CBG - The Mother of Cannabinoids
Colon carcinogenesis is inhibited by the TRPM8 antagonist cannabigerol, a Cannabis- derived non-psychotropic cannabinoid
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While the research on CBG is limited, studies do exist suggest that it offers several benefits.
CBG may be able to improve the following health conditions:
- Inflammatory bowel disease. CBG seems to reduce the inflammation associated with inflammatory bowel disease, according to a 2013 study conducted on miceTrusted Source.
- Glaucoma. Medical cannabis seems to effectively treat glaucoma, and CBG might be partly responsible for its efficacy. A study published in 2008 Trusted Source suggests that CBG might be effective in treating glaucoma because it reduces intraocular pressure.
- Bladder dysfunctions. Some cannabinoids seem to affect the contractions of the bladder. A 2015 studyTrusted Source looked at how five different cannabinoids affect the bladder, and it concluded that CBG shows the most promise at treating bladder dysfunctions.
- Huntington’s disease. CBG might have neuroprotective properties, according to a 2015 study that looked at miceTrusted Source with a neurodegenerative condition called Huntington’s disease. The study concluded that CBG might show promise in treating other neurodegenerative conditions.
- Bacterial infections. A 2008 studyTrusted Source suggests that CBG can kill bacteria, particularly methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which causes drug-resistant staph infections. These infections can be hard to treat and fairly dangerous.
- Cancer. A 2014 studyTrusted Source looked at colon cancer in rats and concluded that CBG might reduce the growth of cancer cells and other tumors.
- Appetite loss. A 2016 study on ratsTrusted Source suggested that CBG could stimulate the appetite. Appetite-stimulating chemicals could be used to help those with conditions such as HIV or cancer.
- CBG works to fight inflammation, pain, nausea and works to slow the proliferation of cancer cells. Research has shown it also significantly reduces intraocular eye pressure caused by glaucoma. Strains high in CBG will be beneficial treating conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, and cancer.
Unlike CBD, which has a relatively low affinity for cannabinoid receptors and acts mostly through indirect interactions with the endocannabinoid system, CBG is thought to elicit its therapeutic effects directly though interaction with the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors in the brain.
The psychoactive cannabinoid THC also produces its psychoactive effects though interactions with these receptors; CBG has been observed to work as a buffer to THC’s psychoactivity and can even alleviate the feelings of paranoia that sometimes come with consumption of high levels of THC.
Research is relatively sparse regarding the therapeutic benefits of CBG, when compared to the apparent wealth of information available on THC and CBD within the cannabis science community. But there are early studies linking the compound to a whole host of potential therapeutic uses, such as:
- Treating glaucoma, though its vasodilator and neuroprotective effects.
- Decreasing inflammation, as seen in animal models of inflammatory bowel disease.
- Combatting Huntingdon’s disease, again through its neuroprotective effects.
- Inhibiting tumor growth, in animal models of colorectal cancer.
- Killing drug-resistant bacteria, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
- The difficulty producing CBG
- With no intoxicating effects and a vast number of potential therapeutic uses, why hasn’t CBG experienced the same swell in popularity as CBD?
- The largest stumbling block to CBG’s realization as a common therapeutic treatment is the cost of its production. CBG is thought to be one of the most expensive cannabinoids to produce, so much so that it has been dubbed “the Rolls-Royce of cannabinoids.”
- “It takes thousands of pounds of biomass to create small amounts of CBG isolate,” James Rowland, CEO of the Colorado CBG brand Steve’s Goods, told Forbes.
- “That’s because most hemp only contains minute percentages of CBG, whereas there are now hemp strains that contain 20 percent CBD in the crop. If the CBG content of the same crop is only 1 percent, that means you need to extract 20 times the amount of biomass to get the same amount of CBG out.”
- CBG also presents a problem to cultivators. The longer that a cannabis plant matures, the more chance there is that the CBGA and CBG present in the strain will be converted into other cannabinoids. This leaves cultivators with a choice: either grow cannabis with the express purpose of producing CBG, meaning that you can harvest the crop early before this conversion completes; or allow the crop to fully mature, so that some of the crop can be sold for other purposes but the rest will have a lower CBG content for extraction.
- As well as requiring larger amounts of plant material compared to THC or CBD extraction, CBG extraction also requires the use of specialized production equipment. Due to the low levels of CBG present in cannabis strains, the chromatography apparatus that is used to isolate and purify CBG extracts need to be as precise as possible, in order to not necessitate using even more raw cannabis or hemp material than is absolutely needed. The cost of this high-performance chromatography apparatus can be a high, up-front production cost for processors who may not already operate this equipment in their standard processing procedures.
- “The cannabinoid specific markets are going to wildly fluctuate for another few years until the demand evens out,” added Rowland. “I do think it will remain considerably more expensive than CBD for a long time, but if CBD prices drop, you’ll see CBG prices drop too.”
- Neurodegenerationrefers to the progressive atrophy and loss of function of neurons, which is present in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.
- So, What Is CBG?
- CBG stands for cannabigerol and is currently being studied for its potential pharmacological propertiesbut hasn't been in any clinical trials (yet!). The plant itself is thousands of years old, and one study dates back to the 60s-but common knowledge of it is still new.
- So far, in-vitroand rat studies have shown some indications that CBG may help with colitis, neurodegeneration, and cancer.
- "We don't know much about CBG," says Perry Solomon, M.D., a board-certified anesthesiologist and medical cannabis expert. "It's not a common cannabinoid," he explained, noting that it's not found in large quantities within the cannabis plant, "and you have to get enough to be able to test it and study it." Due to nearly a century of cannabis prohibition and scarcity of this novel phytocannabinoid, many of the claims about its efficacy are yet to be proven-but that doesn't mean it's not important.
- "CBG is the precursorto CBD, CBC, and THC," says Dr. Solomon. It's sometimes referred to as the stem cell. What does this mean? "CBGA (the acidic, inactive form of CBG) changes, is broken down, and becomes the base molecule that other cannabinoids form from," including THC, CBD, and CBC.
- CBG may also increase your appetite. CBG made "lab animals like rats" hungrier,
- May treat glaucoma and relieve intraocular pressure. This could be a huge deal because CBD on its own does not help with glaucoma, but THC does-so for patients who want to treat glaucoma using cannabis, this may be a way to do so without the intoxication effect. A 1990 study looked at the use of CBG for glaucoma and found that "cannabigerol and related cannabinoids may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of glaucoma." However, you should continue to take doctor-prescribed glaucoma medication, and only take CBG or cannabis as an addition to your Rx meds and after consulting your doctor, says Dr. Solomon.
- Have antibacterial properties, particularly for MRSA. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or "MRSA" is a type of staph infection that is resistant to methicillin (a common type of antibiotic), rendering it a particularly threatening or even fatal bacterial infection. In a 2008 study, CBG showed promise for treating MRSA as an antibacterial agent. Dr. Solomon said this is an area where CBG shows real promise. "It's thought to help with MRSA," he said. "CBG has potential to treat bacteria that are resistant to traditional antibiotics."
- Contributes to GABA reuptake inhibition. CBG inhibits GABA uptake, which could lead to muscle relaxation, tension relief, and sensation of calm and peace in the body and brain, according to Bonni Goldstein, M.D., a physician with a distinguished background in pediatrics and a current specialty in cannabis medicine, as she noted in a recent video. A 1975 study corroborated this. Pharmacologically, GABA uptake inhibitors are already used to treat anxiety. Dr. Solomon adds that because of this decreased "GABA uptake," CBG could "potentially decrease anxiety."
- Could help inflammatory bowel disease and colitis. Rats were studied in 2013 for the use of CBG for colitis, and the results were positive, concluding that CBG reduced the effect of colitis. According to the study, IBD patients have been experiencing "successful management of abdominal pain, joint pain, cramping, diarrhea, poor appetite, weight loss, and nausea" with the use of cannabis, but there are not many studies just yet exploring CBG as an isolated compound.
- May work for Huntington's and neurodegenerative diseases. A 2015 study on mice found that "the use of CBG, alone or in combination with other phytocannabinoids or therapies, [could be a] treatment of neurodegenerative diseases," such as Huntington's disease. "CBG normalized expression of abnormal genes linked to brain degeneration, showing that it's a neuroprotective compound," says Dr. Goldstein to Shape.
- Potentially fights cancer. "CBG is also proven in laboratory studies to inhibit the growth of certain cancer cells," says Dr. Goldstein. A review article in 2009 showed that CBG could potentially slow tumor growth. Another study from 2016 concluded that "the preclinical data strongly support the notion that non-psychoactive plant-derived CBs [cannabinoids, including CBG] can act as direct inhibitors of tumor progression as well as enhance the activity of first-line therapies." A 2014 study found similar results, reporting that CBG inhibited tumor growth in colon cancer, and 2006 study including cannabigerol noted it may help with breast cancer. In 2016, it was shown to be an appetite stimulant in rats, which could help patients undergoing chemotherapy.
- Showing major promise for inflammation, including of the skin. A 2007 study looked at CBG's ability to treat eczema and psoriasis, and as mentioned, it may help reduce the inflammation caused by IBD.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is an incurable disease which affects millions of people in industrialized countries. Anecdotal and scientific evidence suggests that Cannabis use may have a positive impact in IBD patients. Here, we investigated the effect of cannabigerol (CBG), a non-psychotropic Cannabis-derived cannabinoid, in a murine model of colitis. Colitis was induced in mice by intracolonic administration of dinitrobenzene sulphonic acid (DNBS). Inflammation was assessed by evaluating inflammatory markers/parameters (colon weight/colon length ratio and myeloperoxidase activity), by histological analysis and immunohistochemistry; interleukin-1β, interleukin-10 and interferon-γ levels by ELISA, inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) by western blot and RT-PCR; CuZn-superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity by a colorimetric assay. Murine macrophages and intestinal epithelial cells were used to evaluate the effect of CBG on nitric oxide production and oxidative stress, respectively. CBG reduced colon weight/colon length ratio, myeloperoxidase activity, and iNOS expression, increased SOD activity and normalized interleukin-1β, interleukin-10 and interferon-γ changes associated to DNBS administration. In macrophages, CBG reduced nitric oxide production and iNOS protein (but not mRNA) expression. Rimonabant (a CB1 receptor antagonist) did not change the effect of CBG on nitric oxide production, while SR144528 (a CB2 receptor antagonist) further increased the inhibitory effect of CBG on nitric oxide production. In conclusion, CBG attenuated murine colitis, reduced nitric oxide production in macrophages (effect being modulated by the CB2 receptor) and reduced ROS formation in intestinal epithelial cells. CBG could be considered for clinical experimentation in IBD patients.
Cannabinol or cannabigerol was administered to cats topically in doses of 250, 500 and 1000 μg as a single drop or chronically via osmotic minipumps (20 μg hr−1) over a period of 9 days. While cannabinol had a modest effect on intraocular pressure after a single dose, it caused a more significant reduction in ocular tension during chronic administration. Cannabigerol had similar effects, but the magnitude of response to its chronic administration was greater. Cannabinol but not cannabigerol caused conjuctival erythema and hyperemia. After systemic administration of cannabinol (20, 40 or 80 mg kg−1) to rats, 8–13 Hz polyspike discharges appeared in the electrocorticogram during wakefulness and during rapid eye movement sleep episodes. Cannabigerol (10, 30 and 100 mg kg−1) lacked this effect. These results indicate that chronic administration of these cannabinoids lowers ocular tension considerably. Like marihuana and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabinol produced both ocular toxicity and neurotoxicity. As cannabigerol lacked these toxicities, it appears that the ocular hypotensive effect of this cannabinoid is somewhat dissociable from both the adverse central and ocular effects accompanying marihuana intake.