Most people are familiar with CBD and THC. But cannabis also contains over 100 minor cannabinoids, which are usually present in quantities of less than one percent.
CBG is one of the most popular minor cannabinoids and appears to have many potential health benefits. It’s increasingly appearing in hemp-derived products, usually in combination with CBD. Keep reading to learn more about CBG’s benefits, its difference from CBD, and more.
Table of Contents
What is CBG?
Cannabigerol (CBG) is a cannabinoid found in cannabis. CBG comes from cannabigerolic acid (CBGa), popularly referred to as the “mother of all cannabinoids” because most cannabinoids are derived from it (1).
More specifically, like other cannabinoid acids, CBGa decarboxylates (breaks down as when exposed to heat) into CBG.
But since enzymes turn most CBGa into THCa and CBDa, the acidic precursors of THC and CBD, there isn’t much of it left over to break down into CBG. That’s why most cannabis plants have less than 1% CBG, although some strains, like White CBG, are bred for higher levels.
Another way to get more CBG is to harvest cannabis earlier, while it still has high concentrations of CBGa (which can then be decarboxylated to turn into CBG).
How Does CBG Differ from CBD?
|Main Potential Benefits||Anti-inflammatory, pain relief, neuroprotective, appetite stimulant||Anti-inflammatory, sleep aid, pain relief, neuroprotective, appetite suppressant, anti-seizure, anti-anxiety, anti-nausea, anticancer, antipsychotic|
|Main Mechanisms||CB1 & CB2 receptors, FAAH enzyme, blocking serotonin receptor, TRP channels, a2 adrenergic receptor||FAAH enzyme, activating serotonin receptor, TRP channels, and more|
CBG has similarities with CBD:
- Both are non-intoxicating cannabinoids, so they won’t get you high
- They have some shared effects, like anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties (2)
But as a distinct cannabinoid, it also has some differences:
- CBG may increase appetite, whereas CBD seems to lower it
- Levels of CBG in cannabis are generally much lower than CBD (especially hemp)
- CBG appears to block serotonin 5HT1a receptors, whereas CBD seems to activate them
CBG Effects & Benefits
CBG has many potential health benefits. Although it’s seen less research than CBD, early studies have shown promising results: (3)
- Anti-inflammatory. In a 2013 mouse study, CBG improved inflammatory bowel disease (4).
- Antioxidant. Studies suggest that CBG has antioxidant effects that are comparable to vitamin E.
- Neuropathic pain. A 2022 study in mice reported that CBG may relieve neuropathic pain (5).
- Appetite stimulant. CBG improved appetite in rats in a 2016 study (6).
- Neuroprotection. Animal studies report that CBG counteracted neuroinflammation caused by multiple sclerosis (MS) and protected neurons from Huntington’s disease. One 2019 study also found that combining CBD with CBG improved neuroinflammation better than either substance alone, providing further evidence for the cannabis entourage effect (7).
- Glaucoma. CBG helped reduce intraocular pressure and had other beneficial effects in a 2009 study of cats (8).
- Antibacterial. Out of multiple cannabinoids, CBG had some of the most potent antibacterial effects against antibiotic-resistant bacteria (9).
- Anticancer. Early studies suggest that CBG may fight cancer cells.
- Skin disorders. Some studies show that CBG can help with dry skin, acne, and other skin issues.
- Bladder issues. CBG may reduce bladder contractions.
CBG might also have anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) effects but the studies are conflicting.
Unfortunately, most of the data on CBG’s effects comes from animal studies. But one 2021 survey of 121 cannabis users found that CBG-rich cannabis was most commonly used to help with anxiety (51.2% of participants), chronic pain (40.9%), depression (33.1%), and insomnia or poor sleep (30.7%).
Most of the study participants rated their symptoms as much or very much improved, and 74% said they preferred CBG-rich cannabis over prescription meds for pain, 80% for depression, 73% for insomnia, and 78% for anxiety (10).
But while these findings are interesting, it’s difficult to isolate the effects of CBG since cannabis also contains THC and many other active compounds. So the bottom line is that more human studies are needed to fully understand CBG’s therapeutic potential.
How Does CBG Work?
Research has uncovered several ways that CBG produces its effects: (1)
- Interacting with classic CB1 and CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system (ECS), but not as strongly as THC.
- Supressing FAAH, an enzyme that breaks down the endocannabinoid anandamide, but not as strongly as CBD (11).
- Interacting with TRP channels, which are involved in pain and inflammation.
- Strongly interacting with the a2 adrenergic receptor, a mechanism that may have the potential for sedative, antihypertensive, and analgesic (pain-relieving) effects.
- Blocking the 5-HT1a receptor (the opposite effect of CBD), which means it may interact with SSRI antidepressants and other medicines that target serotonin
- Interacting with PPARγ receptors
This wide variety of effects (plus whatever we don’t yet know) highlights the therapeutic potential of CBG. But more studies are needed.
My Experience With CBG
I’ve tested dozens of CBG oils, gummies, and capsules. Although it’s hard to summarize their effects, most made me feel relaxed and calm (similar to CBD) and gave a noticeable boost in mood and a slight improvement in energy. Some people also report improved focus, but I didn’t experience that.
In any case, I find that CBG products are ideal for daytime use because of their slightly stimulating effects, which may explain why most CBD brands market them that way.
I usually take CBG in the morning or around lunchtime to give me a productivity and motivation boost, especially if I’m feeling a little tired or sleepy that day.
Safety & Side Effects
Research on the safety of CBG is lacking. The survey of CBG-rich cannabis reported minor side effects like dry mouth, sleepiness, increased appetite, and dry eyes. Still, we can’t attribute these effects to CBG alone since cannabis contains many other active compounds (10).
The bigger question with CBG is drug interactions. For example, there’s a chance that it might interact with drugs that act on serotonin, like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), the most common type of antidepressant (1).
Although I expect CBG to be about as safe as CBD, you should exercise caution until more clinical research is done.
There’s no one-size-fits-all dosage for CBG or any cannabinoid for that matter. It depends on many factors, like your body weight, genetics, and the type of product you’re using.
The best approach is to “start low and go slow,” gradually increasing your dosage until you find the amount that provides the desired effects (12). Another option is to start with the dosage your specific CBG product recommends and go from there.
Shopping for & Using CBG Products
CBG products are pretty popular and offered by many CBD brands. You can choose from CBG oils, capsules, gummies, vapes, topicals, and other products. Most contain a 1:1 mix of CBD and CBG, although pure CBG formulas are also available.
Generally speaking, you’ll come across three kinds of CBG formulas:
- Pure CBG isolate without any other cannabinoids
- A combination of pure CBG and CBD
- A full-spectrum CBD product with added CBG, usually at a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio to CBD
I recommend going for full-spectrum products; they offer greater benefits than any isolated cannabinoid, thanks to the entourage effect.
In particular, full-spectrum CBG oil is the best option for most people because tinctures are cost-effective, absorbed well by the body, have long-lasting effects, and make it easy to change your dose.
As a final tip, remember that cannabinoids affect everyone differently. Although CBG is better known as a stimulating cannabinoid, I have read reviews from people who said CBG products helped them sleep. So you’ll have to try it out and see how CBG affects you.
- Nachnani, Rahul, Wesley M. Raup-Konsavage, and Kent E. Vrana. “The pharmacological case for cannabigerol.” Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics 376.2 (2021): 204-212.
- Cather, Jennifer Clay, and J. Christian Cather. “Cannabidiol primer for healthcare professionals.” Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings. Vol. 33. No. 3. Taylor & Francis, 2020.
- Calapai, Fabrizio, et al. “Pharmacological Aspects and Biological Effects of Cannabigerol and Its Synthetic Derivatives.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2022 (2022).
- Borrelli, Francesca, et al. “Beneficial effect of the non-psychotropic plant cannabinoid cannabigerol on experimental inflammatory bowel disease.” Biochemical pharmacology 85.9 (2013): 1306-1316.
- Sepulveda, Diana E., et al. “Cannabigerol (CBG) attenuates mechanical hypersensitivity elicited by chemotherapy‐induced peripheral neuropathy.” European Journal of Pain 26.9 (2022): 1950-1966.
- Brierley, Daniel I., et al. “Cannabigerol is a novel, well-tolerated appetite stimulant in pre-satiated rats.” Psychopharmacology 233 (2016): 3603-3613.
- Mammana, Santa, et al. “Could the combination of two non-psychotropic cannabinoids counteract neuroinflammation? Effectiveness of cannabidiol associated with cannabigerol.” Medicina 55.11 (2019): 747.
- COLASANTI, BRENDA K. “A comparison of the ocular and central effects of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabigerol.” Journal of Ocular Pharmacology and Therapeutics 6.4 (1990): 259-269.
- Appendino, Giovanni, et al. “Antibacterial cannabinoids from Cannabis sativa: a structure− activity study.” Journal of natural products 71.8 (2008): 1427-1430.
- Russo, Ethan B., et al. “Survey of patients employing cannabigerol-predominant cannabis preparations: Perceived medical effects, adverse events, and withdrawal symptoms.” Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research 7.5 (2022): 706-716.
- Jastrząb, Anna, Iwona Jarocka-Karpowicz, and Elżbieta Skrzydlewska. “The origin and biomedical relevance of cannabigerol.” International journal of molecular sciences 23.14 (2022): 7929.
- Lucas, Catherine J., Peter Galettis, and Jennifer Schneider. “The pharmacokinetics and the pharmacodynamics of cannabinoids.” British journal of clinical pharmacology 84.11 (2018): 2477-2482.
Gleb is a freelance writer from Vancouver, Canada specializing in CBD and cannabis. He’s read thousands of studies on CBD and other supplements, helping him translate complex science into plain language. Gleb has tried and reviewed dozens of CBD brands and products, written third-party testing reports, and knows the CBD industry inside and out. When not writing, he likes to kickbox, travel, and tell everyone how awesome intermittent fasting is.