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 though interaction with the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors in the brain.
The psychoactive cannabinoid THC also produces its psychoactive effects though interactions with these receptors; CBG has been observed to work as a buffer to THC’s psychoactivity and can even alleviate the feelings of paranoia that sometimes come with consumption of high levels of THC.
Research is relatively sparse regarding the therapeutic benefits of CBG, when compared to the apparent wealth of information available on THC and CBD within the cannabis science community. But there are early studies linking the compound to a whole host of potential therapeutic uses, such as:
- Treating glaucoma, though its vasodilator and neuroprotective effects.
- Decreasing inflammation, as seen in animal models of inflammatory bowel disease.
- Combatting Huntingdon’s disease, again through its neuroprotective effects.
- Inhibiting tumor growth, in animal models of colorectal cancer.
- Killing drug-resistant bacteria, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
Cannabigerolic acid, or CBGA, is the foundational molecule from which many other cannabinoids are made. CBGA is converted into THCA, the precursor of THC, and into CBDA, the precursor of CBD, during the flowering cycle. Once this conversion process is complete, the cannabis plant contains only trace amounts of CBGA, which is why it’s available at higher concentrations several weeks before harvest.
CBG interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system by interacting with both CB1 and CB2 receptors and stimulating a response. These receptors regulate physiological processes such as mood, pain response, and appetite. CBG appears to interact with the body’s endocannabinoid receptors differently than either THC or CBD, producing unique physiological effects.
While there’s an abundance of awareness around the major cannabinoids THC and CBD, less is known about CBG. CBG shares some similarities with CBD: it seems to be anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial. However, CBG also boasts its own unique set of properties, offering potential therapeutic benefits such as treatment for inflammatory bowel disease and glaucoma in animal tests.
Potential Medical Uses
After its discovery in 1964, CBG research progressed at a relatively slow pace due to its low concentration in most cannabis plants. In recent years, however, a bevy of studies has begun uncovering its pharmacological properties and potential medical uses.
Inflammation and oxidative stress are both contributors to neurodegeneration, which is linked to diseases such as Alzheimer’s. According to a 2018 test-tube study published in the “International Journal of Molecular Science,” CBD may protect against both neuroinflammation and oxidative stress, possibly helping to prevent cell loss
Like so many of its cannabinoid cousins, CBG boasts potential anti-inflammatory characteristics. Inflammatory bowel disease, which refers to disorders associated with chronic inflammation of the digestive tract, may benefit from treatment with CBG. A 2013 preclinical study on mice found that CBG reduced bowel inflammation , nitric oxide production (which is generated at high levels in certain types of inflammation), and oxidative stress in intestinal cells. Other research on mice has demonstrated that CBG may help to address inflammation or suppress immune responses in diseases characterized by inflammatory or autoimmune components.
CBG also boasts tumor-inhibiting properties. A 2014 study published in “Carcinogenesis” tested the effects of CBG in a mouse model of colon cancer. CBG was found to promote cancer cell death and inhibit the growth of tumors, hampering the progression of colon cancer. Clinical research will provide more significant insights into whether these results can be translated into cancer treatment for humans.
Individuals living with AIDS and cancer commonly experience anorexia, or reduced appetite, and cachexia, which refers to weakness or wasting of the body. CBG represents a non-psychoactive alternative to THC that may stimulate appetite. A 2017 study published in “Behavioral Pharmacology” found that purified CBG works as an appetite stimulant in rats, increasing the number of meals consumed, along with the cumulative size of the meals. CBG incorporated into a botanical drug substance appeared to work even more effectively than CBG as an isolate.
Antiseptic and antibacterial
MRSA, or Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, is a superbug capable of causing infections that are very difficult to treat in humans. CBG (along with CBD, CBC, THC and CBN) possesses antibacterial and antiseptic qualities that have shown promise in treating MRSA. A 2008 study published in the “Journal of Natural Products” found that CBG displayed highly potent activity against a strain of MRSA. However, its mechanism of action remains elusive.
Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the world. CBG has been shown to help lower intraocular pressure, which causes much of the damage from glaucoma. In a 2009 study published in the “Journal of Ocular Pharmacology and Therapeutics,” CBG and THC were both found to help relieve pressure in the eye. The study also found that, unlike THC, CBG did not affect certain phases of sleep.