is why CBG needs to be harvested at an earlier stage in order to produce oil. Additionally, CBG converts into other cannabinoids but CBD does not.
CBG has a growing number of potential medical benefits
While research into CBG is still in its nascency, this tiny cannabis compound is showing promising signs that it has a wide range of potentially life-changing medical and therapeutic benefits.
CBG has been found to have antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties that could treat a number of infections and kill drug-resistant bacteria such as MRSA, while other studies have shown CBG may block receptors that support cancer cell growth, meaning it could help to reduce the growth of cancer cells and other tumors.
Medical cannabis has been used to treat glaucoma for some years but it is the CBG compound that is now thought to be responsible for reducing intraocular eye pressure.
CBG has been shown to protect neurons in mice with Huntington’s disease, which means CBG may also be able to treat other neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
Another study found CBG is better than its counterparts in preventing muscle contractions, which could be very useful in helping to treat bladder problems, while its anti-inflammatory properties have also been shown to treat inflammatory bowel disease and skin conditions such as psoriasis.
CBG has appetite-stimulating properties that could be used to help treat people with eating disorders and conditions such as cancer and HIV.
It doesn’t stop there. CBG is also showing early signs of promise that it could be much more effective than CBD in treating symptoms of various mental health illnesses. CBG’s ability to block serotonin receptors could have anti-depressant effects, while its ability to inhibit the brain’s uptake of an amino acid called GABA could help to reduce anxiety and muscle tension.
While there has been some stigma around investing in research related to the medicinal use of cannabis, the growing medicinal and therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids like CBG are certainly helping to quash that stigma.
CBG is one of the most expensive and difficult cannabinoids to produce
Because most cannabis plants contain less than 1% of CBG, it takes thousands of pounds of biomass to create small amounts of CBG isolate. Compare this with CBD, which makes up around 20% of cannabis crops, and you would need 20 times the amount of biomass to get the same amount of CBG.
CBG is found in younger cannabis plants and made through hemp’s natural growth process. Unlike CBD, which gets stronger over time, the concentration of CBG gets weaker over time so it needs to be harvested at a much earlier stage to produce oil and retain its strength.
This presents cannabis farmers with a tough decision: either harvest the crop early to get as much CBG as possible but sacrifice the rest of your crop; or harvest at a later stage with lower concentrations of CBG but be able to sell some of the remaining crop for other purposes, such as CBD production.
Most cannabinoids can only be extracted using specialised equipment, which is particularly expensive when it comes to extracting CBG. The most effective way to purify cannabinoids is through an extraction process called chromatography, which uses superfluid liquid solvents and heat until a high purity concentrate is left behind.
It is a combination of the cannabis plant’s lifecycle, the low concentrate of CBG in crops and the expense of high-production equipment that makes CBG one of the most expensive and difficult to produce cannabinoids, with some suppliers charging $30,000 – $50,000 per kilo.
You might be pleased to know that the high cost of CBG should begin to drop once the supply starts to meet the demand.
CBG won’t get you high
Similar to CBD, CBG is a non-intoxicating, non-psychoactive cannabinoid and cannot get you high. In fact, CBG is known as an antagonist in chemistry terms because it actually interferes with the psychoactive effects created by THC.
CGB powers particular neurons in your brain. It can also block THC molecules from reacting with certain neurons. While a CBG molecule is unable to ‘turn on’ the brain’s CB1 receptor like THC does, it can still occupy that space.
If a CBG molecule docks in the brain’s CB1 receptor before a THC molecule, then the THC molecule is unable to turn the CB1 receptor on. This means CBG is effective in counteracting the ‘heady’ effects that many people feel when they consume cannabis.
CBG might be non-intoxicating but it has been shown to improve people’s moods. This is because CBG helps to boost a compound in the body called anandamide – sometimes referred to as the “bliss” molecule – which helps to promote feelings of happiness and overall wellbeing.
In addition to its ability to block serotonin receptors and inhibit the brain’s uptake of GABA, CBG is able to react with the anandamide molecule much more effectively than CBD, which is another reason why CBG may be significantly more effective in treating symptoms of depression and anxiety.
CBG is set to supplant CBD
CBD has dominated this market for a number of years but rarer cannabinoids are gearing up to steal the spotlight on the global stage. CBG in particular has a growing number of promising health benefits that could transform a variety of industries, which makes it highly appealing to investors as the CBD market reaches saturation point.
According to The Journal of Cannabinoid Medicine: “While CBG has yet to match the mainstream appeal of CBD, this cannabinoid may soon play a starring role in everyday consumer products as it quietly demonstrates a wide array of highly intriguing medical benefits.”
CBG is already causing a huge amount of excitement within the medical and pharmaceutical industries. The global market for cannabinoid-based pharmaceuticals is expected to be worth $50 billion within 10 years. With CBG boasting properties that have been shown to treat a number of health conditions including Huntington’s Disease, Glaucoma, bladder dysfunction and tumours, it is clear that this small but powerful cannabinoid is going to play a significant role in the growth of this market.
CBG is currently much more expensive to produce than CBD which can be a barrier to investment. But as the price of CBG drops, we will see an explosion of CBG innovation in consumer markets such as food & drink and health & beauty.
Much of this growth is being driven by consumers’ growing awareness of the health benefits of cannabis-infused products. With CBG packing even more health benefits than CBD, there is no doubt CBG-infused products will become an increasingly popular alternative to CBD and fuel much of the growth predicted in these markets.
As a wholesaler that prides itself on always being one step ahead of the market, we see the huge potential in CBG and we are ready for the boom. If you are interested in learning more about CBG or need some advice on where to begin, we are here to answer any questions you might have and to help you pick out products for your customers.