Right when everybody finally figured out what THC and CBD was, they added another three letter acronym to the hemp lexicon: CBG. What the heck is this one? If THC is the psychoactive one, and CBD is the non-psychoactive one, what’s this third thing? Does it make you fly?
Well, in a literal sense, no. In a figurative sense, maybe. Like all things related to hemp and cannabis, it’s complicated.
What is CBG?
CBG is a cannabinoid that’s naturally present in hemp. More specifically, it’s the precursor to other cannabinoids like CBD and THC. This basically means it’s present in the plant early in the growth cycle, and is converted as the plant matures.
It doesn’t get you high. It’s non-psychoactive and doesn’t interact with your endocannabinoid system using the same receptors as THC.
It’s similar to CBD, in a sense. It’s a part of hemp’s complex network of cannabinoids, like a piece that fits perfectly into a puzzle.
CBG is best known for its (potential) antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties. It also potentially works to slow the proliferation of cancer cells, stimulate appetite, and many more exciting therapeutic benefits indicated by early research.
You’ve probably started seeing CBG present in CBD products, like this Kurativ tincture that contain a 10:1 ratio of CBD:CBG. That means that it’s like if you made a Jack and Coke that was 10 parts Coke, one part Jack Daniels (that would obviously be absurd, but I'm just illustrating the point).
You might be thinking that CBG just sounds exactly like CBD. “Who cares?” You ask. Let’s highlight some of the main differences between the two.
Differences Between CBD vs CBG
Different Molecular Structure
The key difference between CBD and CBG lies in its molecular structure. This basically means how the cannabinoid is built and the different atoms that make it up on a molecular, chemical level.
CBD and CBG, while they both display an affinity for the CB1 and CB2 endocannabinoid reactor sites, interact with your body in different ways, simply because the physical structure of the molecules themselves are different. The both bind to your body’s endocannabinoid receptors distinctly.
This means that you may find CBG and CBD blends to be preferable to other CBD products, simply because they work with your body’s endocannabinoid system in a unique rhythm that’s distinct and different.
Probably the most pronounced trait unique to CBG is that it’s been shown in research to drastically increase appetite. It does this by acting as an antagonist at the 5-HT1A receptor (it blocks it).
This is a huge advantage CBG provides over CBD, as it gives users a potential option for appetite stimulation without the intoxicating effects of THC.
What Else Might it Do?
Literally Cure Cancer
One of the most exciting promises of CBG is its potential to inhibit cancer cell growth by blocking the receptors that cause it. In another study with lab mice, CBG inhibited the growth of tumors, colorectal cancer cells, and chemically-induced colon carcinogenesis. This opens the door for the incredible possibility that CBG may present a cure for colorectal cancer.
CBG has been found in lab experiments to decrease inflammation associated with inflammatory bowel disease in mice.
Through its vasodilator and neuroprotective effects, CBG may be effective in treating glaucoma by reducing intraocular pressure. There are quite a number of endocannabinoid receptors in your eyes. That’s why they look so red when you’re at IHOP.
Inhibit Bladder Contractions
It was also found to be the most effective cannabinoid at inhibiting muscle contractions in a study comparing five different cannabinoids in lab mice.
Is CBG Better Than CBD?
The thing about cannabis and the cannabinoids within it is that they are constantly changing and evolving. Even the cannabinoids within dried flower continue to undergo chemical processes that convert them into different cannabinoids.
For instance, the reason improperly stored dried flower tends to go “bad” is because oxidized THC produces a cannabinoid known as CBN. CBN, like CBD, is non-intoxicating, and would probably be put to better use in a medicinal context. Plus, in tandem with THC, it can make you sleepy.
This is a great example of the interconnectivity of cannabis’s internal network of cannabinoids. It ebbs and flows constantly, each piece working together in concert to provide the final affect your body feels. At the moment of consumption, you’re essentially experiencing this network of cannabinoids at a specific frozen moment in the plant’s life that must be carefully preserved.
This is one of the reasons why CBG is considered so difficult to extract, and thus so rare and expensive. It’s only present in the plant for a short time (about 6 to 8 weeks into the growth cycle), and it’s present in low quantities. This means you don’t have much time to extract it-- and when you do, you need a lot of plant matter.
But this is also why CBG is so much better when paired with CBD in a carefully formulated ratio. As aforementioned, the spectrum of cannabinoids present in any given extract is like an orchestra playing a piece of music. Each performer is in the specific place, hitting a specific note at a specific time.
Your body’s endocannabinoid system, if we’re thinking along the same gratuitously poetic metaphor, is like a nuanced and delicate instrument. With the right performer, it can play a masterpiece.
CBG is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that, though similar to CBD, acts on the body’s endocannabinoid receptors in different ways due to its different molecular structure. It may also act as a more effective appetite stimulant.
Medicinally, it shows huge promise for potentially slowing the growth of cancer cells.
It’s highly sought-after due to its scarcity and the difficulty of the extraction process.
It works best in tandem with CBD and is available in many CBD products.