By Marissa Fratoni, BSN, RN, RYT, INHC
Scientifically Reviewed by Julie Battel, CNM, MPH; Caitlin Bernhard, MSN, FNP
Chances are you’ve heard of CBD, but do you know about its relative, Cannabigerol (CBG)? This article will tell you all you need to know about this promising new compound that comes from the same plant as CBD and THC. Like CBD, it doesn’t make you high and might be useful for pain relief, including helping with period cramps and discomfort.
You’ll learn what the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is, what role it plays in your body, and how CBG interacts with the receptors in this system to produce some helpful effects such as reducing inflammation. We’ll take a look at what the science says about CBG as well as some benefits that people report from using CBG. Finally, we’ll see whether CBG could potentially help close the gender pain gap and introduce an exciting opportunity for women and other menstruators to participate in some research that could help bridge this gap.
As cannabis legalization reaches across the globe, consumers and non-consumers alike have developed an awareness of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). These phytocannabinoid (phyto = plant) cousins are readily available in legal markets. THC is well-known for its psychoactive effects (acting on the brain and nervous system) that include euphoria, pain relief, and increased appetite. When one thinks of a stereotypical cannabis user, the accompanying vision tends to be of a person under the influence of THC. High, happy, laughing at silly things, eating all the snacks. CBD is also psychoactive, but without the impairing effects; rather, you may feel mellow, calm, and more comfortable. In the last few years, CBD has gone mainstream with a variety of products that are widely available including gummies, infused foods, pet treats and medicines, tinctures, salves, hair products, and even suppositories like OVY RELIEF, AIMA’s CBD Enhanced Vaginal Suppository for menstrual relief and PMS symptom management.
With the popularity of CBD taking root, it’s no surprise that other minor cannabinoids are following in their better-known cousins’ path. CBG (cannabigerol) is one of the cannabinoids that is gaining attention with its intriguing therapeutic potential and non-impairing effects. Its health benefits are thought to fall somewhere between THC and CBD, as CBG appears to have an affinity for the body’s cannabinoid receptors and other receptors geared toward modulating pain response and inflammation.1 And like CBD, CBG is psychoactive but non-impairing.
With these symptom-relieving benefits, is it possible to enjoy less life-disrupting periods? Perhaps. CBG is a plant medicine that struggling menstruators may benefit from. We’ll go a little deeper to learn more about this fascinating phytocannabinoid. But first, let’s talk about the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) - the reason why phytocannabinoids like CBG have such great therapeutic potential.
What is the ECS?
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is one of the most important physiological systems involved in controlling and maintaining human health. Often called the master regulatory system, the ECS is responsible for homeostasis which refers to the balance of all body systems. one of the most important physiological systems involved in controlling and maintaining human health. Often called the master regulatory system, the ECS is responsible for homeostasis which refers to the balance of all body systems. The ECS consists of a network of receptors located throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems known as cannabinoid receptors, and endocannabinoids which are chemical messengers made by the body for the body. When the ECS is functioning properly, we tend to enjoy less pain, better sleep, fewer fluctuations in appetite and digestion, and moods are manageable. Disruption of homeostasis is linked to chronic conditions that are painful and difficult to treat, including endometriosis, migraines, IBS, and fibromyalgia.
Thankfully, we have many ways to regulate this system to bring it into a more balanced state of functioning. Consuming a whole foods diet, maintaining adequate hydration, getting enough sleep, and engaging in enjoyable movement such as hiking or yoga all help to modulate the ECS. And when all of the above still leaves a challenge on the table, phytocannabinoids, like CBG, can be added into the mix to promote improved functioning. This is because phytocannabinoids mimic the effects of endocannabinoids in our bodies, which is the primary reason why human beings have used cannabis as medicine for millennia.
So what is CBG? It’s a phytocannabinoid
Cannabigerol (CBG) is one of over 150 identified phytocannabinoids in the Cannabis sativa plant. Often called the “mother of all cannabinoids” - CBG, or more accurately its acidic precursor - cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), is the precursor of THCA and CBDA. With typical cultivation methods of a THC-dominant plant, a fully mature and dried cannabis plant will have very small quantities of CBGA and CBG by weight, but will be rich in THCA. This is because as the plant matures, CBGA eventually converts to these other cannabinoids via enzymatic reaction. Hence the reason why CBG and CBGA are considered minor cannabinoids - there are very small concentrations of these compounds identified at the time of harvest. However, recent trends suggest that CBG is just as significant as its mainstream cousins and as such, cultivators have started breeding CBG-dominant cultivars to meet the need.2
What does scientific research have to say about CBG?
Current research about CBG is in the preclinical phase. To date, there are less than 70 studies that have investigated the therapeutic potential of CBG at the cellular level and in animals. However, there is growing real-world evidence that CBG is efficacious in the reduction of symptoms stemming from inflammation in the body, a therapeutic benefit relevant to cannabinoids in general.
In October 2022, the findings from the first patient survey of CBG-predominant cannabis use were published. This study was the first to document the efficacy of CBG products with patients reporting relief from anxiety, chronic pain, depression, and insomnia symptoms. Furthermore, CBG was indicated to have greater effectiveness than conventional medications (such as opioids, non-opioid pain relievers, and NSAIDs) for these conditions and acute pain, nausea, irritable bowel syndrome, and other types of inflammation.3
Can CBG Bridge The Gender-Pain Gap?
As is the case with the cannabis movement, science has yet to catch up to real-world evidence. Millions of people around the globe use cannabis to improve their menstrual symptoms, often with good effect. Cannabis clinicians convey that their patients report relief from pain, anxiety, and insomnia with the use of CBG. Research is starting to provide supporting evidence as to why patients are reporting these benefits. One thing that is certain in the literature - the ECS is a major player in the development and functioning of the reproductive system. So it’s no surprise that cannabis plays a role in relieving disharmony in this system.
Menstruators tired of consuming caffeine and analgesic medications like ibuprofen may find similar relief with the use of CBG and other cannabinoids, with less gastrointestinal upset and mood fluctuation. We can expect more research to expand on the benefits and risks associated with cannabis use for pain and inflammation in general. Still, to bridge the gender-pain gap, we must continue to advocate for menstruator health to be at the forefront of this research. Can CBG bridge the gender-pain gap? It’s certainly got some merit.
Interested in participating in research that will help to bridge the gender-pain gap? The AIMA team is looking for women and menstruators in the U.S. to try and test OVY for free and share their feedback. Submit details on the form provided and the AIMA team will be in touch!
At Aima, we have vaginal CBD products that will suit your needs. So check it out for yourself!
1. Nachnani, R., Raup-Konsavage, W.M., & Vrana, K.E. (2021). Potential Clinical Uses of CBG. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, 376(2), 204-212. https://doi.org/10.1124/jpet.120.000340
2. Seltenrich , N. (2022, November 30). CBG! A compound with intriguing medical potential. CBG! A Compound With Intriguing Medical Potential | Project CBD. https://www.projectcbd.org/cbg-compound-intriguing-medical-potential
3. Russo, E. B., Cuttler, C., Cooper, Z. D., Stueber, A., Whiteley, V. L., & Sexton, M. (2022). Survey of Patients Employing Cannabigerol-Predominant Cannabis Preparations: Perceived Medical Effects, Adverse Events, and Withdrawal Symptoms. Cannabis and cannabinoid research, 7(5), 706–716. https://doi.org/10.1089/can.2021.0058