Those who are old enough will remember a 1960s reality game show “To Tell the Truth” in which celebrities try to pick the person of notoriety, out of a group of 3 people, such as a Paralympics athlete who won many gold medals, or the inventor of a well-received product prior to it becoming nationally known. The quest of the celebrities on the show is to figure out which of the 3 contestants is the person described and then pick out the other two imposters by asking each contestant questions. The two imposters are trying to fool the celebrities into believing that they are the mystery guest. At the end of the game, the MC announces, “Will the Real (fill in the blank) Please Stand Up”.
This show has made a come-back and can now be seen on prime-time network television so younger audiences might also enjoy the show’s premise “To Tell the Truth”. It seems only fitting to play out a similar game of discovery with the 3 cannabinoids, which do not have psychoactive properties and may have many potential uses and therapeutic effects:
CBD – Cannabidiol
CBG - Cannabigerol
CBN – Cannabinol
The Trio of CBD, CBG, and CBN
All three of these cannabinoids are found in the hemp plant and different effects when consumed, either internally or topically. These compounds are all produced in the hemp plant and are closely related in terms of molecular structure, and it is not uncommon for CBG to be more evident in hemp plants early on in the flowering cycle with CBD being the major cannabinoid compound found in modern-day hemp genetics, and CBN represents a compound formed from decaying CBD or THC within the cannabis plant.
While more clinical trials need to be done to fully understand these cannabinoids, there is much evidence that there are different compounds that have their own unique properties with corresponding health benefits. Let’s start out with how we believe each cannabinoid interacts within the human body.
How do Cannabinoids Work – The Endocannabinoid System (ECS)
All mammals have an endocannabinoid system (ECS) which in turn is used to distribute cannabinoids throughout the body, which help the body stay in balance (such as to regulate temperature, heart rate, etc..) The ECS consists of neurotransmitters throughout the body, called CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are found mostly in the brain and the upper parts of the central nervous system while CB2 receptors are scattered throughout the peripheral nervous system (especially the immune system).
Each cannabinoid is believed to interact with the ECS in different ways and has many health benefits as referenced in a recent scientific research study.
CBD – believed to act synergistically with both cannabinoid receptors.
CBN – believed to attach mostly to the CB1 receptors and has been reported to function as a sleep aid.
CBG – believed to attach mostly to the CB2 receptors and is believed to exert anti-inflammatory influences throughout the body.
THC – believed to attach mostly to the CB1 receptors and to cause a feeling of a “high” amongst users.
What are Full Spectrum CBD products and the Entourage Effect?
All 4 cannabinoids can be found in full-spectrum CBD products, usually these products feature high levels of CBD, lesser amounts of CBG and CBN and trace amounts of THC (not more than 0.3%).
By contrast, Broad-spectrum CBD products can have CBD, CBG, and CBN, but will have absolutely no THC.
CBD isolate products only have CBD in them with no minor cannabinoids.
When we use the term “entourage effect”, it refers to the fact that the various cannabinoids (and other beneficial compounds found in the hemp plant) work in concert together and are more effective when used together than when each is used individually taken as an isolate.
The fact that CBG and CBN are usually found in most full-spectrum CBD products helps explain why full-spectrum CBD products are used by many to promote anti-inflammatory effects, relieve stress, or act as a sleep aid. The entourage effect and potential benefits of these minor cannabinoids cannot be underestimated. Additionally, when combined with the medical benefits of terpenes, the entourage effect is enhanced.
The Benefits of CBG and CBN
As the science of extraction and breeding hemp plants has accelerated since the passing of the 2014 Farm Bill, genetic scientists have produced hemp strains that are almost entirely CBG, and have been able to synthesize CBN by introducing inputs to convert CBD or THC into CBN during the extraction process.
As science and technology have elevated our ability to create extracts with higher concentrations of CBG and CBN, so has the increase of hemp-derived products containing higher concentrations of these two popular cannabinoids.
Many of the benefits of CBG and CBN can be traced to the way in which these compounds interact with the ECS. As we discussed earlier, CBN attaches mostly to the CB1 receptors which are concentrated in the brain and higher levels of activity within the central nervous system, and this infers greater influence on the whole body, just as THC, which also attaches mostly to the CB1 receptors, acts. It makes sense that the sedative properties of CBN act together with the CB1 receptors and may provide natural plant-based relief from common issues humans face with stress, discomfort, and many more challenges.
CBG on the other hand has been shown to bind mostly to CB2 receptors, which are spread out through the body’s peripheral nervous system, and CBG has been noted for its anti-inflammatory properties. So, it makes sense that CBG is good for managing inflammation and its side effects, as such usually occurs in various areas which are spread throughout the body, consistent with the broad areas of the body in which CB2 receptors are found.
While the science has yet to catch up with the anecdotal evidence that CBG and CBN are good for managing inflammation and encouraging better sleep patterns, an abundance of consumer products featuring these minor cannabinoids have come on the scene since 2019. Given the obscurity, these relatively unknowns came from, one may conclude that consumers’ choice to consume CBN and CBG products is likely not wrong.
As always, before taking CBG, CBN or CBD, please consult with your physician to make sure none of your prescription medications or health regimens conflict with any cannabinoid products. If you are given the green light, go ahead and see if CBD and/or these other cannabinoids could work for you.