Everything You Need to Know About CBG, CBN, and Delta-8 THC
As far as cannabis goes, THC and CBD get the lion’s share of the hype.
But as legalization spreads around the globe, and our collective appetite for cannabis grows, we’re learning more about the plant and its tremendous properties. Three of the most exciting compounds that are just now starting to get noticed are CBG, CBN, and Delta-8 THC.
No point in wasting any more time—let’s dive in.
What is CBG?
CBG is the short form of cannabigerol (pronounced kan-nuh-bye-jur-all), and is one of the minor cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Experts refer to it as the “mother of all cannabinoids” because the big boys like CBD, THC, and CBC (cannabichromene) are derived from it.
When a cannabis plant starts to grow, it produces an acid called cannabigerol acid (CBGA). As the plant matures, its enzymes break down the acid into either THC, CBD, or CBC. Once the conversion and breakdown are over, the cannabis plant retains a small amount of CBG. This explains why CBG is found in smaller quantities in mature cannabis plants: most strains have about 1% CBG compared to 10–20% CBD and THC.
Because it exists in small quantities, CBG is rare and expensive.
However, cultivators are experimenting with genetic manipulation and cross-breeding to see if CBG can’t be produced in large quantities. In the meantime, they extract CBG from budding plants by pinpointing the optimum extraction time, which is about six to eight weeks.
In other words, they harvest the CBG very early from the plant before it has converted or broken down to other compounds.
Cannabis strains with high quantities of CBG include White CBG, Super Glue CBG, and Jack Frost CBG.
How does it compare to CBD?
Both CBD and CBG are non-intoxicating cannabinoids, which means they won’t get you high.
They also both interact with the same receptors in the endocannabinoid system. We have two types of cannabinoid receptors in our body: CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are located in the nervous system and the brain, while CB2 receptors are found mostly in the immune and digestive systems.
CBG binds with both CB1 and CB2 receptors, where it strengthens the work of anandamide. Anandamide is a neurotransmitter that enhances pleasure and motivation, regulates our appetite and sleep, and relieves us from pain. Good things.
The biggest difference between CBD and CBG is the quantity. Like we have stated earlier, most mature cannabis plants will have 1% CBG and up to 20% CBD. Another difference is that CBG has different functions and health benefits from CBD. That said, more studies need to be done to better understand them.
Health Benefits of CBG
Like CBD, research has proved that CBG has therapeutic effects on a person. The only challenge to this claim is that human studies are few, and more research is needed.
However, promising animal studies prove that CBG helps the following conditions:
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
This is a condition that causes chronic inflammation in the bowel. Millions of people across the globe struggle with this incurable condition. Experimental animal research carried out in 2013 proved that CBG helps combat inflammatory bowel disease.
Scientists took mice and induced them with inflammations similar to IBD in the colon. Then they gave the mice a dose of CBG. The results were that CBG reduced the level of inflammation.
Most importantly, CBG also cut down the formation of reactive oxygen species in the intestines. The conclusion was that CBG needs to be considered for clinical experimentation in IBD patients.
A recent animal study showed that CBG can be used to treat glaucoma, a blinding eye disease caused by fluids that damage the inside of the eye and increase pressure.
Researchers gave CBG to cats who had glaucoma. They noticed a reduction in eye pressure and an enlargement of the aqueous humor outflow (a fluid that maintains eye pressure and gives the eye the nutrition it needs).
CBG helps to limit inflammation and protect the brain cells in people struggling with Huntington’s Disease, a fatal genetic disorder that causes a continuous breakdown of the brain’s nerve cells. If more research is done in this area, it would be a game-changer to the 2.3 million people who struggle with this disease every year, as well as those countless others who are at risk of inheriting the condition.
In a 2015 study, researchers began to study the potential neuroprotective properties of CBG and other cannabinoids in mice. They found that CBG acted like a neuroprotectant, defending the nerve cells from damage. Furthermore, CBG improved the motor deficits and preservation of striatal neurons again 3-nitropropionic acid toxicity. Science!
One study found out that CBG has unique antibacterial properties that can kill the methicillin-resistant strains of staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), the bacteria known to cause staph infections and which is resistant to drugs.
Reduced Growth of Cancer Cells
In 2014, researchers studied the effect CBG had on rats with colon cancer. They found that CBG had promising results. The cannabinoid blocked receptors that caused cancer cells’ growth, and inhibited the growth of colorectal cancer cells. They concluded that CBG should be considered in the cure and prevention of colon cancer.
What is CBN?
CBN is cannabinol (pronounced kan-nuh-buh-naal). While CBN, CBD, and THC may have some things in common, they vary in how they are produced, how they interact with the body, and how they affect us medicinally.
CBN was the first cannabinoid to be isolated to its pure form… and it was done in 1896! For decades, people used to think that it was responsible for the “high” offered by cannabis.
Researchers later discovered that CBN is the oxidation of THC. What that means is, as THC ages, it gradually turns into CBN when exposed to heat and light. What’s more, all the psychoactive elements disappear, and you are left with benign properties that promote pain relief, exceptional sleep, and antibacterial effects.
How is CBN Made?
You’ll not get CBN from fresh cannabis. The process begins when you remove the buds from the plant; CBN is derived from THC by degradation during drying, storing, and heating.
Cannabis usually contains less than 1% CBN. However, the more you expose it to light, heat, or air, the more that amount increases. A study from the UN indicates that within four years, THC potency reduces by 50%, slowly turning into CBN.
Since natural CBN exists in such small quantities, CBN products usually rely on synthetic processes.
Old cannabis extracts left unrefrigerated or exposed to light will eventually contain higher levels of CBN. The amount of CBN is controlled by environmental factors but not genetic factors. At the moment, we don’t have high CBN strains on the market.
As of right now, the best way of achieving high CBN content is oxidation.
Does CBN Make You “High”
CBN does not have any intoxicating effects.
However, since it is the least studied cannabinoid, it would be unfair to declare decidedly that it in no way acts like THC.
THC affects the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is located in the central nervous system. THC produces the high, which binds with CB1 receptors and activates them. CBN also binds to CB1 receptors but with one-tenth of THC’s strength.
Health Benefits of CBN
More research is needed to confirm the therapeutic benefits and effects of CBN. The good news is the existing evidence shows that this largely unknown cannabinoid has a lot of health benefits.
Let’s go through each one:
While CBN often needs to partner with THC to elicit its beneficial properties, one study found out that, when it does, it acts as an exceptional sleep aid. Together, the two cannabinoid compounds give a sedative punch.
If you find it hard to get CBN, all you will have to do is store your cannabis in an open container and let it age for some time.
Studies reveal that cannabinol has analgesic properties that can be used to treat ailments like arthritis, migraines, inflammation, nerve damage, and burns. As we have explained earlier, CBN has unique mechanism actions to CBD and THC.
Cannabis scientists consider it to be a weak CB1 partial agonist. What that means is, it binds with the CB1 receptor directly but induces a common effect. Rather than relieving pain using CB1 or CB2 receptors, it releases peptides from sensory nerves, activating another nerve to produce the same healing effect.
Like CBG, when CBN was tested on strains of methicillin-resistant MRSA bacteria, it was found to be effective. Add it to the list of options in fighting staph infections.
Due to its similarity to CBD, CBN may have use in treating inflammatory ailments. A 2009 study identified CBN as a potential treatment for many inflammatory disorders like allergic asthma.
Research from 2012 found that mice that were given CBN increased the duration of feeding as well as the amount of food they ingested.
What is Delta-8 THC?
Delta-8 THC is the younger brother of Delta-9-THC, commonly known simply as THC.
Delta-8 can be psychoactive for some consumers, just less so than Delta-9. Lots of consumers think of it as “weed light”. To this end, Delta-8 is often sold as an isolate, meaning the compound is removed from the plant and concentrated into a pure oil.
The two compounds are closely related. Delta-9 THC can be degraded to Delta-8 if it’s not stored well; as Delta-9 starts to age, the double-bond moves to the eighth carbon, which turns it into Delta-8.
The two most common methods used by commercial growers and extractors to access high-quantities of Delta-8 are selective breeding and molecular isolation.
How does Delta-8 THC work in the body?
Delta-8 has a very similar formula to Delta-9 THC. The only difference is that Delta-8 has a double-bond on the eighth carbon chain while Delta-9 THC has a double-bond on the ninth carbon chain, the eighth being tasked with providing all the THC effects without the psychoactive ones. The more you know, eh?
Remember the CB receptors? CB1 receptors are found in the brain, while CB2 receptors are found through the immune and digestive systems. Because of its molecular structure, Delta-8 binds more with CB2 than CB1 receptors.
If you think about it, it makes sense then that it has a smaller effect on your mind’s perception of things. In other words, Delta-8 THC provides numerous health benefits while resulting in less psychoactive impact.
Because of this unique binding, Delta-8 gives a far more active and uplifting set of sensations. The high is more alert and energizing, and has been widely reported to enhance energy levels and mood. Delta-8 is ideal for recreation, outdoor activities, and social gatherings.
Health Benefits of Delta-8 THC
Delta-8 has been shown to reduce inflammation and alleviate all kinds of pain. Besides that, it also stimulates appetite because it strongly affects the CB2 receptors.
Its less-potent psychoactive effects are also excellent for improving one’s mood, treating anxiety, and helping with depression.
While “normal” THC can often result in heightened anxiety and paranoia, Delta-8 has no side effects, and creates a relaxing feeling for most people.
Anyone that has used Delta-8 in the past will tell you that they feel a sense of clarity and focus, and breeze through their daily tasks effortlessly.
Other benefits of Delta-8 include:
- Natural pain analgesic
- Relieves nausea
- Neuroprotective properties
The Cons of Using Delta-8 THC
Like most cannabinoid products, you might experience dry mouth after consuming Delta-8 edibles. Nothing a bit of water won’t fix.
Another drawback is that Delta-8 could be illegal or difficult to obtain where you live. But the main reason why Delta-8 is not that popular is that it’s so hard to isolate and concentrate. The demand for it is there, but the supply is limited.
Is Delta-8 Legal?
In most of the United States, Delta-8 is legal, thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill that removed it from the list of controlled substances. You can enjoy Delta-8 in most states except Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, and Nebraska.
If you live outside of the US, it’s best to consult your local laws before trying to obtain Delta-8.
While CBD and THC remain the darlings of the cannabis world, the spotlight is shifting slightly every day.
CBG, CBN, and Delta-8 are slowly taking their rightful place, as researchers and consumers alike learn more about the promise of these lesser-known cannabinoids.
And each has its own reason to become a fan favourite, from CBG and CBN’s health benefits to Delta-8’s reputation as the perfect cannabinoid (ultimate relaxation without the paranoia).
It’s now up to you to explore and decide which is right for you. Who knows? It might be all three.