Bit by bit, the advantages of hemp products are becoming clearer and clearer, both in science and industry. In many cases, the constituent compounds found in cannabis (over 100 have been identified to date) exhibit positive characteristics with respect to their interactions with the human body. In addition to the well-known compound CBD, CBGA, or cannabigerolic acid, is also increasingly becoming a topic of interest. CBGA is understood to be the starting point from which the precursors of the cannabis constituent compounds CBD and THC are derived.
What is cannabigerolic acid (CBGA)?
Experts have been aware of the existence of CBGA for more than 50 years. Nevertheless, for a long time it has had much less attention paid to it than other cannabis products have. Like CBD, CBGA is a constituent substance of the hemp plant which is not psychoactive. This means that it neither brings about states of intoxication, nor does it result in any kind of addiction.
Researchers have spent many years trying to understand the process by which CBGA is converted into THCA. Alongside THCA and CBDA, CBGA is also one of the chemical precursors of CBCA (cannabichromenic acid). The motivation for this research has been the industrial production of THC for medical and pharmaceutical research projects. To this end, CBGA was produced using microorganisms such as yeast. Indeed, it has proven to be possible to produce CBGA from Pichia pastoris, a type of yeast. The year 2019 was a milestone in CBGA research. This was the year in which Californian researchers published a paper which dealt with the complete synthesis of CBGA from yeast derivatives.
Experts considered the synthetic production of CBGA, without the need to cultivate hemp plants, to be an important step in moving from hemp-derived products to the controlled production of cannabigerolic acid.
The effects of CBGA
In the production chain of cannabinoids, CBGA is regarded as the initial cannabinoid. The basic effect of CBGA is assumed to be due to its interaction with the endo-cannabinoid system. It is assumed that it acts as an antagonist of the CB1 receptor. THC, for example, has a strong effect on this receptor. Thus, CBGA counteracts the effects of THC, just as it counteracts the effects of various other cannabinoids. It inhibits their psychoactive effects, for example.
Researchers suspect that CBGA may also have an effect on the CB2 receptor. Research in this area is still in its early stages. At this stage, the aim is to clarify whether CBGA has enhancing or inhibitory effects on this ECS receptor.
Since researchers have begun to examine CBGA in greater detail, more and more studies have been published. These provide plenty of reasons to believe that CBGA could have positive effects on many different conditions and physical ailments. In many cases, positive effects on diseases of the cardiovascular system, on colon cancer and on metabolic disorders have been observed.
Those who suffer from diabetes may also find CBGA helpful. Existing research suggests that the cardiovascular complications and symptoms associated with diabetes could be reduced in number and severity through the use of CBGA. In cases of diabetes, the body converts glucose into sugar alcohol (sorbitol) using the enzyme aldose reductase. In those without diabetes, a healthy balance is maintained.
However, people suffering from diabetes mellitus produce too much sugar alcohol due to a functional disorder of this enzyme. CBGA has been found to strongly inhibit aldose reductase. CBGA thus supports the enzyme sorbitol dehydrogenase, which is responsible for breaking down sugar alcohol. If too much sorbitol accumulates in the body, it can cause damage to the kidneys, the nerves and even the eyes.
Many attempts have been made to deal with this problem by means of synthetically produced aldose reductase inhibitors. However, these often have side effects. Amongst those with diabetes, there is obviously a great deal of interest in a treatment which does not involve any side effects.
In 2019 a team of researchers found that CBGA can also provide a step towards recovery in metabolic diseases other than diabetes. In a study based on a computer simulation, the connections between CBGA and the activation of what are known as peroxisome-proliferator-activated receptors (PPAR) in metabolic regulation were examined under the electronic magnifying glass.
Within the body, these PPARs are important for various processes of maturation in fatty tissue, and for fat and glucose metabolism. PPARs occur in the following subtypes: α, β/δ and γ. They are receptors which operate within cells. PPARs are activated either by pharmacological or by endogenous binding partners. If PPARs start to operate bexond healthy parameters, or only perform their duties to a limited extent, this can lead to considerable disturbances of fat and insulin metabolism.
Diabetes or massively increased cholesterol levels can be the result. The study shows that CBGA can activate certain PPAR receptors. The conclusion drawn from this is that CBGA is mostly a dual agonist. This means that CBGA is presumably responsible for activating cell signal transduction via these receptors. Even though animal or human experiments have yet to be carried out, this computer simulation is a cause for optimism with regard to CBGA for those who have metabolic disorders.
Colon cancer is one of the most common types of cancer there is. For many of those affected, CBGA could provide a route for successful treatment. A group of researchers took it upon themselves to examine the cytotoxic effect of CBGA and their results were published in a 2018 study The results showed that, like CBG, CBGA is capable of killing colon cancer cells. In addition, CBGA can accelerate cell death. This slows down the cell cycle of cancer cells significantly.
The published results indicate that CBGA may be able to help in cases of colorectal cancer. The reason for this, according to the study, is that CBGA also acts on intestinal polyps when they are in their early stages. Even when such polyps are benign, they can still develop into malignant colon cancer at some later point in time. CBGA could therefore help to prevent cancer.
Side effects of CBGA
Even though some of the effects of CBGA are already known thanks to these initial findings, further research is still needed. One reason for this is to ensure that there really are no side-effects when CBGA is taken. Should future research demonstrate that there are such side-effects, we will expand on them here, and also publish a prominent separate article.
As you will read in the “Buying CBGA” section, CBGA is usually only available in combination with full-spectrum CBD products. It is therefore worth noting that interactions are well-known in the case of CBD. For example, amongst pregnant women, taking CBD oil (including CBGA) may reduce the protective function of the placenta. Consultation with a doctor before starting to take CBD and CBGA is always recommended.
One possible adverse effect of taking full-spectrum CBD products is increased intraocular pressure. Although this relationship has not been conclusively demonstrated, those with cataracts should seek the opinion of an ophthalmologist before taking CBD.
How does CBGA differ from THC and CBD?
CBGA is the first cannabis product to be produced by the growing plant which also has a medical use. As already described, all other cannabinoids are derived from CBGA. Despite their structural similarity, CBGA differs from THC in that it has no psychoactive effect on humans.
In contrast to both CBD and the THC, CBGA is the basis of all other cannabinoids. CBGA therefore has outstanding potential when it comes to research and subsequent future economic and medical development.
Buying CBGA – What kinds of CBGA products are there?
Pharmaceutical developments have resulted in the production of full-spectrum CBD products, which always contain CBGA in some form or other.
Such products include…
In the case of e-liquids, the constituent compounds, which include CBGA, are absorbed directly through the lungs by means of an e-cigarette. This is considered to be the fastest-acting way to take CBGA.
Tips on using CBGA the right way
The best way to take CBGA depends on the form in which it comes. For smokers, the easiest way to take CBGA is by vaping it, i.e. by smoking an e-cigarette. For non-smokers this way of taking CBGA may prove difficult, especially at the beginning, and could take some getting used to.
For beginners, it is therefore recommended to start off by using a full-spectrum CBD oil. You can start off with a 5% or a 10% oil to begin with. To rapidly absorb the oil into your body, we recommend putting a few drops under your tongue. In order to achieve the desired effect quickly, you should not eat or drink anything for the 5 minutes following ingestion.
CBGA can be applied to specific parts of the body by using CBD salves and CBD creams. Although the CBGA first has to penetrate the skin barrier, this approach allows it to be applied in a more targeted manner.
- Initial steps have now been taken towards producing a detailed characterisation of CBGA. Foundational studies have been carried out and the results give cause for optimism.
- For example, in the future, it is possible that CBGA may play a role in alleviating or even healing diabetes, other metabolic diseases and colon cancer.
Taking products containing cannabinoids may result in interactions with various medications. If you are already taking medication, the use of CBD and other cannabinoids should be discussed with your doctor beforehand.