One of the medical boons of cannabis research has been the production of anti-palliative medications like Marinol that have been on the market for the better part of four decades. Pharmaceutical options like CBG containing products have helped many cancer patients manage chemo-related vomiting and nausea.
However, more research has come to light that has hinted that cannabinoids like THC may also stop the progression of cancer cells and kill cancer cells altogether, with little to no damage to healthy cells.
According to preliminary studies, one cannabinoid, in particular, called cannabigerol, may help combat various types of cancers without increasing the incidence of intoxication.
Unlike THC, CBG cannot bind with CB1 receptors. Therefore, it’s not a psychotropic substance that induces euphoric effects. However, like other phytocannabinoids, CBG interacts with the endocannabinoid system both directly and indirectly to produce various therapeutic effects.
One pathway CBG is may tap into is the ion channel TRPM8. Inhibition of TRPM8, also referred to as the cold and menthol channel, may cause tumor growth, including those associated with prostate, melanoma, colorectal, and bladder cancers. Right now, scientific evidence backing CBG’s anticancer properties is based on its effects on the TRPM8 pathway.
CBG and Gastrointestinal Cancers
Gastrointestinal cancers are a line of cancers that affect several gastrointestinal sites from the anus up to the esophagus. These are some of the most prevalent cancers in men and women.
Risk factors include:
- Being male
- Tobacco use
- Obesity and a high-fat diet
- Inherited gene mutation
- Advanced age
- Excessive alcohol consumption
Most cancer lines in this category are aggressive, meaning they are seriously life-threatening. Some examples include colorectal and stomach cancers. Conventional treatment revolves around chemotherapy and surgery.
Many studies have found CBG to be a potent antagonist to TRPM8 activity. One 2014 carcinogenesis study demonstrated how CBG contributed to programmed cell death, increased oxidative function, and declined cell growth in colorectal cancer patients.
CBG isn’t the only form in which CBG has shown promise to deactivate critical gastrointestinal cancer channels. Its inactive form CBGA has also shown some promise in this area. In a 2018 research, CBGA-dense cannabis strains were pitted against THC-rich fractions to test their comparative efficacy in curbing in vitro cancer cells’ growth. Individually, the THC-dense varieties proved only slightly effective, but their efficacy significantly improved when combined with CBGA.
CBG and Breast Cancer
The activity of CBG in association with other cannabinoids against breast cancer was the focus of one 2018 study. This synergistic relationship different cannabinoids have in the cannabis plant is called the Entourage effect and is known to boost the therapeutic properties of the plant.
Preclinical data showed that cannabinoids in this form stimulated tumor-deactivating responses in many cancers. Compared to individual formulations of THC, botanical pharmaceutical-grade medications dense in THC, CBG, and THC proved more effective at stopping the growth of breast cancer cells in animals.
CBG and Stomach, Bone Cancers
Cannabis Pharmaceuticals, a US-based company, has mobilized extensive resources to develop cannabinoid treatments for cancer and its underlying symptoms. Recently, the company published a report that illuminated the anti-tumor effects of CBG.
The research team focused on how CBG affected stomach and bone cancer in vitro conditions.
Researchers found that CBG was more effective at this job than its inactive acidic form CBGA. They also tested the efficacy of CBC, another cannabinoid molecule, against gastrointestinal cancer cell lines. Similar to CBG, CBC also showed a superior capacity to trigger cancer cell death than other mainstream cannabinoids like CBD and THC.
Many other promising studies have also shed light on CBG’s anticancer potential. One 1996 investigation found the compound to display “significant antitumor activity” against melanoma growths in animal models. Furthermore, a similar study carried out in 1998 also revealed CBG to exhibit cytotoxicity against oral epithelial carcinoma cells when administered in high doses.
We should not underplay the role TRPM8 plays in treating pancreatic cancer as it is a prime molecular target for prostate tumors. Because CBG may regulate this pathway, it may also help fight many types of cancers associated with this channel.
However, the inhibition of TRPM8 receptors isn’t the only anticancer activity CBD has shown to exhibit. One of the way by which CBG unleashes its potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects is through the stimulation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma. PPARγ is a hormone target that plays a crucial role in modulating cancer growth.
In a 2017 research, PPARγ was found to inhibit tumor growth. Therefore, researchers touted it as a potential target for the development of cancer treatments. Because THC is known to influence PPARy activity, the possibility of CBG and other cannabinoids also exhibiting similar behavior exists. Further investigation is needed to ascertain whether this is the case or not.
While there are currently no human clinical trials to suggest CBG’s anticancer potential, preliminary studies are promising. However, there’s a lot more to understand before CBG, or any other cannabinoid, for that matter, is used as a drug for combatting different types of cancer.
Hence, understanding what forms CBG has proved effective in animal-based studies can help consumers make educated decisions on CBG products available on the market.
CBG’s Interaction with Other Medications
Before using CBG for cancer, you should understand how it interacts with other drugs and whether these interactions pose any adverse side effects. Especially, individuals who are undergoing chemotherapy treatment should take heed. So, some drugs CBG can interact with include:
- antibiotics and antimicrobials
- anticancer medications
- antiepileptic drugs (AEDs)
- blood pressure medications
- blood thinners
- cholesterol medications
- erectile dysfunction medications
- gastrointestinal (GI) medications
- heart rhythm medications
- mood medications, such as those used to treat anxiety, depression
- pain medications
- prostate medications
CBG may affect how your enzyme systems process these over-the-counter prescription drugs. As CBD has shown to interact with them, and because CBG is quite similar in structure and composition to CBD, it’s best to stay on the safe side and practice caution.