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CBG - Cannabigerol: What is it, and What is it Good For?

Updated: Jan 26, 2021

There are more than 100 known cannabinoids. Akin to macro and micro nutrients or major and trace minerals, cannabinoids too have major and minor categories. Roughly 5-10 of the known cannabinoids in raw flower are classified as "major". Among this list lies CBGa (cannabigerolic acid), CBGva (cannabigerovarinic acid), and CBG (cannabigerol). The scientific names are not very important, just note that the first two cannabinoids are in their acid forms (pre-decarboxylation).

First discovered by Raphael Mechoulam in 1964, research on CBG - unlike some other cannabinoids - is somewhat plentiful. The findings have thus far been promising. Animal studies have shown potential antibacterial, ant-inflammatory, and neuro-protective properties; ability to combat anxiety and depression; and as treatment for intestinal and bone cancers and bladder infections. CBG and its acidic counterparts are often referred to as the "mother of all cannabinoids". It is typically most abundant in low-THC and high-CBD cannabis strains, and declines as the plant ages.

In a raw cannabis plant geranyl pyrophosphate (GPP) combines with olivetolic acid (OLA), two primary intermediates in the biosynthesis of cannabis; to create all the cannabinoids - CBGa included. Enzymes then activate the cannabigerolic acid, converting it into the other major cannabinoids: THCa, CBDa, and CBCa. CBG is found to bind primarily with CB2 receptors (those found within every major organ system). It has no psychoactive properties. In fact, in high doses it could block other compounds from interacting with CB1 receptors (those found mostly in the nervous system); acting as a buffer to the psycho-active and paranoia inducing properties of THC.

THCa and CBDa are by far the most abundant cannabinoids formed via biosynthesis. According to the research of Danish scientist Henry Vincenti, founder of Endoca; wild types of cannabis contain CBDa as the dominant cannabinoid. In man-made grow-ops however, THCa replaces it. In either case, significant levels of CBCa are also produced. These 4 cannabinoids and their varinic acid counterparts are known as the major cannabinoids.

As these compounds are exposed to the elements, they begin to decarboxylate.

The primary drivers behind this process are heat, sunlight, and oxygen. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Quite the contrary. It is needed. But like anything in nature, there exists a balance. To achieve this balance, one must know how to properly dry and cure their herbs. If left exposed to air for extended periods of time, Δ9-THC will convert into CBN. In order to get the desired effects from cannabinoids like Δ9-THC or CBD, the THCa and CBDa must be heated in order to change its chemical structure. See the chart below.

Biosynthetic pathways of common cannabinoids with enzymes and decarboxylation method.

Scientists and breeders alike are experimenting with the genetic manipulation, cross-breeding, and extraction methods of CBG. TGA Subcool's Quantum Kush was specifically bred for its THC and CBG content. Higher levels of CBG can also be acquired by pinpointing the optimum harvest date. Since CBG is converted into CBD, THC, and CBC; a farmer should shoot for a harvest date about six weeks into an eight week flowering cycle.

White CBG. Bred by OregonCBD. credit: oregoncbd

The "White CBG" sold in our store contains roughly 15% CBGa. Smoking cured buds is one way to decarboxylate your flower and convert the CBGa into CBG. Just know that with the incredibly brief bursts of extremely high temperatures experienced with a lighter, you run the risk of damaging and losing a portion. An alternative option is to decarb it by baking. This more gentle process results in a higher conversion rate. Sign up for our email list at the bottom of this page and receive our 37-page "Wholistic Cannabis E-book" for free. Inside you will find decarboxylation instructions as well as organic, vegan, and/or gluten free recipes.

The Cannidote's CBG. Courtesy of Fruits of Cybele

The Cannidote was able to obtain some CBG clones for the 2020 growing season. Being so new to the market, breeders have not had very long to eliminate certain challenges. Prone to powdery mildew, we decided to grow ours in a controlled indoor growing environment. To keep the plants healthy, we use a combination of homemade Natural Farming (NF) fertilizers like OHN and FPJ, as well as Integrative Pest Management (IPM) inputs such as clove, rosemary, neem, and tea tree essential oils to name a few. Of course, plant health begins with a healthy living soil. We're sure to supplement with homemade probiotics like IMO and LAB to bolster the microbiome. The Cannidote's full spectrum 1000mg tincture has extra CBN and CBG for enhanced effects.

While CBG is considered a dominant cannabinoid, most strains of cannabis plant will not naturally contain significant amounts once cured. Preliminary research suggests that CBG is safe at any dose, and for any age. That said, we don't recommend straying too far away from the balance of nature. We do not typically condone the use of isolated compounds, and prefer full spectrum products whenever possible.

The sources cited are primarily intended for the casual reader. Each source however, has been carefully chosen to include scientific sources linked within. Living with today's industry funded, pseudo-scientific journals, we encourage you to "research the research".

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