Hanging cannabis leaf

What is CBG? | Using Cannabinoids in South Africa

Cannabigerol, or CBG, is a type of cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant alongside other familiar cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD) or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Within the cannabis plant, CBG exists in its acidic form as cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), the foundational compound from which other cannabinoids develop.

Despite its rarity, CBG is starting to take the cannabis world by storm the more we learn about its possibilities, both medicinal and therapeutic.

But what does it do, and how is it any different from other tried and tested cannabinoids? Here are some things you need to know about CBG, why it could be good for you, and where you can find it.

Person holding a CBD oil dropper bottle in hand with purple label

CBG vs CBD: Is That A Typo?

Firstly, no. It isn’t. Even though it seems like it. Although CBG and CBD are two different cannabinoids found in the same plant, they are very similar to each other as far as we (and researchers) know.

So, what is CBG in weed? Like CBD, CBG is a non-psychotropic chemical element, which means you will not get high from ingesting it. CBG, or more specifically CBGA, is the first cannabinoid that forms in the trichomes of the hemp plant.

As the plant matures, the enzymes in the plant will break the CBGA down into other cannabinoids, mainly CBD and THC.

Person harvesting cannabis flowers and leaves

What Are The Effects Of CBG?

Unlike CBD, very little CBG remains in a fully grown cannabis plant, amounting to only 1% — in comparison to the 20 – 25% of CBD and 30% of THC found. It’s therefore not enough to noticeably affect the average cannabis user.

Admittedly, we have yet to truly uncover the full potential of CBG. While established cannabinoid research does exist, research for CBG has been few and far in-between, given its minority in a matured hemp plant. Thankfully, that’s all starting to change.

What we do know somewhat is that when ingested (smoking or otherwise), the CBG mimics the endocannabinoids that our bodies naturally produce. It then binds to our two cannabinoid receptors — the first one is in our brain and nervous system, and the second one is located in our immune system.

One of the benefits of CBG is that it strengthens a neurotransmitter known as anandamide — the transmitter responsible for keeping us happy and motivated. This potentially plays a role in regulating our appetite and sleep and could aid with anti-inflammation and pain relief, very similar to CBD.

Opened oil dropper bottle on a cannabis leaf

We haven’t yet learned what kind of potential CBG has for therapeutic treatment, but researchers have learnt that CBG could be used in the treatment of certain medical conditions.

These include:

  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD): In a 2013 experimental animal study, researchers discovered that in mice, CBG seemingly reduces inflammation caused by IBD.


  • Glaucoma: Researchers discovered that CBG treats glaucoma in cats by reducing intraocular pressure and stimulating aqueous humour outflow — which is what our eyes typically secrete for their nutrients.


  • Hungtinton’s Disease: This is a neurodegenerative disease which causes a breakdown of nerve cells in the brain. Scientists found, in an experimental study also conducted on mice in 2015, that administering CBG to mice with Huntington’s disease caused the CBG to act as a neuroprotectant.


  • Bacterial infections: A study conducted in 2024 found that CBG potentially possesses antibacterial properties as it killed methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). This causes a drug-resistant staph infection which is dangerous and not easily treatable.


  • Cancer: In a 2014 experiment, researchers found that in rats with colon cancer, CBG seems to block the receptors which stimulate cancer cell growth and inhibits the growth of colorectal cancer cells.


Researchers believe these studies yield reasonable cause to further investigate CBG’s inclusion in the treatment of humans. This is a huge step forward, especially considering that South Africa has legalized cannabis-related products.

This does not, however, necessarily mean that CBD can be used concurrently with other medications for treatment. Although the existing research does not explicitly suggest that mixing CBG products with other medications is dangerous, it’s always best to be cautious and not overdo it.

Person sleeping in curled position with tangled blankets

And The Side Effects Of CBG?

As of yet, the negative effects of CBG are not yet entirely understood or clarified. But we can gather from existing research that CBG possesses similar side effects to other cannabinoids.

For instance, when surveying patients that use CBG to treat insomnia, depression, or anxiety, researchers found that patients reported familiar side effects. Namely dry eyes, cottonmouth, drowsiness, and hunger. The long-term effects are still unclear.

Greenhouse filled with rows of cannabis plants

Where Can I Get CBG?

Again, very little CBG can actually be extracted from mature cannabis plants. Therefore, if you were trying to extract enough CBG to bottle or study, you would need to harvest it from the hemp plant while it is still young and growing.

That’s right. The best time to get a really juicy amount of CBG is when the plant is still too young to develop the other cannabinoids. Typically between the sixth to eighth week in the plant’s flowering cycle. This is when the CBGA is at its highest concentration.

But this also depends on what kind of cannabis strain growers and distributors are working with, as some strains have a higher CBG concentration than others.

From here, you can visit dispensaries to find bottled CBG oil in-store. However, these oils are usually quite rare and more expensive than your standard CBD oils. This is because of the scarce amount of CBG in the plant, combined with the increasing amount of biomass that must be harvested for a sufficient amount of CBG.

Hopefully, as more cannabis breeders start cross-breeding with different strains for better CBG yield, we will start to see more CBG products on our shelves at better prices.

Final Thoughts: What Is CBG?

Essentially, we know very little about CBG. But we know enough about it to know that it is something we want to know about.

While it’s still unclear if CBG products are better than CBD supplements, we must remember that cannabinoids in any shape or size are not cure-alls. They can be better alternatives for more addictive medications with harsher side effects but do not make the mistake of assuming that CBG is a sustainable treatment on its own.

Rather, think of it as a mystical enhancer. Not something we understand fully, but definitely something that our bodies can draw encouragement and stimulation from as they heal themselves.

CBG might not be those beloved cannabinoids that we are familiar with, but we are learning. And we do know that our bodies, and the mice, seem to like it.

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