As it turns out, THC and CBD – the two most common chemicals in marijuana – and other minor cannabinoids all begin as CBG.
CBG is non-psychoactive and can be thought of as the “stem cell” of these chemicals. CBG is quickly converted to other cannabinoids by enzymes in the cannabis plant, which explains the low concentration of CBG in most strains.
Besides its role in forming other cannabinoids, CBG has a number of important medical effects of its own.
As Dr. Bonni Goldstein, Medical Director of Canna-Centers, explained in a video for WeedMaps TV, CBG inhibits the uptake of a chemical in our brain called GABA – something CBD also does.
“When GABA [uptake] is inhibited, you actually have muscle relaxation and you have anti-anxiety effects, so it appears to promote similar effects that CBD has. It also appears to have anti-depressant and some modest anti-fungal properties.”
Although CBG hasn’t been studied nearly as much as CBD, a small body of evidence suggests it has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects as well.
Earlier this year, researchers from Italy observed both of these properties in an experimental model of inflammatory bowel disease, concluding that “CBG may represent a new therapeutic opportunity” for patients with the disorder.
Other pre-clinical studies suggest more diverse uses for CBG as a COX-2 inhibitor, similar to the popular group of pharmaceuticals known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
In one study, CBG, THC and CBD all appeared to inhibit COX-2 enzymes, although higher concentrations were required compared to traditional NSAIDs. Still, NSAIDs come with a number of side effects that cannabis-based medicines do not.
More research is definitely necessary to determine CBG’s true medical potential – as well as how to utilize it effectively – but it’s good to hear that other chemicals in marijuana besides THC and CBD could be helping patients, even without their knowledge.
Not to mention – without CBG – most of these cannabinoids wouldn’t be around to begin with.