Cannabinoids are a group of active compounds found within the cannabis plant. There are over a hundred known cannabinoids and each one possesses unique properties. The most renowned of these compounds is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive cannabinoid responsible for the intoxicating effects associated with marijuana. However, over the past few decades, other non-psychoactive cannabinoids have garnered attention for their potential therapeutic benefits. Two such compounds are CBD (Cannabidiol) and CBG (Cannabigerol).
What is CBD?
CBD is one of the most well-studied cannabinoids. Often sourced from hemp plants, CBD oil is now widely available in a variety of products due to its lack of intoxicating effects and potential health benefits. Unlike THC, CBD does not produce psychoactive effects, making it an appealing option for those seeking pain relief, anti-anxiety effects, and other therapeutic benefits without the “high.”
What is CBG?
CBG, on the other hand, is lesser-known but is rapidly emerging as another cannabinoid with potential health benefits. Often dubbed the “mother of all cannabinoids,” CBG is the precursor from which all other cannabinoids are synthesized, including both CBD and THC. While it’s typically present in lower concentrations in most cannabis strains, focused breeding and genetic manipulation have recently resulted in higher CBG yields.
Discovery of CBD and CBG
CBD was first identified in 1940 by Dr. Roger Adams and his team at the University of Illinois. Initially, its structure and stereochemistry were unclear, but further research in the 1960s by Dr. Raphael Mechoulam and his team in Israel successfully elucidated CBD’s chemical structure, paving the way for a surge of subsequent research.
CBG, being the biochemical precursor of CBD and THC, was discovered shortly after these primary cannabinoids. Its foundational role in the cannabis plant’s cannabinoid synthesis process was recognized early on. It originates as cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), which enzymatically converts to tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, cannabidiolic acid, and other acidic forms, which then decarboxylate to produce the cannabinoids we’re familiar with today, including CBD and THC.
Chemical Structure & synthesis
Molecular Structures of CBD and CBG: Both CBD (Cannabidiol) and CBG (Cannabigerol) are among the 100+ cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. At the molecular level:
- CBD: Cannabidiol has a molecular formula of C21H30O2. It consists of 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and two oxygen atoms. The structure is characterized by a closed ring and a hydroxyl group, differentiating it from THC and giving it non-psychoactive properties.
- CBG: Cannabigerol has a similar molecular formula to CBD. Its uniqueness lies in the arrangement of these atoms and the way they bond together, which gives CBG its individual properties.
Synthesis in the Cannabis Plant: The synthesis of both CBD and CBG starts with the decarboxylation of their acidic forms. The precursor molecule, cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), is converted into other cannabinoids, including the acidic forms of CBD and THC. With exposure to heat or UV light, these acidic forms lose a carboxyl group and transform into CBD, THC, and CBG. CBG is referred to as the “mother of all cannabinoids” since other cannabinoids, including CBD, are synthesized from it.
Therapeutic benefits of CBD
- Pain relief: One of the most heralded benefits of CBD is its analgesic properties. CBD may help reduce pain by impacting endocannabinoid receptor activity, reducing inflammation, and interacting with neurotransmitters. It has been explored as an alternative treatment for chronic pain conditions such as arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
- Anti-anxiety effects: Anxiety and depression are common mental health disorders that are known for being debilitating. CBD has shown promise as a treatment for both. It’s believed to act on the brain’s receptors for serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and social behavior. As a result, many individuals are turning to CBD products as a natural approach to decrease anxiety without the side effects often associated with pharmaceuticals.
- Neuroprotective properties: Research is ongoing, but CBD has shown potential in treating neurological disorders such as epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. Its ability to act on the endocannabinoid system and other neurological pathways may be the key to its potential benefits in this arena.
- Other potential benefits: Beyond these, CBD is being studied for benefits related to heart health, anti-tumor effects, antipsychotic effects, and even benefits in substance abuse treatment. While many of these areas require more extensive research, preliminary results are promising.
Therapeutic benefits of CBG
- Anti-inflammatory properties: CBG has been found to have potent anti-inflammatory effects, especially in studies related to inflammatory bowel disease. This makes it a potential candidate for treating a range of conditions where inflammation plays a significant role.
- Neuroprotective effects: Like CBD, CBG also displays neuroprotective properties. Preliminary research suggests that it might be beneficial in diseases like Huntington’s, characterized by nerve cell breakdown in the brain.
- Potential to treat glaucoma: CBG’s potential benefits extend to eye health. It possesses the potential to reduce intraocular pressure, making it a subject of interest for glaucoma research. While it’s not the only cannabinoid being researched for this purpose, its unique properties make it a promising potential treatment.
- Other potential benefits: CBG is still in the early stages of extensive research, but preliminary studies suggest a potential role in combating cancer, managing bladder dysfunctions, and even as an antibacterial agent. As cultivation methods improve and high-CBG strains become more common, we can expect an uptick in research around this cannabinoid’s therapeutic applications.
Does CBG get you higher than CBD?
CBG (Cannabigerol) and CBD (Cannabidiol) are both non-psychoactive cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, meaning neither compound produces the “high” traditionally associated with THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Thus, consuming CBG will not result in intoxicating effects, just as with CBD. Any claims or misconceptions about CBG producing a “stronger high” than CBD are unfounded. It’s essential to differentiate between these non-psychoactive cannabinoids and the psychoactive ones, like THC, when discussing potential mind-altering effects.
Common uses: CBD vs. CBG
- Pain management: CBD is often used as an analgesic to help manage chronic pain conditions like arthritis or pain associated with multiple sclerosis.
- Anxiety and depression: Due to its potential calming effects, CBD is explored as an alternative to pharmaceutical treatments for anxiety and depression.
- Epilepsy and seizures: The FDA-approved drug Epidiolex, which contains CBD, is used to treat certain types of epilepsy in children and adults.
- Neuroprotective properties: Some research indicates that CBD could be beneficial for neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
- Skin conditions: CBD-infused topical products are commonly marketed for treating conditions like acne and psoriasis due to CBD’s potential anti-inflammatory properties.
- Sleep disorders: Some individuals use CBD to help with insomnia or other sleep-related issues, often relying on its potential calming effects.
- Inflammation: CBG has been studied for its anti-inflammatory properties, making it a potential treatment option for conditions like inflammatory bowel disease.
- Neuroprotective effects: Preliminary research indicates that CBG might be beneficial for conditions like Huntington’s disease due to its neuroprotective attributes.
- Glaucoma: There’s emerging evidence suggesting that CBG might help reduce intraocular pressure, a significant concern in glaucoma patients.
- Antibacterial properties: Some studies indicate that CBG might have antibacterial effects, particularly against certain drug-resistant bacterial strains.
- Bladder dysfunctions: Early research suggests CBG might be useful in managing particular bladder dysfunctions.
- Appetite stimulant: Unlike CBD, which doesn’t significantly impact appetite, CBG has been shown in some studies to stimulate appetite, making it a potential therapeutic option for conditions like cachexia (wasting syndrome).
Common side effects of using CBD and CBG:
CBD: Some users of CBD have reported experiencing side effects, the severity of which can vary. Fatigue is a common complaint, with certain individuals noting feelings of drowsiness or tiredness, especially when consuming higher doses of CBD. Gastrointestinal disturbances, such as diarrhea, can also occur, particularly at elevated dosages. Additionally, some individuals might experience alterations in their appetite, either eating more or less than usual. Dry mouth, leading to increased thirst, is another reported side effect. Furthermore, in some cases, taking high doses of CBD can result in a temporary decrease in blood pressure, making the individual feel light-headed. When it comes to medication interactions, those on blood thinners should exercise caution; CBD can amplify the effects of drugs like Coumadin. Moreover, CBD is often utilized to manage seizures but may interfere with specific anti-seizure medications. As with any supplement or medication, it’s imperative to consult with a healthcare provider, especially since CBD can influence the liver’s efficiency in metabolizing certain medications.
CBG: Research on CBG’s side effects is still in its infancy due to its more recent rise in popularity and market presence. Nevertheless, CBG is generally perceived as well-tolerated, akin to CBD. Early studies suggest that any side effects experienced are typically mild and may encompass symptoms like fatigue, shifts in appetite, and digestive complications. On the topic of drug interactions, CBG’s potential interplay with other medications hasn’t been as extensively explored as that of CBD. Owing to its parallels with CBD and its role in the endocannabinoid system, it’s prudent to tread with caution when mixing CBG with other pharmaceuticals. Whenever incorporating new substances like CBG into a regimen, especially in conjunction with other drugs, seeking guidance from a healthcare professional remains essential.
Which one should I choose? CBD or CBG?
Whether you should choose CBD or CBG largely depends on your individual needs, the benefits you’re seeking, and potential interactions with any medications you’re currently taking. Here’s a brief rundown of their primary characteristics and benefits to help inform your decision:
- Anxiety relief: CBD is often sought after for its potential anti-anxiety effects.
- Neuroprotective properties: Research has looked into CBD’s potential in supporting individuals with neurodegenerative diseases.
- Pain management: Many users turn to CBD for its potential analgesic (pain-relieving) effects.
- Other benefits: Including potential anti-inflammatory properties, sleep support, and seizure management.
- Anti-inflammatory properties: Early research suggests CBG might help reduce inflammation.
- Neuroprotective effects: Like CBD, CBG may also offer neuroprotective properties.
- Potential to treat glaucoma: Some studies have looked into CBG’s potential benefits for glaucoma patients.
- Other benefits: Antimicrobial properties and potential bladder dysfunction aid.
- Purpose: Are you looking for anxiety relief? CBD might be more suitable. If you’re interested in anti-inflammatory effects specifically, CBG might be worth trying.
- Availability: CBD products are more widely available than CBG, given the longer history of research and broader market presence of CBD.
- Cost: CBG is often more expensive than CBD due to the lower yield of CBG in cannabis plants and the emerging nature of its market.
- Interactions with medications: It’s crucial to consult with a healthcare provider about potential interactions with any medications you’re currently taking.
- Legality: Ensure the cannabinoid product you choose is legal in your jurisdiction.
- Try both: Some people opt to try CBD and CBG, either separately or together, to determine which offers the most benefit for their needs.
Ultimately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Your choice between CBD and CBG should be based on your personal health goals, preferences, and any advice provided by healthcare professionals familiar with your medical history and needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are CBD and CBG?
CBD (Cannabidiol) and CBG (Cannabigerol) are both non-psychoactive cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. They interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system but do not produce a “high” like THC.
How do CBD and CBG differ in their effects?
Both cannabinoids offer therapeutic potential, but they might target different ailments. For example, CBD is often cited for anxiety relief and neuroprotection, while CBG has shown promise in inflammation reduction and as a potential treatment for glaucoma.
Will either CBD or CBG get me high?
No. Neither CBD nor CBG is psychoactive, meaning they won’t produce the intoxicating effects associated with THC.
Are CBD and CBG legal?
The legality of CBD and CBG varies by country and region. In many places, products derived from hemp (with low THC content) are legal, while those from marijuana are restricted. Always check local laws before purchasing.
Can I use CBD and CBG together?
Yes. Some believe in the “entourage effect,” where using multiple cannabinoids together may enhance their overall efficacy. However, consulting with a healthcare professional before combining substances is always advisable.
What are the side effects of CBD and CBG?
Both cannabinoids are generally well-tolerated. Some potential side effects of CBD include fatigue, changes in appetite, and dry mouth. While the side effects of CBG are less extensively studied, they’re believed to be mild and similar to those of CBD.
How do I take CBD or CBG?
Both cannabinoids can be consumed in various forms, including oils, tinctures, topicals, edibles, and capsules. The method of consumption often depends on the individual’s preference and the desired effect.
How do CBD and CBG work in the body?
Both interact with the endocannabinoid system, a complex system that helps maintain bodily homeostasis. They bind to or influence cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2, which can affect various physiological processes.
Where can I buy CBD or CBG products?
Many health stores, dispensaries, and online retailers offer CBD products. CBG products, being less common, might be found in specialized stores or online platforms that focus on cannabinoid products.
How do CBD and CBG interact with other medications?
Both CBD and CBG can affect how the body processes certain drugs, potentially leading to increased drug levels in the bloodstream. It’s crucial to consult with a healthcare provider if you’re considering using either cannabinoid alongside other medications.