CBG compound illustration overlaid cannabis plant

While cannabigerol (CBG) has no psychotropic effects, it does play a role in enhancing pleasure and motivation while regulating appetite and sleep.

Cannabis is a many splendored thing, with a vast network of compounds developed throughout the plant’s life cycle. And one of its non-psychotropic compounds, in particular, smokes the myth that marijuana is merely for stoners. 

No, we’re not talking about CBD (cannabidiol), the compound that’s taken the cultivation and consumption world by storm. While that compound has undoubtedly earned the attention it has received, we’re here to discuss another non-psychotropic compound, CBG (cannabigerol). Like CBD and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBG is one of the hundreds of naturally occurring compounds found in the resinous flower of the cannabis sativa plant

Though CBD and THC are far more well-known, CBG is having a moment. The compound is currently crossing over from the fringes of cannabis cultivation into the medical marijuana mainstream via the combined efforts of scientific research and anecdotal evidence. 

But what exactly is CBG, and why should professional cultivators care? In this blog, we’ll grind through everything you need to know about this emerging compound in the cannabis community.

A General Overview of CBG: The Mother of all Cannabinoids

“The Mother of all Cannabinoids” might sound like pure hyperbole, but it’s true. All significant cannabinoids begin life as a type of CBG, and this crucial compound is essential for us to experience the benefits of THC and CBD. What’s the science behind these grand statements? Let’s dig a little deeper.

CBG kicks off its life cycle as CBGa (cannabigerolic acid). Produced in the trichomes, CBGa is part of a natural pruning process that diverts resources away from constant growth and puts them toward producing superior flower buds. Meanwhile, its role as the cannabinoid “mother” means that it’s part of the cascade reaction that creates the three dominant cannabinoid lines: THCa (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid), CBDa (cannabidiolic acid), and CBCa (cannabichromenic acid). The acidic forms of these cannabinoids, including that of CBG, eventually drop the acid during the decarboxylation process and transform into the compounds we know and love. 

When all is said and done, most cannabis plants contain only 1 percent CBG. That’s compared to up to 25 percent CBD. As we’ll see in the next section, these figures make CBG elusive but potentially worth the trouble. Even though researchers discovered CBG more than 50 years ago and scientists traced the compound back to its acidic origins over two decades ago, we’ve only recently realized its full potential as a cannabis catalyst for physical and mental wellbeing.

Understanding CBG Through THC and CBD

To understand how CBG works, you must first understand how all cannabinoids—specifically, THC and CBD—function within the body. CBD and THC are nearly identical on the molecular level—put your lab coat on; this is about to get technical. Both cannabis compounds possess 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and two oxygen atoms. However, CBD and THC diverge thanks to a microscopic difference in atomic arrangement, which influences the effect of each compound on the human body and mind.

Interacting with these compounds is your body’s Endocannabinoid System (ECS)—your built-in cannabis processing facility. This vital chemical signaling system houses two types of cannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2. These receptors cooperate with the incoming cannabinoids in CBD and THC, dispersing the compounds throughout your body in a range of physical benefits such as mood regulation, appetite stimulation, and discomfort relief.

When THC enters your body, it binds with your CB1 brain receptor, making you feel the euphoric “high.” CBD barely binds with that same receptor, even interfering with THC’s binding efforts, easing any unpleasant psychoactive effects. And while CBD and CBG offer many of the same benefits, the latter has one particular characteristic that makes it the more exciting compound. 

CBG binds to both the CB1 and CB2 receptors, where it interacts with anandamide, an endocannabinoid neurotransmitter produced by the human body that governs pleasure, motivation, appetite, sleep, and comfort. In general, anandamide is your body’s hero. But all heroes need a villain—and anandamide’s villain is fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), which breaks down anandamide and weakens its positive effects. 

CBG steps in with the potential to inhibit FAAH, thereby increasing your body’s production of anandamide. What’s more, studies show that CBG connects with brain receptors faster than THC or CBD, making it more efficient at increasing the availability of anandamide than either of those more popular cannabis compounds. Another study demonstrates that CBG could help jumpstart brain speed, enriching the brain’s responsiveness and dispersing an overall positive influence on normal brain function.

Takeaway

The many perks of growing and gathering CBG are still in the early stages of study. And although breeding CBG strains is not exactly easy—as CBGa tends to synthesize into other cannabinoids instead of breaking down into CBG—many great marijuana minds are at work experimenting with genetics and cross-breeding to obtain higher levels of CBG.

Do you want to know what you’re growing, selling, or consuming?