cbg clone seedling in soil

CBD vs CBG: The Differences

4 minute read

You can’t avoid the ubiquity of CBD these days. CBD is not only dominating the wellness space, but it shows up in negroni cocktails, sprinkled on chefs’ gourmet dishes, or in your pet’s favorite treat. With that in mind, it’s hard to believe that another three little letters are beginning to steal the spotlight. CBG, or cannabigerol, was the first cannabinoid (other than CBD and THC) to attract attention, and consumers are wondering what’s the deal… is one better than the other?

The Mother Cannabinoid

What Is CBG?

CBG is referred to as “the mother cannabinoid” because it births all other cannabinoids. All cannabinoids start as CBGa before they break down into THCa, CBDa, CBCa. Eventually, these acidic forms turn into THC, CBD, CBC, etc.,  when exposed to heat or ultraviolet light.

Because CBGa converts into all these other cannabinoids, fully mature plants only contain low concentrations of CBGa.  Adult hemp plants consist of only about 1 percent CBG as opposed to 20 percent CBD. It’s the main reason CBG isn’t as widely known or as readily abundant as CBD.

how cbg breaks down to cbd and thc

Other differences

CBD vs CBG

CBG and CBD parallel in many ways, but each is thought to possess nuanced characteristics as well. Both cannabinoids are non-psychoactive, unlike THC, and they both interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system. The ECS is a recently-discovered cell-signaling system located throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems. It consists of endocannabinoids, receptors the cannabinoids bind to, and enzymes that break the cannabinoids down to elicit a bodily response. Just like how a caffeinated cup of coffee boosts focus or a sugary cupcake can create a happy feeling in the brain,  each endocannabinoid creates its own response in the ECS.

Though it is not fully understood, it is believed that the ECS plays a role in regulating sleep, mood, memory, appetite, and reproduction. Both CBD and CBG interact with the receptors CB1 and CB2 and are thought to be anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and have the potential to balance mood and anxiety. However, CBG and CBD have slightly different molecular structures that may result in different behavior. A major difference in CBD vs CBG boils down to the amount of research at our disposal. From the available studies, we know that CBG offers potential uses that slightly differ from CBD, such as treating Inflammatory Bowel Disease and glaucoma.

What we know so far

CBG Studies

Here is a list of what we know so far in the research realm of CBG. 

  • In mice experiments, CBG was studied toscientist inspects hemp plants in field explore its potential to treat inflammatory bowel disease and showed promising results. 
  • A 2015 study found CBG protects neurons in mice with Huntington’s disease, a nerve cell degeneration brain disorder.
  • CBG inhibited growth of colorectal cancer cells in mice as well. According to this study, CBG slowed down tumors and chemically-induced colon carcinogenesis.
  • European research showed evidence that CBG is an effective antibacterial agent, particularly against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) microbial strains resistant to several classes of drugs. Since the 1950s, topical formulations of cannabis have been effective in skin infections, but researchers at the time were unaware of the plant’s chemical composition.
  • In a recent 2017 study in rats, researchers found a form of CBG as a useful appetite stimulant, without the intoxicating effects of THC. This may lead to a novel non-psychotropic therapeutic option for cachexia, muscle wasting and severe weight loss seen in late stage cancer and other diseases.
  • In a study that looked at the effects of five different cannabinoids on bladder contractions, CBG tested best at inhibiting muscle shrinking, so it may be a future tool in preventing bladder dysfunction disorders.
  • CBG has also shown to reduce pressure in the eyes caused by glaucoma
Cannabinoid price differences

Why is CBG More Expensive?

The most obvious difference consumers may notice is the price tag. CBG is significantly more expensive than CBD.  In the hemp industry, raw plant material is used to extract CBD and all other cannabinoids. Large quantities of hemp are dissolved in a liquid, such as carbon dioxide, to retrieve the compounds. And producers need tons of biomass for very little extract. 

As mentioned, CBD is the most abundant hemp compound, around 20 percent of plant’s composition compared to less than 1 percent of CBG. That means cultivators need 20 times the biomass to extract the same amount of CBG as a typical CBD yield. 

Young plants contain a little bit more CBG than adults, around 5 percent. (Remember that an acidic form of cannabigerol is the starting place for all other plant compounds, so there is more CBGa when the plant is in its early stages.) So utilizing young plants results in a higher CBG yield, but not much more. This puts cultivators in a pickle. Harvesting young hemp plants to justify extracting a moderate amount of CBG sacrifices other potential compounds, and more of them, so most choose not to.

The large amount of plant material needed to extract CBG is handed down to the consumer, yet interest is growing, so basic supply-demand economics is also adding to the price. As a workaround, many companies add CBG extract to other CBD products. Meaning they blend oils from multiple plants. Though rare, a few companies work with farmers who developed high-potency CBG hemp strains (ahem, ahem… Extract Labs). This allows them to provide full spectrum CBG products at a more reasonable price. 

Why choose CBG?

Is CBG Better than CBD?

Knowing the similarities between CBD and CBG, you may be wondering if it is worth the extra cost. The jury is still out on the CBD vs CBG debate, but what we do know about CBG is very promising. Many people who have experimented with the mother cannabinoid reported to reap its benefits. Those who have not had success with CBD may have better results with CBG.

If you are in a position to experiment with a more expensive extraction, then it is worth trying out CBG to experience its effects for yourself. 

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