What Is CBGa?

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It seems like someone is touting the benefits of CBD oil everywhere you look. While CBD or cannabidiol is the main active compound found in hemp plants, it's not the only cannabinoid worth looking at.

As researchers dive deeper into hemp compounds, we find a wealth of potential wellness secrets to unlock.

Cannabigerolic acid, or CBGa, is a minor cannabinoid found naturally in young, flowering cannabis plants—and it's nicknamed the "mother cannabinoid" as it's the precursor to the two main cannabinoids, CBDa (cannabidiolic acid) and THCa (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) that eventually turn into CBD and THC through a process called decarboxylation.

CBGa and any other cannabinoid with the "a" affixed to it is the natural form of the compound that still contains a carboxylic acid group to the molecule.

So, what does this all mean, and are there any health benefits to be had from CBGa and other raw cannabis plant cannabinoids?

Read on to learn more.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Cannabis plant contains over 100 different active compounds, including cannabigerolic acid (CBGa).

  • CBGa is known as the "mother cannabinoid" because it eventually transforms into CBDa, THC, and CBCa as the cannabis plant matures.

  • Exposure to heat or UV breaks off the carboxylic acid chain, represented with the letter "a" leaving behind CBG. This slight variation in molecule structure may have unique effects in terms of pharmacology.

  • The research into cannabis's chemical compounds are primarily focused on THC and CBD, but early animal and human trials suggest that CBGa may effectively target unique pathways that may support viral infection, heart health, and metabolic disorders.

  • CBGa products are limited, but as more research and new cannabis plant extraction methods professes, we can expect to see more CBGa-focused products hit the market.

The Cannabis Plant & Cannabigerolic Acid

The cannabis Sativa plant is a member of the Cannabaceae family, which includes several other plants such as hops and hackberry.

The cannabis plant is the oldest medicinal plant used by humans and is rich in cannabinoids that inter with the endocannabinoid system [1]. The most well-known cannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

Before we get THC and CBD—these complex molecules start out in a different form, CBGa or cannabidiolic acid.

Cannabigerolic acid is the precursor to CBDa, THCa. and CBCa (cannabichromene), which starts to express in the resin glands of flowering cannabis plants around 3–4 weeks of the flowering cycle before UV exposure and oxidation transforms the molecule into its other forms.

By the time the cannabis plant matures (7-8 week period), there's very little CBGa that remains as it has converted into other acidic cannabinoids, which is why it's considered a minor cannabinoid.

However, with more cannabis breeders finding new ways to selectively breed strains that contain higher levels of CBGa, and more precise extracting processes, a lot more attention is being placed on minor cannabis compounds for their potential wellness benefits.

How Do We Get CBG From CBGa?

If you've ever looked into buying CBD products, chances are you've come across the terms CBDa, CBG, CBGa, and other cannabinoids with carboxylic acid groups.

But what do they all mean? In short, CBDa and CBGa are acidic cannabinoids that occur naturally in cannabis plants.

The "a" at the end of CBGa stands for "acid."

These acids are called carboxylic acids because they contain a carboxyl group (COOH)—a carbon atom bonded to an oxygen atom and a hydrogen atom.

When heated, these acids undergo a process called decarboxylation, which removes the carboxyl group and changes the molecule's chemical structure.

As a result, CBGa is converted into CBG—THCa into THC—and CBDa into CBD.

So, when you see a product containing CBG, it means that the plant material has been heated to remove the carboxyl group and produce CBG.

It was once believed that decarboxylation was necessary to harness the full potential therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids—but that may not be true.

Raw hemp extracts and raw cannabinoids such as cannabidiolic acid (CBDa) gained new popularity, with more research programs investing in these compounds' potential unique benefits in the endocannabinoid system.

These early studies show that cannabinoids don't necessarily have to be in their decarboxylated form to be biologically active. Consuming them in their most natural state may be some health benefits worth studying.

CBGa Research: What Are The Benefits Of CBGa?

There's very little medical research available on CBG, let alone cannabigerolic acid.

Much of the cannabis research is focused heavily on two cannabinoids: CBD and THC, but there's still a collection of promising studies centered around this foundational compound.

Let's get into some of the research on cannabigerolic acid.

CBGa May Block Viral Cell Entry Of SARS-CoV2

Research from Oregon State University, when viral on the internet when it was found that cannabigerolic acid (CBGa) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDa) can bind the spike protein markers on the COVID-19 virus, potentially blocking a crucial step in viral infection [2].

The study was performed on cells in test tubes (not on any living organism) and run through computer simulations, which means this isn't exactly a green light to use CBDa and CBGa to protect against COVID-19. but it does open doors to new studies in this space.

CBGa May Support Heart Health

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and is a growing problem worldwide. Many factors can put someone at risk for heart disease, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity.

While there is no cure for cardiovascular disease, there are treatments that can help prevent or manage the condition. Some recent studies have suggested that cannabinoids like CBGa may play a role in supporting heart health.

For example, in animal trials, CBGa has been shown to help lower blood pressure and slow the progression of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) [3].

Additionally, CBGa has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant potential that could protect the heart from damage. While more research is needed to fully understand the potential benefits of CBGa, it's an exciting area of study with the potential to improve the lives of millions of people affected by heart disease.

CBGa May Support Metabolic Disorders

Metabolic disorders are a broad category of conditions that affect the body's ability to properly process nutrients. This can lead to several problems, including weight gain, difficulty regulating blood sugar levels, and increased risk for heart disease.

A recent study has suggested that CBGa may help to support a healthy metabolism [4].

CBGa is thought to improve how the body metabolizes fat and glucose, which could potentially help reduce the symptoms of metabolic disorders.

CBGa May Have Anti-Cancer Properties

Studies on murine colorectal cancer have shown that CBGa can inhibit the growth of cancerous tumors by interrupting the cancer cell cycle [5].

It does this by helping to regulate cell proliferation and cell death.

While more research is needed to confirm these effects, CBGa shows positive effects on inhibiting the growth of colon cancer cells that's notoriously difficult to treat .

CBGa May Have Potent Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic inflammation of the intestines. The two main types of IBD are Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, fatigue, and fever. IBD can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms are similar to other GI disorders.

Treatment depends on the severity of the disease and may involve medication, surgery, or lifestyle changes.

CBGa may help to protect against inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and it has also been shown to be effective in reducing inflammation in animal models of colitis [6].

How Do You Take CBGa Oil Or Capsules For The Best Results?

 

Compared to CBDa, CBD, and CBN, CBGa research is still in its early stages, and there aren't very many CBGa-specific products available yet—but we're sure you'll find them hitting the market very soon.

You can take CBGa the same way you would take your CBD products.

Remember cannabinoids affect individuals differently—what works for one individual isn't necessarily what's going to be best for you. Factors can depend on your genetics, experience with cannabinoids, and your wellness goals.

Since cannabinoids are fat-soluable compounds, it's best to take your CBGa products with a light meal to increase its absorption through the digestive system, similar to CBD.

It's also recommended that you consume cannabinoids regularly—they're not miricle-cure compounds—rather they supplement the body's chemical messengers involved in maintaining homseostasis, which can potentially support one's overall wellbeing. As such, it's best to take these types of products consistently as a long-term regimen.

Another thing to be aware of when using CBGa or any other raw hemp compounds is that they tend to have a shorter shelf life as they're much more susceptible to heat, UV, and oxidation. This means, you should look to purchase fresh CBGa products to keep the CBGa content high before the chemical compounds eventually transform onto other cannabinoids or degrade.

Taking expired cannabinoids isn't necessarily dangerous, but it can reduce the potency and effectiveness of the product.

What Are The Potential Risks Of CBGa?

Since research into CBGa is still fairly new, and not well understood in human trials, there's not much safety information about the cannabinoid. However, many cannabinoids like CBDa, CBD, and even THC—which has psychoactive effects—have been found to be non-toxic and well-tolerated.

Some of the side effects of consuming too many cannabinoids are:

  • Nausea

  • Stomach upset

  • Headaches

  • Drowsiness

  • Lethargy

  • Appetite changes

That being said, the biggest concern for safety when it comes to any cannabinoid product is the manufacturing. The hemp plant is sensitive to its growing environment, which means it soaks up the good and the bad.

On top of this, there are many potentially dangerous extraction methods that can leave behind irritating chemicals in the final product. It's important to research cannabis products well before purchasing to avoid any issues.

Look for accredited third-party lab tests that can verify the cannabinoid content and contaminant report before you buy CBGa online or in-stores.

The Takeaway: What Is Cannabigerolic Acid & Its Potential Benefits?

Relaxed

CBGa or cannabigerolic acid is a naturally occurring compound found in the trichomes of cannabis plants. It's sometimes called the "mother cannabinoid" because this molecule eventually transforms into CBDa, THCa, and other cannabinoids.

Decarboxylation is a process that removes the carboxylic acid chain from the molecule, transforming CBGa into CBG. It was one believed that heat was needed to "activate" these cannabinoids for increased bioavailability. But now researchers are investigating the potential benefits of cannabinoid acids.

Some early studies suggests that CBGa may be useful for supporting a variety of conditions including, inflammation, viral infection, cancer growth, and cardiovascular disease—However, most of these studies are in their very early stages and more investigation is needed to fully understand the potential and safety of this compound.

Resources:

  1. Farag, S., & Kayser, O. (2017). The cannabis plant: botanical aspects. In Handbook of cannabis and related pathologies (pp. 3-12). Academic Press.

  2. van Breemen, R. B., Muchiri, R. N., Bates, T. A., Weinstein, J. B., Leier, H. C., Farley, S., & Tafesse, F. G. (2022). Cannabinoids block cellular entry of SARS-CoV-2 and the emerging variants. Journal of natural products, 85(1), 176-184.

  3. Smeriglio, A., Giofrè, S. V., Galati, E. M., Monforte, M. T., Cicero, N., D'Angelo, V., ... & Circosta, C. (2018). Inhibition of aldose reductase activity by Cannabis sativa chemotypes extracts with high content of cannabidiol or cannabigerol. Fitoterapia, 127, 101-108.

  4. D'Aniello, E., Fellous, T., Iannotti, F. A., Gentile, A., Allarà, M., Balestrieri, F., ... & Di Marzo, V. (2019). Identification and characterization of phytocannabinoids as novel dual PPARα/γ agonists by a computational and in vitro experimental approach. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)-General Subjects, 1863(3), 586-597.

  5. Nallathambi, R., Mazuz, M., Namdar, D., Shik, M., Namintzer, D., Vinayaka, A. C., ... & Koltai, H. (2018). Identification of synergistic interaction between cannabis-derived compounds for cytotoxic activity in colorectal cancer cell lines and colon polyps that induces apoptosis-related cell death and distinct gene expression. Cannabis and cannabinoid research, 3(1), 120-135.

  6. Nallathambi, R., Mazuz, M., Ion, A., Selvaraj, G., Weininger, S., Fridlender, M., ... & Koltai, H. (2017). Anti-inflammatory activity in colon models is derived from δ9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid that interacts with additional compounds in cannabis extracts. Cannabis and

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