Phytocannabinoids are useful therapeutics for a variety of purposes. There are over 100 cannabinoid compounds found in the cannabis plant. CBD is one that has been mainstream for quite some time and CBG has recently picked up more attention from researchers, breeders, and consumers alike. Today we are going to learn about these two cannabinoids and their various similarities and differences.
Both CBD and CBG are the most studied non-psychoactive cannabinoids. CBD or Cannabidiol was first isolated in 1942 from cannabis hemp oil. It is the most abundant naturally occurring cannabinoid in hemp and is an important constituent in cannabis, from which it is synthesized from its precursor olivetolic acid. CBG or Cannabigerol was isolated a little over two decades later in 1964. CBG is the offspring of CBGA, which is a direct precursor to mothers or acid compounds of CBD, CBC, and THC. While CBD is abundantly found in both hemp and cannabis alike, CBG is not. During plant growth most of CBGA is converted into other cannabinoids, primarily THC and CBD, leaving less than 1% of CBGA in the plant. Because of this breeders are now experimenting more with genetic mutation and cross breeding to yield strains higher in CBG.
CBD and CBG have a different molecular structure and in turn bind with our bodies cannabinoid receptors in different ways. CBD has a low affinity for the CB receptors, although it appears to interfere with the binding of endocannabinoids to these receptors. CBD is known to bind to and agonize other receptors that play a role in our endocannabinoid system including 5HT (serotonin) receptors, GPRs, TRVP receptors, and PPARS. CBD also binds to CB2 that connects to the peripheral nervous system reaching various muscles, limbs, skin, and other biological systems including the immune system. Due to the way CBD interacts with our receptors the pharmacological effects include anti convulsive activity, antioxidant activity, as well as having a role in relieving pain and inflammation.
CBG also attaches to our CB2 receptors as well as our CB1 receptors which connect to our central nervous system which includes the brain and spinal cord. CBG works by activating A2-adrenoceptors, binds to both CB1 and CB2, and can also block 5HT 1A and CB1 receptors. Because of this one of the most researched therapeutic benefits of CBG is its ability to act as a neuroprotectant and its therapeutic potential for patients with neurodegenerative conditions.
CBG and CBD share some therapeutic benefits while having opposing effects with others. We are going to look at what research says and learn some of the potential benefits of both these cannabinoids.
When it comes to appetite and nausea CBG and CBD are in contrast to one another. A 2011 study (1) compared the effects of CBG and CBD at the 5HT1a serotonin receptor. CBD exerted anti-nausea effects through its affinity for the 5HT1a receptor, acting as an agonist. While CBG acted as an antagonist at the same receptor. The study demonstrated that pretreatment with CBG blocked CBDs antiemetic effect, suggesting the cannabinoids, though binding to the same place, have opposing effects in the regulation of nausea and vomiting. Another opposing effect that is important for patients to note is that of appetite regulation. In a 2012 study, CBD reduced food intake in rats. (2) While CBG showed no changes, four years later, in 2016, CBG did the exact opposite of CBD and encouraged the rats to eat more. (3) This is something as a consumer we definitely need to pay attention to. Do we need a high CBD strain to reduce appetite such as Sour Space Candy or do we need to increase appetite with a strain like Sour G CBG?
Though there are contrasting effects with these two cannabinoids, both have shown promising therapeutic potential for an array of conditions including bladder dysfunction. A 2015 study showed both CBG and CBD decreased contractions in a mouse bladder and CBG reduced the acetylcholine induced contractions in the human bladder. (4) More research needs to be performed, though this shows promise for both CBD and CBG for patients with acetylcholine induced contractions.
A more recent study in 2019 showed CBG and CBD presented anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti apoptotic effects. The combination of CBG and CBD prevented the activation and translocation of NF-KB, thereby inhibiting inflammatory response with a TNF-a reduction and the enhancement of anti-inflammatory cytokines IL-10 and IL-37. (5) This demonstrates the potential therapeutic benefit for motor neuron degenerative diseases and shows the need for continued research of the combination of these two cannabinoids.
CBG and CBD are also able to influence the expression of the genes involved in glutamate, GABA, and dopamine signaling. They both enhance the expression of genes involved in the GABA A receptor beneficial for brain support. Both upregulated the expression of dopamine D4 receptor and its downstream effects assisting in prolactin release, cognition, motor functions, nemesis, reward signaling and more. In addition, both CBG and CBD reduced the genes in glutamate release showing its potential therapeutic for those with neurological disorders. (6)
Both cannabinoids are beneficial to us in similar and different ways. One is not better than the other and coupled together can often boost the therapeutic benefits felt through the entourage effect. A great strain I reach for when I want an even blend of both is Critical G, A 1:1 of CBD and CBG from Native Hemp. As consumers it is important to recognize both the similarities and differences to choose what is best for us and our individual needs. Some days it may be both, and some days we may need to reach for one over the other. As consumers, knowledge is power to live the best life we can with our cannabinoids and to learn exactly what our bodies need.
Interaction between non-psychotropic cannabinoids in marihuana: effect of cannabigerol (CBG) on the anti-nausea or anti-emetic effects of cannabidiol (CBD) in rats and shrews. Rock et al 2011
Cannabinol and cannabidiol exert opposing effects on rat feeding patterns. Farrimond et al 2012
Cannabigerol is a novel, well tolerated appetite stimulant in pre-satiated rats. Brierley et al 2016
Effect of Non-psychotropic Plant-derived Cannabinoids on Bladder Contractility: Focus on Cannabigerol. Pagano et al 2015
Could the Combination of Two Non-Psychotropic Cannabinoids Counteract Neuroinflammation? Effectiveness of Cannabidiol Associated with Cannabigerol. Mammana et al 2019
The Transcriptomic Analysis of NSC-34 Motor Neuron-Like Cells Reveals That Cannabigerol Influences Synaptic Pathways: A Comparative Study with Cannabidiol. Gugliandolo et al 2020