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CBD is easily the hottest ingredient in the wellness world, with CBD-enhanced products promising consumers everything from calmer nights to reduced joint pain. Just when you thought that non-psychoactive hemp was at its peak, along comes another cannabinoid stealing the spotlight: CBG. And it claims to be even more remarkable.
CBG is steadfastly becoming as ubiquitous in wellness products as CBD is. CBG is available in formats such as gummies, pills, tinctures, body cream, powder, shampoo, and even a preworkout drink mix, which is how I first found it. As someone who has been nonplussed by every CBD product she’s tried since it hit the mainstream market half a decade ago, I was so shocked by how hard the CBG drink mix rocked my world that I went on a virtual quest to find out everything possible about this "rare cannabinoid."
To get as much out of my research as possible, I conferred with wellness brand KAMU cofounder Robyn Caywood and cannabis-infused skincare and wellness brand Terra/form’s CEO and founder Tariq Hasan. Let’s find out what CBG is, whether it can improve your quality of life, and if it really is destined to make us forget all about CBD.
What Is CBG?
Cannabigerol is one of hundreds of compounds found in cannabis, and is present in both psychoactive marijuana plants and non-psychoactive hemp plants. CBG itself is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, meaning it alone can’t get you high like THC, the psychoactive compound marijuana is best known for, can. Here’s where things get a little more complex to wrap one’s brain around: CBG is a parent molecule. Whatever does that mean? I asked Caywood to explain what a chemical parent is, and she told me that “the cannabis plant produces CBGA (the acid form) early on in its growth cycle. As it reaches maturity, enzymes in the plant will break down the CBGA and convert it to either THC, CBD or CBC.” A parent compound is initially present in a plant, then converts into other compounds later in the plant’s growth process.
Once converted, the resulting plant contains very little CBG, even though it starts out with plenty. The more CBD and THC a plant has, the less CBG is still there, because the CBG has been converted. That’s why CBG is considered fairly “new,” or at least, why we didn’t know about its benefits sooner. Caywood says, “now that farmers are aware of the benefits of CBG they are working with ways to increase the yield.” That’s accomplished “by working with the genetics” of the plant “or by harvesting up to 2 weeks early, before it has converted.”
It’s worth noting that any “full spectrum” CBD product will contain some amount of CBG, since full spectrum means that all the compounds in the plant are left intact. However, due to the parent / converting nature of CBG, the amount of it in a full spectrum CBD item may be minimal.
CBG's Internal Uses
Where CBD is used for non-psychoactive relaxation, CBG has a different impact on your brain. It’s energizing, leading some products containing it to recommend usage early in the day. That tracks in regards to it being packaged as a pre-workout mix like OffField, as the last thing someone would want before exercise would be to get all cozied up with their couch. When I use OffField before working out, I get excited for cardio, which I generally hate, and often find myself motivated to do jumping jacks or high knees during the breaks of strength-oriented exercise videos.
CBG is also mildly euphoric. When I first tried OffField, whose motto is “Movement Made Happy,” I was floored that I felt so thrilled with everything in life--which is a seriously difficult mindset to acquire lately--for hours after my workout. The results will vary for different products, and for everyone’s unique bodies, but due to its mildly euphoric nature it’s reasonable to expect that a CBG product will improve your mood. Compounded with its euphoric impact is its anxiolytic, or anti-anxiety, property.
Beyond its energizing and mood lifting qualities, similar to CBD and THC CBG has potential medical benefits as well. So far, research has shown CBG to be anti-nausea, useful for inflammatory bowel disease, combative for OCD, pain relieving, and to relieve the ocular pressure of glaucoma.
How CBG Works Best When Taken Internally
As I began to receive samples of other CBG products, I quickly discovered that more does not necessarily equal better. I also was surprised that CBG alone, without being paired with CBD (which as mentioned I generally don’t much care for) has far less of an impact than when the two are combined. Caywood told me that this is actually normal. She says, “Studies are being conducted about its use alone or in tandem. One farm I follow has done extensive peer studies and is finding the most effective and beneficial combinations have been a 1:1 ratio of CBD:CBG."
Why is that? She thinks it’s because “plants have an innate wisdom and contain a multitude of active compounds (over 300 in the cannabis plant) that work together to create more than a sum of their parts. We think of 1 + 1= 2, but oftentimes with plants it’s more like 3,4, or 5 because the compounds work together to increase bioavailability or complement an action."
Because of this, if I want to use a CBG isolate product I take it along with a CBD one. I quickly found that it’s much more effective that way, and the CBG’s energizing effects offset any tiredness that would arise from CBD.
CBG is definitely worth the buzz when it comes to internal usage. How to best get it in your body? Honestly, that’s purely a matter of your own preference. As you can get it in formats ranging from gummies to tincture oils to pills, choose whichever method you enjoy most, and be open to experimentation in regards to format and dosing. You’ll know you found the right dosage and form when you notice your uplifted mood.
CBG For Topical Use
In addition to its wide ranging benefits for internal use, CBG also has an array of benefits when applied topically. It protects against oxidative stress and inflammation, and when applied transdermally has been proven to reduce both inflammation and pain. What it’s formulated with matters, though: specific product thickeners enable CBG to be better absorbed into the skin. That means it isn’t just important to know the amount of CBG in a skin care or beauty product, but for the brand to also have transparency about what their methods are in making it. Terra/form’s Tariq is particularly proud of that last fact, as his brand adjusts the other ingredient ratios in each item they make individually, so as to ensure maximum CBD and CBG absorption.
Because I found the interaction and interconnectedness of CBD and CBG so surprising for internal use, with CBD being necessary for one to receive all the benefits of CBG, I asked Tariq about the relationship between the two in skin care. He told me that “While CBD is well known for its myriad benefits, CBG is coming up as another Cannabinoid which can help specifically with anti-inflammation, anti-oxidation, and extending cellular life,” and using them together “translates into healthier skin. We know that when both CBD and CBG are combined in high ratios, there is a multiplied effect and even stronger skin benefits.” No shock there: the relationship is similar for topical use.
Tariq also finds the distinction between how CBG and CBG are used in skin care different from how they’re used in body care. He said, “We formulate our skincare range with naturally occurring levels of Cannabinoids to provide balanced performance for skin types, however our body care wellness products are made with high ratios of CBD-CBG to reap the synergistic benefits for calmer, healthier, and youthful skin."
The Final Verdict
CBG isn’t exactly the new CBD. If anything, it’s technically the old CBD, since it’s a parent cannabinoid and CBD was CBG at an earlier stage of plant growth, prior to conversion. The benefits of CBG do equal, if not outweigh, the benefits of CBD; but CBD can be used alone, whereas CBG is most effective when used along with CBD. Knowing the relationship between the two is key to getting the most out of it, and there are certainly more than enough reasons, from improved mood to better skin, to give CBG a try.