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?”
But CBD isn’t the only cannabinoid found in Cannabis sativa. One other you may not have heard as much about is cannabigerol, or CBG, which has recently started to get more attention for its potential uses for wellness.
There are many cannabinoids 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.
CBD products made with hemp extracts provide consumers with several wellness support options. And you may have seen that CBG is included in a lot of these products. 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.
What Is CBG and Where Does it Come From?
CBG is a non-intoxicating 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.
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.
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 CBGA 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.
As this happens, there is less of the CBG left for us to extract and use. This makes the costs of extracting CBG and producing a CBG oil product significantly higher than other cannabinoids. That’s because a specialized chromatography mechanism is needed to precisely isolate and purify CBG extracts without using an increased amount of raw hemp materials.
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.
Ultimately, this all means that CBG is expensive and hard to extract in meaningful amounts. That’s why wellness formulas with CBG as the main ingredient are extremely rare. CBD is more abundant because as cannabis plants mature, their CBG content converts into other cannabinoids like CBD. This greater abundance of CBD may explain why CBD is more recognizable and popular among users of cannabinoid products.
Because of the rarity of CBG, there isn’t as much information available to answer “what is CBG oil or CBG products” as there is on CBD oil. Which makes it harder for you, the consumer, to find the information you need on this lesser-known cannabinoid. Though preliminary studies are promising, there is still a lot for us to learn about this minor cannabinoid.
CBG vs. CBD: What’s the Difference?
Now that we’ve answered “what is CBG?” we can better understand how it contrasts with CBD.
Slight molecular differences between the two substances result in significantly different CBD and CBG effects, but also how they work or communicate with your body via the endocannabinoid system or ECS.
Researchers observe that CBG appears to bind well to the cell receptors in the ECS. As a result, CBG may cause a direct response.
Research indicates that CBG molecules can partially bind to CB1 receptors – cannabinoid connectors located in the brain that make up half of the endocannabinoid system – which may be the primary reason why it works against THC effects. This action of CBG to diminish the effects of THC makes it one of the most interesting qualities of this minor cannabinoid.
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. This combined effect is often discussed in cannabis and CBD communities, and it is interesting to know that CBG plays a role not only in the formation of the cannabinoids themselves but also in how they work together.
By contrast, CBD appears to have a lower affinity, but can still affect these receptors in another way. Instead of binding with the receptors, it may instead block them from interacting with other substances.
Furthermore, CBD molecules typically communicate with CB2 cannabinoid receptors, while CBG is thought to attach to both CB1 and CB2 receptors. The two types of receptors each reach different biological systems throughout your body. Naturally, maximizing this activity by including more than one type of cannabinoid in CBD products can help you to get greater benefit from cannabinoid use. This is due to greater interaction at the binding sites, but also because of the entourage effect.
So, while the two cannabinoids, CBG and CBD, work a little differently due to their molecular makeup, the benefits differ a little as well, due to the binding sites they use within the ECS.
What About CBG 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.
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 the cannabinoid for CBG oil more easily and in a more cost-effective manner.
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 are pushing forward with promising future research utilizing CBG or expanding its abilities by combining it with other cannabinoids to establish more safe and natural alternatives for 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 were 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.
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. To correct these inconsistencies, cbdMD utilizes third-party testing to ensure quality and batch consistency.
This is a crucial distinction for anyone who wishes to experience any of CBG’s benefits as a wellness tool.
CBG + CBD Oil Reviews
When it comes to quality CBD products that contain CBG and other cannabinoids, it can be helpful to read through the product reviews. Other consumers like you have had the same questions, but after using the products for some time they can offer their experiences. Check out some of the following reviews by our satisfied CBD users.
Note: The following reviews are for products that contain both CBD and CBG. Please check the full ingredients list for products you are considering to see if they contain CBD or a blend of CBD and other cannabinoids.
Ray, verified buyer (CBD tinctures)
“I wish I could give this product more than 5 stars. It has become a daily ritual- it makes me feel calm, grounded, and overall feeling ‘well.’ Great for unwinding after a long day at work! I've tried the berry and orange flavors; they're both amazing but berry is my favorite.”
Keith, verified buyer (CBD tinctures)
“LOVE the product! Take 1oz dropper at bedtime. Sleep has tremendously improved. Wake up refreshed. Have used 1oz during the day as well, but for me, the 1oz dropper at night has been very effective in sleep and reduced stress... GREAT product! Both Berry & Orange flavors are great...I prefer the orange for less aftertaste”
Phoebe, verified buyer (CBD topical balms)
“I got this to help my dry skin after working long days in the sun as a life guard for the summer. I feel like my skin looks more youthful that it did before I starting using it. Really think this body balm and everything in it help make my skin more... rejuvenated. Highly recommend”
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 hemp plants?
You can learn more about other cannabinoids in our series of articles here on the cbdMD blog.
Originally written by: Randall Goins