What is CBG (Cannabigerol)? More About the Parent Cannabinoid

In all the talk about THC and CBD, other cannabinoids can get forgotten about. Yet, these other compounds can affect how CBD and THC work, alongside having unique properties of their own. Cannabigerol (CBG) is one of those seemingly forgotten cannabinoids, yet it’s the one that leads to the creation of THC and CBD. It is THC’s and CBD’S “parent” cannabinoid.

CBG has plenty of therapeutic potential, and could be useful for the treatment of chronic pain, nausea/vomiting, multiple sclerosis, and cancer and the side-effects of chemotherapy. Leafwell helps explain how and why CBG works. Please refer to our glossary if there are any scientific terms you do not understand.

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Table of Contents

  1. Does CBG Have Psychoactive Effects?
  2. Does CBG Make You Feel High?
  3. What Health Problems Does CBG Help With?
  4. How Does CBG Differ from the THC and CBD?
  5. Is CBG Useful for Depression and Anxiety?
  6. Are There Any Cannabis Strains Rich in CBG?
  7. Does CBG Interact with Any Other Medications?
  8. Is CBG the Next CBD?

Does CBG Have Psychoactive Effects?

CBG is a partial antagonist of both CB1 and CB2 receptors, and has a low affinity for them. This means that CBG has little psychoactive effect. CBG can inhibit the reuptake of anandamide, which can improve mood and potentially act as a pain killer or distractor.

Does CBG Make You Feel High?

CBG does not make you feel “high” or “stoned.” In fact, CBG may counteract the psychoactive effects of THC.

However, CBG does still have a physiological effect. It could be said that CBG is more of a “non-intoxicating” cannabinoid than a non-psychoactive one. As CBG has the ability to boost anandamide without psychoactive effects, it could be a great alternative or addition to THC.

CBD is an indirect antagonist of CB1 and CB2 receptors, and so is CBG, but with a low affinity for them. The mechanism of action of CBD and CBG differ to some degree, they are similar in that both have little psychoactive effect. THC, meanwhile, has a high binding affinity for CB1 receptors, giving it psychoactive effects. THC is a partial agonist of the CB1 receptors. Basically, anything that partially or fully agonises CB1 receptors, which are located in the brain, have more psychoactive effects.

Chemical formula for cannabigerol, CBG. Skeletal formula. C21H32O2.
Skeletal structure of the cannabinoid, cannabigerol (CBG). C21H30O2. Author: Cacycle.

What Health Problems Does CBG Help With?

CBG has antibacterial and anti-tumor, and could be useful for the treatment of superbugs like MRSA. CBG is also a neurogenic compound, and as such is useful in the treatment of nerve pain. CBG is also an antagonist of the serotonin receptor, 5-HT1A.

CBG stimulates bone growth and brain cell growth. CBG is one of the few genuinely neurogenic compounds around in the world, and is rarely found in nature. It is of particular interest to sufferers of:

Psoriasis and IBS sufferers may benefit, too, as can those suffering from neurodegenerative diseases like Huntington’s disease. CBG may also help increase appetite, due to its effect on CB1 receptors, making it potentially very useful for cachexia and eating disorders.

CBG shows huge potential for the treatment of inflammation, pain, nausea, and cancer.

CBG’s anti-inflammatory properties could make it particularly useful for conditions that affect the bowels, including inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs), Crohn’s disease, and colorectal cancers. CBG also lowers intraocular pressure (IOP), making it potentially very useful for glaucoma.

CBG has also shown to be a potentially very useful antibiotic, suitable for the treatment of antibiotic-resistant superbugs such as MRSA. CBG may combine well with pinene for its superbug-beating effects.

CBG could be very useful for treating MRSA. This colorized scanning electron micrograph (SEM) depicts a grouping of methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria.
CBG could be very useful for treating MRSA. This colorized scanning electron micrograph (SEM) depicts a grouping of methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria.
Image credit: Public Health Image Library (PHIL) 

How Does CBG Differ from the THC and CBD?

The chemical formula for CBG is C21H32O2, whereas the chemical formula for both THC and CBD is C21H30O2. Although THC and CBD have the same chemical formula, they are shaped differently, so affect cannabinoid receptors in different ways.

CBG is the “parent” or precursor compound to THCA, CBDA and CBCA. Both THC and CBD start off as CBG. Enzymes in the cannabis plant direct the plant to produce more of one of these cannabinoids, and breeders cross varieties in order to increase the chances of increasing the production of THCA, CBDA or CBCA. Many are now also producing CBD-dominant strains.

CBG contains two more hydrogen atoms than THC or CBD. CBD synthase is an enzyme that changes CBG to CBD. THC synthase changes CBG to THC.

CBD and THC Processing in the Human Body
Biosynthesis from CBG to THCA and CBDA. Losing carbon dioxide (decarboxylation) turns THCA and CBDA into THC and CBD, respectively.

Is CBG Useful for Depression and Anxiety?

CBG can be used for treating depression and anxiety. Users may find they experience tension relief and calming emotions once they’ve taken it. Here’s why.

CBG is a GABA reuptake inhibitor, meaning that it increases the amount of GABA available in the body. GABA is the body’s main inhibitory neurotransmitter, and increasing GABA can lead to muscle relaxation, tension relief, and a sensation of calm and peace in the body and brain. Inhibiting GABA reuptake can increase the amount of dopamine available in the body as well.

GABA reuptake inhibitors like tiagabine are already used for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), so this makes CBG a very promising treatment for anxiety. GABA deficits are also associated with depression, so CBG could be particularly useful for a low mood as well. CBG’s effect on GABA receptors make it potentially useful for nerve pain as well.

Are There Any Cannabis Strains Rich in CBG?

Matterhorn CBG, Stem Cell, White CBG, Jack Frost CBG, Super Glue CBG and Lemon Cream Diesel CBG all have high amounts of CBG in them. Strains high in CBG are more recently developed, and it is likely that more will be bred in the future.

CBG is also notoriously expensive to isolate, as the equipment required to do so is expensive. Making CBG easier to derive from the plant is a very profitable endeavor, so there is an incentive to breed more CBG-rich varieties.

Jack Frost - high cannabigerol (CBG) cannabis variety.
Jack Frost CBG hemp flower. Grown indoors and measuring 13.1% CBG. Source 

Does CBG Interact with Any Other Medications?

Little research has been done on CBG’s effects and its contraindications with other drugs. However, due to CBG’s antibiotic potential and its anti-inflammatory and antiemetic (nausea-beating) effects, it is reasonable to assume that CBG will interact with the following types of medications:

  • Antibiotics and antimicrobials
  • Anticancer medications
  • Antihistamines
  • Antiepileptic drugs (AEDs)
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Blood thinners
  • Cholesterol medications
  • Corticosteroids
  • Erectile dysfunction medications
  • Gastrointestinal (GI) medications, such as to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or nausea
  • Heart rhythm medications
  • Immunosuppressants
  • Mood medications, such as those used to treat anxiety, depression, or mood disorders
  • Pain medications (analgesics)
  • Prostate medications

Is CBG the Next CBD?

CBD is still a hot topic cannabinoid, and is still the one everyone is focused on at the moment. CBD is also the second most readily available cannabinoid in the cannabis plan, so isolating and studying it is easier.

However, the excitement around CBG is ramping up, and its unique effects on the endocannabinoid receptors make it a cannabinoid with huge potential health benefits. After THC and CBD, CBG is the third most prevalent cannabinoid in the cannabis plant. There is little doubt that CBG, as well as the other lesser-known cannabinoids like THCV, CBC, CBN and CBL, will get their time in the limelight.

We here at Leafwell do not care much for the “flavor of the month” cycle cannabinoids go through, when it is important to realize that they are all important and can be used together and separately for different conditions and therapeutic purposes. THC, CBD, CBG … they are all valuable and all have their uses.

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Written by
Dipak Hemraj
Dipak Hemraj

Dipak Hemraj is a published author, grower, product maker, and Leafwell’s resident cannabis expert. From botany & horticulture to culture & economics, he wishes to help educate the public on why cannabis is medicine (or a “pharmacy in a plant”) and how it can be used to treat a plethora of health problems. Dipak wants to unlock the power of the plant, and see if there are specific cannabinoid-terpene-flavonoid profiles suitable for different conditions.

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