CBG 101: An Introduction to the Mother Cannabinoid


Greeting and salutations, I’m Damien, a writer and researcher in the American cannabis industry. We’re here because you’re interested in a beginner’s lesson on CBG, or Cannabigerol, and to gain a better understanding of what is it.

Sweet, let’s dive right in.

CBG, over the last handful of years it’s been given a variety of interesting names in the background of cannabis science and horticulture currently being dominated by THC and CBD:

  • The stem cell cannabinoid.
  • The mother cannabinoid.
  • The traffic cop of cannabinoids.

For most people, especially new partakers of cannabis products (both marijuana and hemp), the quickening pace of the industry is creating massive amounts of confusion. I’ve watched as labels of marijuana products become increasingly out of reach, far beyond what anyone who doesn’t STUDY cannabinoid science could possibly begin to wrap their heads around in any practical sense.

Here’s a streamlined label of Super Lemon Haze I bought recently in Washington State:

CBG Marijuana Example

Not too bad. It tells us, “Hey, this is a THC-dominant flower strain of marijuana.” through two cannabinoid percentages:

  • THC 21.5%
  • CBD 0.1%

Umm, folks, there’s a whole lot more going on inside that little baggie producers and advertisers can latch onto.

Market competition is causing companies to increase labeling complexity, as the grassroots spread of cannabis science (like this article) pushes public awareness/curiosity.

Take a 1g pre-roll bought from the same dispensary.

CBG Cannabigerol Example 2

Sorry if it’s too small. With this one, we’re shown:

  • CBDA 0.1%
  • THCA 23.7%
  • THC 1%
  • CBD 0%

Then in totals…

  • THC 21.78%
  • CBD 0.09%

In this moment right now, what do those letters and words mean to you? After years of exposure to the science, I’m only just now starting to ‘get it.’

A friend of mine was like,

What’s THCA, can it get you stoned?

No, not really, not until activated through heat (for example while smoking it).

That’s nothing though. I’ve seen labels showing percentages of 5 cannabinoids along with their carboxylic acid forms, 3-10 levels of different terpenes (9 out of 10 people have no clue what a terpene is, and of those who do, maybe 1 or 2 can adequately explain it beyond ‘They make plants smell the way they do!’), moisture content, plant care and grow mediums, etc.

For someone just looking to ease their anxiety, perhaps relieve pain, or address more serious health conditions, it’s confusing. Oftentimes, they’re forced to break information down into studying one single cannabinoid – for example, CBD or CBG.

Then there’s millions, and I mean MILLIONS, in cannabis marketing and sales tossed into the mix, which is only going to increase ten fold as North America becomes awash with cannabis over the next decade.

So here we are. Let’s get you up to speed.

CBGA – The Originating Phytocannabinoid

The 5 most commonly found cannabinoids in cannabis (for now) are: THC, CBD, CBN, CBG, and CBC.

A phyto, or plant-based, cannabinoid is a compound created by the cannabis sativa family of plants which includes marijuana strains as well as industrial hemp cultivars. These cannabinoids come in two forms – acidic and non-acidic or neutral.

  • Cannabinoids always begin as acidic compounds, found in raw plant material.
  • In maturing cannabis plants, two compounds combine – geranyl pyrophosphate and olivetolic acid.
  • These create the parent chemical precursor compound CBGA – Cannabigerolic Acid.
  • Next, depending on genetics, the plant exposes CBGA to enzymes, or synthase.
  • Through biosynthesis, these transform the CBGA into the other three main cannabinoid lines THCA, CBDA, and CBCA.

Finally, the acidic forms become neutral when exposed to heat, whether that be via intense UV light/radiation, through cooking for edibles, processing for tinctures and concentrates, or the flames of a Bic lighter. From here, the primary neutral cannabinoids THC and CBD, as well as secondary cannabinoids like CBG, break down into other cannabinoid compounds.

Cannabinoid Breakdown CBG

Please keep in mind, these are the basics as of mid-2018 and there are still tons of cannabinoids to be explored, researched, and unveiled for the public. In total, there are over 500 compounds discovered in the cannabis genus!

And please, PLEASE, if I get something wrong, or miss something, or there’s more depth to add here that would be helpful to the movement, share in a comment below and I’ll update the article without hesitation.

We’re all in this together!

Where CBG Comes From

From either marijuana or hemp – cannabis. Studies prove hemp provides higher concentrations of CBG, along with CBD. However, there are methods marijuana growers can use to collect CBG from a small window of opportunity within the growing stages of marijuana plants (about 6 weeks into the 8 week flowering cycle), but it makes little commercial sense.

For hemp, CBG is naturally more a part of the plant. Scientists discovered this is likely because of a recessive gene that keeps hemp from producing the synthase needed to convert more THC or other cannabinoids. Ancient hemp farmers discovered and used this gene expression to create versions of the strains we see in use today.

Of course these breeders didn’t have the scientific understandings we do, so the higher CBG concentrations were perceived as desirable traits – stronger fiber, easier to grow, less trouble with fungal invaders and pests, etc.

Is CBG Psychoactive?

No, in nature like CBD it’s antithetical to psychoactivity. Thus, the more CBD and CBG in a plant, hemp for example, the less THC there can be. Same thing with your brain – once the ratio of CBD to THC reaches a certain point, you can no longer experience the psychoactive impacts of THC in your system as CBD is making it impossible for those molecules to be absorbed into neural synapses.

And vice versa – the more THC in a plant, the less CBD or CBG can exist as a result. Although they’re doing some amazing things in super-controlled grows with marijuana these days.

Both hemp and marijuana play brilliant balancing acts, similar to how the Human Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is designed to use these same phytocannabinoids to help it maintain homeostatic balance throughout the body.

Speaking of which…

The Potential Benefits of CBG

Ladies and gentlemen, we’re neck-deep in a 21st century cannabinoid revolution. I could turn this article into a grand work of nonfiction trying to adequately cover the human ECS, along with the growing body of clinical evidence explaining what it can do for a HUGE list of health conditions.

I’ll spare that discussion for another time. Here are the generalities currently circulating based on limited research.

  • CBG has shown promise as a modest antifungal agent, killing/slowing bacterial growth.
  • Because of its ability to inhibit keratinocyte proliferation, higher CBG concentrations in full-spectrum hemp extracts could be useful in the treatment of psoriasis.
  • When combined with other cannabinoids, as well as cannabis terpenes like i-limonene (smells like lemons; citrus), CBG has demonstrated great results with breast cancer, among other types.

A great quote from Leafly’s article on the Benefits of CBG:

CBG is showing great promise as a cancer fighter. Specifically, CBG was shown to block receptors that cause cancer cell growth. In one such study, it was shown to inhibit the growth of colorectal cancer cells in mice, thereby slowing colon cancer growth. CBG inhibited tumors and chemically-induced colon carcinogenesis, therefore demonstrating a very exciting possibility for a cure for colorectal cancer.

  • In terms of single-cannabinoid concentrations, or even crystalline forms, CBG and CBD can both be powerful MRSA inhibitors. CBG also seems to inhibit muscle contractions, for example around the bladder.
  • Anti-inflammatory of course like most cannabinoids; analgesic (pain relief); antidepressant; anti-anxiety thanks to the modulation of a2-adrenergic receptor.
  • There’s some evidence CBG is partly responsible for bone stimulation.

A quote from What is CBG (Cannabigerol)?, from Leaf Science:

In a 2007 study, the effects of CBG and other cannabinoids on bone marrow cultures were investigated. The results showed they could stimulate bone marrow stem cells indirectly through the CB2 receptor. This suggests that CBG and other cannabinoids may help with the healing of bone fractures by promoting new bone growth and formation.

Let’s leave it there. As always, you’re heavily encouraged to continue your study of not only CBG and the human ECS, but cannabinoid science in general.

Is CBG Safe?

Ingesting cannabis in any way, to me, is nothing but simple herbal supplementation. As such, you should approach cannabis as you would pretty much any other herb in nature with well-established therapeutic applications.

After you’ve done your homework and know you’re getting a quality concentrate or essential oil, and consulted your physician or doctor if you have one, start small. Right now high-CBG products might be hard to find, as it’s only recently gotten on the more mainstream cannabis radar.

That said, so far the only toxic level of CBG I’ve heard of is utterly ridiculous – similar to having to smoke a field of hemp just to get a headache. Not something to worry about unless you plan on guzzling concentrate or finding some insane dosage I’m not sure is available.

Wrapping Up: We’ve Only Just Begun

CBG is showing tons of promise and potential, like every other cannabinoid and cannabis terpene, as well as the near-infinite variability of cannabis ‘entourage effects” we can create these days. Thanks so much for your time, and again, if there’s something you think should be added to this article, let us know in a comment below.

If you’re looking to purchase CBG, be sure to check the HempforFitness Shop as they strive to be on the cutting edge of the industry.