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Differences Between CBGa and CBD

, by Vivimu Blog, 5 min reading time

What is CBGa compared to CBD?

In the not too distant past we did not truly understand the chemical treasure-trove Cannabis sativa plant is. Most people were familiar with CBD or THC, but the second most common cannabinoid in cannabis sativa is cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) or cannabigerol (CBG) has been overlooked. The process that the plant makes these cannabinoids is called a metabolic pathway. In the process of making cannabinoids the plant makes other cannabinoids in the process. As we have come to better understand the plant we have found many of these other cannabinoids to hold unique properties interacting with the human endocannabinoid system. This article will illuminate some of these differences by comparing CBGA with CBD.

You may wonder why the plant has such extensive chemical manufacturing ability and why it has evolved to do so. Most plants make a variety of compounds for the purpose of chemical warfare. Cannabinoids and terpenes are concentrated around the reproductive parts of the plant to protect it. They often have anti-fungal, anti-microbial properties as this is the main reason they are produced. The smells and volatile nature also deter insects and even herbivores from eating it. I like to think it was a gift from above but it was found our bodies have an endocannabinoid system. This system utilizes chemicals very similar to the structure of cannabinoids and it turns out the cannabinoids from the plants have direct effect on our own bodies. This shows the importance of understanding what cannabinoids are for to better apply them for their beneficial properties.


Now we can talk about CBGA and CBG to discover how they are different say compared to CBD. All cannabis varieties naturally produce what is called the acid version of cannabinoids. The plant does not make say THC, CBD or CBG naturally and is a result of a chemical reaction. This reaction is called decarboxylation and can occur through heat or sunlight primarily. This process almost is complete once the temperature attains around 230 degrees Fahrenheit.

In the instance of THCA, it has to be decarboxylated to THC to feel its effects when taken as an edible. When vaporized or smoked THCA is instantly decarboxylated once it obtains 230 degrees. The typical natural ratio of CBGA: CBG is very high sometimes being 10:1.

CBDA and CBD follow the same chemical rules. CBDA will always have the highest natural concentration when compared to CBD. The chemical structure of CBG and CBD are very similar. CBDA is made from using CBGA as a precursor by the plant.

To determine the strength of a cannabinoid often their binding affinity is tested on two endocannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 which are part of our endocannabinoid system. The affinity is given in Ki value which is the dissociation constant describing the binding affinity between the inhibitor and the receptor. The lower the Ki number the stronger the affinity.


As can be seen from the table both receptors have strong values with Delta 9 THC, meaning it has a higher affinity and can be felt in its effects. Surprisingly CBG has almost ten times the affinity for both receptors as compared to CBD. Generally the numbers do not seem to reflect what is actually going on as it has been found that CBD has lots of interactions at the receptors but its full mechanism is not known. CBG and CBD are generally noted as having somewhat similar benefits. This is based on experimental effects of CBD and most people generally feel that it has higher affinity for CB2. Generally Ki values will give us an idea of interactions on our endocannabinoid systems but is not a clear picture by any means.

Is CBGA/CBD psychoactive?

CBGA and CBD are often referred to as non-psychoactive in their effects, while this is generally true it is not the full story. CBGA has been noted to add to the entourage effect in cannabis flower, often said to lend to a more energetic effect. CBD as well adds to the entourage effect but is known to have a more calming effect. Both CBGA and CBD may not have psychoactive effects alone, they both interact and modulate with other cannabinoids to provide a unique effect. They both provide tremendous benefits to your health in addition to adding to the effects of THC.

What will CBGA/CBG do for me?

CBGA and CBD offer similar general benefits similar to each other, this includes the following properties; anti-anxiety, anti-convulsant, anti-inflammatory, anti-nausea, metabolism support, cardiovascular health and last but not least protection against COVID being an impressive quick list. This is not the only way to look at CBGA and CBD as it is found to have a synergistic effect with other cannabinoids including THC. As we are discovering more properties of cannabinoids within the endocannabinoid system, we are also finding cannabinoids are possibly capable of interactions with other receptor types. The receptor affinity does not explain the proven benefits CBD provides.

Since both CBGA and CBD are obtained in concentration by extraction out of cannabis plants. The cannabinoids are extracted and separated into isolate or distillate. Both in their purified form often called isolate is a solid, typically a powder or waxy substance. In distillate other cannabinoids or lighter products are mixed in so that it stays in a semi-liquid state to be vaped. Other the decarboxylation both are very stable when stored or kept properly, ie away from light, heat or air. Both the isolates and distillate of both CBGA and CBD offer an easy to use ingredient for edibles, especially the isolates.

As can be seen by this discussion CBGA and CBD are very similar cannabinoids that not only add to other cannabinoids with the entourage effect, but they also have some very unique attributes on their own. CBGA and CBD have proven to potentiate other cannabinoids by differing means but contribute greatly to the combined effect. Although receptor affinity values show CBD having very low affinity to both CB1 and CB2, it has proven to have an array of benefits. Generally most people report one difference between the two of them, that is CBGA feels to be energetic while CBD is said to be more calming but without tiredness. Best of all try both, and you will find your own ideal mix.


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