By Kristi Pahr
There has been a lot of talk about the cannabis plant lately, especially the therapeutic properties of cannabidiol (CBD), but CBD isn’t the only thing cannabis has going for it. Cannabis plants are packed with active compounds, called cannabinoids, that are responsible for all the good things that come from cannabis, and one, cannabigerol (CBG), is gaining interest for its therapeutic properties in a variety of different conditions.
What are Cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are a type of chemical compound that interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). There are dozens of different cannabinoids found in cannabis. Though they are most commonly associated with the cannabis plant, there are plenty of other plants that produce cannabinoids, too: echinacea, black pepper, and the cacao beans used to make chocolate are just a few.
The body’s ECS is responsible for maintaining homeostasis, or balance, within our bodies and between our body systems. Cannabinoids work by interacting with receptors found in the ECS and provide relief for many conditions, including nausea, vomiting, depression, anxiety, and pain.
Cannabidiol (CBD), which is not psychoactive, and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which causes the high commonly associated with marijuana consumption, are the most well-known of the cannabinoids found in cannabis and are widely used for therapeutic and recreational purposes, but researchers are finding that the less well-known cannabinoids, like CBG, also have therapeutic value.
Up and Coming Cannabinoids
Though a boatload of research has been dedicated to CBD and THC, scientists are beginning to explore other compounds the cannabis plant has to offer. Of the dozens of cannabinoids found in cannabis, THC is the only one that causes a marked psychoactive effect. In simpler terms, it’s the only one that will get you high. Other cannabinoids, like CBG, CBC (cannabichromene), THCV (tetrahydrocannabivarin), all work with the ECS to improve conditions that run the gamut.
While there are dozens of cannabinoids present in cannabis, they are found in smaller quantities than CBD and THC and are more difficult to isolate for testing, especially CBG, which frequently comprises less than 1 percent of the plant by weight. Though many of these compounds can be synthesized in a lab, researchers prefer to do their testing on the real thing — cannabinoids extracted directly from cannabis. That presents a challenge in itself, however, as levels of cannabinoids differ per strain of cannabis — and there are a lot of different strains of cannabis — so researchers end up with something akin to a cannabinoid soup, a mixture of every cannabinoid present in the particular strain they’re working on.
There are targeted extraction methods in the works, though, and as more money becomes available for cannabis research, we can expect more precise data on the interesting up-and-comers like CBG.
CBG Vs CBD: What is it Good For?
CBG is one of the more promising up-and-comers in terms of therapeutic value. Research has found it to be effective in managing or providing relief from the following health conditions:
1. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
Like CBD, CBG has potent anti-inflammatory effects, and this property has shown promise in reducing the inflammation associated with IBD, suggests a study in Biochemical Pharmacology.
2. Bladder Dysfunction
In mouse studies, CBG showed a marked effect on bladder contractility, and researchers believe it may be of use therapeutically in human bladder dysfunction stemming from contractility issues as well.
Cannabis has been used to manage glaucoma for quite some time, but a 2008 study found that CBG might actually be the cannabinoid component responsible for decreasing intraocular pressure in glaucoma cases.
4. Bacterial Infections
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, is an antibiotic-resistant bacteria that is notoriously difficult to treat and can be dangerous, especially to immune-compromised individuals. But a study published in 2008 found that CBG, as well as other cannabinoids, showed remarkable promise as a therapeutic intervention against MRSA — a ray of hope for those affected by this potentially deadly bacteria.
Cannabis has been used to counteract the lack of appetite common in some chronic illnesses like cancer and HIV for a long time. Research has found CBG to be a potent appetite stimulant, sometimes doubling the number of meals consumed by research subjects.
Side Effects of CBG
Luckily, like most other cannabis constituents, CBG is well tolerated. It has an excellent safety profile with few undesirable effects when used at the correct dosage. However, when used at high doses, some people experience tiredness or lethargy, diarrhea, vomiting, or nausea.
As with any supplement, it’s best to check with your medical provider before introducing CBG into your wellness regimen. And since research into CBG is somewhat limited, some side effects or drug interactions may not be well documented yet. But if you like to stay up-to-date on the latest innovations surrounding cannabinoids, CBG is certainly one to check out!
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Kristi Pahr is a freelance health and wellness writer and mother of two who spends most of her time caring for people other than herself. She is frequently exhausted and compensates with an intense caffeine addiction. Her work has appeared in Good Housekeeping, Real Simple, Men’s Health, and many others.