There may only be one letter difference between CBD and CBG, but on a molecular level, the nuances between the two cannabis-derived substances are notable.
The cannabis/hemp plant boasts a complex chemical makeup. Scientists have identified more than 100 compounds, many of which come from the cannabigerolic acid (CBGA). When this element is heated, it breaks down into various, separate acids, including cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid. Yet another processing of those substances yields cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the two most common cannabis byproducts. THC is the psychoactive substance in marijuana and CBD has become a popular commercial product since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the legal definition of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act. Now, the cannabigerol (CBG) derivative is gaining attention among medical researchers and consumers, but how does it differ from CBD?
Both CBD and CBG are classified as minor cannabinoids and both contain carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms. However, the molecular arrangement differs substantially between the two, and that elicits different reactions with the body’s cannabinoid receptors.
Over the past three-plus years, much as been touted about the purported benefits of CBD use. Anecdotal evidence suggests strong correlations with CBD and pain and stress relief, sleep enhancement and mental health management for some disorders, such as anxiety and depression. Although research into the efficacy of these and similar therapeutic claims is underway, definitive results are still unavailable.
Researchers also are investigating the impact — and possible benefits — of CBG use. Early efforts date back to the 1960s and 1970s and indicate possible application for inflammatory bowel disease, bladder dysfunction, bacterial infections and appetite loss. There’s also belief CBG could slow the growth of cancer cells as well as possess neuroprotective tendencies, which could offer a new therapeutic impact for neurodegenerative conditions like Huntington’s disease.
While such applications lie beyond the scope of convenience stores, studies also are assessing the “entourage effect” when CBD and CBG are combined into a single use. In theory, the entourage effect occurs because the two minor cannabinoids trigger opposite responses within the body. When paired, they appear to compensate for each other’s shortcomings. For example, it is believed CBG has a more powerful pain relief characteristic and less of an appetite suppressant nature than CBD. Therefore, products featuring both ingredients might appeal to consumers who want enhanced CBD performance, but who also wish to avoid the “high” effect when THC is added.
Currently, CBG+CBD formulas are relatively new, but the projected market for them is likely to welcome a slew of startup producers. While that enables c-stores to offer customers a broad selection of brands and formulas, it also poses a concern within the unregulated industry. To ensure quality for your customers, category managers would be well advised to insist on independent third-party testing before adding cannabis-derived products to store shelves.