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What is CBG? Is there a difference between CBG and CBD?

For Cannabis Product Consumers, Getting Educated About Cannabinoids Is Important By: The Native Hemp

If you’ve been hearing a lot lately about CBD and now CBG as beneficial products of cannabis cultivation, stay tuned: there’s more to come. As the public’s ability to obtain cannabis products has increased, laboratories have been freer to perform research on the many cannabinoids, substances that are part of the various strains of cannabis in varying amounts. It will pay to become informed about these as more become available with varying benefits. For starters, let’s look at how CBG differs from CBD and why consumers might choose this more exotic cannabinoid.

Photo by: Allison Christine

The Human Body Has a Cannabis-Responsive System with Many Beneficial Effects

Cannabinoids work with existing mechanisms in the body. The human body’s endocannabinoid system provides inborn biological connections that work with cannabis-derived substances. It provides ready receptors for elements of these plant-based substances, so it’s not surprising that many beneficial effects have been reported as research increases. THC’s mood effects are well-known and have provided a boost to the cannabis industry with its popularity. CBD and CBG are becoming popular for another reason: they focus on other beneficial effects of cannabis without the psychoactive effects of THC.

Getting to Know Cannabinoids CBD and CBG as a Consumer

Chances are, you’ve seen the initials CBD on products sold far from classic cannabis dispensaries. It’s available in creams, lotions, and dietary supplements, and even in products for pets. The benefits associated with it are extensive. CBG hasn’t been as visible, in part because it is more difficult to produce and so can be more costly. Both of these substances, because of their natural connection with the body and its mechanisms, are the subjects of exciting new research. Here’s what we know so far about them.

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The Fields of Cannabis Research and Genetics are Blossoming

In the 21st century, science and tradition have merged in the new cannabis industry. Researchers are discovering why the plant provides so many positive effects in the human body, benefits that often have been known for a long time in traditional cultures. Legal changes have made it much easier to perform research and create technologies to refine beneficial substances from the cannabis plant.

Photo by: Crystal weed cannabis

Concentrating Key Cannabis Elements

Genetic cannabis research has led to much stronger psychoactive THC content in the Indica and Sativa varieties sold in dispensaries, but it has also led to the production of varieties with ultra-low THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) content in products such as CBD (cannabidiol) and CBG (cannabigerol). The excitement over these new concentrated products is growing because they provide more focused benefits, allowing consumers more specific choices. CBG is a “source” compound in cannabis that is converted into other cannabinoids as the plant grows, so it is generally available in small quantities in typical cannabis and hemp. U.S.-based hemp growers and several Swiss companies, in particular, are focusing on hemp genetics to produce CBG-rich varieties anticipating the growth of CBG product demand.

CBG In the Literature — Science is Bringing Cannabis into the Fold as a Powerful Source of Potential Treatments

Cannabinoids are receiving attention in mainstream healthcare literature, as seen in the diverse articles listed in the National Institutes of Health database. In the professional journal Frontiers in Pharmacology (Front Pharmacol. 2018; 9: 632), the authors note the non-psychoactive attributes of CBG and explain that it is abundant in some industrial hemp varieties. The article goes on to explain in detail the current understanding of how CBG interacts with existing CB1 and CB2 receptors in the body and provides a detailed pharmacological explanation of its actions.

Other NIH-listed articles discuss the effects of CBG seen in the laboratory for neuroinflammation, appetite stimulation, stress (adrenaline) reduction, and other concerns. One article notes that there are over seventy phytocannabinoids (cannabinoids derived from plants rather than synthesized in the laboratory) available for research into cannabis, and results so far are full of possibilities. While still in the speculative stage, journal articles have been published on potential beneficial effects on the development of colon cancer (Carcinogenesis 2014 Dec;35(12):2787-97) and nerve protection in Huntington’s Disease (Neurotherapeutics 2015 Jan;12(1):185-99) as well.

CBG Versus CBD

For now, most people are going with observed effects of CBD and CBG which may vary from person to person. CBD has been seen to be of potential help with these:

  • Pain

  • Anxiety and Depression

  • Cancer and Treatment-Related Nausea and Vomiting

  • Nerve Protection in Epilepsy and MS

  • Blood Pressure and Heart Health (possibly by relaxing blood vessels)

  • Other Anecdotal Evidence of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Benefits

  • Possible Benefits in Prevention of Cancer Growth and Diabetes

CBG appears to provide many of these benefits and also, as mentioned above, specific possible help with Huntington’s disease, cancer growth, and appetite loss. CBG has also been associated with:

  • Antibacterial Effects

  • Internal Eye Pressure Reduction (Glaucoma)

  • Bladder Dysfunction

Research is still in its infancy, and the effects of cannabinoids on the body’s extensive existing receptors suggest that there will be many exciting discoveries and confirmation of traditional reports of cannabis effects — and in products that have little or no THC, especially in the case of CBG.

CBD and CBG Extraction

CBD is derived and purified through an extraction and distillation process that uses commercially available equipment. It can be derived from regular cannabis or hemp, which is low-THC cannabis (0.3 percent THC or less). Though the CBG extraction process is similar, CBD is usually present at levels of ten percent or more in hemp, while CBG, due to the chemical processes in cannabis plant growth, may only be available in quantities less than one percent by harvest time.

Photo by: Matthew Sichkaruk

Is CBD Still the Right Choice for Some Uses?

Since CBD is easily available and lower cost than CBG, it is a good starting point for cannabinoid-based treatment. CBG may have higher potential, and should definitely be considered as the next step if expected results from CBD aren’t seen. Keep an eye out for future CBG news, and for further cannabinoid research results in this new and exciting field.

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