If you think CBD has taken over our lives these past few years, you’d be right. It’s in our bathroom cabinets, our beauty drawers, and it’s even infiltrated our tampons — yes, really. But CBD is just one of the many cannabinoid compounds found in the hemp plant. In fact, there are over 100 of them. So it was only a matter of time before some other similar chemical began gaining traction in the wellness world. And it looks like that chemical is going to be cannabigerol, or CBG.
This is a “non-psychoactive cannabinoid typically most abundant in low-THC and high-CBD cannabis strains, including hemp,” according to Cresco Labs, a cannabis company. It’s like CBD in that it’s a nonintoxicating cannabinoid — meaning, no, it won’t get you high. But it’s unlike CBD in a few of the ways that it functions.
The two — often referred to as cousins — have slight chemical differences. CBD is often touted as a way to ease anxiety, improve sleep, and relieve chronic pain. Cresco Labs says that CBG works to fight pain and nausea, and it’s a potent anti-inflammatory. It can help ease irritable bowel syndrome, studies show. It may even slow the proliferation of cancer cells. One study says that CBG reduced the growth and development of colon cancer formation.
There’s more. CBG may have antibacterial properties. It’s been used to break down methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in mice, according to a study published in the American Chemical Society Infectious Diseases.
“CBG is interesting in a lot of different ways,” says Peter Grinspoon, MD, primary care physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, instructor at Harvard Medical School, and board member of the advocacy group Doctors For Cannabis Regulation.
Dr. Grinspoon tells Refinery29 that CBG has plenty of medical promise. “All of this [still] needs to be researched as it pertains to humans, but the laboratory data is very exciting,” he says, in reference to this laundry list of benefits. “We’re at the tip of the iceberg here. We have this inkling of potential and it’s just starting to be studied.”
Ultimately, he says, much more research needs to be done on the substance before anyone can recommend CBG for any particular use.
But you shouldn’t be surprised if you start to see the letters popping up more and more often. “Through development of innovative hemp genetics, CBG is becoming more widely available,” Andy Papilion, co-founder and chief product officer at Balanced Health Botanicals, tells Refinery29. “The industry is still in its infancy. Over the next several years, we’ll see a significant trend towards minor-cannabinoids,” he says. Ultimately, it’ll become easier to extract these compounds and to produce products, and consumers will start to be convinced about “the vast array of benefits that the hemp plant can provide outside of the CBD molecule alone,” he adds.
Dr. Grinspoon, however, urges caution. He says that there’s a good chance CBG will follow the same trajectory as CBD products. “With CBD, the expectations hopes and claims have drastically outpaced the actual science,” he explains. “[For CBG] there are some animal studies and laboratory studies that are very promising, but that doesn’t mean it cures cancer, kills bacteria, and cures Crohn’s disease. But people who want to make a buck can be very shameless about the claims they make.”
CBG is slowly entering the market in the same ways that CBD did — a quick Google search will bring up a few types of products available for purchase, mainly in the form of oils or salves.
But if you’re looking to try out this compound, remember that it’s not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (CBD isn’t, either). Dr. Grinspoon advises consumers to be skeptical, listen to experts, and stick with the science — even though at this point it’s still pretty limited. In the end, there isn’t much info out there about the substance and its potential side effects, so take each company’s claims with a grain of salt.
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