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    by Sebastiano Battaglia December 22, 2023 12 min read

    Among all the cannabinoids, while CBD and THC are the most famous, CBG (or cannabigerol) is a lesser known, yet powerful, member of the family. I discovered it about a year ago after reading about terpenes, and I was very surprised by how well and calm I felt after taking it. However, in the CBG vs CBD duel, there is a lot of information to digest.

    Despite their shared origins from the cannabis plant, these two cannabinoids have different properties and play differently with your body—each offering distinct potential benefits. Let's see what sets them apart and why they could be key for your health regime. 

     

    TL;DR

      • CBG and CBD are both from hemp, but they don't make you high. They can interact with cannabinoid receptors, CBG is less common and might help with pain, feeling calm, eating more, and protecting brain cells.
      • While they have different structures, they have similar functions. They can be good for things like swelling, mood, and fighting cancer cells without fogging up your mind.
      • Pets can use CBG and CBD too! They may get more active or feel hungrier with CBG. Always ask a vet before giving these to animals to make sure it's safe

     

    Aspect CBG (Cannabigerol) CBD (Cannabidiol)
    Origin Derived from hemp plants, often referred to as the "mother of all cannabinoids." Also derived from hemp plants, known for its widespread use and availability.
    Psychoactive Effects Non-psychoactive, does not produce a "high." Offers a feeling of happiness and calm. Non-psychoactive, does not change mental state significantly.
    Potential Benefits Known for potential anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective effects, and stimulating appetite. Known for anxiolytic, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic effects.
    Interaction with ECS Attaches to both CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors in the brain, potentially influencing pain and mood. Interacts with the endocannabinoid system, but in a different manner compared to CBG.
    Use in Pets Can make pets more alert and active, and increase their appetite. Often used for its calming effects and to improve sleep quality in pets.
    Side Effects Generally safe, but some may experience dry mouth, blood pressure changes, or dizziness. Generally considered safe, with possible side effects like dry mouth, changes in appetite, and gastrointestinal issues.
    Applications in Oncology Shown in studies to target key elements of cancer cells, particularly in glioblastoma. Also studied for its effects on cancer cells and potential to alleviate chemotherapy-induced cachexia.
    Effect on Sleep and Anxiety Anecdotal claims suggest potential benefits for sleep patterns and anxiety, but more research is needed. Known for its anxiolytic benefits and support in improving sleep quality.
    Chemical Structure Similar molecular formula to CBD but with a different arrangement, impacting interaction with the body. Shares a molecular formula with CBG but differs in structure, influencing its unique effects.

     

    What are CBG and CBD?

    A field of blooming hemp plants in a peaceful countryside environment under a clear blue sky.

    When you hear "CBG" and "CBD," do you wonder what sets these form of cannabinoids apart from each other? Originating from the cannabis plant, CBG stands for cannabigerol and CBD is the short for cannabidiol.

     

    Where do they come from?

       

     

    CBG and CBD both come from the hemp plant. This plant has many chemicals in it each one with unique properties, and these two are types called cannabinoids. Farmers grow special kinds of cannabis to get more CBG or CBD from them. 

    Certain strains of hemp are known to contain higher levels of CBG. These include:

    1. White CBG: This particular strain is high in CBG, with concentrations reaching up to 20% and less than 1% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). White CBG has light and fluffy buds, which take on an almost white appearance due to dense trichome coverage. Despite its high CBG content, White CBG is still a hemp strain, which means it contains less than 0.3% THC as required by law. 

    2. Stem Cell CBG: This variety also has a high CBG content and is particularly renowned for thestem cell structure of the seeds, which results in females only. This strain is unique due to its “stem cell structure,” which essentially means the seeds will only produce female plants. In cannabis and hemp cultivation, female plants are highly preferred as they produce the buds which contain the highest concentrations of cannabinoids. Therefore, having a strain that guarantees female-only plants can be extremely beneficial for growers

    3. Super Glue CBG: This is another strain known for its high CBG content. Super Glue CBG is a hybrid strain, created from a cross between Afghani and Northern Lights. It is called super glue because it can make you feel physically glued to your couch or chair. It is highly potent, with a THC:CBD ratio that can reach up to 1:1. In appearance, Super Glue CBG is heavily frosted with icy trichomes that make it look almost white. The buds themselves are a rich, pungent earthy green and are generally heavily covered with crystalline trichomes. You'll usually notice an aroma that is slightly sweet and sour, underlined by a crisp, earthy pine scent. The effects of Super Glue CBG can be powerful, so rookies should proceed with caution. Typically, this strain will provide an immediate mood boost, and can lend itself to social situations. For growers, Super Glue CBG is a favorite for its high returns and relative ease of cultivation. Its high CBG content makes it a worthy investment for those looking to maximize their cannabinoid yields. 

    4. White Widow: White Widow is also a form of CBG rich plant that boasts a unique cannabinoid profile. It is a famous cannabis strain, known for its potent effects and crystalline, white resin coating that gives it its name. This strain has an international background, with its roots lying in both Brazil and India. 

    Typically, people know a lot about CBD because there are many products on the market. However, cannabigerol, or CBG, is not as common. And that's what we call a minor cannabinoid. To make more CBG, growers extract CBG from plants at an early stage of growth because the levels of CBG are typically higher before it gets converted into other cannabinoids as the plant matures.

     

    Are they going to make you high?

     

     

    CBG and CBD come from the same plant, they have some properties that are similar and they won't make you feel high. They lack the strong effects that THC, another compound from the same plant, has. THC is what usually causes people to feel high.

    • CBD is known for having no psychoactive effects at all. This means it does not change how you think or feel in a big way. People use CBD oil and other CBD products mostly to help with things like pain or stress, without getting their mind foggy.
    • CBG offers a little feeling of happiness and calm, but it's nothing like being high. CBG oil and CBG isolate can be helpful too, just like CBD. Both are safe to use every day if you want to try them for their benefits without worrying about feeling funny or off-balance.

     

    Can you use CBD and CBG in pets?

    A dog and cat happily playing in a backyard garden surrounded by flowers and greenery.

    Certainly! Many pet parents are exploring the potential therapeutic benefits of these cannabinoids for their pets' health. Is there a difference between CBG vs CBD for pets, or do they affect dogs and cats the same way they do humans? Similar to humans, animals have an endocannabinoid system which interacts with cannabinoids like CBG, THC and CBD, to mention a few.

    Will CBG make your pet sleepy or hungry?

    Currently, available studies suggest individual reactions can vary, just like in people. While some report mild sedation in their pets, CBG may also increase their appetite, as it was reported in a research study on CBG. But let's explore the science behind CBG.

    The properties and science of CBG in dogs and cats

    CBG vs CBD for pets dog and cat

     

    CBG in dogs and cats is a new area of scientific research, and not many peer reviewed publications are available. Yet, the interest is growing due to the democratization of the CBD industry. This helps to evaluate the potential applications of CBG as relief for conditions that impact dogs and cats. It also helps educate pet owners about the potential benefits of using cannabinoids for pets.

    Will CBG make my pet sleepy?

    They see that CBG might keep your pet more awake. Unlike CBD that can have sedating effects, CBG works differently and could actually make them feel more alert and active. This makes it helpful for older pets that may need a little extra energy during the day. Yet, there are no blinded clinical trials that look specifically at this, so scientists do not fully agree on whether CBG acts as a stimulant for the central nervous system.

    Will CBG make my pet hungry?

    CBG does something special: it helps pets feel more hungry. This could be really great news if you have an animal friend who doesn't want to eat much. 

    A study published in Psychopharmacology investigated the use of CBG to stimulate appetite in rats. Animals received doses ranging from 30 to 240 mg of CBG per kg of body weight, and their hourly intake and meal pattern data were recorded over a period of 2 hours. CBG administered at doses of 120–240 mg/kg doubled the total food intake and increased the number of meals consumed, without any significant increase in the sizes or durations of individual meals. More specifically, a dose of 240 mg/kg was enough to reduce the time it took for the rats to start feeding (aka, latency).

    administration of CBG at 120–240 mg/kg elicits hyperphagia even under conditions designed to minimise food intake. This dose-dependent hyperphagia was primarily driven by stimulation of behaviours during the appetitive phase, causing animals to begin feeding sooner and eat more meals, resulting in greater overall food intake during the test period.(Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2016; 233(19): 3603–3613.)

    Overall, this means that when pets take CBG oil, they might start to feel their tummy rumble and search for food. It just supports a normal appetite, not an impulsive and excessive eating habit,which is important for their health. 

     

    Similarities and Differences Between CBG and CBD

    Do these compounds look alike? Not quite, their chemical structures have subtle yet significant differences that impact how they interact with your body. Interestingly, as you will see, what stands out when comparing these two molecules is not just what sets them apart, but also how they could complement each other.

    Chemical structure

    CBG and CBD are both non-psychoactive and have a lot alike, but their chemical structures are not the same. Think of them as cousins rather than twins. Both come from the cannabis plant and share a similar molecular formula: C21H32O2. This means they both have 21 carbon atoms, 32 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms.

    But here's where it gets interesting: even with these similarities in their formulas, their structure is different. Looking at how the molecules are arranged in the 2D structures of CBD and CBG, you can notice how they differ, suggesting that the way in which they interact with your body is also different.

    cbg vs cbd cannabidiol cannabigerol structure

    Origins of CBG and derived cannabinoids

    CBG also comes from hemp plants, and it is often referred to as the "mother of all cannabinoids". That's because its acid form, CBGA, is the precursor molecule for the most abundant cannabinoid. Looking at research, it starts from olivetolic acid and geranyl-pyrophosphate that combine to form cannabigerolic acid (CBGA). CBGA then converts to create cannabigerol (CBG), Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (Δ9-THCA), or cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), with THCA and CBDA leading to the formation of Δ9-THC, and CBD upon decarboxylation.

    CBGA serves as the precursor to most other cannabinoids and is converted to Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (Δ9-THCA), cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), and cannabichromenic acid (Fig. 1). Because CBGA serves as the precursory molecule to the other cannabinoids, it is normally found in very low quantities in Cannabis; however, strains with reduced activity of the three major synthesis enzymes can accumulate higher levels of CBGA (Fellermeier and Zenk, 1998; Fellermeier et al., 2001).

    Translated in English, it means that they all have the same origins. The common hub is cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), from there, three main branches break off and become CBG, THC, CBN, or is converted into CBD. See the image below for a better visual overview of this process. 

     CBD vs CBG pathway

    Potential Benefits of CBG and CBD

    CBG and CBD each have powerful ways they help your body. CBG is known for its potential anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects. It attaches to both the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors in your brain, which might be why it fights pain, as reported already a few decades ago in a research study published in the journal Inflammation(Inflammation. 1988 Aug;12(4):361-71).

    Anti-Inflammatory and Neuroprotective effects

    CBG and CBD both have special powers when it comes to fighting inflammation. CBD has analgesic, anti-inflammatory and calming effects, not too different from the benefits of CBG. 

    When it comes to their proprieties on neurons, they can helpprotect nerves from damage. This is great for keeping your brain healthy, especially if someone has diseases that are caused by an increase in neuronal inflammation or cell death, like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). A research paper published in 2019 by an Italian team of scientists investigated the beneficial effect of a therapy combining the two molecules. This study found CBG and CBD to have a potent anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective role when combined.

    the combination treatment prevented the activation and translocation of NF-kB, thereby inhibiting the inflammatory response with a TNF-α reduction and the enhancement of anti-inflammatory cytokines IL-10 and IL-37. The benefits shared by CBD and CBG are enhanced when they are combined (Medicina 2019, 55(11), 747)

    Please remember that while this study is exciting and shows that cannabinoids offer potential therapeutic benefits, none of these molecules are approved by the food and drug administration (FDA) to treat patients. 

    Potential applications of cannabinoids in oncology

    This next section is very intriguing, but, as a research scientist, I want to approach it with caution and reiterate that these are not studies in patients. Rather, they present results on the molecular mechanisms of CBD and CBG. We present them for educational purposes, they don't represent any treatment advice.

    That said, there are studies showing that CBG and CBD can target key elements of cancer cells. A study published in 2021 evaluated whether treating cancer cells from glioblastoma, or GB (a bad brain cancer) with CBD and CBG can slow them down or kill them. Results indicate that it can, and they believe it's because some targets of CBD and CBG are expressed also in cancer cells.

    This is the first report to demonstrate that the non-intoxicating cannabinoid CBG alone and in combination with CBD efficiently targets two key elements that otherwise prevent the successful treatment of GB patients with current therapeutics: Firstly, to overcome GSC resistance to cytotoxic agents and to induce apoptosis, and secondly, to inhibit GB cell invasion. (Cells. 2021 Feb; 10(2): 340)

    Another important aspect of cancer treatment is that patients who receive chemotherapy often get very sick because of how tough chemo is on the body. A paper published in 2019 in the Journal of Cachexia Sarcopenia and Muscle proposed that CBG helps with fighting cachexia caused by cisplatin treatment. Cachexia is a dangerous metabolic syndrome associated with atrophy of the muscles, resulting in weight loss. It's commonly seen in patients with cancer, chronic kidney disease, heart failure, and other chronic illnesses. Cisplatin is a chemotherapy medication used to treat various forms of cancer, but like many drugs, it can have side effects, including cachexia.

    The data presented here demonstrate that CBG (at 120 mg/kg, b.i.d.) has protective effects against multiple components of chemotherapy‐induced cachexia pathophysiology, including anorexia, weight loss, muscle atrophy, and metabolic dysregulation. (J Cachexia Sarcopenia Muscle. 2019 Aug; 10(4): 844–859)

     

    Benefits of CBD and CBG for anxiety and stress

     

     

    Feeling anxious or stressed? While CBD has known anxiolytic benefits, the scientific literature on CBG is still not fully developed. There is a scientific review published in 2021 about patients that consumed products that contained higher CBG over other cannabinoids, and self-reported outcome relative to various physical and behavioral conditions. Overall, they reported benefits over anxiety, stress, and pain. But in this case, the direct causal effect cannot be proven. 

    Efficacy was highly rated, with the majority reporting their conditions were “very much improved” or “much improved” by CBG. Furthermore, 73.9% claimed superiority of CBG-predominant cannabis over conventional medicines for chronic pain, 80% for depression, 73% for insomnia, and 78.3% for anxiety. (Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2022 Oct;7(5):706-716). 

    Improvement of sleep

    Getting a good night's rest can be tough, but CBD may help support restful nights of sleep. For those with sleep issues like me (I have sleep apnea), CBD has shown promise in improving the quality of sleep, and it is often compared to the effects of melatonin. 

    Just like the reports on anxiety, the role of CBG could help promote a better sleep pattern or help with sleep issues, but information is largely based on anecdotal claims and preliminary data. However, more rigorous scientific studies are needed to confirm these effects.

     

    CBG vs CBD, Comparing Side Effects

    When we talk about introducing anything new in your life, it's wise to weigh up the pros and the cons—CBG and CBD are no exceptions, and the benefits of CBG vs CBD also come with their warnings.

    Potential side effects of CBD versus CBG

    Similarly to other supplements or medicine you might take, either compound can have side effects. They are both mostly safe, but some people might get a dry mouth,or feel their blood pressure drop or feel a little dizzy, some experience upset stomach. It doesn't happen often and doesn't last long if it does happen.

     

    Conclusion

    You learned a lot today. You now know they come from the same plant but do different things. Both have their special benefits for your body and mind

    Both CBD or CBG products are used in studies to better understand their potential role in the health of humans and pets. CBD is commonly used for anxiety, inflammation and pain, while CBG has shown potentials as an appetite stimulating compound as well as an anti-inflammatory aid. 

    This wealth of information makes CBG a very intriguing and interesting compound, with the potential of helping pets and pet parents in their wellness journey.

    FAQs

    1. Do CBG and CBD come from the cannabis plant?

    The key difference between CBG and CBD is that CBG is frequently called the "parent" or precursor because it exists before CBD in the plant's growth cycle, with unique potential benefits.

    2. Is CBG better than CBD?

    Some suggest that CBG may offer different benefits compared to CBD, making it a better choice for certain people. Yet, there are several overlapping, but this can depend on each person's needs.

    3. Do CBG and CBD interact?

    CBG and CBD interact together in full-spectrum products to enhance each other’s effects; this is sometimes referred to as the entourage effect.

    4. Is it true that CBG is the precursor for CBD?

    Yes and no, cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) is the actual precursor of CBG, THC, and CBD. CBG itself comes from CBGA, so once you have CBG you cannot get CBD back, metabolically speaking.

    5. Are CBG oil and CBD oil the same thing?

    No, they are not, they contain different compounds from the hemp plant.

    6. Should I take CBG or CBD if I'm new to all these hemp stuffs?

    If you're new to exploring cannabinoids like CBG or CBD, start by learning the similarities and differences, think about how they apply to your health goals, and then make sure to pick high quality hemp-derived products.

    Sebastiano Battaglia
    Sebastiano Battaglia

    Seb has been a research scientist for the past two decades and is the founder and owner of My Blissful Pet. Seb grew up with cats and dogs and married his passion for science and animals with My Blissful Pet by wanting to help dogs and cats live healthier lives.

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