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CBD vs CBG: everything you need to know about the difference, the effects and the research

What is CBG? For years we were fixated on just two cannabinoids (CBD + THC) because these were the most well known and available to the market. And while the star of the hemp plant is CBD, its leading compound, CBG is the hot new cannabinoid on the block. More accurately, it’s not that CBG is new, per se, but rather newly celebrated in the last several years. And while the hemp plant naturally contains far less CBG than it does CBD, farmers are beginning to cultivate strains that are much higher in CBG, thanks to the interest in its unique properties.

CBG vs. CBD: What’s the difference?

CBG is one of almost 120 compounds from cannabis called cannabinoids. Within the hemp plant, specifically, CBD is the leading compound, because it occurs in the plant material at a higher rate than other cannabinoids. CBG is far lower on the list of naturally occurring compounds, which is part of the reason it’s just recently getting buzz. And it’s harder to isolate CBG from the plant material in an amount that’s truly useful, because it requires more hemp plants to produce. But, because of the growing popularity of hemp, more and more researchers are exploring CBG and other non-CBD compounds in hemp to understand how they work and how they may be able to benefit us.

CBG as the “stem cell” of cannabinoids

CBG is found in low levels within mature hemp plants. It shows up in small quantities in most plants but plays a large role in the life cycle of cannabinoids. Affectionately called “The Mother Cannabinoid” the acidic form of CBG, CBGA gives rise to the other 115-120 cannabinoids. Cannabis plants produce CBGA first and then produce enzymes that break down CBtGA into THCA, CBCA, CBDA, etc.

How does CBG work?

Just like CBD and other cannabinoids, CBG works with your body’s endocannabinoid system. Researchers believe that this bodily system impacts regulatory actions on the body’s many systems and processes. The endocannabinoid system utilizes cannabinoid receptors located throughout the body, and when they receive cannabinoids, chemical reactions take place that may affect the function of crucial processes like sleep, inflammation, and mood*.

Each cannabinoid in the hemp plant works with the endocannabinoid system in its own unique way—and in the case of CBG, more is being discovered.

CBG benefits and research

Hemp breeding has developed in the last quarter-century and even more in the last five years. With so much energy being invested into the cultivation of new cannabis varieties, we’re seeing more interest in breeding strains of hemp that are higher in lesser-known cannabinoids like CBG. The research on CBG is by no means complete, but the findings are promising. The anecdotal reports combine with the peer-reviewed studies occurring worldwide offer an encouraging look into the future of cannabinoid medicine.

CBG binds to the body's CB1 receptors located in the brain and tissue areas in the body. And we’re just scratching the surface of the benefits of this occurrence. But studies here, here and here show promising evidence*.

So what do these findings tell us? At surface level they convey that this plant has much potential. With the advancements in hemp breeding we will be seeing unique cannabinoid and terpene expressions in the future. And due to the increasing popularity of CBG as independent from CBD and other hemp compounds, we expect to see more studies take place over the coming years. We hope that soon, we’ll have a much more detailed understanding of the unique potential that this cannabinoid has.

The availability of CBD and CBG

Most of us know how to find CBD (hint, right here!), but what about CBG? As you would imagine, CBG-based products will be more expensive than their CBD counterparts due to the lower volume of CBG in the hemp plant. CBG isolates do exist, but they are relatively rare, largely due to a low demand and high manufacturing cost. 

Another option is going with a full-spectrum hemp product derived from a CBG-heavy hemp strain. The strain of a hemp plant refers to its unique chemical composition produced by advanced cross-breeding techniques employed by the farmer. Some strains have higher levels of CBG than others, and more and more companies are choosing high-CBG strains, knowing that this cannabinoid is becoming more popular. In fact, CBG flower is becoming a hot new commodity. Our customers say they notice a difference in how they feel when they smoke CBD flower vs. CBG flower—so the strain does matter!

A full-spectrum hemp extract containing a higher level of CBG than average is also an ideal option thanks to the entourage effect: Full-spectrum hemp extracts contain every compound found in the hemp plant as it occurs in nature. This means that you’re getting the complete variety of cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoid and nutrients that exist in the particular strain from which the extract is derived. This allows the body to experience the natural synergistic properties of the hemp plant. When we consume the whole plant composition as nature intended, the effects of each compound may be multiplied.

CBG: The bottom line

Both CBD and CBG may be incredibly useful chemical compounds that are worth our consideration. While they are both derived from the same plant, each one may offer properties that are unique from the other. Shop CBG flower here, or checkout a full-spectrum tincture—and stay tuned for more exciting updates on CBG research!

*Half Day CBD is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Consult with a physician before use if you have a medical condition or use prescription medications. A doctor’s advice should be sought before using this and any supplemental dietary product. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.