What is CBG: Benefits, Effects, and More?

What is CBG: Benefits, Effects, and More?

Since hemp and its extracts became fully legal in late 2018, wellness experts have embraced cannabis in a big way. Cannabidiol (CBD) has been the star of the show so far, which has caused many consumers to ask, “What is CBD, and what can it do for me?”

CBD products made with hemp extracts provide consumers with a number of wellness support options. But cannabigerol, or CBG, recently started to get more attention for its potential uses for wellness.

Many cannabinoids are found in Cannabis sativa – around 120 – but cannabigerol (CBG) is probably one of the less known compounds. However, it does play a rather significant role that involves CBD and many other cannabinoids.

But what is CBG and how does it differ from CBD and other cannabis extracts?

Below, we’ll take a look at CBG’s origins, how it compares to CBD, possible CBG benefits, and where consumers can find it.

A large cannabis flower sits in a glass jar in a laboratory

What Is CBG and Where Does it Come From?

CBG is a nonintoxicating substance found in plants of the Cannabis genus that may offer a variety of applications for humans. In other words, CBG comes from hemp, doesn’t get you high, and may also provide wellness benefits – much like CBD cannabinoids.

Researchers describe CBG as a minor cannabinoid because cannabis plants produce smaller amounts of the substance compared to major cannabinoids like CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBG typically makes up less than one percent of the cannabis plant by weight.

Image depicts the chemical make up of the cannabigerol molecule

But the acidic form of CBG, known as cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), is an integral part of the plant’s production of CBD, and THC.

Often referred to as a “mother cannabinoid,” CBG is the organic compound that CBD and several other cannabinoids originally started as. Inside cannabis plants, CBG is in its cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) form and acts as an elementary unit to several other cannabinoids.

Plant enzymes in maturing cannabis plants convert most of their CBGA into the acidic forms of CBD and THC – CBDA and THCA respectively.

A process called decarboxylation, which occurs when the plant matter is exposed to ultraviolet light or heat, converts those acids into CBD and THC.

That same decarboxylation process can convert CBGA into CBG, but it happens on a much smaller scale compared to the major cannabinoids.

When a cannabis plant starts to mature, the CBGA uses particular enzymes to synthesize into cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), and cannabichromenic acid (CBCA).

Once the CBGA converts into those other molecular compounds, there are only low concentrations of the cannabinoid left inside a mature cannabis plant. And when heat enters into the mix, each of these structures loses a carbon element and converts into its more recognizable form – CBG, CBD, CBC, or THC.

And the costs of extracting CBG oil are significantly higher than other cannabinoids because a specialized chromatography mechanism is needed to precisely isolate and purify CBG extracts without needing an increased amount of raw hemp materials.

Ultimately, that means CBG is expensive and hard to extract in meaningful amounts. That’s why wellness formulas with CBG as the main ingredient are extremely rare.

Because of its rarity, there isn’t as much information available regarding what is CBG oil or CBG products as there is on CBD oil. CBD is more abundant because as cannabis plants mature, their CBG content converts into other cannabinoids.

Some botanists have started work to create strains of hemp that will yield greater amounts of CBG. They’ve also determined that it’s possible to harvest plants earlier in the growing cycle to optimize CBG extraction. But there’s still a lot of work to do on this front.

CBG vs. CBD: What’s the Difference?

In understanding what is CBG, it’s important to understand how it contrasts with CBD.

Slight molecular differences between the two substances result in significantly different CBD and CBG effects.

A neuron in purple is shown transmitting between receptors via red highlights under an electron microscope

Researchers observe that CBG appears to bind well to the cell receptors of the body’s endocannabinoid system. As a result, CBG may cause a direct response.

Research indicates that CBD molecules can partially bind to CB1 receptors – cannabinoid connectors located in the brain and that make up half of the endocannabinoid system – which may be the primary reason why it works against THC effects.

Other evidence suggests that CBG could also affect CB2 receptors; however, the results couldn’t pinpoint how exactly. Researchers have also said that CBG contributes to the “entourage effect” by working in synergy with other cannabinoids and terpenes.

By contrast, CBD appears to have a lower affinity, but can still affect these receptors in another way. Instead of binding with the receptors, they may instead block them from interacting with other substances.

For an oversimplified example, think about a square-shaped hole and two differently shaped pegs – one square and another circle.

Sized correctly, both pegs fit snugly into the square-shaped hole. But research seems to suggest that the square peg acts more like CBG, interacting with all sides and corners of the space.

On the other hand, the circle-shaped peg appears to work more like the CBD. It may fit the space and hold securely, but it doesn’t fully interact with all the edges. It also effectively blocks the insertion of any other pegs.

What Does the Research Say About CBG’s Benefits?

Medical scientists have completed a few studies to discover various CBG oil benefits. Those experiments focused on CBG and its effect on the human body. Their outcomes provide plenty of reasons to get excited about the possible benefits of CBG, but it’s important to understand that these are only preliminary results.

Since these studies used large doses of isolated CBG in non-human test subjects, they do not provide conclusive evidence that CBG oil benefits are useful to treat or prevent any disease in humans. Consumers can’t expect the same effects from the supplemental servings found in today’s wellness products.

Researchers still have a lot of work to do on the subject, but the early evidence certainly has many medical experts intrigued.

A bowl of food with rice, leafy greens, tomatoes, and other healthy food  sits on a stone table

So what does CBG do? It’s best to think of CBG’s benefits as a way to support good health practices such as a balanced diet, regular exercise, and good sleep habits.

CBG possesses some considerable potential, according to preliminary scientific investigations and findings. And it may solidify a promising future within the cannabis industry if there ever comes a time when manufacturers can solely extract CBG oil.

Steps have already been taken to synthesize higher amounts of CBG through cross-breeding plants and manipulating plant genetics. Another method that scientists are exploring is pinpointing the perfect extraction time to pull higher CBG content from budding cannabis.

And with all the positive results from initial studies, scientists and pushing forward with promising future research utilizing CBG or expanding its abilities by combining other cannabinoids to establish more safe and natural alternatives to maintaining general wellness.

Where Can You Buy CBG?

Consumers can find small amounts of CBG alongside dozens of other cannabinoids in all full spectrum and broad spectrum hemp products.

The amount of CBG present in these products reflects what’s typically found in hemp plants. The hemp strains grown for wellness products presently contain high amounts of CBD, and very little CBG – generally less than 1 percent.

There are a few CBG-heavy hemp extract products on the market, but they are quite expensive. A hemp product’s label should accurately describe its contents, but that’s not always the case. Hemp companies frequently play fast and loose with ingredient lists.

If you want to know if a hemp product contains CBG, an independent lab test can help. On most lab reports, you can see a full list of which cannabinoids are present, and in what concentrations.

Two color coded pie charts side by side show the difference between full spectrum and broad spectrum cbd

cbdMD’s Superior Broad Spectrum formula products contain CBG, including our tinctures, capsules, topicals, and sleep aids.

It’s also important to note cbdMD’s broad spectrum hemp extracts provide something other brands can’t – consistent cannabinoid levels across all product batches.

Most full and broad spectrum extracts contain consistent amounts of CBD, but the levels of other cannabinoids, like CBG, fluctuate across different batches.

This is a crucial distinction for anyone who wishes to experience any CBG’s benefits as a wellness tool.

What Else Should I Know About Minor Cannabinoids?

In this article, we addressed the question, “What is CBG?” But did you know there are over 100 cannabinoids found in help plants?

You can learn more about other cannabinoids in our series of articles here on the cbdMD blog, or connect with us via Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram