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Cannabinoids 101: CBG, A Medical Powerhouse

You’ve probably heard plenty about THC and CBD by now. These two major cannabinoids have been subjected to intense study over the last few years, and researchers have linked them with an astonishing array of medical effects. From fighting pain and inflammation to relieving certain types of seizures and gut disorders to quelling anxiety and depression, the list goes on and on.

But that said, THC and CBD are hardly the only games in town. Thus far, researchers have identified at least 150 different cannabinoids, and some of them promise to deliver even greater medical benefits. Let us introduce you to one of the most exciting: CBG.

Short for “cannabigerol,” CBG is a comparatively rare cannabinoid, typically comprising less than 1% of most cannabis strains. But it more than makes up for it in its potential. Here’s what we know so far and what the future might hold.

CBG: A Minor Cannabinoid with Major Potential

First identified in 1964, CBG is considered a minor cannabinoid. It’s produced by the chemical breakdown of its precursor cannabinoid CBGA, or cannabigerolic acid. CBGA is a hugely important cannabinoid in and of itself: It’s the precursor to the three main lines of cannabinoids: tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), and cannabichromenic acid (CBCA). Ironically, that’s what makes CBG so comparatively rare. Because most of the CBGA is converted to THCA and CBDA by ultraviolet light or heat, relatively little remains to eventually become CBG.

But what little remains plays an outsize role. In addition to moderating some of the intoxicating effects of THC—something we already know CBD does—CBG is proving itself valuable in treating a veritable laundry list of medical conditions. Here’s a short list.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

A blanket term that includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, IBD is an incurable and potentially debilitating condition. A 2013 study showed that CBG has a strong potential in controlling this debilitating disease, which affects at least 5 million people worldwide.


As it turns out, the eye actually contains endocannabinoid receptors, and a study suggests that CBG may play a major role in decreasing ocular pressure as well as serving as a vasodilator, or medication to open blood vessels.

Neurodegenerative Diseases

This family of devastating conditions includes Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, and Parkinson’s diseases. While all subtly different, they’re all characterized by irreversible damage to specialized brain cells known as neurons.

It was already suspected that cannabinoids might have a role to play in fighting these conditions. And a study published in 2015 found that in a rodent model, CBG was a neuroprotector, helping to defend neurons from the ravages of Huntington’s disease. It’s a promising avenue of treatment, and we’re sure to learn even more in the coming months and years.


The “holy grail” of medical research, a true cure for cancer is still years away. But CBG shows unique promise here. In one rodent-based study, it was shown to block the action of receptors that initiate the growth of colorectal cancer cells. In addition, CBG inhibited existing tumors, suggesting that experimental cannabis-based treatments may be closer than we think.

CBG: The Future of Cannabigerol

One problem that has vexed researchers is CBG’s relative scarcity. Because so much of its precursor CBGA is converted to other cannabinoids, historically, there’s been very little CBG available for our use.

Now some enterprising cultivators are trying to change that. By cross-breeding different strains, growers are creating new high-CBG strains. And by carefully monitoring the cannabis plant’s flowering cycle, researchers can pinpoint the optimum time to extract CBG before it’s converted into other cannabinoids.

Because they by nature contain little THC, whether or not these new high-CBG strains will catch on with the public is an open question. But you can expect to see more of this medical powerhouse in the years to come as researchers unlock the promise and potential of CBG, a true cannabis powerhouse!