What is Cannabigerol?
Cannabigerol (CBG) is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid formed by decarboxylation of cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) through exposure to sufficient heat and/or light. CBGA plays arguably the most important role in the biochemistry of the cannabis plant. It is sometimes referred to as the “stem cell” of cannabinoids as it is the chemical precursor to tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), and cannabichromenic acid (CBCA). Different enzymatic pathways result in the formation of these carboxylic acid precursors of THC, CBD, and CBC. CBG is present in small amounts (typically less than 1%) in most cannabis strains, however some strains of hemp are harvested earlier or cultivated to yield higher levels of this cannabinoid.
What Does the Research Show?
In a 2014 study published in the journal Neurotherapeutics, researchers administered a neurotoxin to mice in order to simulate Huntington’s Disease (HD), a fatal genetic disorder in humans causing progressive physical and mental disabilities. The symptoms of HD are sometimes thought to resemble amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease), Parkinson’s Disease, and Alzheimer’s Disease all in one. The study used a control group of untreated mice and administered four, once daily doses of CBG and evaluated for changes in physical disabilities. Ultimately, microscopic analysis of the brains of the mice was performed. Researchers found CBG preserved brain cells in the neurotoxin-administered group resulting in improvement of the neurologic deterioration which is typically seen in this group. The study concluded CBG “appears to have a promising neuroprotective profile” in the treatment of Huntington’s Disease.
Another animal study in 2009 indicated that CBG can stimulate α2-adrenoceptors suggesting it may have pain relieving effects. The study also showed CBG binds to CB1 and CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system and blocks CB1 and 5-HT1A receptors suggesting antidepressant properties.
Cannabigerol was found in a 2013 rodent study to reduce inflammation in chemically-induced inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It also was noted to demonstrate anti-oxidant properties. The study concluded CBG could be considered for clinical investigation in IBD patients.
Finally, in a 2008 preclinical study, CBG (along with CBD, cannabinol or CBN, and cannabichromene or CBC) demonstrated potent activity against multi-drug resistant strains of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). As is the case with all other cannabinoids, much more research is required to better establish the therapeutic properties of CBG. However, it does appear to demonstrate encouraging results in a number of preclinical studies.
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Dr. Wright Penniman M.D. is a board certified family physician with 15 years of clinical experience and 4 years of experience as a medical director with a major health insurance company.