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Six differences between CBD and CBG

The cannabis plant contains numerous different compounds (more than 480 have been described), and at least 100  of these substances are unique to the plant and for this reason are called phytocannabinoids. The most abundant and well known to date are tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and cannabidiol, or CBD.

Socially, strains with high CBD content are designated as hemp and those with THC as marijuana. However, this difference is not very effective at a botanical level, since the plant is much more complex and each strain contains different concentrations of both CBD and THC, as well as other less abundant but no less important cannabinoids. One of the most studied today and that is causing very good expectations is Cannabigerol or CBG.

What is CBG?

First described in 1964 by Gaoni and Mechoulam, CBG is one of the least studied cannabinoids due to its low presence in the cannabis plant (around 1%). However, the importance of this compound is crucial for the synthesis of other cannabinoids.

All cannabinoids present in the cannabis plant are derived from cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), which is the acidic form of CBG. As the plant matures, plant enzymes into three main cannabinoid precursors convert CBGA:

  • Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) 
  • Cannabidiolic acid (CBDA)
  • Cannabichromenic acid (CBCA)

CBD and THC are not found as such in the plant. To convert CBDA and THCA into CBD and THC respectively, we must heat the material to produce a chemical process known as decarboxylation, which consists of the loss of a CO2 molecule. [1]

From the amounts of CBGA that are not converted into these precursors, or into any of the other minor cannabinoids, CBG is also formed by decarboxylation. This would explain the low content of CBG compared to the compounds that originate from it, the reason that its mechanisms of action were unknown until recently.

However, cannabis growers can play with the cannabinoid levels in their plants through selective breeding. Furthermore, through genetic engineering, it has been possible to inactivate the enzymes responsible for this conversion, allowing the selection of plant varieties with high CBG content, enabling its study and turning it into a molecule with great therapeutic potential. [2]

An easier method to preserve CBG is to simply harvest plants early before they have had a chance to convert CBG into other cannabinoids.

CBG:

Receivers CB1 and CB2

CB1 and CB2 receivers CB1 receptors are located in the central nervous system, in areas related to cognitive functions, memory, anxiety, pain, sensory perception, etc. [3] 

On the other hand, the activation of CB2 receptors is responsible for the immunomodulatory properties of CBG. [5]

TRPV Receivers

TRPV Receivers These receptors mediate a wide variety of cellular functions such as pain initiation, thermoregulation, and inflammation, among others. [4] 

CBG inhibits the TRPV8 receptor and stimulates the activity of the TRPV1, TRPV2, TRPA1, TRPV3 and TRPV4 receptors. [6]

5-HT1A Receptors

They are mainly found in the central nervous system, and are involved in processes such as anxiety, addiction, appetite, sleep, pain perception, nausea and vomiting, among others. [5] 

CBG has been shown to stimulate the activity of these receptors. This fact is related to the anxiolytic, antidepressant and neuroprotective effect of CBG. [5]

Does CBG get you high?

Does CBG get you high? Like CBD, CBG is non-psychoactive. For a cannabinoid to produce psychoactive effects, it must activate CB1 receptors. CBG interacts with this receptor in a very limited way, stimulating it to a point where it does not cause these effects. In fact, it can counteract the psychoactive effects of THC when consumed simultaneously. 

All of this makes CBG very attractive on a therapeutic level, since the psychoactive effect can be considered an unwanted side effect.

Can CBG be combined with CBD?

In addition to not having psychoactive effects, CBD and CBG share many therapeutic properties which can act synergistically if used together and offer a more beneficial effect compared to when used separately. 

This cooperation between various components of the Cannabis plant to obtain a more powerful effect is called the entourage or synergistic effect.

For example, both CBD and CBG have a neuroprotective effect. However, CBG does this by stimulating the production of proteins called BDNFs, while CBD acts by raising the levels of anandamide, a neuroprotective that modulates CB1 receptors. Therefore, although they are different in several ways, CBD and CBG could be a great combination if consumed together.

 In fact, the neuroprotective aspect of these two Cannabinoids together has been especially studied, pointing out that their effects are enhanced when combined.

Differences between CBG and CBD

 CBGCBD


Where is more abundant
Premature hemp flowers (early harvest) and special varieties)Ripe hemp flowers
Effects on inflammationAnti-inflammatory effects(IL-1, IL-10, IFN-?)Anti-inflammatory effects(TNF-a, NFkB, IFN-?, IL-4, IL-6, IL-8, IL-12)
AvailabilityHard to findWidely available

What products are marketed with CBG?

Currently in Spain the cultivation and marketing of products derived from Cannabis is permitted, as long as they contain less than 0.02% THC.

 However, it is rare, although possible, to find formats such as CBG oil, cream or balms enriched with CBG and other cannabinoids.

Conclusions

Now we know that one of the keys to its effectiveness lies in its combination with other cannabinoids and plant components (terpenes, flavonoids, etc.). However, there is still much to know about the mother of cannabinoids, as the science of Cannabis grows, we will remain attentive and listening to what this plant can do to improve the quality of life of people around the world.

References:

  1. Degenhardt F, Stehle F, Kayser O. The Biosynthesis of cannabinoids. En Handbook of Cannabis and Related Pathologies. 2017, Pages 13-23. 
  2. S Deina. Potential Medical Uses of Cannabigerol. A Brief Overview. En Handbook of cannabis and related pathologies. 2017, Pages 958-967. 
  3. Katona I, Freund TF. Multiple functions of endocannabinoid signaling in the brain. Annu Rev Neurosci. 2012.
  4. Zhang HY, Gao M, Shen H, Bi GH y cols. Expression of functional cannabinoid CB2 receptor in VTA dopamine neurons in rats. Addict Biol. 2016. 
  5. Ethan B. Russo. Cannabis Pharmacology: The Usual Suspects and a Few Promising Leads. En Advances in Pharmacology. 2017, Pages 67-134. 
  6. TV Zanelati,* C Biojone,* FA Moreira, FS Guimarães and SRL Joca. Antidepressant-like effects of cannabidiol in mice: possible involvement of 5-HT1A receptors. Br J Pharmacol. 2010. 

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Author information

Biotechnologist : Specialised in science communication

Nuria Chamorro Dia

Graduated in Biotechnology with a mention in Health from the Polytechnic University of Madrid, after a one-year stay at the University of Helsinki, where she took several subjects in the Masters in Neuroscience and Advanced Immunology. After a six-month stay at the University of Helsinki studying metabolic regulation in prokaryotes, she returned to Madrid to do a master's degree in Journalism and Science Communication at the Carlos III University.

She has worked in different projects as a science communicator, generating content for the general public and professionals on different areas of science (health, ecology, nanotechnology, synthetic biology, etc.).

Currently, she works as a science writer in a communication company, HealthCare, elaborating and revising medical and pharmaceutical information content. The therapeutic areas she works with are: vaccines, oncology, immunology and HIV.

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