Cannabis has long been used to alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions, but which cannabinoid is most effective has always been up for debate.
Today we will focus on Cannabigerol, or CBG, and the different reasons why it’s an excellent option for treating depression. According to the World Health Organization, depression is the most common mental illness, affecting over 264 million people worldwide. Depression is a leading cause of disability as well as a major contributor to the overall poor health.
Finding a healthy, effective, and sustainable treatment option is of utmost importance. Prescription antidepressants can have numerous unpleasant side effects including but not limited to nausea, sexual dysfunction, weight gain, insomnia, blurred vision, dizziness, and in some cases, even suicidal thoughts.
This is exactly why researchers are looking at individual cannabinoids as a possible solution to this growing problem.
What is CBG?
Cannabigerol is considered a minor cannabinoid because its presence in cannabis is usually in very low levels – typically less than 1 percent. It does have an important role as a precursor to other cannabinoids, and thus, CBGA has been rightfully dubbed the “Mother of Cannabinoids”. Its ability to synthesize major cannabinoids has pushed into the limelight for researchers, investors, and consumers alike.
Specifically, CBGA (cannabigerolic acid) is a direct line to three main cannabinoids: tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), and cannabichromenic acid (CBCA). Once exposed to heat or light in process known as decarboxylation, THCA, CBDA, and CBCA will shed their carboxyl acid group and become THC, CBD, and CBC, respectively.
When it comes to CBGA though, certain enzymes break it down and it is immediately converted to THCA, CBDA , or CBCA. This is why more THC means less CBG, because of the unique way these compounds interact and are synthesized.
In certain strains, CBGA naturally converts to CBG. These strains are low in THC and easily able to pass compliance standards. To get more flowers with these high levels of CBG, breeders are practicing plant cross-breeding and other forms of genetic manipulation.
The Research: CBG for Depression
Although minimal research exists, there are numerous possible therapeutic uses for CBG which have been previously noted. For example, it can be used to treat glaucoma, inflammatory bowel disease, colorectal cancers, and Huntington’s disease.
Another area of interest is the role of CBD in mental health and the treatment of clinical depression. Researchers have discovered that CBG can inhibit uptake of GABA and serotonin in the brain, which can lead to increased levels of these neurotransmitters in the brain. Decreased levels both GABA and serotonin have been linked to depression, making CBG a promising option when it comes to treating this disorder.
What’s also interesting is that when in comes to GABA, CBG is said to inhibit uptake more effectively than other cannabinoids, namely CBD and THC. This is noteworthy because, just like CBD, Cannabigerol is also non-psychoactive and has no intoxicating effects whatsoever. It can be a mild, alternative mood enhancer.
And finally, it’s also believed that CBG can boost production of Anandamide, an endocannabinoid known as ‘The Bliss Molecule’. Anandamide naturally increases dopamine levels and is responsible for regulating various functions such as sleep, mood, and appetite.
A 2015 study, which examined both humans and rats, found that high levels of anandamide contributed to mood enhancement and fear reduction. When the enzymes that break down anandamide were inhibited, that led to a decrease in fear and anxiety when threats were perceived. This is another way that CBG can be used for depression.
Although much more research is needed, it does seem that CBG has potential as a natural and holistic method for treating depression, a condition that effects so many people across the globe.
As the number of sufferers continues to rise, health organization in major nations will have to dedicate a lot more time and resources to combating this condition. And instead of using potentially dangerous drugs like SSRIs, the answer may be found in something natural and much safer: CBG-rich cannabis plants.