The Mother (Predecessor) (Precursor) of All Cannabinoids – CBGa
Before all of our favourite cannabinoids are ready to be enjoyed, they start as CBGa or cannabigerolic acid. Recent developments in the world of cannabis have increased the demand for CBG and its analogs. While we still have much to learn about this lesser-known cannabinoid, the plant compound shows promise in potentially delivering several medical benefits.
How is CBGa Formed?
During the cannabis plant’s lifecycle, CBGa is formed. As the plant matures, plant enzymes convert most of the CBGa into other cannabinoid predecessors such as THCa, CBDa, and CBCa. The remaining amounts of CBGa that don’t convert (less than 1%) remain in the plant (1).
As we become more familiar with the benefits of CBGa and CBG, the demand for these cannabinoids increases. Due to the natural plant cycle, developing a CBG product would have costs magnitudes more than one containing CBD. Today, cannabis geneticists can grow cannabis with higher amounts of CBGa (2). The increase in demand for CBG evolved the manufacturing process. Cannabis labs have discovered the perfect window in the cannabis plant’s lifecycle best suited for CBG extraction. (3)
The Decarboxylation of CBGa
Cannabinoids exist naturally in an acidic state. Cannabis flower does not contain any THC and must be decarboxylated or activated before delivering the high. Eating flower that contain THCa will not have any immediate effect on the consumer. However if the consumer decides to smoke the flower, i.e. apply heat to the flower, this causes the THCa to be converted to THC which upon inhalation causes the famous high.
Manufacturers decarboxylate the THCa into THC by adding heat, then they infuse the active THC into your favourite edible.
CBG has to go through the same process. Manufacturers convert CBGa into CBG during the extraction process.
How Does CBGv Differ from CBG?
CBGv or cannabidivarin, is considered an analog of CBG (4). It is a naturally forming cannabinoid believed to be found in indica strains with low levels of THC and high concentrations of CBD (5). Like all cannabinoids, CBGv is converted from CBGa, but it has a different structure than CBG because of the addition of two carbon rings.
The Latest Research on CBGa
CBD and THC have gained the most attention in the last ten years. While we have known about CBG and its analogs since 1964, we have done a poor job of understanding the potential benefits.
Perhaps the most promising research we have to date is looking at the cannabinoid’s potential to help diabetic patients deal with some of the complications related to their disease. The study was done in vitro but produced some highly encouraging results.
The extracts with high CBDa/CBD or CBGa/CBG content ‘showed significant dose-dependent aldose reductase inhibitory activity on a major contributor of oxidative stress. People suffering from diabetes are commonly challenged with heart problems caused by the enzyme aldose reductase (AR). (6)
We have yet to see any large studies looking at CBGa’s potential medical application in human clinical trials.
What We Currently Know About CBG?
Out of all the analogs of CBG, the decarboxylated form has by far the most commercial success. Most CBD companies are offering full spectrum or isolate CBG products. The reason CBG has gained recent attention is that it's believed to have a direct effect on CB1 and CB2 receptors. Unlike CBD, which increases endocannabinoid production through inhibiting enzymes. (7)
CBG has shown to have the ability to bind with CB1 and CB2 in many studies, as outlined in a research paper by Spanish scientists. (8) ‘The first published data on the binding of CBG to human CB1R and CB2R were provided by (Rosenthaler et al., 2014) working with [3H]CP-55,940 as radioligand and with preparations from Sf9 cells co-expressing one receptor and the Gαi3β1γ2 protein.’
Expressing a molecule’s ability to bind with a receptor is extremely complex. The researchers have to extract part of a cell and demonstrate that the molecule, CBG in this case, can activate the receptor. Multiple researchers have accomplished this feat in a lab environment. The next step is using CBG in clinical trials.
Our Limited Understanding of CBGv
There are websites online, mostly created by companies selling cannabinoid products, that claim CBGv to possess several benefits. We don’t doubt the potential of the cannabinoid, but we aren’t at a point where we can make any claims. Most of the research the companies reference, point to studies done with a full plant extract containing small amounts of CBGv along with hundreds of other cannabinoids.
We simply aren’t at the point where CBGv shows a direct link to treating a specific condition.
A Call for More Research
The industry is far behind where we should be with finding the potential uses for CBD and THC. The analogs of CBG are even further from being approved by the FDA and prescribed by a doctor. As we discover more about cannabis, we will likely find other cannabinoids with potential. We look forward to seeing what the future holds for CBG, based on the preliminary data, there could be a ground-breaking drug featuring the cannabinoid in the years to come.
Please note that this article was written by a 3rd-party author who is a specialist on the topic of CBD, hemp and cannabis. Any information or recommendations contained within this article, are independent to the opinion of RUDERALEX CBD and our employees. We make no claims for any of our products, please read our disclaimer for additional information.