DISCOVER CANNABIS

What Is CBG and How Is It Different From CBD?

We talk a lot about THC and CBD, but cannabis has over 100 active compounds. What does the science say about one of these lesser-known cannabinoids, CBG.

The Cannabis sativa plant is surprisingly complicated. It contains over 100 active compounds that we are still working to understand. The main substances under study are cannabinoids and terpenes1 2.  The most well-known and studied of the cannabinoids are THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) and (CBD) cannabidiol.

The familiar psychotropic “high” that we associate with cannabis comes mostly from THC. It affects our senses and thought processes by stimulating the endocannabinoid receptors in our body. CBD, on the other hand, is the famous non-intoxicating component of Cannabis. It does not get you high and provides a wide range of therapeutic effects such as easing pain, inflammation, vomiting, nausea, and anxiety, as well as repairing and protecting nerve tissue from damage.

Another common, but lesser known, cannabinoid is cannabigerol (CBG). It’s just beginning to gain attention in the research community. The safety profile of CBG has not been assessed in humans, but evidence up to this point shows that CBG appears to be non-intoxicating. In mice, it does not cause typical behaviours of intoxication that are seen with THC3.

 

Learn More: A Medical Introduction to CBD

What is CBG?

CBG is considered the “parent” to the major cannabinoids. The cannabis plant produces CBG first and then converts it into THC, CBD and another cannabinoid called CBC4.

While CBG is usually a minor component of cannabis (less than 10%), it has been found in some hemp strains with proportions up to 94%5.

What Can CBG Be Used For?

Even though CBG was first discovered in the 1960s6, the majority of cannabis research has focused on THC and CBD. But as cannabis medicine has grown, and with the intoxicating effects of THC limiting its potential, researchers are expanding their scope into the non-intoxicating cannabinoids like CBG.

While research on CBG is still in its infancy, there is a range of evidence from animal studies that suggest CBG may have a therapeutic role as an anti-inflammatory, anti-tumour agent, appetite stimulant and anti-bacterial. It may one day be developed into a treatment for a variety of diseases and conditions. 

 

Effects of CBG versus CBD

Effects of CBG With the Strongest Evidence

Several studies have shown that CBG exhibits anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects, meaning it reduces swelling in nerves and other tissues to ease pain, repair damage and protect nerves from further damage. These effects have been shown in studies of live animals and isolated tissues7 8 9 10 11 12. For example, CBG reduced the symptoms associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)13 and showed nerve-protecting properties in models of Huntington’s Disease14, Parkinson’s Disease15 and multiple sclerosis (MS)16 17.

Effects of CBG With Moderate Evidence

CBG also seems to have anti-tumour effects on certain types of cancer cells. Next to CBD, CBG was the second most potent cannabinoid to inhibit tumours in a human breast cancer cell line18. CBG also hampered colon cancer progression and inhibited the growth of colorectal cancer cells19. It also shows significant antitumor activity against skin cancer cells in mice20.

Effects of CBG With Limited Evidence

CBG and CBG-rich cannabis extracts have been shown to stimulate feeding in rats21 22. This may provide a new treatment option for cachexia (wasting syndrome) which is often associated with cancer, HIV and other chronic illness, as well as eating disorders.

CBG has also exhibited anti-bacterial activity against antibiotic-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus, which can cause a number of serious and difficult to treat infections23. It has also shown potential to treat glaucoma24 25, psoriasis26, and pain27 28.

Summary

Cannabigerol appears to be a non-intoxicating component of cannabis and is the “parent compound” that gets converted into THC and CBD. Early research suggests that CBG has therapeutic benefits, including anti-inflammatory and anti-tumour properties. Further research, including more animal and human studies, are required to establish that CBG is safe and effective for a variety of conditions and diseases.

 

References

[1] Aizpurua-Olaizola O, Elezgarai I, Rico-Barrio I, Zarandona I, Etxebarria N, Usobiaga A. Targeting the endocannabinoid system: future therapeutic strategiesDrug Discov Today. 2017;22(1):105-110.

[2] Morales P, Hurst DP, Reggio PH. Molecular Targets of the Phytocannabinoids: A Complex PictureProg Chem Org Nat Prod. 2017;103:103-131.

[3] El-Alfy AT, Ivey K, Robinson K, et al. Antidepressant-like effect of delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol and other cannabinoids isolated from Cannabis sativa L. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2010;95(4):434-442.

[4] de Meijer EPM, Hammond KM. The inheritance of chemical phenotype in Cannabis sativa L. (II): Cannabigerol predominant plants. Euphytica. 2005;145(1-2):189-198.

[5] de Meijer EPM, Hammond KM. The inheritance of chemical phenotype in Cannabis sativa L. (II): Cannabigerol predominant plants. Euphytica. 2005;145(1-2):189-198.

[6] Gaoni Y, Mechoulam R. The structure and function of cannabigerol, a new hashish constituent. Proceedings of the Chemical Society. 1964;1:82.

[7] Gugliandolo A, Pollastro F, Grassi G, Bramanti P, Mazzon E. In Vitro Model of Neuroinflammation: Efficacy of Cannabigerol, a Non-Psychoactive CannabinoidInternational journal of molecular sciences. 2018;19(7).

[8] Borrelli F, Fasolino I, Romano B, et al. Beneficial effect of the non-psychotropic plant cannabinoid cannabigerol on experimental inflammatory bowel diseaseBiochemical Pharmacology. 2013;85(9):1306-1316.

[9] Granja AG, Carrillo-Salinas F, Pagani A, Gomez-Canas M, Negri R. A cannabigerol quinone alleviates neuroinflammation in a chronic model of multiple sclerosisJournal of neuroimmune pharmacology. 2012;7(4):1002-1016.

[10] Carrillo-Salinas FJ, Navarrete C, Mecha M, Feliu A, Collado JA. A cannabigerol derivative suppresses immune responses and protects mice from experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitisPloS one. 2014;9(4).

[11] García C, Gómez-Cañas M, Burgaz S, et al. Benefits of VCE-003.2, a cannabigerol quinone derivative, against inflammation-driven neuronal deterioration in experimental Parkinson's disease: possible involvement of different binding sites at the PPARγ receptorJournal of neuroinflammation. 2018;15(1):19-19.

[12] Valdeolivas S, Navarrete C, Cantarero I, Bellido ML, Muñoz E, Sagredo O. Neuroprotective properties of cannabigerol in Huntington's disease: studies in R6/2 mice and 3-nitropropionate-lesioned miceNeurotherapeutics : the journal of the American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics. 2015;12(1):185-199.

[13] Borrelli F, Fasolino I, Romano B, et al. Beneficial effect of the non-psychotropic plant cannabinoid cannabigerol on experimental inflammatory bowel diseaseBiochemical Pharmacology. 2013;85(9):1306-1316.

[14] Valdeolivas S, Navarrete C, Cantarero I, Bellido ML, Muñoz E, Sagredo O. Neuroprotective properties of cannabigerol in Huntington's disease: studies in R6/2 mice and 3-nitropropionate-lesioned miceNeurotherapeutics : the journal of the American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics. 2015;12(1):185-199.

[15]  García C, Gómez-Cañas M, Burgaz S, et al. Benefits of VCE-003.2, a cannabigerol quinone derivative, against inflammation-driven neuronal deterioration in experimental Parkinson's disease: possible involvement of different binding sites at the PPARγ receptorJournal of neuroinflammation2018;15(1):19-19.

[16] Granja AG, Carrillo-Salinas F, Pagani A, Gomez-Canas M, Negri R. A cannabigerol quinone alleviates neuroinflammation in a chronic model of multiple sclerosisJournal of neuroimmune pharmacology. 2012;7(4):1002-1016.

[17] Carrillo-Salinas FJ, Navarrete C, Mecha M, Feliu A, Collado JA. A cannabigerol derivative suppresses immune responses and protects mice from experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitisPloS one. 2014;9(4).

[18] Ligresti A, Moriello AS, Starowicz K, et al. Antitumor Activity of Plant Cannabinoids with Emphasis on the Effect of Cannabidiol on Human Breast CarcinomaJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. 2006;318(3):1375.

[19] Borrelli F, Pagano E, Romano B, Panzera S, Maiello F. Colon carcinogenesis is inhibited by the TRPM8 antagonist cannabigerol, a Cannabis-derived non-psychotropic cannabinoidCarcinogenesis (New York). 2014;35(12):2787-2797.

[20] Baek S, Han DS, Yook CN, Kim YC, Kwak JS. Synthesis and antitumor activity of cannabigerolArchives of pharmacal research. 1996;19(3):228-230.

[21] Brierley DI, Samuels J, Duncan M, Whalley BJ, Williams CM. A cannabigerol-rich Cannabis sativa extract, devoid of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, elicits hyperphagia in ratsBehav Pharmacol. 2017;28(4):280-284.

[22] Brierley DI, Samuels J, Duncan M, Whalley BJ, Williams CM. Cannabigerol is a novel, well-tolerated appetite stimulant in pre-satiated ratsPsychopharmacology (Berlin, Germany). 2016;233(19-20):3603-3613.

[23] Appendino G, Gibbons S, Giana A, et al. Antibacterial Cannabinoids from Cannabis sativa: A Structure−Activity StudyJournal of Natural Products. 2008;71(8):1427-1430.

[24] Colasanti BK, Craig CR, Allara RD. Intraocular pressure, ocular toxicity and neurotoxicity after administration of cannabinol or cannabigerolExperimental eye research. 1984;39(3):251-259.

[25] Colasanti BK. A comparison of the ocular and central effects of delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabigerolJ Ocul Pharmacol. 1990;6(4):259-269.

[26] Wilkinson JD, Williamson EM. Cannabinoids inhibit human keratinocyte proliferation through a non-CB1/CB2 mechanism and have a potential therapeutic value in the treatment of psoriasisJ Dermatol Sci. 2007;45(2):87-92.

[27] De Petrocellis L, Vellani V, Schiano-Moriello A, et al. Plant-Derived Cannabinoids Modulate the Activity of Transient Receptor Potential Channels of Ankyrin Type-1 and Melastatin Type-8Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. 2008;325(3):1007.

[28]  Cascio MG, Gauson LA, Stevenson LA, Ross RA, Pertwee RG. Evidence that the plant cannabinoid cannabigerol is a highly potent alpha2-adrenoceptor agonist and moderately potent 5HT1A receptor antagonistBr J Pharmacol. 2010;159(1):129-141.