Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that naturally occur in the cannabis plant. So far, more than 120 cannabinoids have been identified. The most famous of these is a substance called (Delta-9) Tetrahydrocannabinol, which is more commonly referred to as THC. It’s the largest constituent cannabinoid found in most varieties of cannabis and is responsible for making you high, or stoned. Many people are also now aware of Cannabidiol (CBD), the second most abundant cannabinoid in the cannabis plant. CBD is a non-psychoactive substance, but crucially has many potential medical benefits. But there’s a new kid on the block now, which is beginning to emerge as an isolated ingredient in many available cannabinoid preparations: Cannabigerol, or CBG.
Medical cannabis research is still very much in its infancy and there is a lot still to learn about possible applications of cannabinoids. Most have not undergone any clinical testing yet, but this is expected to change over the course of the next few decades, as more possible medical benefits of cannabinoids are identified.
How does it all work?
Well, without going into a deeply scientific explanation, we basically have things called cannabinoid receptors in our body, which cannabinoids interact with. While research is still in an early stage, it seems that this interaction between cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors may be part of the way that the body regulates physiological and cognitive processes, to maintain overall wellbeing and assist with many of the essential processes that take place inside us.
Our bodies also naturally produce cannabinoids (known as endocannabinoids), which is why this system of cannabinoid receptors is present in our bodies. However introduced cannabinoids such as those derived from the cannabis plant also stimulate these receptors, which is one of the reasons why they are suitable for medicinal purposes.
Medicinal cannabinoid products can be consumed in several different ways. Smoking CBD dried flowers is possible, but there are much safer and effective ways to medicate. These include vaporizing, eating, drinking or external application as a topical solution or balm.
Its not just CBD
Apart from CBD, for which there are already hundreds of products available, which other cannabinoids are likely to make the breakthrough as a medicine? The most likely candidate, as already mentioned, is CBG. While there has not been any clinical research yet into the effects on CBG on humans, laboratory research is underway to determine its precise properties and effects; and identify possible medical applications. Research has however been done on the binding properties of CBG to cannabinoid receptors. One such study concluded that “CBG, may exert beneficial actions with therapeutic potential via cannabinoid receptors.”
CBG Medical Applications
Early indications suggest that CBG may have properties that help alleviate pain, nausea and inflammation. Its anti-inflammatory effects indicate that strains of cannabis with high levels of CBG may be useful for treating certain bowel conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and Crohn’s disease. However, most strains contain less than 1% CBG, so concentrated preparations are a more effective way of delivering CBG into the body.
There are already quite a few CBG products on the market and the range is expected to expand rapidly as more consumers become aware of its potential benefits. One such product, which is available on Kanabiz is Dr Herb 500mg Broad Spectrum CBG Oil, which contains over 5% CBG as well as smaller concentrations of CBD amongst its ingredients.
For those who prefer to medicate via vape pens, there are also CBG additives that can be added to e-liquids, such Canavape’s 500mg CBG Additive, which like the Dr Herb product, also has a CBG concentration of around 5%.
The only Cure for Glaucoma?
One of the first medical uses of the cannabis plant that was discovered was for the treatment of glaucoma. The ocular condition can make people go blind if left untreated, but it was discovered in the 1970s that cannabis use helps to reduce intraocular pressure, which is one of the main causes and also an ongoing symptom of the disease. Reggae legend Peter Tosh wrote this lyric referencing the cannabis plant in his 1978 classic Bush Doctor
“It the only cure for glaucoma”
While not quite the only one, at that time it was indeed one of the first medicines known to have successfully eased the condition. However, the side effects of THC in cannabis plants meant that it was not suitable for everyone and other medications later surpassed cannabis as an effective glaucoma treatment.
Research done in the 1990s suggests that CBG may significantly contribute to reduce the pressure associated with glaucoma, perhaps more so than CBD, which can also help in this respect. As these cannabinoids are non-psychoactive (unlike THC), there is renewed possibility for cannabis-derived medicines containing CBG to be used again to treat this disease.
Peter Tosh was very convinced of the overall medical benefits of the plant; as he also sang about it in his 1976 hit Legalize It, which has the lyrics:
“Its good for flu, good for asthma, good for tuberculosis, even numara thrombosis”
While we’re not sure about the asthma and flu claims and numara thrombosis doesn’t seem to exist, it is certainly true that cannabis was used to treat tuberculosis in 19th century and probably much earlier. It was replaced by modern medicines in the 20th century, but recent research has shown that CBD does indeed have anti-microbial properties that may be beneficial in slowing the progression of tuberculosis.