CBG: The Mother of Cannabinoids
Cannabigerol, aka CBG, was first discovered in Israel in 1964 by researchers Yehiel Gaoni and Raphael Mechoulam, along with dozens of other cannabinoids. Shortly after this discovery, Gaoni and Mechoulam found a new neurobiological system, now known as the endocannabinoid system. While their later work mostly pertained to the effects of THC, their discovery has laid the groundwork for further research into this incredibly intricate plant and the corresponding functions within this system.
Up until the past few years, subsequent research on cannabinoids has been considerably slow, with the legality of cannabis impeding critical advancements in this field. However, with breakthroughs in the regulated production of cannabis, phytocannabinoids such as CBD and THC have become more familiar to the public as a part of everyday life. Current studies have shown that, in addition to CBD and THC, cannabis plants contain over 100 other cannabinoids, each offering incredible therapeutic promise. CBG, (aka the “mother” or “stem cell” of cannabinoids) specifically has been shown to offer amazing potential as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, analgesic, and anti-bacterial agent.
How CBG is Made
As a cannabis plant grows, cannabigerolic acid (the acidic form of CBG), is converted by enzymes into one of the three major cannabinoid precursors: tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), and cannabichromenic acid (CBCA). Once activated by light and heat, these molecules are then directed in one of three lines to become THC, CBD, and CBC. Any CBGA that is not converted into one of these three precursors becomes CBG.
Because of this conversion, CBG is generally found in very small amounts in mature cannabis plants and CBG-dominant strains have been historically very difficult to produce. However, as research has developed, breeders have been able to experiment with cross-breeding cultivars. This genetic manipulation, along with the correct use of heat and light and a precise extraction window allows the plants to produce much higher yields of CBG.
CBG & the Endocannabinoid System
So, after all the genetic engineering, what exactly does CBG do? On the surface, CBG has many similar effects as CBD, having been observed to combat pain and mitigate the intoxicating effects of THC without any psychoactive qualities (as in, it won’t make you feel a “high”). However, unlike CBD, CBG interacts with both CB1 and CB2 receptors. It has also demonstrated an ability to increase anandamide, or “the bliss molecule,” which plays a critical role in the regulation of many functions within the body including memory, pain, appetite, mood and sleep.
While CBG offers a great deal of promise, clinical research on actual humans is still developing. However, in the past few years, experiments involving animals have shown that CBG offers incredible potential for a variety of applications including anti-bacterial, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory properties.
A study published in the journal American Chemical Society Infectious Diseases found that CBG shows the potential to be an effective antibacterial agent against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a bacterial responsible for drug-resistant staph infections.
In another animal study, researchers found that CBG greatly benefitted cats with glaucoma by reducing eye pressure, suggesting that this cannabinoid may have great therapeutic potential for the treatment of glaucoma.
According to a 2013 study conducted on mice, CBG was found to be effective in decreasing the inflammation associated with inflammatory bowel disease.
In a more recent study, CBG was shown to act as a neuroprotectant in mice with the neurodegenerative condition, Huntington’s disease. In addition, the study concluded that CBG may show potential in treating other neurodegenerative diseases.
In studies involving mice with colon cancer, CBG showed promise as a cancer fighter, blocking the receptors that cause cancer cell growth and inhibiting the growth of colorectal cancer cells.
The Future of CBG
Initial studies have found that CBG directly interacts with our endocannabinoid system to promote homeostasis, or balance, within our bodies. Researchers are encouraged by these results and are investigating how CBG works on its own, as well as when combined with other cannabinoids and therapies. While further research is needed to fully understand how exactly it works with our bodies to promote wellness, it’s clear that CBG offers exciting potential for treating a variety of conditions.
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