Chronic Pain

The medical community is beginning to recognize cannabis as a means to help relieve and control chronic pain, especially CBD and CBG. 

What is CBG? 

Cannabigerol (CBG) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid obtained from young cannabis plants. All other cannabinoids are derivatives of cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), an acidic form of CBG. Commonly seen cannabinoids include cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). 

CBG is found in smaller quantities, and in most strains, just one percent of CBG can be seen compared to twenty to thirty percent of CBD or THC content. Cannabis products derived from Cannabigerol cannabinoids are hard to come by and are usually very expensive. However, CBG is becoming more popular recently due to its medically researched health benefits. 

What is a Cannabinoid? 

Cannabinoids are found in the cannabis plant and are produced naturally by the human body. We have an endocannabinoid system (ECS) that internally produces cannabinoids. These compounds are crucial to maintaining internal balance through many body systems.

Cannabinoids interact with our ECS to help maintain functional balance through a system of messenger molecules and receptors. Sleep, energy, cardiovascular function, reproduction, stress, chronic pain, motivation, appetite, digestion, and more are some of the body functions that cannabinoids impact.  

The two most commonly known cannabinoids found in cannabis are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). The word cannabinoid can refer to THC or any chemical that acts on cannabinoid receptors.

Cannabinoids vs. Terpenes

Cannabinoids and terpenes are both active chemical compounds found in cannabis plants. While cannabinoids are considered primarily responsible for the euphoric effects and medicinal benefits associated with cannabis Sativa, terpenes remain the source of the cannabis plant’s aroma and taste.

However, when cannabinoids and terpenes combine, they create a synergistic effect on the human endocannabinoid system. The two complement and enhance the sum of their therapeutic or euphoric properties.

How is CBG made? 

CBG is derived from younger cannabis plants because they contain the highest amounts of this particular cannabinoid. The levels drop significantly as the cannabis plant gets older. Some specific strains have higher CBG content than others and are specifically cultivated to produce higher quantities than other cannabinoids.

Both CBD and THC begin as CBGA, an acidic form of CBG. In fully developed cannabis plants, you’ll typically find lower concentrations of CBG because most of the CBG is converted to CBD and THC as the plant matures. Due to the difficulty of getting CBG, cultivators are cross-breeding and genetically modifying marijuana plants to help produce more CBG. 

What are the effects of CBG? 

Cannabigerol (CBG) is a cannabinoid. Cannabinoids essentially mimic the body’s endocannabinoid system, such as anandamide. Anandamide is a fatty acid that activates the receptors. Cannabinoids bind themselves to fat-soluble molecules to enter a cell’s lipid bilayer.

Cannabinoids attach themselves to CB1 and CB2 receptors. 

CB1 receptors are found in the areas of the brain that control pain perception, movement, memory, cognition, emotion, and autonomic functions. CB2 receptors are typically found in immune system cells. When the proper connection between cannabinoid and receptor is made, the body is stimulated to have a specific response.

CBG works by binding to both cannabinoid receptors, where it’s thought to strengthen the function of anandamide. This neurotransmitter enhances pleasure and motivation, regulates appetite and sleep, and alleviates pain. 

Can CBG get you High?

No, the CBG that cannabis plants produce won’t get you high. CBG is a non-psychoactive minor cannabinoid. CBG interacts with the psychoactive compound (THC) to offset its effects.

Is CBG Legal? 

Per the Federal Controlled Substances Act, CBG sourced from marijuana is federally prohibited. Still, CBG from hemp is legal thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized all hemp plant derivatives. As hemp-derived products contain 0.3% or less THC, retailers can legally sell them in licensed dispensaries.

Is CBG organic?

CBG is a natural compound produced early in cannabis plant growth. Since CBG occurs in low concentrations, CBG producers typically utilize extraction technology involving CO2 or ethanol to extract more significant amounts of CBG from the plant.

The Medical Benefits of CBG

CBG helps with inflammation, chronic pain, nausea, depression, and anxiety and works to slow the growth of cancer cells. Research has shown it also significantly reduces eye pressure caused by glaucoma and can help patients live pain-free life.

Strains high in CBG can treat medical conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and cancer. Read on below to dive deeper into CBG research and findings. 

CBG has shown promising effects on specific inflammatory channels in mice related to the response of chronic inflammation in the bodies. The study concluded that CBG helped to support a normal inflammatory response.

Another experimental study from 2013 observed the benefits of CBG on inflammatory bowel disease (IBS). Researchers induced colon inflammation in mice and then gave them CBG, reducing the inflammation and nitric oxide production. It also reduced the reactive oxygen species (ROS) in their intestines. 

CBG seems to share the appetite-stimulating trait well-known by THC users and produces what is commonly referred to as the munchies. Appetite stimulation can help certain people obtain proper nutrients when they do not want to eat. In a recent study with rats, CBG increased their appetites without producing harmful side effects.

Here are the many ways in which CBG can potentially help people:

  • Depression & Anxiety
  • Inflammation
  • Discomfort
  • Metabolism
  • Eyesight
  • Focus
  • Stress
  • Appetite

Potential Side Effects

There currently isn’t enough research to determine the potential side effects of CBG. However, CBG, like other minor cannabinoids, has very low toxicity and is well tolerated by humans. There were no significant adverse effects in recent clinical trials with rats with high doses of CBG.

What is CBD? 

Cannabidiol CBD is a chemical found in marijuana, and the cannabis plant is used to manage various health conditions, such as inflammatory and neuropathic pain relief. CBD is found in marijuana and the hemp plant (Cannabis Sativa plant).

Hemp-derived CBD products do not contain THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the chemical in marijuana that causes psychoactive effects referred to as a high.

The 2018 Farm Bill made cannabidiol CBD derived from hemp or with less than 0.3 percent THC legal as a controlled substance in the United States. Prescription-strength CBD oil derived from the cannabis plant has been approved by the FDA as a practical seizure option. It is often used to help patients with epilepsy and treat pain-related behaviors.

What are the benefits?

CBD can benefit those with certain health conditions, such as:  

  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Alzheimer’s disease 
  • Parkinson’s disease  
  • Huntington’s disease  
  • Schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease 
  • Crohn’s disease 
  • Arthritis pain
  • Chronic pain 
  • Central Nervous system disorders
  • Low & High Blood Pressure regulation
  • Insomnia 
  • Epilepsy and Seizure Disorders
  • Alcohol addiction & drug withdrawal symptoms
  • Cancer pain treatment
  • Dementia & Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

Are there any risks?

Though it’s typically well-tolerated by the human body, CBD can cause adverse effects like dry mouth, diarrhea, reduced appetite, and drowsiness. Cannabidiol CBD can also cause adverse effects by interacting with other medications or dietary supplements, so we recommend speaking with trusted health professionals before use.

Does CBD give you a high? 

CBD won’t make you feel high because it doesn’t have the same interactions with the brain to cause an altered cerebral state. It can’t affect memory, mobility, or body temperature as THC can. CBD has no effects that can be associated with abuse or dependency.

CBD for Chronic pain

Chronic pain lasts extended and can occur in many body parts simultaneously. It typically interferes with a person’s daily routine and can lead to anxiety or depression. 

These are the most common types of chronic pain:

  • Back pain
  • Cancer-related pain
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle pain 
  • Neck Pain
  • Nerve-related pain
  • Neurogenic pain
  • Scar Tissue Pain
  • Severe headaches
  • Testicular pain 

CBD and chronic pain management

CBD has anti-inflammatory qualities, can reduce pain, and even fully treat pain in some patients. It is also an antioxidant and can help reduce long-term inflammation. CBD contains cannabinoid receptors that can block chronic pain signals in the brain and trigger an increased immune response.  

What conditions can CBD treat?

Research has shown CBD to affect different forms of anxiety disorders positively. It has been shown to reduce stress. CBD benefits general anxiety disorder and other severe anxiety conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and social anxiety disorder. Studies in mice and rats showed lower heart rates and less stress with CBD.

A recent study that used a simulated public speaking test to show anxiety levels in speakers showed significant promise that CBD can help reduce fears and anxiety associated with speaking in front of a group. Continued research is being done to see how CBD can manage various forms of stress.  

CBD has been shown in research studies to help people fall asleep, stay asleep, and improve sleep quality. The endocannabinoid system has a part in maintaining several body functions, including sleep and regulation of circadian rhythms. CBD can offer a night of better sleep and, thus, a healthy lifestyle.

The FDA approved a prescription-strength dose of CBD for severe epilepsy, Epidiolex oral solution, from GW Pharmaceuticals. Preclinical evidence proves that CBD oil has been shown to reduce seizures by activating the CB1 receptors. More research is currently being done on CBD oil for conditions like dravet syndrome and Lennox gastaut syndrome. 

Summary

CBD and CBG may help with chronic pain by reducing inflammation and calming the nervous system. More research is needed, but we can be sure to see more CBG products in the medical cannabis community within the next few years. We do know that CBD is widely used across the United States. Research has proven it can benefit chronic pain, sleep disorders, anxiety, and more. 

Last Updated: June 14, 2024

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