The cannabis plant never ceases to amaze us. Every time we think that we have enough knowledge regarding cannabis and its cannabinoids, a new one emerges on the block. Fortunately, the story doesn’t end here. There are hundreds of cannabinoids waiting to be explored and utilized for therapeutic purposes.
For now, we will concentrate on the non-psychoactive compounds of the cannabis plant and help you understand how they work and what these cannabinoids can do for you therapeutically. Moreover, in this guide, we will discuss the differences between CBG, CBN, CBC, and CBD to help you understand why these cannabinoids are garnering attention from consumers, patients, and medical health professionals nationwide.
What Are Cannabinoids?
To put things into perspective, we have to first go through some basics. The term cannabinoid means a substance that’s well adept at interacting with the cannabinoid receptors present inside the human body.
There are two main receptors inside the human body namely CB1 and CB2. The former is found in the central nervous system and the brain region whereas CB2 largely covers the peripheral region and is often associated with inflammation.
These naturally occurring cannabinoids and the receptors (CB1, CB2) regulate a wide range of functions. For instance, pain, appetite, and inflammation, and these functions are collectively characterized as the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
For years, our body has made its own endocannabinoid system to help regulate certain functions inside our body. The two widely known ones are Anandamide and 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). The phytocannabinoids or cannabinoids successfully interact with these receptors to produce a powerful reaction.
Also, one of the main reasons why researchers have extensively studied cannabinoids. In particular, CBD and THC. These are the two main cannabinoids known to humankind. THC is the psychoactive part of the cannabis plant whereas CBD is the non-psychoactive part that’s often touted for its therapeutic potential.
However, you have to note that the cannabis plant is made of several cannabinoids. Some scientists say that the cannabis plants contain more than 100 components which are all derived from the parent cannabinoid called cannabigerol acid (CBGA).
Similarly, CBGA is also considered the precursor to the acidic forms of cannabinoids. For example CBGA, THCA, CBDA, etc. Once heated, the acidic forms turn into non-acidic forms (CBG, THC, CBD) which have a significant impact on our bodies.
That said, now let us look at these cannabinoids one-by-one.
Cannabigerol or CBG present in low levels (less than or equal to 1%) is the lesser found compound of the cannabis plant. As mentioned earlier, CBGA, the precursor of three main compounds breaks itself down directly in the presence of heat and light. The acidic form is exposed to heat and ultraviolet rays and that’s how you get CBG, CBD, and THC.
However, the tricky part is that the non-acidic form i.e. CBGA gets converted into THC and CBD immediately. As a result, we only get fewer amounts of CBG due to how these components are synthesized.
This is also one of the major reasons why we have several studies on the therapeutic benefits of CBD and THC and very few on CBG and other lesser found components. Fortunately, scientists have figured out a way to produce large quantities of CBG through the method of cross-breeding.
The famous breeding experiment conducted by Subcool Seeds to produce higher amounts of CBG through cross-breeding pinpoints that we can extract optimum amounts of lesser found compounds such as CBG.
Potential Benefits of CBG
We do not have extensive research on CBG. However, a few studies point out that CBG is equally beneficial and it can help alleviate the symptoms of few conditions. Let’s take a look at the benefits of CBG one by one.
Blood Pressure, Pain, and Inflammation Regulation
A study shows that CBG can interact with the natural receptors present inside the body and stimulate the receptors associated with pain, heat, and sensation. Not only this but the study also went on to say that CBG stimulates a2-adrenergic receptors present inside the blood vessels and brain. As a result, the researchers believe that CBG might have a role in blood pressure, pain, and inflammation regulation.
CBD, too, has a major role in regulating pain and inflammation, but it’s unclear whether CBG has any unique properties because it is produced in much lesser quantities than CBD.
When it comes to alleviating pain associated with specific medical conditions, a few animal studies show that CBG may be beneficial in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease and Huntington’s disease.
In addition to this, a test-tube study showed that CBG also has some antibacterial properties and it can prevent the spread of Colon cancer cells.
Supports Appetite and Sleep Regulation
Besides this, a few scientific pieces of research show that CBG can improve the sleep cycle and regulate appetite through increased production of dopamine. While all these benefits are pretty much evident, both CBD and CBG have been shown to have been touted as a treatment option for cancer and glaucoma.
So, it’s clearly visible that CBG has promising therapeutic benefits. Although we have to keep in mind that concrete research evidence in the near future will help us draw befitting conclusions.
CBN is another lesser-known compound of the cannabis plant. Widely acknowledged for its sleeping properties, the compound is also termed as “the sleeping cannabinoid.”
CBN appears in the chemical structure after the prolonged breakdown of THC with the help of heat, light, and oxygen. Its parent being THC some people also think that CBN has intoxicating research. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that CBN is mildly intoxicating. It produces one-fourth of the psychoactive effects produced by THC.
Potential Benefits of CBN
Because CBN receives a wide acknowledgement for its sleeping properties, it’s no hidden fact that patients suffering from insomnia and other sleep-related problems are most likely to benefit from CBN the most.
While sedation is one of the main properties of CBN, research indicates that cannabinol also enhances the effects of THC. According to a study conducted in 1975 CBN is largely found in older cannabis flowers than fresh ones. This also means that CBN is largely a by-product of THC with low molecular weight and high sedation effects.
Moreover, sedation is one of the major differences that we have to take into account while comparing CBN to CBD as the latter does not produce highly effective sedative properties.
In addition to CBN’s effectiveness in alleviating the symptoms of sleep-related problems, it’s often touted for pain-relieving properties. Not only this but CBN also has a different mechanism of action. In other words, if you look at the functioning of CBD and CBG, they both bind indirectly with the naturally occurring receptors to produce maximum effects.
On the other hand, CBN’s productivity is approximately 10% of THC. Instead of interacting directly with the receptors (CB1, CB2), it releases peptides from sensory nerves and builds its own mechanism to alleviate pain.
CBN also has the potential to fight bacteria. In a study, published in 2008, CBN was tested on multiple antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The results of the study showed that CBN has the potential to reduce the effects of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria.
CBD has often been touted for its anti-inflammatory properties. However, when it comes to CBN, it’s not known for producing anti-inflammatory effects as effectively as CBD or CBG. To put things into perspective, here’s a study conducted in 2009 that identified CBN as a potential anti-inflammatory agent for medical conditions such as allergic asthma and glaucoma.
Potential Treatment for Convulsive Illnesses
A 1970 study identified CBN as a potential treatment option for convulsive ailments. However, you have to note that anti-convulsive properties of CBN are more effective when CBD, THC, CBN, and all other compounds work in tandem with each other than CBN as an isolate.
Stimulates the Growth of Bones
CBN has the ability to bind with stem cells. This means that by regulating the functioning of stem cells, it can heal bone fractures and create bone tissues for healthy bone growth.
According to a 2012 study, CBN is also considered an effective appetite stimulant. In this study, rats who were administered with CBN showed a significant increase in appetite than rats who were not. So, this also means that CBN is a much safer non-psychoactive alternative to THC.
CBC is another lesser-known compound of the cannabis plant. It has robust anti-inflammatory properties and just like CBN, CBC, too, has a different mechanism. In other words, it binds to the body’s TRPA1 receptor instead of CB1 and CB2.
Produced in the glandular trichomes of the cannabis plant, CBC also has potential therapeutic properties. Interestingly, the origin of CBC is quite similar to that of THC and CBG. Just like CBG and THC are precursors of CBGA, CBC, too, stems from the non-acidic form of CBG.
The breakdown takes place with the help of heat and ultraviolet radiation. Once CBGA turns into its acidic form, it produces both CBG and CBC in fewer quantities. That said, let us look at the benefits of CBC one by one.
Potential Benefits of CBC
Before we dive into the potential benefits of CBC as a therapeutic agent, you have to understand that all these benefits are still a part of the research. We still need concrete evidence to suggest CBC or CBG as a fruitful treatment option for different types of medical conditions.
Medical research shows that CBC may offer potential properties to fight certain types of cancer. To prove the hypothesis, we have a 2014 study that reveals cannabinoids such as CBC have anti-proliferative effects on tumors generated by the human body.
The CBD cosmetic market is filled with different products. However, little do people know other than CBD, we also have CBC creams specifically designed to cater to certain skin problems. The CBC cream, in particular, may help treat acne, as per a study published in the journal of Experimental Dermatology.
Another study published in the journal of the National Library of Medicine revealed that CBC in tandem with CBD and THC can help ease depression. However, the study also went on to say that medical supervision is necessary if a person seeks cannabis for the treatment of mental health problems.
Healthy Brain Function
Some researchers believe that CBC may help develop healthier brain cell functions by developing a positive impact on the neural stem progenitor. Basically, NSPCs are the most vital form of cells present inside the human brain. They host a wide range of functions. For instance, defending against oxidative stress, easing inflammatory response, and minimizing toxicity leading to neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.
We have several promising benefits associated with different cannabinoids. Be it CBG, CBN, CBC, or CBD. However, you have to note that every promising study mentioned-above requires in-depth research to determine the strength of each cannabinoid. So, before you consume cannabis for the treatment of specific ailments, make sure that you do the same under medical supervision.
Major Differences Between CBD, CBG, CBN, and CBC
Now that we have individually discussed each cannabinoid, it’s time to draw an overall comparison. Although, we also have to keep in mind that these cannabinoids have many similarities despite their individual characteristics. For example, all of them are non-psychoactive in nature.
Their felt effects may vary a little from each other, however, they all provide mild and calming effects with no signs of cerebral high. In addition to this, each cannabinoid has either anti-inflammatory or pain-relieving properties.
The relationship between these cannabinoids is also worth noticing. All of them work in tandem with each other to produce a more powerful effect than isolated forms. Therefore, we can account the similarities for the differences between CBG, CBN, CBC, and CBD.
The first noticeable difference is that both CBN and CBG have antibacterial properties but CBD and CBC do not show promising results. Also, when we look at the anti-inflammatory properties, CBG helps with digestive inflammation and CBN works well in the case of inflammation associated with allergies.
The only exception, in this case, is that CBD appears to have a major impact on different types of inflammatory diseases compared to CBG. In contrast, CBC does not impact inflammation as much as the other compounds do.
More importantly, we should also note that CBC is the only non-intoxicating compound touted as a potential treatment for cancer and CBN for its sleep-related benefits. So, it’s safe to say that while these compounds have several similarities, each represents a unique characteristic making them an equally desirable compound.