Most people are familiar with THC and CBD, and their effects. But did you know there are many similar compounds in cannabis? Like the lesser-known cannabinoid called cannabigerol (CBG). While not present in large quantities in most strains, is still interesting for a number of reasons.
What is CBG?
CBG (or CBGA) is the precursor to other cannabinoids, such as THC (or THCA) and CBD (or CBDA). This means that CBG is the compound the plants develop first during flowering. This is later converted into the other cannabinoids during the later parts of flowering. Hence the title of ‘Mother of Cannabinoids’. Its ability to synthesize major cannabinoids has pushed it into the limelight for researchers, investors, and consumers alike.
Are CBG-Rich Products Intoxicating?
Unlike CBD, which has a relatively low affinity for cannabinoid receptors and acts mostly through indirect interactions with the endocannabinoid system, CBG is thought to elicit its therapeutic effects directly. It does so through interaction with the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors in the brain.
Researchers have also observed CBG working as a buffer to THC’s psychoactive properties. This means that it is non-psychotropic and may have a wide range of promising potential applications.
Benefits of CBG
There have been some early studies suggesting CBG might be successful as a potential antibiotic against MRSA, as well as for pain and inflammation reduction and even in slowing the growth of cancer cells.
However, preliminary animal and pre-clinical research has suggested that CBG may be helpful in treating the following conditions:
- Inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
- Movement disorders like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease
- Anxiety disorders
Overcoming the Difficulties of Producing CBG
With no intoxicating effects and a vast number of potential therapeutic uses, why hasn’t CBG experienced the same swell in popularity as CBD?
The largest stumbling block to CBG’s realization as a common therapeutic treatment is the cost of its production. CBG is thought to be one of the most expensive cannabinoids to produce. “It takes thousands of pounds of biomass to create small amounts of CBG isolate,” James Rowland, CEO of the Colorado CBG brand Steve’s Goods.
This is because most plants only contain small percentages of CBG. While there are now plant strains that contain CBD percentages as high as 25%. If the CBG content of the same crop is only 1 percent. That means you need to extract 25 times the amount of biomass to get the same amount of CBG out.
CBG also presents a problem to cultivators. As the cannabis plant matures, the more CBGA and CBG in the strain will convert into other cannabinoids. This leaves cultivators with two choices.
- Grow cannabis with the express purpose of producing CBG. Meaning that you can harvest the crop early before this conversion completes.
- Allow the crop to fully mature so that some of the crops can be sold for other purposes. While the rest will have a lower CBG content for extraction.
However, in rare cases, there are mutations within the plant, which prevent this conversion from happening. This means that cultivators can allow their plants to fully mature, without the worry of losing their CBG cannabinoids. This also means that CBG rich strains naturally produce low amounts of THC (normally less than 0.3%). These new CBG rich strains negate the major disadvantages associated with cultivating CBG.