CBG Science

life course of cannabinoids CBGa CBG cannabigerol mother of all cannabinoidsCBD (Cannabidiol) and its psychoactive cousin THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) have been the most widely used and well-known cannabinoids to date. Contemporary research, however, suggests that one cannabinoid, the little-known CBG (Cannabigerol), may be far more significant.1 It has numerous beneficial properties that far exceed the scope of those provided by CBD alone.
 
CBG is the precursor to all other significant cannabinoids. Hemp plants convert CBG into CBD, THC, and other less notable cannabinoids. By the time hemp flower is harvested to produce full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD oil, there is usually less than one percent CBG in the final product, as the rest has been processed into other cannabinoids. CBG is normally only found in significant quantities early in a hemp plant’s life cycle. As a result, it was historically cost-prohibitive to incorporate meaningful quantities of CBG into cannabinoid products. CBD products that claim to contain CBG without specifying the exact amount must be viewed with suspicion. In recent years, some farmers have started breeding and cultivating CBG-rich strains, increasing the availability of the cannabinoid and making CBG products commercially viable. However, CBG currently still costs three to four times more per milligram than CBD.
 
In addition to these three primary cannabinoids, over one hundred identified cannabinoids exist. Full-spectrum CBD and broad-spectrum CBD products contain most of these cannabinoids. The stability of many of these cannabinoids remains unclear, and there is little research on how most of them affect the human body.
 

Another major challenge in formulating products with full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD oil is the dramatic variance in the cannabinoid profile of the oil being produced. Profile variation occurs from one season to the next and from plant to plant in the same hemp field. Simply put, the composition of the oil is not the same every time. This issue is well-known to any scientist who has been involved in the planting, harvesting, and extraction of hemp for CBD. Therefore, it is unrealistic to assume that consumers get the same product each time they buy a product made with full-spectrum or broad-spectrum oil. To oversimplify a complex issue, it would be like going to a vineyard and sampling the wine, then returning a few years later and expecting the wine made from a new harvest to taste the same as the wine sampled on the previous visit. This is an unlikely prospect, if not outright impossible.

It makes sense that those who enjoy cannabis appreciate a craft experience, just as wine enthusiasts appreciate the idiosyncrasies of different vintages. It is important to acknowledge and appreciate growers like those of the Emerald Triangle in Humboldt County, California for pioneering and refining the art of craft cannabis. Even in the case of craft cannabis, there is great care given to nurturing and protecting “mother plants” to prevent genetic mutations from occurring so that a consumer’s experience of a particular strain is preserved from one harvest to the next.

A hemp grower or CBD product manufacturer using full-spectrum or broad-spectrum CBD is limited in their ability to ensure that each batch will be able to meet the standards of the discerning consumer, who is expecting a consistent product experience. On the other hand, CBG-isolates and CBD-isolates that are independently lab tested as +99.9% pure, will reliably produce specific, measurable, and consistently repeatable results. It is understandable that purists and early participants in CBD would object to this reasoning claiming the absence of the “entourage effect.” The entourage effect is a theory that the more than one hundred different cannabinoids and terpenes found in full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD oil work together to provide the consumer greater benefits. While the complementary effects of CBD and THC can be dramatic, there is currently limited evidence to suggest that secondary cannabinoids or terpenes contribute meaningfully to these results.

Cannabinoid terpenes are known to be unstable. Additionally, the unknown stability of secondary compounds over prolonged periods means that it is impossible to say how long they remain safe for use. Full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD products will face hurdles in serving the broader US population if the consumer experience is inconsistent.

Biology

Endocannabinoid Receptor System

endocannabinoid system cbg cannabigerol cb1 receptor cb2 receptorA representation of the human endocannabinoid receptor system is provided in the diagram to the left. CBG is the one cannabinoid that research2 has demonstrated as binding to both the CB1 receptor (receptor to which THC binds) and the CB2 receptor (the receptor to which CBD binds). It is also unique in that it does this without being psychoactive. This suggests that CBG is capable of producing much of the entourage effect by itself. Protocols using CBG isolate can ensure that the cannabinoid profile of a product is consistent in every dropper, jar, and ingestible dietary supplement. Consumers who benefit from the use of CBG isolate products will be able to depend on consistent experiences with each use.

Unlike full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD oil, which are liquids, CBG-isolates and CBD-isolates are white crystalline powder (pictured below). Although they are solids, they have same the hydrophobic qualities as full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD oil. As a result, they form large, spherical structures to keep water away from the hydrophobic region of the molecule. The size of these structures makes them difficult for the body to absorb. In that way, cannabinoids have physical properties similar to certain vitamins, specifically vitamins A, D, E, and K. In the case of cannabinoids, this can lead to absorption rates that are less than ten percent of the ingested dosage. There can also be a delay in bioavailability. This can be particularly problematic for cannabis users who are partial to edibles and concentrates. A user may ingest an edible and, due to the lack of immediate effects, consume one or more additional edibles. This can result in an undesirably intense experience when the content of all consumed edibles finally becomes bioavailable.

 

cbg isolates

CBG Isolate

Nanoemulsion

visualization of nanoemulsion emulsion particle size bioavailability cannabinoidsThis issue of reduced and delayed bioavailability has led to the appearance of Nanoemulsion in the cannabinoid space. Nanoemulsion is akin to taking an oil particle that is the size of a basketball and breaking it down into spheres the size of golf balls. A description of various nano-emulsification methods are documented in research3 published by Nano Bella Chief Chemist Dr. Manish Kumar Ph.D., a leading researcher on the subject of hydrophobic bioactive nano-emulsification. The use of Nanoemulsion methods can significantly improve speed and absorption volume of cannabinoids.4 It is important to understand that not all Nanoemulsion methods are created equal. Unfortunately, the most common method employed in the cannabinoid space is ultrasonication. This uses sound waves to agitate the compound resulting in extreme temperatures at the core of the bioactive particle and widely varying final particulate sizes. This approach has the precision of slicing bread with a sledgehammer. This method is still effective but may result in some bioactive degradation of the cannabinoid (diagram below). Dr. Manish Kumar and other leading scientists are developing Nanoemulsion methods with a precision that more closely resembles those used in the cutting of diamonds. Over time, these methods will emerge as the gold standard in the cannabinoid marketplace.

ultrasonication nanoemulsion

Drug Testing

The federally permitted level of THC in full-spectrum CBD oil is 0.3%. The most common cases of consumers failing drug tests after using a CBD product are among those who have used a full-spectrum product. Broad-spectrum and isolate-based products are often labeled as THC-free or THC undetectable. While there is no formal standard for THC-free or THC undetectable, the prevailing convention seems to be a level below 0.01% THC. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to remove every particle of THC. The challenge for individuals in the military and law enforcement is that cannabinoids are fat soluble. This means that if absorbed into a human cell, the THC can build up over time and, depending on the volume consumed, can cause a person to fail a drug test. There are six types of drug testing: oral, urine, blood, hair, perspiration, and breathalyzers. The accuracy and reliability of these tests vary. So, it is important for these individuals to understand that, however slim the possibility may be, they may fail a drug test if they use a broad-spectrum or isolate based CBD or CBG product.

Market Integrity

There is a wholly separate trust issue that is impeding the growth of the non-psychoactive cannabinoid market. There are some larger respected companies in the CBD space that are making their way to becoming household names, and these companies make a conscious effort to bring order and standards to the cannabinoid marketplace. Unfortunately, the early CBD goldrush, combined with a relatively lax regulatory environment, led to a number of unscrupulous opportunists tainting the early market with poor-quality products. These products often contained low doses of CBD or, in some cases, no CBD at all. With so many white-labeled, third-party manufactured products in the marketplace, some of these questionable business practices will persist for the foreseeable future.