Cannabigerol, known as CBG, is a minor cannabinoid that became popular after companies worked around new FDA regulations placed on cannabis producers. Even as a common name, CBG had yet to undergo the same tests and clinical trials as CBD to ensure high doses are safe. That has since begun to change, especially with a new green light on safety given to CBG by Ethan Russo and colleagues pushing for more clinical trials.
The prequel to CBD
A CBG dominant cannabis cultivar was finally bred in 2019 and the cannabinoid has been gaining a more common foothold in the industry. Initially, breeding techniques were employed to avoid excessive THC quantities in hemp crops; high CBG content was simply an inescapable byproduct.
This is because CBG is the first cannabinoid to be produced, and as the cannabis plant grows, it turns into THC during the last two weeks of each growing cycle. CBG is essentially the parent or “mother” of all cannabinoids.
Breeders managed to snuff out the enzymes that cannabis needs to chemically alter CBG as well as CBD, but this was to avoid THC production. However, now that CBG dominant cultivars are available, research can continue to further our understanding of the cannabinoid and its benefits.
A recent survey study published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research analyzed the benefits and adverse reactions of cannabigerol (CBG) dominant cultivars. Ethan Russo, a medical doctor and the Founder and CEO of CReDO Science led the study. Cannabis Life Network went in to discuss dose and different CBG cultivars with Russo. (1)
Some people used flower, while others used extracts. Some of the extracts were derived from CBG chemovars that lacked any significant other cannabinoids (THC or CBD).
Ethan Russo, MD.
The study analyzed for potential concerns regarding adverse effects and withdrawal symptoms while it highlighted the therapeutic potential of CBG in clinical trials.
One other employee of CReDO Science, two scientists from the University of California, and two researchers from Washington State University co-authored the study with Russo. This list includes the Director of the UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative, Ziva Cooper, who holds a Ph.D. in Biopsychology with expertise in neuropsychopharmacology. Further, Michelle Sexton, a naturopathic doctor, Amanda Stueber Ph.D., and Carrie Cuttler Ph.D., also contributed to this doorway into CBG’s therapeutic future.
The benefits of CBG from the survey results
Consumers, this author included, have long held a belief that CBG relieves anxiety based on experiences with different chemovars (strains). Pain, depression, and insomnia are other common reasons patients self-medicate with CBG cultivars. And now, the therapeutic use of CBG for these symptoms has gained support from the recent peer-reviewed study. That said, the results reiterate what a lot of basic science already told us, according to the lead author.
The survey results seemingly support a great deal of what basic science has told us to expect from CBG pharmacology: benefits on anxiety, pain, sleep, etc., with a very benign side effect profile, a preference for CBG over conventional drugs, and without evidence of withdrawal effects.
In fact, CBG predominant cannabis provided better therapy for anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and insomnia compared to conventional medicines, according to a majority of participants surveyed.
More than half of the participants reported using CBG for anxiety, but less than a third (30.7%) treated insomnia with CBG predominant chemovars. Depression and anxiety were a better option than conventional medicines for more than 78 percent of the 127 people in the study. Pain and insomnia were only slightly less favoured at 73.9 and 73 percent, respectively.
Benefits of CBG
THC comes with effects such as dry mouth and eyes, as well as sleepiness and increased appetite. While the latter two can be saught after effects of THC, these adverse effects will rarely be experienced by exclusively consuming CBG.
We know that when side effects were listed, they were clearly what would be expected with THC-containing chemovars… CBG only preparations did not have these effects.
How many participants experienced adverse reactions to CBG cultivars?
Dry mouth – 16.5%
Sleepiness – 15%
Increased appetite – 11.8%
Dry eyes – 8.7%
Thankfully, addiction does not seem to be a concern with CBG, with 84.3% of people reporting zero withdrawal symptoms.
The unknowns and what’s next?
Russo earlier determined a safe and effective dose of cannabidiol (CBD) based on clinical trials, but the ideal dosage of CBG has yet to be analyzed. Although, Russo did note that 5 mg seems to have a noticeable effect. (2)
People with anxiety are often using 10-20 mg of CBG per dose.
Furthermore, patients predominantly use cannabis cultivars and more crude extracts rather than isolates, meaning consumers use CBG products with different levels of terpenes and cannabinoids. So, we asked Russo about the hypothetical entourage effect. This hypothesis suggests that different terpenes and minor cannabinoids found in any given cultivar largely contribute to cannabis’s novel effects, which Russo helped define in a seminal study, Taming THC. (3)
I cannot say how many of the 127 people were using CBG isolates, but probably very few. It was more flower and extracts. However, even in the CBG-only preparations, there would still be contributions of terpenoids to the effects.
Ethan Russo, MD.
Despite these limitations, it is apparent CBG has benefits as a therapeutic cannabinoid with limited adverse reaction potential, especially compared to conventional therapy. That conclusion is not a surprise, though. CBG is safe — so it is time for more clinical trials so we can find out the optimal dose for each symptom!
Let us know in the comments if you have tried CBG cannabis and what you think of its effects. And check out this story to learn how CBG is only one-half of a cannabinoid powerhouse.
Russo, E. B., Cuttler, C., Cooper, Z. D., Stueber, A., Whiteley, V. L., & Sexton, M. (2021). Survey of Patients Employing Cannabigerol-Predominant Cannabis Preparations: Perceived Medical Effects, Adverse Events, and Withdrawal Symptoms. Cannabis and cannabinoid research, 10.1089/can.2021.0058. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1089/can.2021.0058
MacCallum, C. A., & Russo, E. B. (2018). Practical considerations in medical cannabis administration and dosing. European journal of internal medicine, 49, 12–19. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejim.2018.01.004
Russo E. B. (2011). Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects. British journal of pharmacology, 163(7), 1344–1364. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01238.x