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 this game of discovery with the 3 cannabinoids which are not psychoactive and may have many holistic natural benefits:
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 act in different ways 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 dominant compound found in modern-day hemp genetics, and CBN represents a compound formed from decaying CBD or THC within the flower.
While much research still needs to be done to fully understand these cannabinoids, there is much evidence that each has its own unique characteristics with corresponding wellness 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 body.
Each cannabinoid is believed to interact with the ECS in different ways and have many wellness benefits as referenced in a recent scientific research study.
CBD – believed to act synergistically with both the CB1 and CB2 receptors.
CBN – believed to attach mostly to the CB1 receptors and has been reported to promote more restful nights of sleep.
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, with trace amounts of THC (not more than 0.3%), and usually with a high level of CBD with lesser amounts of CBG and CBN.
By contrast, Broad-spectrum CBD products can have CBD, CBG, and CBN, but will have no THC altogether.
CBD isolate products only have CBD in them with no minor cannabinoids.
When we use the term “entourage effect”, we refer 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.
Given 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 a reduction in inflammation, to relieve stress, or for help with sleep. The entourage effect and benefits of these minor cannabinoids cannot be underestimated. And when combined with the beneficial effects 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, while CBN has been synthesized by introducing inputs to convert CBD or THC into CBN as part of the extraction process.
As science and technology have elevated our ability to create extracts with higher concentrations of CBG and CBN, so has been the proliferation of hemp-derived products which contain higher concentrations of these two 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 in concert 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, 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 has been coming on the scene since 2019. Given the relative obscurity, these relatively unknowns came from, one might conclude that consumers are not likely wrong in their choice to consume products with them.
As always, before taking CBG, CBN or CBD, please consult with your physician to make sure there are no conflicts with any medications or health regimens that might be prescribed for you. And if your physician gives you the green light, then go ahead and see if CBD and/or these other cannabinoids work for your unique situation.