Phytocannabinoids are the constituents of the hemp plant that can provide immense medical benefits. But what are the two key players? Of course, they are CBD and CBG, both of which work with the body and brain to alleviate a large number of disorders. But what is better? Let’s find out.
What are CBD and CBG?
Cannabis sativa is well known across the world for its highly beneficial therapeutic effects on many physiological symptoms and diseases. This niche plant has been used for centuries to combat issues including sleep, pain, nausea, and so on. But how does it do this?
Cannabis contains hundreds of active compounds called phytocannabinoids, including the well-known cannabidiol (CBD), and its lesser-known cousin cannabigerol (CBG). CBD and CBG are effectively relatives, having the same “grandparent” compound CBGA, but they differ in the point of decarboxylation. If your biochemistry is a bit rusty, do not fear: think of decarboxylation as the activation process of CBD and CBG. CBG activates from the grandparent compound CBGA, whereas CBD activates from its parent compound CBDA (1).
The Endocannabinoids System
Effectively, CBD and CBG both work in the body through the same route, the endocannabinoid system, but eliciting differing effects. Effectively, the endocannabinoid system consists of two main receptors, CB1 and CB2. These receptors act like locks, and CBD and CBG act as the keys. When they bind together, this causes a series of events, resulting in the many benefits phytocannabinoids have on the body (2).
What are the Benefits of CBD?
Not only can CBD influence neurological diseases and injury, but it also improves several chronic disorders, such as eating disorders, chronic pain, insomnia, nausea, glaucoma, depression, autism, and schizophrenia (5).
Although most people know of CBD, as it has been a well-known pharmaceutical and nutraceutical for many years, many people have not heard of CBG. So, what are the benefits of CBG?
What are the Benefits of CBG?
There have been several investigations looking at what CBG does, and the results do not disappoint. CBG has been shown to act as an antimicrobial (6) and to combat the neuroinflammation of the cells in the brain (7).
Reductions in the cells in the brain, called glial cells, have many benefits for several neurodegenerative diseases, including multiple sclerosis (8). For instance, research has shown that CBG decreases symptoms associated with multiple sclerosis, decreases microglia reactivity, a sign of neurodegeneration, and reduces the number of genes expressed in the brain associated with multiple sclerosis (9). This also has been shown to help combat the progression of Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases (10).
The positive effects of CBG do not stop there: it also helps reduce the impact of diabetes (11), increases the feeling of hunger in individuals who are nauseated (12) or have an eating disorder (13), and combats skin diseases such as dryness, acne (14) and psoriasis (15). Excitingly, CBG has also been shown to help reduce certain types of cancer (16) and is an effective treatment for Inflammatory Bowel Disease, an incurable chronic bowel condition (17).
CBG vs CBD
CBD and CBG work in a similar fashion, especially in the positive benefits they have to our bodies; however, there is one major difference between them — the price.
While CBD makes up about 20% of the plant, CBG makes up less than 1%. This is a big hurdle to face. This means, to get any meaningful amount of CBG, you will have to harvest, process, and extract 20 times more biomass to even begin to be in the same realm for the amount of CBD you can extract from a single plant.
Part of the problem lies with plant genetics. With the surge in popularity for products high in THC and CBD, plants have been selectively bred to comprise more and more of these compounds, meaning that other phytocannabinoids, such as CBG, go by the wayside. The issue of price has become such a problem that experts now regard CBG as the “Rolls Royce” of cannabinoids (18).
Along with the price, there is another elephant in the room: this is the fact that research on CBG and its effects is still in its infancy. While CBD boasts a substantial amount of attention in the pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, and economic arenas, CBG is noticeably absent. Because of this, navigating the CBG market, say for stand-up or a big CPG company, will be through uncharted territory (19).
The Bottom Line
CBD and CBG are two of the superpowers of the phytocannabinoids. While both work with the body and brain to alleviate many medical disorders, the two differ primarily in how they are produced. Unlike CBD, CBG can be incredibly hard to produce, meaning it is also very costly. However, with the speed of research and development, this is worth keeping an eye on.