The body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) regulates a wide range of physiological processes such as mood, appetite, pain sensation, and inflammation. Various cannabinoids found in the hemp plant interact with the ECS and offer both distinct and overlapping activities.
In this blog, we’ll explore similarities and differences between cannabigerol (CBG) and cannabidiol (CBD)—in their chemical structures, effects on the body, and potential health benefits.
Chemical Structure and Effects on the Body
CBG (found in low concentrations) and CBD (the most abundant cannabinoid) in the hemp plant are both derived from CBGa, the “Mother of all Cannabinoids,” and have similar molecular makeups. However, they differ in their chemical structure, thus explaining their unique activities and applications.
CBD has a low affinity for and does not bind to activate the body’s cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2, but rather indirectly antagonizes them. Additionally, CBD can indirectly activate the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor, which has an effect on mood and emotional states [1,2].
On the other hand, CBG does bind to activate the CB1 receptors in the nervous system and CB2 receptors in the immune system . CBG also acts as an agonist for the alpha-2 adrenergic receptor, which plays a role in regulating blood pressure, heart rate, and stress response [2,4].
These distinct activities enable CBG to have some differing and complementary effects on the body compared to those of CBD.
Potential Health Benefits of CBG
While the therapeutic effects of CBD have been under study for decades, CBG initially had limited research interest. Recent advancements have sparked renewed interest in the potential therapeutic benefits of minor cannabinoids, and as a result, there has been a growing body of research on CBG over the past few years. Research findings point toward CBG’s range of important benefits and properties throughout the body:
- Pain-relieving properties: CBG and its constituents (CBGa) inhibit COX-1/2 enzyme activity and exhibit strong activation of TRP-vanilloid receptors, which regulate sensation and pain [5,6].
- Anti-inflammatory properties: CBG may be useful for joint and muscle soreness, inflammatory bowel issues and more [2,7,8].
- Neuro-protective properties: CBG may help protect the brain and nervous system from damage [2,9,10].
- Anti-bacterial properties: CBG may be useful for aiding with bacterial challenges [2,11].
- Appetite-stimulating properties: CBG may be useful for individuals with a loss of appetite . CBG may be a good non-intoxicating alternative for those who prefer not to take a THC product for appetite stimulation.
- Skin health support: While both CBG and CBD have shown to modulate several key genes for skin aging, hydration, and inflammation, CBG selectively targets more skin genes than CBD, such as collagen, elastin and hydration [7,13,14]. Read a blog about how CBG can be used topically to support clear skin, dermatitis and more.
- Mood-enhancing properties: CBG’s activity is thought to be much like that of anandamide. Anandamide is also called the “bliss molecule” for its role in enhancing pleasure and happiness .
Which to use? Both!
CBG and CBD have multiple overlapping applications, such as for pain and inflammation, yet each has numerous unique effects on the body as well. When combining CBG and CBD, studies suggest there is an entourage effect, and they work together synergistically to produce greater benefits than as single compounds.
Research suggests that when CBG and CBD are used together, they may have a more powerful anti-inflammatory effect than either compound alone. [15,16,17] A study published in the Journal of Medicina (Kaunas) found that a combination of CBG and CBD had a stronger anti-inflammatory effect than either compound alone in a cell model of neuro-inflammation.
Additionally, some research suggests that CBG and CBD may have complementary effects. For example, a published study found that a combination of CBG and CBD was more effective than either compound alone in protecting against neuronal degradation in a mouse model.
While early evidence is promising, it is important to note that more research is needed to fully understand the potential health effects of CBG.
To learn about pharmacological activity and clinical applications of CBG and other Minor & Acidic Cannabinoids, register for ECS Academy to access to our On-Demand Recording: The Next Frontier in Hemp
1. Resstel, L. B. M., Tavares, R. F., Lisboa, S. F. S., Joca, S. R. L., Corrêa, F. M. A., & Guimarães, F. S. (2009). 5-HT1areceptors are involved in the cannabidiol-induced attenuation of behavioural and cardiovascular responses to acute restraint stress in rats. British Journal of Pharmacology, 156(1), 181–188.
2. Nachnani, R., Raup-Konsavage, W. M., & Vrana, K. E. (2020). The pharmacological case for Cannabigerol. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, 376(2), 204–212.
3. Navarro G, Varani K, Reyes-Resina I, Sánchez de Medina V, Rivas-Santisteban R, Sánchez-Carnerero Callado C, Vincenzi F, Casano S, Ferreiro-Vera C, Canela EI, Borea PA, Nadal X, Franco R. Cannabigerol Action at Cannabinoid CB1 and CB2 Receptors and at CB1-CB2 Heteroreceptor Complexes. Front Pharmacol. 2018 Jun 21;9:632.
4. Cascio, M. G., Gauson, L. A., Stevenson, L. A., Ross, R. A., & Pertwee, R. G. (2009). Evidence that the plant cannabinoid cannabigerol is a highly potent α2-adrenoceptor agonist and moderately potent 5HT1A receptor antagonist. British Journal of Pharmacology, 159(1), 129–141.
5. Ruhaak, L. R., Felth, J., Karlsson, P. C., Rafter, J. J., Verpoorte, R., & Bohlin, L. (2011). Evaluation of the cyclooxygenase inhibiting effects of six major cannabinoids isolated from Cannabis Sativa. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, 34(5), 774–778.
6. Muller, C., Morales, P., & Reggio, P. H. (2019). Cannabinoid ligands targeting TRP channels. Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, 11.
7. Perez, E., Fernandez, J. R., Fitzgerald, C., Rouzard, K., Tamura, M., & Savile, C. (2022). In vitro and clinical evaluation of Cannabigerol (CBG) produced via yeast biosynthesis: A cannabinoid with a broad range of anti-inflammatory and skin health-boosting properties. Molecules, 27(2), 491.
8. Borrelli, F., Fasolino, I., Romano, B., Capasso, R., Maiello, F., Coppola, D., Orlando, P., Battista, G., Pagano, E., Di Marzo, V., & Izzo, A. A. (2013). Beneficial effect of the non-psychotropic plant cannabinoid cannabigerol on experimental inflammatory bowel disease. Biochemical Pharmacology, 85(9), 1306–1316.
9. Valdeolivas, S., Navarrete, C., Cantarero, I., Bellido, M. L., Muñoz, E., & Sagredo, O. (2014). Neuroprotective properties of Cannabigerol in Huntington’s disease: Studies in R6/2 mice and 3-nitropropionate-lesioned mice. Neurotherapeutics, 12(1), 185–199.
10. Calapai, F., Cardia, L., Esposito, E., Ammendolia, I., Mondello, C., Lo Giudice, R., Gangemi, S., Calapai, G., & Mannucci, C. (2022). Pharmacological aspects and biological effects of Cannabigerol and its synthetic derivatives. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2022, 1–14.
11. Aqawi, M., Sionov, R. V., Gallily, R., Friedman, M., & Steinberg, D. (2021). Anti-bacterial properties of Cannabigerol toward streptococcus mutans. Frontiers in Microbiology, 12.
12. Brierley, D. I., Samuels, J., Duncan, M., Whalley, B. J., & Williams, C. M. (2016). Cannabigerol is a novel, well-tolerated appetite stimulant in pre-satiated rats. Psychopharmacology, 233(19-20), 3603–3613.
13. Luz-Veiga, M., Amorim, M., Pinto-Ribeiro, I., Oliveira, A. L., Silva, S., Pimentel, L. L., Rodríguez-Alcalá, L. M., Madureira, R., Pintado, M., Azevedo-Silva, J., & Fernandes, J. (2023). Cannabidiol and cannabigerol exert antimicrobial activity without compromising skin microbiota. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 24(3), 2389.
14. Zagórska-Dziok, M., Bujak, T., Ziemlewska, A., & Nizio?-?ukaszewska, Z. (2021). Positive effect of cannabis sativa L. Herb extracts on skin cells and assessment of cannabinoid-based Hydrogels Properties. Molecules, 26(4), 802.
15. Russo, E. B. (2019). The case for the entourage effect and conventional breeding of clinical cannabis: No “strain,” no gain. Frontiers in Plant Science, 9.
17. Mammana, S., Cavalli, E., Gugliandolo, A., Silvestro, S., Pollastro, F., Bramanti, P., & Mazzon, E. (2019). Could the combination of two non-psychotropic cannabinoids counteract neuroinflammation? effectiveness of cannabidiol associated with Cannabigerol. Medicina, 55(11), 747.