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What is CBG (cannabigerol) & what does this cannabinoid do?

March 22, 2017
By now, most people familiar with cannabis have heard of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) and their effects, but did you know there are many similar compounds in cannabis? A lesser-known cannabinoid called cannabigerol (CBG), while not present in large quantities in most strains, is nonetheless worth learning about for a number of reasons.

How is CBG (cannabigerol) made?

Because it is present in low levels (usually less than 1%) in most cannabis strains, CBG is considered a minor cannabinoid. Cannabis plants produce cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), the precursor to the three main cannabinoid lines: tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), and cannabichromenic acid (CBCA).

Figure 1: CBG-A is the chemical precursor of THCA, CBDA, and CBCA (not shown). Enzymes within cannabis turn CBGA into either THCA or CBDA, which can be subsequently decarboxylated (“activated”) by light or heat energy to create THC or CBD. (Amy Phung/Leafly)

Specific enzymes in the plant break CBGA down and “direct” it toward one of the three lines. The acids are exposed to ultraviolet light or heat, and voila, they become the cannabinoids we know: THC and CBD. In most strains, CBGA is immediately converted to either THCA or CBDA. Thus, more THC means less CBG and CBD (and vice versa) by nature of how these compounds are synthesized.

To obtain higher yields of CBG, breeders are experimenting with genetic manipulation and cross-breeding of plants. For example, Subcool Seeds is crossing strains to produce higher CBG contents. Scientists can also extract higher levels of CBG from budding plants by pinpointing the optimum extraction time, about six weeks into an eight week flowering cycle. A medicinal strain called Bediol is produced in this fashion by the Dutch company Bedrocan BV Medicinal Cannabis.

CBG’s potential medical benefits

The human body’s built-in endocannabinoid system (ECS) works to keep the body in its balanced state of homeostasis. While there are specific details about how cannabinoids work, in general the endocannabinoid system performs different functions specific to each area of the body. For example, at an injury site, the eCS can help regulate immune cells to limit inflammation.

Related

What is the endocannabinoid system and what is its role?

CBG has been found to act on very specific physiological systems and problems, and results for medicinal use are promising:

  • Endocannabinoid receptors are prevalent in eye structures, and interestingly, CBG is thought to be particularly effective in treating glaucoma because it reduces intraocular pressure. It is a powerful vasodilator and has neuroprotective effects to boot.
  • In animal experiments involving mice, CBG was found to be effective in decreasing the inflammation characteristic of inflammatory bowel disease.
  • In a recent 2015 study, CBG was shown to protect neurons in mice with Huntington’s disease, which is characterized by nerve cell degeneration in the brain.
  • CBG is showing great promise as a cancer fighter. Specifically, CBG was shown to block receptors that cause cancer cell growth. In one such study, it was shown to inhibit the growth of colorectal cancer cells in mice, thereby slowing colon cancer growth. CBG inhibited tumors and chemically-induced colon carcinogenesis, therefore demonstrating a very exciting possibility for a cure for colorectal cancer.
  • European research shows evidence that CBG is an effective antibacterial agent, particularly against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) microbial strains resistant to several classes of drugs. Since the 1950s, topical formulations of cannabis have been effective in skin infections, but researchers at the time were unaware of the plant’s chemical composition.
  • In a very recent 2017 study, researchers showed that a form of CBG purified to remove delta-9 THC was a very effective appetite stimulant in rats. This may lead to a novel non-psychotropic therapeutic option for cachexia, the muscle wasting and severe weight loss seen in late stage cancer and other diseases.
  • In a study that looked at the effects of five different cannabinoids on bladder contractions, CBG tested best at inhibiting muscle contractions, so it may be a future tool in preventing bladder dysfunction disorders.

Scientists are excited about these initial CBG results and are promoting future research with CBG alone or CBG in combination with other cannabinoids and therapies for the treatment of multiple maladies. Because it is non-psychotropic, CBG has a promising wide range of potential applications not only for the problems mentioned above, but also as an analgesic, therapy for psoriasis, and as an antidepressant.

Jacqueline Havelka's Bio Image

Jacqueline Havelka

Jacqueline Havelka is a contributing writer for Leafly. She's a rocket scientist turned writer, having worked in the space program for many years managing experiments on the Space Station and Shuttle. Jacqueline currently owns her own firm, Inform Scientific, specializing in technical and medical writing and research program management. When she’s not writing, she is likely watching college football.

View Jacqueline Havelka's articles

  • Amazing, well researched article on CBG. We really are just starting to understand all the cannabinoids and their potentials.

  • jimbro44

    Great to see an article on CBG. one of the most underreported cannabinoids imo. I’m a medical card holder and a dispensary by me used to have a SAGE strain plant that was testing around 1.8% cbg.. it’s thc was only 14% but would often get me just as high as strains with 10% more thc. My main problems stem from my stomach and cbg has helped the most. Way more than cbd.

    • ComoCultivo

      Estimado tenemos entendido de la SAGE, al menos la del T.H Seeds sólo tiene 0,16 CBG. ¿o usted se refiere a otro banco?. Nos podrías especificar exactamente donde consiguió esa sepa con alto CBG. Saludos!

      • jimbro44

        I was referring to the dispensary AZ Organix in Glendale, AZ. Unfortunately the mother died about a year ago almost and they don’t even have it anymore. No I was not talking about your seeds/dispensary. I’ve never heard of your company before.

        • ComoCultivo

          Muchas gracias, si me puedes enviar el contacto de ese dispensario a contacto@comocultivo.com por favor, te lo agradeceríamos demasiado. Saludos!

          • jimbro44

            lol What am I, your secretary now? I told you the name, it’s a registered dispensary, so YOU can look it up YOUR SELF right here on leafly.com! Best of luck to you.

          • ComoCultivo

            Jajajaja pronto necesitaremos una secretaría. No pensé que fuese tan popular. Gracias! Saludos y suerte para ti también!

          • Crowbar Ky

            He’s asking you for a favor for f%c#s sake … Merika F%c# Yeah !

          • Mark Barney

            Why don’t you do it for him then

  • Mark

    Extremely interesting. Gives me ideas. Thank you!!

  • Cyndi Ludy

    I need more info on using it for seizures. Like what are the facts, which one to use, and how to get some one started on it and off the other meds they are on

  • Linneus Ahearn

    Just got a test back on Holy Grail Kush. 9.9 CBG! You might look at this strain if you need CBG. Also was 20.39 THC/0.04 CBD Sorry this discussion thread is so old but this strain is amazing.

    • Susan Stewart

      Thanks for this! I have had success in treating actinic keratosis with a cream made from a strain, called LSD, known to be highish CBG (4% according to the Dutch breeder). I am presuming that the difference with this strain was the CBG, which is known to be a cannabinoid used by the immune system in humans (macrophage signalling molecule I recall reading somewhere). Unfortunately, not all LSD plants grown have had the active ingredient. I’ll try the Holy Grail Kush.

      • Eljay

        I’m so interested in the topical for actinic keratosis. As I get older, I’m getting more “barnacles.” It would be great to find a cream to diminish them. Tell me more about the cream, please and thanks.

  • Grant Collins

    I wonder what research would find if they did 4 x 2 design, in which four different groups of participants (rats) were analyzed for interaction with CBG on its own, CBG with CBD, CBG with THC, and CBG with CBD and THC, respectively.

    • Christopher Van Zetta

      Would love to see the results also. Isolated compounds VS using the entourage effect could yield better medicinal results!

  • GMDuke

    I am living proof of the benefits of CBG-A. I’ve had glaucoma for most of my life, and just using up to 3 different drops a day couldn’t keep my eye pressure number in the ‘good’ range of 15. Sometimes it’d be as high as 25. Since getting my license for medical cannabis, my eye pressure is in the 10-12 range. It’s so good that my Dr. said I could stop taking my drops. I did, and at my next examine my pressure is still at 10-12! This is just part of the story, but it’s the proof that this plant is extremely beneficial, and it should be reclassified so more research can be done.

    • sharon

      Where do you get a product with CBG for Glaucoma? Or are you smoking it? CBG-A means that it is raw? Help! My glaucoma drops are not working either. Thanks for any help.

      • GMDuke

        I get my cannabis from a licensed dispensary, where the product is grown under strict conditions, and is tested for, THC, CBD, CBG, and any contaminants. Each crop is evaluated, and people like Dabbin Dad, list the results. They’re also available on the dispensary’s website. I look for strains that are high in CBG-A, cannabigerol, some of the Hawaiian strains are high in CBG, and here’s an article naming more. https://www.leafly.com/news/strains-products/cannabis-strains-with-unique-cannabinoids

      • Travis Cesarone

        THC-a works too, but CBGa is far more effective. Juice raw high THC strains for non-pyschoactive relief, if CBD does not provide any. Also look into caryophyllene.

  • Marybeth Goettlicher Cook

    I know I’m late to the conversation but I’m hoping you can help me find CBG in the highest concentration.

    • Travis Cesarone

      I know I am late to respond but if you trust isolates and are in America: Bluebird Botanicals. (Not in America so I have not triedz they were at 92% but got it up to 98% last I checked…
      There are elusive shiatsu kush phenotypes coming in at 7% CBG : 8% THC in dry flower. I have not tried because the difficult process of becoming an LPs patient for one product.. Despite it’s rarity. Or you can find a cannabis alchemist who made a 2:1 CBGA: THCa Limonene Hash Oil Isolate Resin…. That one time… Hearts to HDC.
      Cheers
      Travis cesarone

  • patricia

    My husband just brought me home some cbd oil with cbg cannabinoid for severe pain and numerous autoimmune and other medical issues but the gentleman told him that I should not take this at night. I am new to cbd period and so I will not take it this evening but I have not slept in two nights with pain and it’s driving me crazy. Can anyone help?

    • Darcy Wann

      My friend started taking CBD when he went to bed he stated that it relaxed him and helped with pain

    • lplzydeco

      Normally, you take CBD for day & CBN for night, truth is CBD is excellent anytime. The important thing is to take it regularly to achieve a therapeutic blood level. I use it for my Fibromyalgia, arthritis, migraines, IBS & more. It changed my life. If you have any old bud, THC converts to CBN, & a little evening toke of old flower will help with sleep & pain. Good luck!

    • James Ives

      I have found that a Indica or indica based hybrid with THC & GBG will greatly reduce your problem. I am in no way an expert however I do a tremendous amount of reading on these subjects, before putting anything in my body.

      • patricia

        Thank you so much…

        • Carlos Rios

          Hey Patricia, curious to see how it went for you? Are you sleeping better? I hope the pain’s improved!

          • patricia

            No change but I’m not giving up hope. Thank you for asking.

          • Maritza Richards

            What I use works wonders it’s full spectrum.

    • Christopher Van Zetta

      High dosing CBD will help you sleep. It will give you the most relaxing body “high” ever and I find it helps to slow the racing thoughts I have ocassionally when I am highly stressed.

  • Fred Murray

    Go to Floyds of Leadville. They have a “medical grade” CBD and CBG in both oil and pill format.

  • Travis Cesarone

    Antidepressant, well anxiolytic effects are definitely crucial to study when looking into CBG. As well as a Cannabinoid regulator! Shiatsu Kush by WMMC is a 1:1 CBG :THC at approx 6%:4% . Looking forward to future
    clinical trials!

    • Gerald Braun

      Is there any research thus far on CBG acting as or exhibiting anti-depressant effects?

  • Alok Rocheleau

    CBG is going to blow up this year. My company just released a liposomal subligual formula with all the terpines and CBG

    • Singing Bear

      Could you say the name of your company? Thanks

  • Gerald Braun

    From what source might the last few words regarding CBG being a non-psychoactive antidepressant alternative be? Anyone? “Because it is non-psychotropic, CBG has a promising wide range of potential applications not only for the problems mentioned above, but also as an analgesic, therapy for psoriasis, and as an antidepressant.”

    Was this inferred from a study?

  • Michael O’Connell

    I have stage ii Parkinson’s and both forms of arthritis. I have taken CBD for pain – it’s like a miracle! My supplier convinced me to try CBG. What oil would be best for me?

  • Singing Bear

    Who I am is a counselor. I’ve worked in psychiatric care with care patients who’ve had their first psychotic breaks after taking what was too much THC. Some of those patients end up with long-tern mental illnesses. Many of them are teens, young adults without yet fully developed brains.

  • Singing Bear

    If you worked as a counselor, closely to this situation, you’d see that what you are saying is not true. THC in any form has always caused psychosis in some individuals, from street drugs through medical marijuana and has recently become a more problematic with rising incidences. Yes these individuals are likely prone to some mental illness, often young adults. Unaware that they would take too much THC creates their very first psychotic break. They’ll end up in psychiatric care, sometimes with chronic mental illness for a lifetime. The THC clearly induces psychosis for the very first time in these sensitive individuals. If they had avoided taking THC, it is very possible they could have avoided mental health problems at the level of psychosis. THC is dangerous for some people whether it induces psychosis, or draws those already having psychosis, period. It’s undeniable to those with their eyes open to see then to admit the truth. Not everyone is suited to take THC. A knowledgable doctor’s close guidance is needed when prescribing any mind-altering substance.

  • Singing Bear

    How funny. Who I am is a mental health professional with first-hand experience of seeing how THC can induce first-time psychosis in some individuals.

    • Butch Coolidge

      “professional” huh? If you had any credentials whatsoever you’d have mentioned it…professional janitor

  • Singing Bear

    Any form of THC in too high an amount can and will induce first-time, long-term psychosis in individuals perhaps susceptible to mental illness – brought to you from a mental health professional, who uses some mico-dose amounts of medical marijuana myself. I have seen this truth first-hand. So, your comment is only 1/2 true.

  • Maria G.

    I just found a brand with only CBG—2%, and no THC. It is amazing! Has a great flavor and is helping me incredibly!

  • Kristen Autret

    I noticed on the CBD-A molecule that there is a double bond near the OH group where the ring would form but it is marked as CH3 when its should be CH2 or CH3-. Is this a mistake?

  • Christopher Van Zetta

    Cannabis IS the future in medicine! Glad this information is finally coming out

  • Lucas

    Finding a good high potency CBD/CBG/CBC/CBN mixture is key. Understanding the mg/dose of each of the Cannabinoids will be greatly beneficial. For instance we formulate a 1oz bottle that has 15,000mg CBD, 320mg CBN, 140mg CBG, and 90mg CBC. This is more for the high pain and sleep issues that plague many. Always ask for COA’s and know where the sourcing of hemp material is from. Feel Better!!