What Is Cannabigerol (CBG)?

A Type of Cannabinoid Derived From Young Cannabis Plants

Person taking CBG oil

Verywell / Alex Dos Diaz

What Is Cannabigerol (CBG)?

Cannabigerol (CBG) is a type of cannabinoid obtained from the cannabis plant. It’s often referred to as the mother of all cannabinoids. This is because other cannabinoids are derived from cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), an acidic form of CBG.

Other more common cannabinoids obtained from cannabis plants include cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). 

CBG is found in smaller quantities than other cannabinoids in cannabis plants. In most strains of the plant, only 1% of CBG can be found compared to 20 to 25% of CBD or 25 to 30% of THC.

This makes consumer products derived from the cannabinoid rare and often expensive. However, CBG is growing in popularity because of the many potential benefits the cannabinoid offers. 

How CBG Is Made

CBG is derived from young cannabis plants, which contain higher amounts of CBG than fully developed plants.

Some strains of cannabis, such as White CBG, Super Glue CBG, and Jack Frost CBG, also have higher CBG content than other strains. These strains are specifically cultivated to produce higher quantities of CBG.  

Both CBD and THC start as CBGA, an acidic form of CBG. This is why younger cannabis plants contain higher concentrations of CBG.

In fully developed plants with high concentrations of THC and CBD, you’ll find very low concentrations of CBG. This happens because most of the CBG has already been converted to CBD and THC as the plant developed.

Due to the difficulty of getting CBG, cannabis growers have been experimenting with cross-breeding and genetic manipulation to help cannabis plants produce more CBG. 

How CBG Works

CBG is processed by the body’s endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is made up of molecules and receptors in our bodies that are responsible for keeping our bodies in an optimal state regardless of what’s going on in our external environment.

In our bodies, CBG imitates endocannabinoids, the natural compounds our body makes. 

Cannabinoid Receptors in the Body

Our body contains two types of cannabinoid receptors—CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are found in the nervous system and brain, while CB2 receptors are located in the immune system and other areas of the body.

CBG works by binding to both receptors where it’s thought to strengthen the function of anandamide, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in enhancing pleasure and motivation, regulating appetite and sleep, and alleviating pain. Unlike THC, CBG has no psychotropic effects, so it will not give you a high. 

Potential Benefits of CBG

Like CBD, CBG has been used to combat pain without the intoxicating effect of cannabinoids like THC. 

Research shows that CBG also can have therapeutic effects. However, human studies are sparse, and more research is needed.

Some promising animal studies show that CBG might help in treating some medical conditions.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Inflammatory bowel disease causes chronic inflammation in the bowel. It affects millions of people across the globe and is incurable.

An experimental animal study conducted in 2013 observed the beneficial effects of CBG on inflammatory bowel disease.

Researchers induced inflammation similar to that produced by IBD in the colons of mice and then administered CBG. CBG was found to reduce the inflammation and the production of nitric oxide. It also reduced the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the intestines. They concluded that CBG should be considered for clinical experimentation in IBD patients.

Glaucoma

In an animal study, researchers found that CBG has therapeutic potential for the treatment of glaucoma.

Reseachers administered CBG to cats with glaucoma and noticed a reduction in eye pressure and an increase in aqueous humor outflow, a fluid produced by the eye that maintains eye pressure and provides the eye with nutrition.

Huntington's Disease

Huntington's disease causes a breakdown of nerve cells in the brain. In a 2015 study, researchers examined the potential neuroprotective properties of CBG and other cannabinoids in mice who had an experimental model of Huntington’s disease. It was observed that CBG acted as a neuroprotectant, protecting the brain's nerve cells from damage. It also improved motor deficits and preserved striatal neurons against 3-nitropropionic acid toxicity.

Antibacterial Properties

A 2020 study on the antibiotic potential of cannabis found that CBG has antibacterial properties, especially against methicillin-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), the drug-resistant bacteria that causes staph infections.

Fighting Cancer Cells

In a 2014 study of rats with colon cancer, CBG showed promise in blocking the receptors that cause cancer cell growth and in inhibiting the growth of colorectal cancer cells. The researchers suggested that CBG should be considered in the cure and prevention of colon cancer.

How to Use CBG

The most common form of commercially available CBG is oil, but it is rare and expensive.

As an alternative, broad-spectrum CBD oils contain almost all the cannabinoids of cannabis. This includes CBG but not THC. Using cannabinoids together can increase their combined effectiveness through a phenomenon called the entourage effect.

Side Effects of CBG

In the first broad survey of patients using CBG to treat issues such as insomnia, chronic pain, depression, and anxiety, respondents reported dry mouth, sleepiness, hunger, and dry eyes as side effects. Some people said that CBG was more effective than conventional medications, some of which carry a risk for significant side effects and addiction.

Research on the potential side effects and drug interaction risks of CBG and other cannabinoids is expanding, but not enough has been completed yet to reliably determine CBG's side effects and drug interaction risks.

CBG vs. CBD

CBG shares many similarities with CBD:

  • Both act on the endocannabinoid system.
  • They're not psychoactive, meaning they don't produce a "high."
  • They can counteract THC's psychotropic effects.

One of the biggest differences between CBD and CBG is that most cannabis plants contain only 1% CBG but up to 25% CBD. 

CBG interacts differently with the endocannabinoid system than CBD does. CBG binds directly to both CB1 and CB2 receptors and might deliver its benefits to the system more efficiently.

CBG Scarcity

CBG is much harder to produce than THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids. Because CBG shares many similarities with CBD, manufacturers would rather produce CBD. This makes CBG products quite expensive. Given CBG's potential benefits, however, researchers are looking into ways to ease production difficulties and expand the availability of the cannabinoid. 

7 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Toketemu Ohwovoriole
Toketemu has been multimedia storyteller for the last four years. Her expertise focuses primarily on mental wellness and women’s health topics.