Since the passing of the Farm Bill in 2018, the hemp industry has exploded, turning this historic and versatile plant into one of the most lucrative crops in North America. Of all the 100+ cannabinoids that hemp plants produce, cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabigerol (CBG) are two of the best-known, the most sought-after and, if recent studies are to be believed, the most beneficial.
That said, how do these two cannabinoids differ, should you use CBG or CBD, what are the benefits, and what sort of products can you buy?
How do CBG and CBD Work?
CBD is classed as a major cannabinoid, along with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is responsible for the "high" that people feel when consuming cannabis. CBG is classed as a minor cannabinoid, along with cannabichromene (CBC), cannabinol (CBN), and cannabinodiol (CBDL).
These compounds interact with the endocannabinoid system, which is connected to other parts and processes of the human body. They attach to cells containing CB1 and CB2 receptors and, depending on where they bind, they will produce a number of different effects.
These receptors are predominately found in the brain but also form part of the central nervous system and immune system.
When you consume hemp or cannabis, you'll ingest all of these cannabinoids, but they are also extracted into pure forms. With CBD oil, for instance, you get all, or mostly, CBD, thus allowing you to avoid the effects of THC.
Psychoactive Effects and Side Effects
Different cannabinoids present with different psychoactive effects. CBD and CBG are very mild and often said to be psychoactive, although they only produce very mild sensations. The placebo effect may also come into play, especially for those who have very little experience with mind-altering drugs and with cannabis in general.
Side effects are minimal, and many advocates suggest they are completely free of adverse reactions. However, it really all depends on the individual, the dose, and on whether or not these compounds are consumed independently or with other drugs.
There are some strict rules regarding the way CBG and CBD are marketed. However, from a consumer standpoint, both are legal across most of the United States.
The Farm Bill of 2018 allows hemp farmers to produce CBD and CBG-dominant strains if they contain less than 0.3% THC, after which the biomass is processed to produce pure forms of these popular cannabinoids.
Health Benefits and Effects of CBG and CBD
CBD and CBG have yet to be approved for the treatment of any illness or disorder. However, there is a wealth of studies suggesting they can provide a number of health benefits.
CBG and CBD have very similar effects, but if you pay close attention to the studies, there are some key differences. For instance, several studies have reported that CBG is an effective appetite stimulant, while others have found it to be no more effective than placebo. CBD has produced similar results, but there are also studies suggesting that it suppresses the appetite.
It's all pretty confusing and non-conclusive, but that's often the case with these types of studies. Until larger and more conclusive studies are conducted, we won't know for certain whether they are beneficial or not.
Some of the purported health benefits of CBG oil and CBD oil include:
- Anti-Inflammatory: Both compounds have strong anti-inflammatory properties, potentially reducing the risk of chronic disease while helping with everything from joint inflammation to inflammatory bowel disease (IBS).
- Cancer Killing: In several lab studies, CBD has proven to be somewhat effective at slowing the spread of diseases like colon cancer, and although studies are fewer for CBG, it seems to produce similar effects. However, while cannabinoids may kill cancer cells in the lab, it doesn't mean they can cure the disease in the human body.
- Brain Health: There is a wealth of anecdotal evidence suggesting that CBD can help with stress and anxiety. Similar studies have been conducted on CBG, and it has also been singled out for its potential to assist with conditions like Huntington's Disease.
- Pain Killing: Both CBD and CBG may help to reduce chronic pain associated with inflammation. In addition, they can reduce intraocular pressure, a common symptom of glaucoma.
- Anti-Bacterial: Although CBD and CBG have antibacterial properties, CBG seems to be the most potent. Both have been discussed as potential treatments for antibiotic-resistant bugs like MRSA and staphylococcus.
What Does the FDA Say?
The US Food and Drug Administration has acknowledged that cannabis has a lot of potential and it encourages research into major and minor cannabinoids. However, as with many other alternative remedies, it has some strict rules regarding how these products can be marketed and sold.
The FDA has made it abundantly clear that THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids cannot be added to foods or drinks.
Of course, this technically means that CBD gummies are illegal at a federal level, yet they are still being sold and consumed throughout the US. That's because the FDA is only really focusing on the brands that explicitly market these products as health supplements or medicines.
They claim that their goal is to protect (and not punish) the American consumer as more research is conducted into the safety of these products. There are also many states in which THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids are legal and freely consumed. It's all pretty confusing, but the industry is still in its infancy, so this is to be expected.
The only thing you need to worry about is whether or not you're dealing with a reputable brand and whether it's safe for you to consume a particular product. You should also be aware of the potential adverse effects noted by the FDA. For the most part, there are no side effects from using cannabinoids like CBD or CBG, but if they are consumed to excess or in combination with other drugs/medical conditions, the facts get a little murkier.
The FDA warns that CBD may cause:
- Liver damage
- Contraindications with prescribed and over-the-counter medications
- Fertility issues
- Gastrointestinal distress
In addition, it clarifies that the effects of long-term use are relatively unknown.
Availability and Cost
CBD is a major cannabinoid and can be found in much larger concentrations in cannabis plants. The CBD industry has also exploded in the last couple of years, which has led to improvements in technological advancements and production techniques while rapidly reducing the average price.
A quality CBD isolate is much cheaper than a pure CBG isolate, which means consumer products like tinctures and powders are also much cheaper. In addition, CBD products offer a much wider variety.
This may change as CBG becomes more popular and CBG-dominated strains become more common, but it's unlikely that it will ever be cheaper than CBD.
CBD vs CBG: Summary
We are living in a golden age for hemp and cannabinoid production, and CBD is the driving force. The potential benefits of CBG are intriguing, but many of these are mimicked by CBD, which is also backed by more extensive research and anecdotal reports. It's easier to get your hands on, considerably cheaper, and could be just as beneficial, if not more so.
Of course, everyone responds differently to cannabinoids, and just because CBD works for others doesn't mean it will work for you. Maybe CBG is better suited to your needs, maybe they both work for you just as well, or maybe they don’t work for you at all!
We encourage you to research both of these options to determine which is best for you.