Is CBG Good for Glaucoma?
Is CBG Good for Glaucoma?
*Despite what you might read elsewhere on the internet, CBG has not been medically proven to prevent, treat, or cure glaucoma. This article discusses ongoing research into the endocannabinoid system and should not be the foundation of any medical or health recommendations or diagnosis. If you have or suspect you may have glaucoma, talk to your doctor.*
Glaucoma is an umbrella term for a group of eye conditions that damages the optic nerve and may lead to blindness. Many forms of this eye disease have no warning signs. Vision loss from glaucoma cannot be recovered, so it is essential to identify the condition early and get treatment.
The underlying change that causes damage in glaucoma is a buildup of fluid that puts pressure on the optic nerve. There are several types of glaucoma, but the most common in the U.S. is open angle glaucoma. People with open angle glaucoma experience patchy blind spots in their peripheral or central vision.
Scientists are currently studying the chemical cannabigerol (CBG) to find out if it may reduce intraocular pressure. Reducing pressure on the optic nerve may benefit your eyesight.
Your Endocannabinoid System
In the early 1990s, researchers were exploring the biological effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound in cannabis responsible for producing a “high” sensation. During their research, they discovered a complex system that helps to regulate many different functions in the body, such as those related to sleep and appetite. Researchers called it the endocannabinoid system.
The endocannabinoid system is made up of receptors called CB1 and CB2 receptors. These receptors interact with chemical compounds called cannabinoids, which are both produced in the body (endogenous cannabinoids) and produced in the cannabis plant (phytocannabinoids). CB1 receptors are predominantly found in your nervous system, while CB2 receptors are predominantly found in your immune system.
There are receptors for your endocannabinoid system throughout your body. Researchers have called the endocannabinoid system the “master regulator” and believe it may be linked to multiple processes in the body, including:
- Appetite, digestion, and metabolism
- Bone remodeling and growth
- Heart function
- Immune system responses
- Liver function
- Motor control
What Is CBG?
Cannabigerol (CBG) is one form of cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. It's a minor compound, which means it's not present in large quantities, though CBG is more concentrated in younger cannabis plants. This is because CBG breaks down over time to help form other cannabinoids such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
Since CBG is often present in small quantities, researchers must isolate it to study the independent effects it has on your health. Some research has found that CBG may have a beneficial effect on various areas, such as cellular function.
CBG does not produce a “high” the way THC does, and it may actually help to inhibit the effects of THC by binding with CB1 receptors in the brain.
CBG and Glaucoma
Some studies have suggested that CBG may help to reduce intraocular pressure. This is the pressure buildup inside the eye that ultimately damages the optic nerve. CBG can be used topically and systemically.
In 2018, eye drops containing cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), which is the acidic form of CBG, were developed by University of British Columbia research scientists who hope it will one day treat glaucoma as you sleep. Other eye drops used to treat glaucoma have had significant obstacles, including:
- Being poorly absorbed
- Rolling off the eye
- Failing to reach the back of the eye to start repairing damage and relieving pressure
The UBC researchers developed a hydrogel filled with CBGA and found the compound was quickly absorbed and did reach the back of the eye. This was an exciting breakthrough since past studies suggested CBG may be effective in relieving glaucoma. Yet, cannabis-based eye drops were difficult to manufacture because the compound does not easily dissolve in water.
Another study found that CBG increased the fluid outflow in the eye by two to three times, which essentially reduces the intraocular pressure. The results led the researchers to suggest that CBG may have therapeutic potential for glaucoma.
As the evidence mounts that systemic or topical CBG may help reduce intraocular pressure, scientists are hopeful that one day the compound will become a regular part of recommended treatment for glaucoma.