Recently, the lesser-known cannabinoid has gained a foothold in the marketplace as companies such as Avicanna Inc. continue to propel research into the compound’s therapeutic promise.
“We are confident about the prospects of CBG as an active ingredient in our consumer product lines and also its potential in our drug development platforms in isolation and in synergy with other cannabinoids. Our research teams around the world are already incorporating CBG into several oral and topical formulations and are in parallel conducting in vitro and in vivo studies to better understand its potential and efficacy for specific indications”, stated Dr. Justin Grant, Avicanna’s Executive Vice President of Scientific Affairs.
What is CBG?
CBG is often likened to the more familiar CBD, and at the surface level, they do appear to have similar properties. Both have been seen to exhibit promising anti-inflammatory properties, fight pain, and combat nausea.
In addition, early investigations of CBG have also demonstrated the compound’s potential as an anti-bacterial agent, capable of tackling drug-resistant superbugs like MRSA. Other interesting early studies have shown CBG to inhibit tumour growth in cell models of colorectal cancer, and to treat glaucoma through reducing intraocular pressure.
Unlike CBD, which has a relatively weak affinity for the body’s cannabinoid receptors, CBG is thought to elicit most of its therapeutic effects through a stronger, direct interaction with these endocannabinoid receptors. In this way, CBG is thought to be able to buffer some of the psychoactive effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), as the intoxicating compound would ordinarily act through its own interaction with these receptors without much competition.
The modern hemp consumer
Buoyed by this raft of beneficial potential effects, CBG-containing products and CBD:CBG oils are quickly gaining momentum in the consumer marketplace as a popular general wellness product. But so far, high production costs have limited the growth of this market and the ability of producers to meet public demand.
There are multiple facets to this problem of production costs, but one of the most prominent has been the natural genetics and biology of the cannabis and hemp plant.
All of the major cannabinoids present in cannabis and hemp develop from a single compound — cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), the acidic precursor to CBG. As the hemp plant matures, this CBGA is converted by the plant’s enzymes into some ratio of the major cannabinoid precursor compounds — tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), cannabichromenic acid (CBCA), and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) — and from there it is broken down further into all of the major and minor cannabinoids present in the plant strain.
The CBG present in any given strain is produced from CBGA andis not converted into any other cannabinoid even following human consumption. After years of breeding these plants to match consumer demand for higher amounts of THC or CBD levels, most strains are now only capable of delivering around 1% CBG by weight. This dramatically increases the amount of hemp biomass needed to create any amount of CBG isolate, as compared to CBD extracts.
High CBG strains for the 2020 harvest
The longer the hemp strain is left to mature, the greater the chance that the CBG precursor will be converted into other cannabinoids. Ahead of the summer planting season, this would normally leave hemp farmers struggling with a difficult choice to optimize their CBG production: either devote their crop entirely to CBG and harvest the masses needed before this conversion completes or allow the plants to fully mature and have a lower CBG content available for extraction.
Now, innovative breeding techniques have allowed for strains to be optimised to contain large yields of CBG, and other valuable cannabinoids that would normally be present in only very small quantities. Firms such as American Hempseed have brought to market an offering of certified feminized hemp seeds that can contain up to 15% CBG while still containing low enough THC levels to be compliant within the global marketplace.
“Farmers, manufacturers and soon consumers will have access to CBG products in a very similar way CBD products have become a global super ingredient thanks to our genetics that express previously unimaginable expression of CBG.” – Stewart Mathews from American Hempseed.
Despite the global coronavirus pandemic causing widespread uncertainty across many important consumer markets, the demand for cannabis and cannabinoid products largely remains unshaken. This continued interest will come as a relief to many cultivators as the 2020 planting season approaches.
With high-CBG hemp seed presenting a realistic avenue for growers, these cultivars are carving out a new space in the cannabis market in which access to exciting cannabinoids has never been easier.