CBG The latest trend

With the CBG trend sweeping its way through the world of cosmetics and beyond, our Chief Scientific Officer Andrew Megahy discovers what else there is to know about this increasingly popular cannabinoid.

So, what do we know about CBG? Research suggests that it may have a wide-range of potential applications, similar to CBD, due to its effects not only on the endocannabinoid system, but on the serotonergic and adrenergic signalling system.

Cannabigerol (CBG) is a minor cannabinoid found in the Cannabis plant that is beginning to grow in popularity as it becomes more well-known among consumers. Despite having been discovered in 1964, CBG has not undergone significant research compared to more common cannabinoids such as CBD or THC. The reasoning for this is twofold; Cannabis research has historically been difficult to pursue due to legal restrictions in many countries, and CBG is only found in very minor quantities within the plant itself, as it is functionally a by-product from the production of THC and CBD. The result of this is that research has focused primarily on these two ‘major’ cannabinoids, with studies that focus purely on CBG being rare. However, in recent years there has been a change and we are beginning to obtain some understanding of what CBG might be useful for, which will be discussed over the course of this article.

CBG is an interesting molecule within the Cannabis plant because, as mentioned above, it can be considered a by-product from the production of other cannabinoids. Within the plant, the precursor molecule cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) is actively converted into the acid forms of CBDA, CBCA and THCA, which then are converted into the neutral forms most people are familiar with. Any CBGA that is not converted will naturally degrade into the neutral CBG form, which explains why CBG is often found in very low concentrations (typically 1% or less of the total cannabinoid content). Plants that have a high concentration of CBG must therefore be bred specifically for this purpose. This relative scarcity is partly to blame for the relative lack of research carried out on CBG, which is evident when comparing the number of results for CBG and CBD on Google Scholar – less than 4000 for CBG and over 48,000 for CBD, at the time of writing.

So, what do we know about CBG? Research suggests that it may have a wide-range of potential applications, similar to CBD, due to its effects not only on the endocannabinoid system, but on the serotonergic and adrenergic signalling systems [1]. Possibly the most exciting possible use of CBG is in its role as an anti-microbial. A 2020 paper investigated the ability of CBG to kill off methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria, one of the biggest concerns in hospitals due to its resistance to traditional antibiotics. The paper showed evidence that CBG can mechanically breakdown the membrane of the bacteria in question, demonstrating potential for novel methods of controlling the diseases it causes. Interestingly, these results were obtained through in vivo testing, which involves the use of actual biological material, as opposed by in vitro testing where the results are obtained by testing outside of living organisms (typically in glassware). In vivo testing is generally considered more reflective of real world situations and therefore provides a more reliable base of evidence to take this proof further and hopefully begin trialling realistic applications for CBG as an anti-microbial agent.

Another potential application for CBG is in the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington’s Disease [3] and Multiple Sclerosis [4]. The method of action through which CBG exhibits this effect is likely similar to CBD, where it attenuates inflammatory signalling from the brain to lessen the effects of the inflammation stresses that causes these conditions. There are a myriad of papers available that demonstrate the anti-oxidative capabilities of the cannabinoids as a whole [5], so it comes as little surprise that CBG falls into this category. Neurodegenerative disorders have historically proven to be difficult to treat and manage, so the potential for CBG to help mitigate the effects of these diseases is likely of great interest to researchers in the field. Whether it proves to be more effective than CBD (which is better understood and (currently) easier to obtain) is yet to be seen.

As with other cannabinoids that reduce inflammation, there is also research into more traditionally understood forms such as inflammation found in the gut. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is an incurable disease that greatly decreases quality of life in those who suffer from it, and there has been some preliminary research into whether CBG can have a positive effect in treating it [6]. Tests were carried out on colitis suffering mice and the results showed improvement in several key indicators of gut inflammation in those mice that were treated with CBG. This study opens up an avenue for potential clinical trials into the creation of medications for the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases.

A final point I’d like to make regarding the potential usage of CBG in a therapeutic capacity is as an appetite-stimulant. Cannabis sativa is a well-known appetite stimulant, as anyone who has experienced ‘the munchies’ will be able to tell you, but this has historically been attributed to THC content. However, a number of fairly recent papers [7][8] have demonstrated that CBG has a not-insignificant capability to increase appetite in rats. Appetite stimulation is of great benefit to those undergoing chemotherapy, as muscle wastage and weight loss due to lack of appetite are often serious and unavoidable side-effects. THC has been used effectively in cancer patients, but the great advantage that CBG has is its lack of psychoactivity, making it more flexible and easier to regulate.

Despite its slow start compared to the better known cannabinoids, CBG is finally beginning to see some high-quality preliminary research, the results of which are presenting a wide-range of beneficial properties. There is likely going to be a considerable period of time before we can expect to see any practical application of this knowledge, but there is undeniable evidence that CBG has benefits that previously have not been understood. I expect it is only a matter of time until new cannabinoids with even more therapeutic applications are discovered.

References

[1] Cascio et al. (2010) Evidence that the plant cannabinoid cannabigerol is a highly potent a2-adrenoceptor agonist and moderately potent 5HT1A receptor antagonist

[2] Farha et al. (2020) Uncovering the Hidden Antiobiotic Properties of Cannabis

[3] Valdeolivas et al. (2015) Neuroprotective Properties of Cannabigerol in Huntington’s Disease: Studies in R6/2 Mice and 3-Nitropropionate-lesioned Mice

[4] Granja et al. (2012) A Cannabigerol Quinone Alleviates Neuroinflammation in a Chronic Model of Multiple Sclerosis

[5] Chung et al. (2019) Cannabidiol binding and negative allosteric modulation at the cannabinoid type 1 receptor in the presence of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol: An In Silico study

[6] Borrelli et al. (2013) Beneficial effect of the non-psychotropic plant cannabinoid cannabigerol on experimental inflammatory bowel disease

[7] Brierly et al. (2016) Cannabigerol is a novel, well-tolerated appetitie stimulant in pre-satiated rats

[8] Brierly et al. (2019) Chemotherapy-induced cachexia dysregulates hypothalamic and systemic lipoamines and is attenuated by cannabigerol

With the CBG trend sweeping its way through the world of cosmetics and beyond, our Chief Scientific Officer Andrew Megahy discovers what else there is to know about this increasingly popular cannabinoid.

So, what do we know about CBG? Research suggests that it may have a wide-range of potential applications, similar to CBD, due to its effects not only on the endocannabinoid system, but on the serotonergic and adrenergic signalling system.

Cannabigerol (CBG) is a minor cannabinoid found in the Cannabis plant that is beginning to grow in popularity as it becomes more well-known among consumers. Despite having been discovered in 1964, CBG has not undergone significant research compared to more common cannabinoids such as CBD or THC. The reasoning for this is twofold; Cannabis research has historically been difficult to pursue due to legal restrictions in many countries, and CBG is only found in very minor quantities within the plant itself, as it is functionally a by-product from the production of THC and CBD. The result of this is that research has focused primarily on these two ‘major’ cannabinoids, with studies that focus purely on CBG being rare. However, in recent years there has been a change and we are beginning to obtain some understanding of what CBG might be useful for, which will be discussed over the course of this article.

CBG is an interesting molecule within the Cannabis plant because, as mentioned above, it can be considered a by-product from the production of other cannabinoids. Within the plant, the precursor molecule cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) is actively converted into the acid forms of CBDA, CBCA and THCA, which then are converted into the neutral forms most people are familiar with. Any CBGA that is not converted will naturally degrade into the neutral CBG form, which explains why CBG is often found in very low concentrations (typically 1% or less of the total cannabinoid content). Plants that have a high concentration of CBG must therefore be bred specifically for this purpose. This relative scarcity is partly to blame for the relative lack of research carried out on CBG, which is evident when comparing the number of results for CBG and CBD on Google Scholar – less than 4000 for CBG and over 48,000 for CBD, at the time of writing.

So, what do we know about CBG? Research suggests that it may have a wide-range of potential applications, similar to CBD, due to its effects not only on the endocannabinoid system, but on the serotonergic and adrenergic signalling systems [1]. Possibly the most exciting possible use of CBG is in its role as an anti-microbial. A 2020 paper investigated the ability of CBG to kill off methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria, one of the biggest concerns in hospitals due to its resistance to traditional antibiotics. The paper showed evidence that CBG can mechanically breakdown the membrane of the bacteria in question, demonstrating potential for novel methods of controlling the diseases it causes. Interestingly, these results were obtained through in vivo testing, which involves the use of actual biological material, as opposed by in vitro testing where the results are obtained by testing outside of living organisms (typically in glassware). In vivo testing is generally considered more reflective of real world situations and therefore provides a more reliable base of evidence to take this proof further and hopefully begin trialling realistic applications for CBG as an anti-microbial agent.

Another potential application for CBG is in the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington’s Disease [3] and Multiple Sclerosis [4]. The method of action through which CBG exhibits this effect is likely similar to CBD, where it attenuates inflammatory signalling from the brain to lessen the effects of the inflammation stresses that causes these conditions. There are a myriad of papers available that demonstrate the anti-oxidative capabilities of the cannabinoids as a whole [5], so it comes as little surprise that CBG falls into this category. Neurodegenerative disorders have historically proven to be difficult to treat and manage, so the potential for CBG to help mitigate the effects of these diseases is likely of great interest to researchers in the field. Whether it proves to be more effective than CBD (which is better understood and (currently) easier to obtain) is yet to be seen.

As with other cannabinoids that reduce inflammation, there is also research into more traditionally understood forms such as inflammation found in the gut. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is an incurable disease that greatly decreases quality of life in those who suffer from it, and there has been some preliminary research into whether CBG can have a positive effect in treating it [6]. Tests were carried out on colitis suffering mice and the results showed improvement in several key indicators of gut inflammation in those mice that were treated with CBG. This study opens up an avenue for potential clinical trials into the creation of medications for the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases.

A final point I’d like to make regarding the potential usage of CBG in a therapeutic capacity is as an appetite-stimulant. Cannabis sativa is a well-known appetite stimulant, as anyone who has experienced ‘the munchies’ will be able to tell you, but this has historically been attributed to THC content. However, a number of fairly recent papers [7][8] have demonstrated that CBG has a not-insignificant capability to increase appetite in rats. Appetite stimulation is of great benefit to those undergoing chemotherapy, as muscle wastage and weight loss due to lack of appetite are often serious and unavoidable side-effects. THC has been used effectively in cancer patients, but the great advantage that CBG has is its lack of psychoactivity, making it more flexible and easier to regulate.

Despite its slow start compared to the better known cannabinoids, CBG is finally beginning to see some high-quality preliminary research, the results of which are presenting a wide-range of beneficial properties. There is likely going to be a considerable period of time before we can expect to see any practical application of this knowledge, but there is undeniable evidence that CBG has benefits that previously have not been understood. I expect it is only a matter of time until new cannabinoids with even more therapeutic applications are discovered.

References

[1] Cascio et al. (2010) Evidence that the plant cannabinoid cannabigerol is a highly potent a2-adrenoceptor agonist and moderately potent 5HT1A receptor antagonist

[2] Farha et al. (2020) Uncovering the Hidden Antiobiotic Properties of Cannabis

[3] Valdeolivas et al. (2015) Neuroprotective Properties of Cannabigerol in Huntington’s Disease: Studies in R6/2 Mice and 3-Nitropropionate-lesioned Mice

[4] Granja et al. (2012) A Cannabigerol Quinone Alleviates Neuroinflammation in a Chronic Model of Multiple Sclerosis

[5] Chung et al. (2019) Cannabidiol binding and negative allosteric modulation at the cannabinoid type 1 receptor in the presence of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol: An In Silico study

[6] Borrelli et al. (2013) Beneficial effect of the non-psychotropic plant cannabinoid cannabigerol on experimental inflammatory bowel disease

[7] Brierly et al. (2016) Cannabigerol is a novel, well-tolerated appetitie stimulant in pre-satiated rats

[8] Brierly et al. (2019) Chemotherapy-induced cachexia dysregulates hypothalamic and systemic lipoamines and is attenuated by cannabigerol


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Andrew Megahy1

Andrew Megahy

Lead Scientific Officer Linkedin