Science

Cannabigerol: The Overlooked, Healing Phytocannabinoid

Written by Michelle Pugle

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are spotlight cannabinoids. They are well-researched and well-known for their medicinal properties. But THC and CBD are just two out of over ninety herbal phytocannabinoids that have been isolated from the cannabis plant—and each has individual pharmacological effects.

Cannabigerol (CBG) is one such phytocannabinoid. It was first discovered as a non-psychotropic cannabinoid in 1964 by researchers Gaoni and Mechoulam. [1] When CBGA is synthesized, it converts into other cannabinoids, meaning most cannabis cultivars contain less than 1% CBGA. Thus, it is often overlooked in cannabis research. Like the other cannabinoids, CBGA can also undergo decarboxylation to CBG.

Now, times are changing. Researchers are taking a greater interest in the therapeutic effects of phytocannabinoids, including minor cannabinoids like CBG.

The healing potential of CBG

Research on CBG has been limited, but what scientists have discovered thus far is promising. Although cliché, further research is needed to fully understand the healing potential of this phytocannabinoid.

Pre-clinical studies have found that CBG has both anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties. [1] Specifically, CBG reduces inflammation caused by inflammatory bowel disease [2] and slows the progression of colon cancer. [3]

Researchers have also discovered antibacterial and anti-fungal properties in CBG. Most notably, CBG showed potent activity against Staphylococcus aureus—an antibiotic-resistant strain of bacteria. [4] These findings suggest potential for CBG as an antibacterial agent in treating bacterial infections that are non-responsive to existing antibiotics.

CBG has also shown promise in treating glaucoma [5], psoriasis [6], depression and anxiety [7], and neurodegenerative disorders. [8]

The cannabis plant’s powerful healing potential is not limited to THC and CBD. Moving forward, more research on the variety of cannabinoids that make up cannabis’ pharmacological profile is crucial in fully understanding the plant’s benefits to human health.

References

[1] Deiana, S. Chapter 99 – Potential Medical Uses of Cannabigerol: A Brief Overview. Biology, Pharmacology, Diagnosis, and Treatment. 2017. 958-967. DOI: 10.1016/B978-0-12-800756-3.00115-0.

[2] Borrelli et al. Beneficial effect of the non-psychotropic plant cannabinoid cannabigerol on experimental inflammatory bowel disease. Biochem Pharmacol. 2013;(85)9:1306-1316. DOI: 10.1016/j.bcp.2013.01.017.

[3] Borrelli et al. Colon carcinogenesis is inhibited by the TRPM8 antagonist cannabigerol, a Cannabis-derived non-psychotropic cannabinoid. Carcinogenesis. 2014;(35)12:2787–2797. DOI: 10.1093/carcin/bgu205.

[4] Appendino et al. Antibacterial Cannabinoids from Cannabis sativa: A Structure−Activity Study. Journal of Natural Products. 2008;(71)8:1427-1430. DOI: 10.1021/np8002673.

[5] Colasanti, BK. A comparison of the ocular and central effects of delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabigerol. J Ocul Pharmacol. 1990;(6)4:259-269.

[6] Wilkinson, JD and EM Williamson. Cannabinoids inhibit human keratinocyte proliferation through a non-CB1/CB2 mechanism and have a potential therapeutic value in the treatment of psoriasis. J Dermatol Sci. 2007;(45)2:87-92. DOI: 10.1016/j.jdermsci.2006.10.009.

[7] Russo, Ethan. Beyond Cannabis: Plants and the Endocannabinoid System. Trends in Pharmacological Sciences. 2016;(37)7. DOI: 10.1016/j.tips.2016.04.005.

[8] Valdeolivas et al. Neuroprotective properties of cannabigerol in Huntington’s disease: studies in R6/2 mice and 3-nitropropionate-lesioned mice. Neurotherapeutics. 2015;(12)1:185-199. DOI: 10.1007/s13311-014-0304-z.

About the author

Michelle Pugle

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