Updated: Jul 15, 2019

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Cannabis culture is rife with unique words and abbreviations—from the easy-to-understand grass and weed to the where-in-the-world-did-that-come-from chronic and reefer. Few of these words, though, are as important to your understanding of marijuana as the three- and four-letter terms:

  • THC

  • THCA

  • THCV

  • CBD

  • CBDA

  • CBDV

  • CBC

  • CBCA

Why are these abbreviations so important? Because they’re the building blocks—and the cause—of everything that makes the cannabis plant so great. These abbreviations, and their multisyllabic scientific names are known collectively as cannabinoids.

One hundred and thirteen cannabinoids have been identified so far, each with its own distinct effects. Among those 113 different chemical compounds, one cannabinoid stands out as more significant than all the others. That cannabinoid is cannabigerol (CBG).

But what is CBG? Why is it so important? And what are its benefits? Let's reveal the facts about this little-known cannabinoid and show you why it can be considered the stem cell of the medical-marijuana world.

We’ll also investigate the questions:

Will CBG get you high?

Does CBG have any side effects?

Should you try CBG?

Before we address CBG directly, though, it’s essential that we talk briefly about basic cannabis plant biology.

Basic Cannabis Plant Biology

Pretty much everything that happens in the cannabis plant occurs because of biosynthesis. Biosynthesis is the combination of chemical compounds to form new chemical compounds. In the case of the cannabis plant, the important chemicals to remember are:

Geranyl pyrophosphate (GPP or sometimes GDP).Olivetolic acid (OLA).

These two chemicals are the building blocks—the parent molecules, if you will—of all 113 cannabinoids we mentioned earlier. When they combine, some pretty cool stuff happens!  

We’ll continue tracking the production of CBG in the section CBGA: Where It All Begins. For now, though, it’s vital that we learn a bit about the chemistry of cannabinoids so we fully understand what’s going on.

Cannabinoids Defined

Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that interact with the cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 in your brain. THC is the most well-known cannabinoid because of its psychoactive effects. But other cannabinoids like CBD, CBC, and, yes, CBG are gaining in popularity thanks to their powerful medicinal effects.

For the rest of this article, we’ll focus on a specific class of cannabinoids known as phytocannabinoids. Phytocannabinoids are produced naturally in plants and are what you get when you smoke, dab, eat, or in all other ways consume marijuana.

The other classifications of cannabinoids include endocannabinoids (produced in your body), and synthetic cannabinoids (manufactured in a lab).

“Wait, back up,” you say, “did I just read that my body produces cannabinoids all by itself?” Yes, sort of. But it’s not what you think.

You can’t somehow concentrate real hard and produce enough endocannabinoids to get you high or relieve your pain. Your body doesn’t work that way. In fact, there’s really no plausible situation where your endocannabinoids would produce the same results as smoking a joint or ingesting a CBD medication.

“So what is it that my endocannabinoids do?” you ask. Good question. The cannabinoids that your body produces naturally are primarily responsible for keeping your body in homeostasis.

“Homeo-what-sis?” Homeostasis. It’s your body’s natural tendency to remain in equilibrium. “Equi-what-brium?” Ok, last time. The next time you don’t understand a word, crack a dictionary.

Equilibrium is a state of physical balance. Picture a teeter-totter (or see-saw) with really hot on one side and really cold on the other. Your body maintains a balance (an equilibrium) between too hot and too cold so that cells don’t die. That’s homeostasis.

And temperature isn’t the only system kept in homeostasis. You’ve got O2/CO2 (oxygen/carbon dioxide) levels, nutrition and waste, fluid balance, and many more. And what governs this equilibrium — this homeostasis? The endocannabinoid system.

Your body produces just enough endocannabinoids to keep the system running smoothly. It’s only when you flood your system with phytocannabinoids from the cannabis plant that you feel any different.