Cannabinoid Report: CBGa Products, Price, Benefits, Strains, and More
In this post:
- What is CBGa?
- Which hemp or cannabis plants contain the most CBGa?
- What does it mean for CBGa to be an acidic precursor?
- How CBGa works in the body
- Benefits of CBGa
- Consuming CBGa
- CBGa potency testing
It's easy to get lost and confused by the latest cannabis trends. Diving into the research on the plant's phytochemicals is complex and downright intimidating. Even CBD, THC, and CBG have endless unexplored avenues, let alone the remaining 400 compounds that make cannabis so special.
So why should you start thinking about CBGa? Let's explore.
What is CBGa?
CBGa (cannabigerolic acid) was discovered by Japanese scientists in 1996, nearly 30 years after Raphael Mechoulam first isolated cannabinoids in Israel. It is a non-psychoactive, minor compound that typically appears in low levels (less than 1%) in mature cannabis plants. While minor in quantity, CBGa makes a major impact on the plant's development.
On a chemical level, CBGa is the acidic precursor to CBG in young cannabis plants. In other words, CBGa eventually becomes CBG over time. CBGa also breaks down into the acidic compounds known as THCa, CBDa, and CBCa through enzymatic reactions. These compounds eventually transform into the THC, CBD, and CBC you know and love.
Still, it all starts with CBGa, which is why some revere this natural compound as the "Granddaddy (or grandmama, if you will) of all cannabinoids.
Which Hemp or Cannabis Plants Contain the Most CBGa Potency?
CBGa typically appears in higher quantities in hemp strains than cannabis sativa strains, possibly due to decades of selective breeding. Regardless of the variety, all fresh hemp and cannabis crops are the richest in CBGa. So, plants harvested early are likely to possess larger quantities. However, as plants age and become exposed to heat and sunlight, CBGa decays or transforms into other cannabinoids.
CBGa: What Does It Mean to be an "Acidic Precursor" Compound?
All cannabinoids you enjoy ingesting begin as much larger acidic compounds in the raw plant. Once acidic cannabinoids contact heat, they break down and transition to smaller primary cannabinoids, like CBG, THC, and CBD. Acidic cannabinoids do not cause psychoactive effects–even THCa is non-psychoactive.
Still, they deliver potent anti-inflammatory benefits while acting on 5-HT receptors to boost serotonin production. Unfortunately, because they're non-psychoactive, acidic cannabinoids have often been overlooked.
We think it's time to change that.
How CBGa Works in the Body
CBGa is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, but it interacts with our body's endocannabinoid receptors in other ways to stimulate a wellness response. These receptors are active players in regulating physiological processes like appetite, pain regulation, mood, and emotions.
Essentially, our ECS acts as a "lock and key" system within our bodies. When we ingest cannabinoids, they help to keep our ECS balanced. A balanced ECS then assists our bodies in maintaining natural homeostasis.
Benefits of CBGa
The current research on CBGa is limited, and to date, most laboratory studies used cell samples in test tubes or animal models. Therefore, the exact effects of CBGa on the human body are still yet to be uncovered. Nevertheless, ample evidence suggests that CBGa might have beneficial therapeutic applications for humans, especially in metabolic disorders and certain cancers.
Diabetes and Metabolic Disorders
- A 2018 study found that CBG and CBGa, in addition to CBD and CBDa, reduce aldose reductase activity, an enzyme associated with many diabetic complications.
- In a 2019 study, researchers found that CBGa, CBDa, and CBG may help metabolize lipids (fats) and potentially benefit patients with metabolic disorders like diabetes.
- More research on metabolic disorders was published in Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)-General Subjects in 2019. In this case, the study found that CBGa activates receptors that help reduce excess fat accumulation.
CBGa and Colon Cancer Cells
Some of the earliest research on cannabis showed its impact on cancer and potential to treat side effects. One of the most pervasive forms of cancer is colorectal.
- Research published in 2018 discovered that CBGa-rich cannabis extracts were involved in the cytotoxic activity (toxic to specific cells) on colon cancer cells by inducing their programmed cell death. In the study, CBGa extracts were used on adenomatous polyps, which, if untreated, can turn cancerous.
CBGa as a Neuroprotectant
Inflammation of the brain, or neuroinflammation, is implicated in an array of disorders, including schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorder, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and multiple sclerosis.
- A 2018 study in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences found that CBG reduced inflammation, oxidative stress, and the expression of problematic proteins implicated in neuroinflammation. The study concluded that the neuroprotective effects of CBG may be a potential treatment against neuroinflammation.
- Another 2018 study published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation demonstrated the anti-oxidative properties of CBGa, which had protective effects on the brain from neurodegeneration involved in Parkinson's disease.
One way to consume CBGa is to ingest raw hemp or freshly harvested plant matter like leaves containing little to no THC. Over time and regular exposure to heat and light, CBGa potency will wane. Because of this, CBGa is not suitable for delivery methods such as smoking, vaping, or use in any way where it is in contact with heat.
CBGa is difficult to extract due to the small amounts present within the plant and its sensitivity to heat; however, careful cold extraction processes can preserve the compound. While few CBGa products exist on the market today, "cold-pressed" "raw" are the best source of this compound.
Potency and CBGa Testing
At ACS, we use Ultra-High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) to test for the presence of 23 cannabinoids, including CBGa. With CBGa's potential as a neuroprotectant and treatment for metabolic diseases and certain cancers, it's only a matter of time before more brands start carefully extracting the compound into bioavailable products.