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CBG vs CBD: The Main Differences Explained


by Tariq Gardezi

It’s safe to say that cannabidiol (CBD) is quickly becoming a part of mainstream culture. These days, 10% of people between the ages of 18 and 44 use CBD on a regular basis.

Yet, most people still don’t know the first thing about CBD’s fellow cannabinoids. There are over 100 of them, and we’re not just talking about the infamous THC. For example, do you know how to differentiate between CBG vs CBD?

Cannabigerol (CBG) is found in relatively low concentrations in cannabis. Some scientists are learning how to isolate this compound, though, because of its potential benefits for health and beyond.

Do you want to know about the differences between CBD and CBG? You’re in luck because we’re about to tell you everything you need to know. Check it out!

What Exactly Is CBG?

Did you know that every single cannabinoid in the hemp plant originally starts out as cannabigerolic acid (CBGA)? That’s right: THC, CBD, CBG, and all the rest of the 100+ cannabinoids can only form from CBGA.

For example, when CBGA loses an alcohol group through a process called decarboxylation, it turns into CBG. However, this only happens if there’s enough CBGA left over after converting into THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids.

Herein lies the main difference between CBG and CBD: they’re produced in different volumes in the cannabis plant.

CBD is found in concentrations of 20% or higher in hemp. Meanwhile, CBG typically only accounts for 1% or less of the total cannabinoid concentration.

Despite all the incredible benefits of CBG (we’ll talk about that below), CBG is much less well-known than CBD. Here’s why.

CBG: The “Rolls Royce” of Cannabinoids

CBG is the most expensive cannabinoid to produce. According to some experts, harvesting only a small amount of CBG takes thousands of pounds of hemp.

Considering the percentages of each in the hemp plant, it’s no wonder. If a single hemp plant contains 20% CBD and only 1% CBG, extractors would need twenty times as much hemp to produce CBG vs CBD.

That’s not the only problem, though.

CBG transforms into other cannabinoids in the presence of oxygen. That means, over time, the percentage of CBG in a hemp flower declines the older the flower is. For this reason, manufacturers have begun producing hemp with 100% CBG.

Considering all of this, CBG is less popular because it can be more expensive. That’s not always the case, though. Check out these premium CBG flower buds for an example of high-quality CBG without the extravagant price tag.

Is CBG Even Legal?

Cannabis is still not legal in all 50 states. So you aren’t alone in wondering whether you can have peace of mind using this cannabinoid.

The good news is that the 2018 Farm Bill made it legal to sell any hemp-derived product as long as it has legal amounts of THC. That means 0.3% concentrations of THC or less.

Since CBG is derived from legal hemp, it’s 100% legal in all fifty US states. Plus, since CBG is non-intoxicating, you won’t have to worry about becoming dependent or experiencing weird side effects.

The Benefits of CBG

So, why do manufacturers go through so much struggle to harvest those tiny concentrations of CBG? It has to do with the benefits of CBG, one of which is that this cannabinoid is non-intoxicating. That means that it won’t get you “high”.

Other than that, the benefits of CBG are still under heavy research. But here’s what we know so far.

CBG May Benefit People with Glaucoma

Scientists have known for a while that cannabis and hemp are beneficial for treating glaucoma. Only recently, though, did they discover that CBG may be responsible for these benefits.

One 2008 study found that CBG helps reduce internal eye pressure. This is one of the hallmarks of the progression of glaucoma, which makes CBG a promising potential treatment.

CBG May Influence Inflammation

Like fellow cannabinoid CBD, CBG may also be responsible for cannabis’ anti-inflammatory effects.

For example, a 2013 study looked at the benefits of CBG for mouse models of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs). CBG helped reduce inflammation, thereby alleviating some of the symptoms of IBDs.

CBG May Help Protect the Brain from Huntington’s Disease

Neuroprotection is a property of some natural and synthetic drugs. CBG is one such natural substance and it helps protect brain cells against damage or cell death. That’s good news for neurodegenerative diseases like Huntington’s and more.

CBG May Be Beneficial Against Some Drug-Resistant Bacterial Strains

Some bacterial strains are resistant to antibiotics. For example, a strain of the staph infection-causing bacteria is resistant to methicillin antibiotics.

However, there is some evidence that CBG is effective against this type of drug-resistant bacteria. That could potentially mean CBG is effective against other drug-resistant bacteria, too.

CBG May Help Treat Bladder Problems

In 2015, some researchers looked at the effect of CBG vs CBD and other cannabinoids in the treatment of bladder dysfunction. After comparing five different cannabinoids, CBG was the best at helping regulate a healthy bladder function.

CBG May Influence Appetite

Already, thousands of people use medical cannabis to stimulate their appetite. Now, researchers are starting to think “the munchies” aren’t due to THC alone. CBG may also play a role in increasing hunger.

In fact, a 2016 study looked at just that. The researchers found that people with HIV or cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy could benefit from supplementing their nausea and appetite regimen with CBG.

The Function of CBG vs CBD

By now you’re probably wondering: aside from different concentrations and molecular shapes, why do CBD and CBG affect the body so differently?

Why does CBG stimulate appetite while CBD is known to suppress hunger? And why are they both good for inflammation? In part, these main differences can be chalked up to a difference in function.

What do we mean? CBD and CBG both interact with the human body and brain. They do so via a system of receptors that have collectively come to be known as the endocannabinoid system.

CBD is unique in that it doesn’t interact with the endocannabinoid system directly. Instead, it influences other molecules to act on the system. That’s how you feel the benefits of CBD after using oil or taking a capsule.

CBG is different— this cannabinoid does directly interact with the endocannabinoid system. Some studies have found that CBG can interact with the body’s natural cannabinoid, anandamide. Also, CBG can block the intoxicating effects of THC.

How is that even possible? It all has to do with a highly-studied phenomenon known as the entourage effect.

The Entourage Effect

When you combine the different cannabinoids, terpenes, and plant materials of natural hemp, something surprising can happen. These components interact with each other and produce more effects together than they would have alone. That’s why CBG can virtually “cancel out” the intoxicating effects of THC.

That’s not all, though. Cannabinoids and terpenes may just work better together than apart. There’s evidence that using a product with all cannabinoids and terpenes present may help boost the benefits of each individual component.

Sound good? If you want to take advantage of the entourage effect, we recommend trying out a full-spectrum product. Full-spectrum means the product contains all the components of the natural hemp plant for the ultimate entourage effect.

If you’re sensitive to THC or worried about a drug test, you can still harness a portion of this effect!

Pick up a broad-spectrum product instead. Broad-spectrum products are essentially identical to full-spectrum with one exception: broad-spectrum oils and capsules don’t have any traces of THC.

CBG Side Effects

Since research is still forthcoming about the effects of CBG, we know little about its side effects. What we do know has come from studies of rat models. Of course, that’s not a direct comparison but it is helpful in estimating how humans will respond to CBG.

So far, animal studies have shown that CBG is very well tolerated. In the meantime, be a responsible CBG consumer and always speak to your physician before using CBG alongside any medications.

CBD vs CBG: The Bottom Line

If you’re searching for the right cannabinoid to add to your health and wellness regimen, CBD and CBG are probably your top contenders. They’re both non-intoxicating, chock full of incredible benefits, and safe to use.

Yet, as the differences between CBG vs CBD continue to emerge, you may soon realize why we’ll always prefer CBG.

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