2020 Isolation Grow: CBG & Me

May 18, 20202020 Isolation Grow Blog

Because I grow these plants, I get asked about them from folks in pain. People are curious. They want to know about the alleged pain killing, spasm stopping properties of cannabinoids. My experience with them is limited to four years of growing, annual testing, and using, all of which yield results and data. But my experience is different than what Karen experiences, or what any of you would experience. The cultivar that gives me energy might be your sleep medicine. There is the famous story of AK 47, one of the world’s most famous cultivars. In 1999, this cultivar won the Cannabis Cup for best Sativa. Four years later, the same cultivar won the same award for Best Indica. We all react differently.  

So my expertise is entirely subjective. I can tell you what worked for me, but explaining the science of CBG should be from professionals, not a grower. It is one of the reasons I never discuss our specific dosing information. It would be irresponsible of me to tell you exactly how many milligrams Karen and I ingest, because the right dose is different for everyone. Learning how to dose is the responsibility of each individual. Cannabis is a powerful medicine.

It has only been five years since I became aware of cannabinoids, or that my body evolved with receptors to process these compounds. I am still such a newbie. But in those years, especially through the test scores, I am beginning to accumulate data about cultivars that expand our knowledge of what we are growing.

For several years, we have been introduced to CBD. Tinctures from hemp are available on supermarket shelves. You can legally buy it online. CBD has become a tool for veterinarians. 

Turns out CBD is not the mother of cannabinoids. Turns out CBD, and everything else, comes from CBG-A (Cannabigerol Acid). 

CBG (Cannabigerol) is the byproduct of CBG-A, and is created by the same decarboxylation that produces the rest of the cannabinoids, as well as THC-A. There appears to be less CBG in cannabis than in hemp plants, though new cultivars are being bred with CBG in mind. Right now, if you want to grow cannabis strictly for CBG, you have to harvest at six weeks, or approximately two weeks prior to the target harvest date. That is when the greatest amount of CBG-A is still in the plant. I am looking into growing both cannabis and hemp that are high in CBG in the future. I am not, at this time, going to extract CBG early from any of our plants.

I have my own, personal reasons for desiring more CBG in my life, but if you read the hyperlink, you can see some of the potential health benefits, and current studies being done specifically on CBG.

This is not to denigrate, or overlook CBD, CBC, CBN, or anything else. It only goes to show how this field is evolving quickly. Pro tip: If you are looking for a better night of sleep, talk with your budtender about cultivars high in CBN. One other thing–if someone has old marijuana, the THC can degrade into a fairly effective CBN. Old weed will make you drowsy.

In the first blog of this series, I mentioned that I thought CBG was responsible for stopping my bladder spasms. I do not know this for a fact. But, in this plant, there appears to be some strong, antispasmodic medicine. That would explain the success cannabis is having in treating epilepsy. I watched Karen’s spasms stop with her first dose, and the same thing happened with my bladder. The list of potential maladies that this particular compound addresses make CBG research a priority. 

Luckily, I have test results that tell me the cultivars I’ve grown that produce CBG-A, CBG, etc. 

Have I mentioned I love AC/DC? From that clone I grew four years ago, in addition to 21% CBD, she had 0.98% CBG, just under one percent. This is impressively high compared to most plants, though she does not provide the most CBG in plants I’ve grown. It does underscore, however, the medical potential of this single cultivar. She’s got a great terpene profile, too. I’m so pumped to be growing her from seed this year.

We got the most CBG-A from Harlequin, at 1.2%. I understand these are not huge totals, but this is potent medicine, though CBG is not psychoactive. Harlequin has been one of our family go-to plants for pain, and honestly, a very pleasant energy boosting cultivar. Lifts me out of the doldrums. Harlequin also has a monster back end because of her higher CBN. She gives energy, and then she allows for rest. Harlequin has been magic for evenings in the garden for me, followed by a good night sleep.

Similarly, there was ample CBG in three different feminized CBD Therapy plants we grew. Interesting thing about that cultivar: The three we grew had significant differences in test scores, all the way from over 15% CBD with less than 1% THC, to another with 11% CBD and 7% THC. I read a few criticisms about the cultivar not being stable, and I get that, but I enjoyed the variety. It’s a balanced hybrid when there’s enough THC, perfect for being outside, but there was always a solid amount of cannabinoids, including decent portions close to 1% of CBG. I might look to grow this again next year.

Omrita RX gave us 1.05 CBG, and not a lot of her, but we loved combining her CBG and mild THC into tinctures. Hard to say what worked best in those tinctures, they just worked.

Muscular and structural pain is where cannabis has been most effective for me. A high CBG/CBD cultivar will help with back spasms. Harlequin has stopped a tweaked neck more than once. Honestly, I take Tylenol only if I have a fever, Excedrin for a migraine and Cannabis takes care of everything else. (helps with the migraine, too, if you’ve got some CBC)  I think we have the same bottles of both Advil and Aleve that we had when Karen became ill. I can’t remember the last time either of us used those over the counter medicines. 

Numerous are the times one of our sons has come home with muscular soreness. A half hour after taking a tincture, the pain would either be sufficiently diminished, or forgotten. My kind of pain, for the most part, is typical of the pain our sons feel, musculoskeletal. Cannabis works for that pain with all of us.

Except Karen. Rather, it does, but not in the same way it works for the rest of us. Karen’s condition brings such pervasive inflammation at its worst, we can only say with confidence that cannabis helped control the severe initial pain by limiting her spasms. At that time, Karen did not want any of the psychoactive properties, or side effects (dry mouth) of cannabis, so we will never know if a much higher dose would have cut through the worst of her pain. Karen chose to not push through an increased dose toward a tolerance in those early days, despite her pain. Consequently, deeper pain relief from any cannabis source did not happen for Karen until the worst of her arthritic pain subsided to a much greater degree, and this has only been achieved, to the degree it has, through pharmaceuticals specifically designed for auto-immune inflammation. She has also received conscientious care from her doctors. 

Since the difficult beginning, Karen has come to understand the benefits of THC, and is less reluctant to take a low dose of psychoactive medicine, as evidenced by her using White Widow for pain. As she has improved, cannabis has become more effective in aiding her pain relief. Because the general noise of her inflammation has been decreased, her body is now more receptive to the pain relief provided by cannabis. However, over the counter stuff still does nothing. Even with Karen’s improvement from pharmaceuticals, that medicine comes with risk. It lowers Karen’s immunities for any virus, and makes her much more at risk for infections. Interesting that both cannabinoids and THC are also considered immunosuppressive, though there is evidence that THC helps boost the immune system. It is a miraculously versatile plant! 

Any auto-immune person in an inflamed state knows how distinctive the pain they face is from anything else they’ve experienced. All these auto-immune pains are such sneaky cowards. They don’t fight fair. And finding the right drug, the pharmaceutical, the herb, the auto-immune diet, the supplements, (not going down that rabbit hole here) is a challenge. It gets confusing, and over time, it can sap all of us, the afflicted and the caretakers, of our spirit.

I remind you, we are all unique in our response to this plant. But one of the things that I love best about the entire cannabinoid family is how it makes me feel when I drive. It is not psychoactive in the high CBD/ low THC cultivars. But it does impact me for any kind of long drive. I’m not stoned, but I am most certainly chill. I see the fast driver coming and I proactively get out of the way. On CBD, I don’t even get mad when I don’t get a thank you, and I certainly do not feel compelled to salt the air with any honk, word, or gesture. 

I’m chill. Get the long playlist going and enjoy the drive.

Btw, based on our experience:  If you or anyone you know is prone to getting car sick when in the passenger seat, or back seat, ingesting virtually any cannabis or CBD before the drive will proactively stop the nausea. You don’t have to get stoned. High CBD stuff works for us. For the longest time, Karen kept a vape pen handy just for this reason. Karen used to get car sick backing out of the driveway. If she takes one hit now, it doesn’t happen.

When I saw the benefits of fresh medicine years ago, I knew there was hope. But when I started growing and thinking about the most effective way to dose, I came up with a plan. This was originally for Karen, but the application is for anyone. The key to dosing is finding the lowest effective dose, or the least amount of medicine to take for pain relief. Once you find that with cannabis, that is your baseline for that medicine. However, you already know that as soon as you ingest this plant, you begin to develop a tolerance, so eventually, you have to increase your dose to maintain effectiveness. My idea was to grow enough cultivars to develop a minimum of six different medicines, either individual processed cultivars, or combinations into tinctures. With each of these, the goal is to establish that baseline dose, and that each medicine is completely distinct from all the others. No cultivar appears in more than one tincture. Each tincture needs unique cultivars. Once you have that, proceed with using one medicine a week for your dose. At the end of that week, switch to the next, and so forth. Change your medicine every week for six weeks. When you come back to that first medicine, your system has completely detoxed from it, and you can resume it at the lowest possible dose.

In this way, you keep the amount of plant you are using effectively at the smallest amount, and every week, you are beginning with fresh medicine for your system. This is a way to maximize both your harvest, and keep a steady supply of the best of what you grow to attack your malady.

The irony is that this plan, which was designed for Karen, is much more applicable for my pain than hers. We are both the beneficiaries of more fresh medicine, by changing cultivars frequently, but like so much else, it is all guesswork without test results.

The story of CBG & me has only begun. The pursuit of answers keeps me excited about the potential for every grow.

Jeffery Hickey
Oaksterdam Alumni

Jeffrey Hickey is a 2014 IPPY award winning novelist, performing in over 900 Reader’s Theater shows that featured his authorship of adult novels, and books for children. His accomplishments include a program of self-empowerment and effective oral communication, “Find Your Voice,” that he taught in public and private schools throughout Northern California. Jeffrey is the father of twin sons, and is arguably the happiest married man on the planet.