CBGA, or cannabigerolic acid, is one of many minor cannabinoids produced by the cannabis plant.
Unsure of what a “cannabinoid” is? These are compounds cannabis produces that interact with a network of receptors in our body, known as the endocannabinoid system.
Performing a protective function for cannabis, CBGA is produced in the plant’s trichomes and triggers targeted plant cell necrosis for natural leaf pruning to allow the plant to maximize energy directed toward the flower.
CBGA is a foundational compound of the cannabis flower. In fact, you might think of CBGA as the “granddaddy” of cannabinoids. Why? Because CBGA is at the top of the cascade reaction that produces the three major cannabinoid lines:
THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid)
CBDA (cannabidiolic acid)
CBCA (cannabichromenic acid)
These eventually become THC, CBD, or CBC, respectively. CBGA may also convert to CBG, but in a majority of strains, CBGA eventually converts into either THC or CBD.
The Discovery of CBGA
Scientists have known about CBG (cannabigerol) for over 50 years. Israeli researchers were the first to isolate the cannabinoid, and 30 years later, Japanese researchers were the first to reveal that CBGA was its precursor. Despite the long history, minimal research has been conducted on CBGA to date.
Most of that CBGA research has focused on sustainable production of THCA for pharmaceutical and research uses. This research specifically has looked at the mechanism of converting CBGA into THCA.
Researchers have demonstrated a consistent way of replicating the cannabinoid in a species of yeast known as Pichia pastoris, one that is widely used for recombinant DNA protein. Research teams have even done computational modeling to optimize production, and in 2019, a California research team published their work on complete synthesis of cannabinoids, including CBGA, from yeast derivatives.
Potential Medical Benefits of CBGA
While there is very little medical research yet conducted on CBGA, early studies provide some hints about its potential applications down the road.
CBGA may help diabetic patients combat some of the disease’s complications and comorbidities like cardiovascular disease. CBGA was studied in vitro and found to greatly inhibit the enzyme aldose reductase, a major contributor of the oxidative stress that leads to heart and other problems. As expected, the results of the CBGA tests were highly dose dependent. Synthetic inhibitor medications have severe side effec