CBG vs. CBD: What is the Difference?
By this point, you’ve probably heard of CBD. From CBD oil to CBD cream, this cannabinoid has become a staple in many people’s wellness routines. But are you familiar with CBG? There is still a lot we need to learn about this lesser-known cousin of CBD, but early research has revealed many exciting possibilities about how CBD and CBG may work. Below, we’ll cover both the similarities and the differences between CBG vs. CBD.
Research and clinical trials around CBD and CBG are in the earliest stages, so remember that nothing stated in this blog is intended to treat or cure any disease. Below, we will go over what we know so far about CBG and CBD and some studies that reveal potential future applications of these cannabinoids.
A Breakdown of CBG and CBD
What is CBD?
Let’s go over a quick refresher on CBD. CBD (cannabidiol) is a cannabinoid that is found in the Cannabis Sativa plant. At least 113 cannabinoids exist in the plant, but CBD is one of the most prevalent (along with THC).
While THC has psychoactive effects, CBD does not get you high or alter your state of mind. Instead, it may help with relaxation, stress, and overall well-being.
CBD is found in both hemp and marijuana but is found in higher concentrations in the hemp plant. Hemp and hemp-derived CBD products that contain less than 0.3% THC are completely legal on the federal level, thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill.
Recent Studies Around CBD
You may already be familiar with some of CBD’s potential uses, which has been the focus of many studies – particularly in more recent years. Here is a recap of a few of these studies and their potential benefits:
- CBD may help relieve stress: In a preliminary report published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, researchers used neuroimaging in volunteers and “observed that CBD has anxiolytic properties and that these effects are associated with an action on limbic and paralimbic brain areas.” While it remains unknown exactly how CBD produces this effect, the writers stated that data confirms CBD has anxiolytic properties in both animals and humans.
- CBD may reduce inflammation and pain: CBD is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties, which may, in turn, help reduce pain. This is shown in a 2013 study, where animal models of multiple sclerosis were protected against the effects of inflammation.
- CBD may improve the Quality of Sleep: Studies have shown that CBD may help with sleep. In a 2019 study, researchers found that patients who experienced poor quality sleep saw an improvement within a month of taking CBD. In a 2013 study, researchers found that animal subjects administered CBD had an increase in total sleep time.
- CBD may relieve IBD-Related Symptoms: Studies have shown that CBD may be beneficial for patients dealing with symptoms related to IBD. In a 2012 review, researchers stated that CBD “possesses an extraordinary range of beneficial effects that may slow the course of the disease, ameliorate symptoms and potentially increase the efficacy of the drugs actually available for the therapy of invalidating gut disorders such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.”
It’s important to note that the FDA has not approved CBD as a treatment or cure for any diseases. You should talk to your doctor about adding CBD to your self-care routine.
What is CBG?
Like CBD, CBG (cannabigerol) is a cannabinoid that does not have psychoactive effects. It plays a crucial role in the creation of other cannabinoids in the cannabis plant.
In the plant, CBG starts as cannabigerolic acid or CBGA. As the plant matures, enzymes convert the CBGA into cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), and cannabichromenic acid (CBCA). The plant then begins a decarboxylation process, where these compounds lose their carboxyl acid and become cannabinoids.
At the end of this process, the concentration of CBG in the cannabis plant is very low. Unsurprisingly, this means it is less available, and less research has been done on CBG compared to its more common cannabinoid cousins CBD and THC. That said, there have been some successful attempts to breed cannabis that is rich in this cannabinoid, called chemotype IV.
This type of cannabis plant isn’t as dominant in the market right now, but it may allow us to learn more about CBG in the future. If it becomes more widely produced, it will become far easier to extract CBG to create CBG products.
Recent Studies Around CBG
Due to its lower availability, CBG has not been as widely studied as CBD. However, some early research shows that there may be a few interesting benefits of CBG. Early studies have found many potential therapeutic effects of CBG, including the following:
- CBG may have anti-inflammatory effects: In a 2013 study, researchers found that CBG helped reduce inflammation related to Inflammatory Bowel Disease in animal models. In the study, researchers noted that they “found that CBG reduced colon weight/colon length ratio of the inflamed colonic tissue, which is considered a reliable and sensitive indicator of the severity and extent of the inflammatory response.”
- CBG may help with symptoms related to glaucoma: A 2004 review found that CBG and other cannabinoids may help reduce intraocular pressure. The review states that “numerous studies have been conducted confirming that different cannabinoids, including cannabidiol, cannabigerol, endogenous cannabinoids, and some synthetic cannabinoids, can reduce the IOP when administered systemically and topically.”
- CBG may have neuroprotective effects: In a 2015 study, researchers found that CBG showed neuroprotective properties in animal models of Huntington’s Disease (a disorder where the nerve cells in the brain break down).
- CBG may inhibit tumor growth: A 2014 study on colorectal cancer in mice found that CBG may help inhibit the formation of new cancer cells. In the study, researchers concluded that the data suggests “CBG inhibits the growth of [colorectal cancer] cells mainly via a pro-apop-totic mechanism and hinders the development and the growth of colon carcinogenesis in vivo.”
- CBG may help with symptoms related to bladder disorders: In a 2015 study, researchers found that CBG (and other cannabinoids, including CBD) helped decrease bladder contractions in both mouse and human bladders.
- CBG may kill drug-resistant bacteria: A 2008 study showed that CBG (and other cannabinoids, including CBD) may have antibacterial properties, particularly against MRSA strains of bacteria.
Keep in mind that research is still limited, and further studies need to be done before coming to definitive claims about the effects of CBG. Like CBD, CBG has not been recommended by the FDA to treat or cure diseases.
CBG vs. CBD: The Differences
You may have noticed that CBG and CBD have a few similarities. Neither of these cannabinoids is psychoactive like THC, and they appear to have a few of the same potential benefits.
There are, however, quite a few noteworthy differences between these two cannabinoids. Before we dive into these differences between CBG vs. CBD, we need to understand the endocannabinoid system.
The Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system is believed to be responsible for regulating a variety of physiological functions in the body, and generally maintaining homeostasis. Some of the functions this system may regulate include pain perception, cognitive function, mood, sleep, appetite, and motor skills.
The endocannabinoid system has neurotransmitters called endocannabinoids (which are cannabinoids naturally produced by the body) and receptors that interact with them. These receptors and neurotransmitters – which are found throughout the body – may communicate with different areas of the body to help it function and maintain homeostasis.
There are a variety of different endocannabinoids, but two of the most well-known are anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). As far as receptors go, there are CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are found mostly in the central nervous system and brain, while CB2 receptors are found in other organs and cells connected to the immune system.
How do CBG and CBD Interact with the Endocannabinoid System?
So what exactly does this have to do with the debate of CBG vs. CBD? Some of the differences between the two cannabinoids come down to how they interact with the endocannabinoid system. Research on the endocannabinoid system and how it is affected by cannabinoids is still emerging, but it is believed that CBD and CBG interact in different ways.
CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system but has a lower affinity for the receptors. This means it mostly interacts with the endocannabinoid system through indirect interactions. When not binding to receptors directly, it may still influence how these receptors react with other cannabinoids (both plant-based and those produced by the body).
CBG, on the other hand, is believed to influence the body by interacting directly with the endocannabinoid system. It has a higher affinity for the receptors and is able to bind to both CB1 and CB2 receptors.
CBG vs. CBD: Other Differences
There are a few other ways that CBD and CBG differ. One is their molecular structure, which refers to the arrangement of hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen atoms. Since they have different molecular structures, they bind to receptors differently.
Speaking of receptors, CBG and CBD have been shown to activate receptors differently – one of them being the 5-HT1A receptor. This receptor is responsible for stimulating the production of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter, often referred to as the “happy chemical.”
In a 2011 study, researchers looked at how these cannabinoids influenced this receptor. They found that CBD worked as an agonist (or an activator) on the 5-HT1A receptor and that it elicited an anti-nausea effect. On the other hand, CBG was found to work as an antagonist (or blocker) on the receptor. This means that, when CBG was used as a treatment before CBD, it blocked the anti-nausea effect of CBD.
CBG vs. CBD: Which is Best?
This leads us to one of the most pressing questions in the debate of CBG vs. CBD: which cannabinoid is best? Unfortunately, there isn’t a cut-and-dried answer. Since CBG is still in the early stages of research, we can’t clearly compare the two cannabinoids. That said, early research seems to suggest that these cannabinoids work in many different ways, so it really comes down to what your specific needs are. As more research is done on both cannabinoids, there may never be one clear “better” cannabinoid. It all just comes down to what it is being used for.
Of course, when it comes to how accessible each cannabinoid is, CBD would be considered best. As discussed, CBG isn’t currently widely available and is harder to extract since it is in such low concentration in typical cannabis plants.
As more research is done in the world of cannabinoids, we’ll hopefully learn more about CBG and maybe even see more cannabis plants with higher concentrations cultivated. For now, we can easily access beneficial, high-quality CBD products – and we’ll see what the future has in store for CBG.