In many ways, cannabinoid science and medicine is still in its infancy. Consider for a moment that it has only been in recent years that we’ve realized that there was something other than cannabis’ main active ingredient, THC, that is worth paying close attention to – the often-cited compound cannabidiol (aka CBD).
Of the over 150 cannabinoids potentially found in the plant itself, only a small fraction has been studied with any amount of thoroughness, and of those even less are available in useful amounts to either patients or growers. However, that has already begun to change. With the rapid rate of exchange of information and genetics, we have begun to see a blossoming of diversity in high-CBD varieties available on the market.
Cultivators have also started to explore some other cannabinoids rarely found in significant amounts. The strain Doug’s Varin is a good example of this, containing higher than average amounts of tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) – with a dry sift from the plant testing as high as 15 percent – even the small availability of product coming from this single cultivar is allowing medical cannabis patients to explore its appetite suppressant and anxiety reduction properties.
Cannabigerol (CBG) is another valuable cannabinoid that occurs with large enough frequency in the plant to warrant greater exploration. CBG is known to be a sort of “primal cannabinoid” and is the mother and building block for what later becomes THC and CBD.
In tests, CBG exhibits anti-microbial and anti-carcinogenic properties. As a painkiller, studies have shown that it has even greater therapeutic potential than THC.
There are many other possible uses for CBG as well – by interfering with the uptake of our essential neurotransmitters such as GABA, serotonin and norepinephrine it may offer significant sedative, anti-depressant and anti-spasmodic properties.
Unlike Doug’s Varin and THCV, however, there are not yet varieties or cultivars easily accessible with a therapeutically functional amount of CBG in them. Steep Hill Labs’ Vice President of Scientific Operations Reggie Gaudino describes that “functional amount” as a plant hitting a ratio of 10:1 CBG to THC. But any plant exhibiting that amount must be tested from multiple batches as CBG’s potential conversion can be affected by cultivation conditions.
Some other cannabis varieties have been found with notable levels of CBG – including Black Jack, Hawaiian Gold, Old Toby, Pincher’s Creek and Spectrum – but for the moment, according to Gaudino, “We see that particular ratio only a small percent of the time.”
However, with the availability on our collective horizon of things like gene mapping and smart breeding methodologies for isolating chemotypes of cannabis varieties, the growers of the near future may soon find it easier to pin down some of these rare compounds.
CBG seems as if it could be a cannabinoid with dizzying possibility. It makes all the more sense that some researchers call CBG a “stem cell” – not only does it most often transform into other related compounds as the plant grows to maturity, but CBG also seems to have a similar diverse healing potential as that of human stem cell therapy.
As the many cannabinoids of cannabis are researched and studied in greater detail, teased apart and isolated, the more we may find that the cannabis plant truly is an herbal panacea.
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