CBD and CBG. what are the differences? What are the similarities? Since the launch of our award winning CBG Oil, we at Herts Hemp have heard this question a lot. So, to help those of you who are curious about what separates these two cannabinoids, we have written this guide to help explain...

CBG is the molecular precursor to all cannabinoids

As the cannabis plant matures, plant enzymes synthesise Cannabigerolic acid (CBGa) in to the three main cannabinoid acids: tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCa), cannabidiolic acid (CBDa), and cannabichromenic acid (CBCa). 

Once these cannabinoid acids are exposed to sunlight or heat, they convert the neutral cannabinoids we are familiar with (THC, CBD and CBC) via a process called decarboxylation.

Decarboxylation is a chemical reaction that are induced by heat energy or exposure to sunlight. This process removes a carboxyl group from the acidic forms of cannabinoids and releases carbon dioxide (CO2). This changes both the molecular structure of the cannabinoid, and the way it interacts with your body.

CBG is formed by decarboxylating the concentrations of CBGa that have not yet been converted into other acidic precursors, or any of the other cannabinoids. Hence why it has been dubbed as the "stem cell of CBD".

CBD is synthesised from CBGa

As previously mentioned, all CBD begins life as CBGa. The conversion process occurs in the trichomes of the cannabis plant.

Trichomes are the tiny crystal-looking hairs that cover the leaves and buds of cannabis plants. In these trichomes, plant enzymes unique to each cannabis strain convert the CBGa into a varied combination of the major cannabinoid acids.

The plant enzyme responsible for the start of CBGa’s transformation into CBD is called CBDa Synthase. This enzyme acts as a catalyst for oxidative cyclisation, a complicated process which converts CBGa in to CBDa. CBD is then obtained by decarboxylating the resulting CBDa.

Both are phytocannabinoids

Both CBD and CBG are phytocannabinoids (Phyto- meaning plant). These are exogenous, plant-derived cannabinoids that are produced naturally by the glandular trichomes covering the surface of the cannabis plant. Once phytocannabinoids are extracted from the plant and consumed, they interact with our body’s endocannabinoid system via cannabinoid receptors.

For more information on your endocannabinoid system, click here.

As the cannabis plant matures; CBG concentrations reduce but CBD concentrations increase 

Since cannabis plants naturally convert almost all CBGa into other cannabinoids, CBG is only present in minimal quantities in most mature cannabis plants; often below 1% by weight. Comparatively, as the plant matures, it’s CBD concentration increases.

Furthermore, cannabis plants have been bred to produce as much CBD as possible in order to meet consumer demand. Due to the finite quantity of cannabinoids that a plant can produce, this has come at the expense of further reducing CBG concentrations in mature plants.

In order to obtain higher yields of CBG, producers must either; harvest the cannabis plant before it converts CBGa to other cannabinoids, at the cost of foregoing the cultivation of CBD.  Or alternatively, they can utilise selective breeding in order to have develop strains that have more CBG present within the adult plant.

At Herts Hemp, we use cannabis plants that have a naturally higher ratio of CBG. We extract the CBG by using super-critical CO2 extraction and refined into our full spectrum CBG 5% oil. Due to the nature of our extraction process, we can preserve the presence of other beneficial cannabinoids (Such as CBD) in our CBG oil.

CBG and CBD have different interactions with CB1 receptors

CB1 receptors are broadly dispersed amongst the central and peripheral nervous system but are primarily concentrated in the brain. CB1 receptors are also present in the female & male reproductive organs and throughout the rest of the body in lower concentrations.

CBG is an antagonist of CB1 Receptors

According to recent studies, CBG functions as a competitive antagonist of the cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1).

The reason CBG is referred to as competitive is because once bound to CB1 receptors, it prevents other molecules which act as agonists (such as THC) from binding to the same receptor.

As an antagonist, CBG binds to the active site of the CB1 receptor and blocks signals that could be detrimental your body’s homeostasis.

To learn more about homeostasis, click here

CBD is a negative allosteric modulator of CB1 receptors

In contrast to CBG, studies suggest CBD functions as a negative allosteric modulator of CB1 receptors.

Since CBD is an allosteric modulator, it binds to a CB1 receptor in an area distinct from the active site and alters the receptor’s response to stimuli from there.

As a negative allosteric modulator, CBD decreases the probability that agonists will bind to receptor. By doing so, CBD works to retain homeostasis by moderating the extent of which the CB1 receptor is triggered.

CBD and CBG have similar interactions with CB2 Receptors

CB2 receptors are particularly abundant on our immune system's cells and the highest concentration can be found in the spleen. They help moderate inflammation and our immune response to pathogens.

Both are partial agonists of CB2 receptors

Both CBD and CBG have an affinity for cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2) behaving as a partial agonist.

As an agonist, both molecules that bind to and activates CB2 receptors throughout the body. By doing so, they mimic endocannabinoids (such as 2-AG) that are produced naturally in our bodies.

To learn more about endocannabinoids, click here 

However, since they are partial agonists, they induce sub-maximal activation and therefore cannot produce an identical response to endocannabinoids. Despite not fully stimulating CB2 receptors, both CBG and CBD activate the receptors in order to maintain homeostasis.

Both are non-intoxicating

CBD and CBG are both non-intoxicating cannabinoids, meaning they do not induce the “high” feeling associated with THC. This makes both cannabinoids safe to consume throughout the day, since the ability to drive and operate heavy machinery is not impaired.

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