Cannabigerol or CBG is a cannabinoid that’s found in the cannabis plant that is actually what we call the precursor to THC and CBD. It’s the first compound that’s made by the plant. There’s an enzymatic reaction which then change into THC or change into CBD. Sort of the stem cell of all the other cannabinoids found in the plant. It can form THC, it can form CBC, and it can form CBD and even some other minor cannabinoids.
It’s never really found in very high amounts in plants. Because as soon as it’s created, it’s sent along a chemical pathway to form another one of these cannabinoids. But in its isolated form it definitely has a lot of medical potential.
What are the properties of CBG?
It’s a very strong anti-inflammatory and it inhibits GABA-uptake. GABA is a neurotransmitter in your brain and when GABA 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 antidepressant properties and it also appears to have some modest antifungal properties.
A lot is not known about the medicinal properties of CBG as it occurs in very small amounts. And usually is not isolated out to be tested on its own.
But it appears that it works in conjunction with the other cannabinoids to give that overall synergistic effect (the so called entourage effect) that people get with medical marijuana use.
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CBG as Source Cannabinoid for other Cannabinoids
Here we have the synthetic pathway for CBGa and it start out with Geranyl pyrophosphate and Olivetolic acid. Those two join together to form Cannabigerolic acid (CBGa).
And at the picture you can see the structure of Cannabigerolic acid. We see the COOH, which makes it the acid and if that were to disappear then it would just be plain CBG.
You can see this long chain of carbon molecules, which is able to roll up in different ways and enroll upon itself and form rings and other structures, which lead to CBDa, THCa and CBCa.
Enzymes as a catalyst for conversion to other cannabinoids
When we have undifferentiated CBGa, what enables this molecule to become CBD, THC or CBC are enzymes.
Enzymes are sort of helpers, to help catalyze these different reactions that have to occur in plants and animals. Normally, chemical reactions occur under extreme conditions, lots of heat, very acidic conditions, or very basic conditions.
But in the body we have these enzymes which sort of grab the molecule, in this case CBGa and kind of form it into the new molecule. And make that energy that it takes to form the next molecule much lower than if it were just by itself.
The enzymes become the limiting factor or the decision maker and what is formed next. If the plant makes a lot of THCa synthase then we’re going to get a lot of THC, when the plant decides to make a lot of CBD synthase we’re going to get a lot of CBD.
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How to change the levels of Cannabinoids
The way we can play around with the different levels of cannabinoids is by altering the amounts of these different enzymes in the plant.
That can be occur through breeding, or through genetic manipulation, whatever it may be. With the legal restrictions placed on cannabis and other restrictions, there hasn’t been a lot of real good research done on CBG and these other minor cannabinoids.
Hopefully with the work of good scientists and labs are doing, we’ll see more breeders, more cannabis patients and more researchers all take note that there’s more in cannabis than just THC. And some of these other compounds are very interesting compounds.
Hopefully we can help spur some of that knowledge and to really finish on this research that needs to be done and unlock some of the mysteries of these minor cannabinoids.