On subjects concerning cannabis, most of the focus is usually directed to its most famous constituents, such as the psychoactive THC and therapeutic CBD. Cannabichromene, also known as CBC rarely makes the list, even though it is one of the earliest cannabinoid to be discovered with some huge medical potentials as we will see later on.
CBC was discovered 50 years ago and is considered one of the most abundant chemicals in cannabis plants according to various studies. Just like CBD and THC, CBC is also created from the cannabigerolic acid (CBGA). Cannabis plants produce CBGA in their trichomes which is then broken down by enzymes to form cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), and cannabichromenic acid (CBCA). The CBCA is then broken down to CBC after exposure to external conditions such as UV radiation and heat in a process known as decarboxylation.
A quick look at cannabinoids
Cannabinoids refer to a wide range of chemicals that are found in nature such as in the cannabis plant while some are naturally produced in our bodies. These chemicals interact with the endocannabinoid system to produce different effects in our bodies by promoting homeostasis/biological balance. Currently, researchers have been able to single out over 85 cannabinoids in marijuana with the most famous being THC which is responsible for producing the trademark ‘high’ effect. Besides THC, there are other cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD), cannabigerol, THCA, etc.
What is CBC?
Cannabichromene is a phytocannabinoid that was discovered in 1966 as one of the constituents of cannabis and is believed to be non-psychoactive. Although research is still in its infancy regarding this compound, there are some facts that have been established. For instance, its chemical structure is very similar to that of cannabinol, THC, and CBD, and scientists believe that it is responsible for marijuana’s antiviral, analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.
How CBC interacts with our bodies
Unlike THC, CBD has non-psychoactive properties, which means it will not cause any mental high when consumed. Scientists attribute this to the fact that CBC binds poorly to the receptors in the endocannabinoid system, namely CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are predominant in the brain and act to cause the psychoactive effects of euphoria and relaxation when activated by THC. CBC fails to produce a similar effect due to its failure to bind to CB1 receptors. CBC does not bind to CB2 receptors at all. CBC receptors are mostly found in the immune system.
Besides mild binding with CB1 receptors, CBC has been shown to interact with other receptors such as the TRPV1 and TRPA1 receptors. Activation of these receptors leads to an increase in the levels of endocannabinoids such as anandamide and 2-AG in our bodies. This happens because TRPV1 and TRPA1 receptors interfere with the process of breaking down these endocannabinoids. Therefore, CBC influences cannabinoid receptors indirectly.
Effects and Benefits of Cannabichromene
Like other cannabinoids found in marijuana, CBC has also proven to have some noteworthy medicinal benefits that pharmacologists are only beginning to grasp. The fact that this compound is non-psychoactive makes it specifically interesting to patients, physicians, and researchers who have been keen to harness its therapeutic benefits which comes without the controversial high. As mentioned above, research into CBC has not been going on for a long time, however, scientists have already established some benefits that patients can realize after taking CBC, let us take a look of those below:
Acne is a common and severe skin condition that affects many people. In its severe form, acne has been shown to greatly affect the quality of a patient’s life by reducing self-esteem and causing stress. After Cannabichromene showed promise for curing acne, scientists began looking for other non-psychoactive compounds in cannabis that might have the same effect, and they found one.
In a study published in the Journal of Experimental Dermatology in 2016, scientists tested various cannabinoids and their effectiveness in treating acne. Although other cannabinoids seemed to have a mild effect, CBC, CBDV, and THCV performed extremely well, leading the investigators to the conclusion that soon, a medicine for acne will be available for use. According to the study, CBC is able to reduce the production of arachidonic acid and sebum from sebaceous glands. These two compounds are the major cause of acne. CBC also has anti-inflammatory properties which makes it an even better alternative.
Combatting chronic pain
Pain can be a symptom of many conditions and is normally the body’s way of telling us that something is not right. While acute pain can be treated quite easily in general, things can get complicated when seeking to control chronic pain or pain caused by nerve damage (neuropathic pain). Conventional treatments for pain include strong opiates and ibuprofen. However, these medications are not entirely effective considering ibuprofen and other such meds only provide short-term relief. In addition, long-term users of opiates develop a tolerance to the drugs quickly hence reducing their efficacy.
Research shows that cannabis is an effective medicine for relieving various kinds of pain, with the main agents being THC and CBD. However, new research now shows that CBC can also be used as an effective pain reliever. The study looked at both CBD and CBC, and it was found that the compounds interact with some pain management proteins found in the spine, hence reducing the sensation of pain in rats.
Neurogenesis is the growth and development of the nervous tissue and there is mounting evidence that CBC helps these nerve cells to grow. Despite what you might have heard, the brain does not stop growing and in adults, new cells are usually produced in the hippocampus and subventricular zones of the brain.
By promoting the growth of new brain cells, CBC is able to minimize depression. This is because depression is partly caused by high levels of nerve cell degeneration in the hippocampus and is normally treated using antidepressants. However, these drugs do not always work for an estimated 50% of depressed patients. As a result, CBC comes as an interesting alternative that suggests better results.
Besides treating depression, neurogenesis may also help in the management of other chronic conditions such as Parkinson’s, motor neuron disease, Alzheimer’s, Prion and Huntington’s disease among others.
Antibacterial and antifungal properties
In 1981, one of the earliest studies involving CBC at the University of Mississippi showed that the compound exhibited strong anti-bacterial properties on various bacteria including E. coli. The compound also found that CBC had ‘mild to moderate’ antifungal properties against black mold and other types of fungi.
Where can I find CBC?
CBC is not as abundant as CBD and THC in cannabis and hence it may be a bit difficult to obtain in large amounts. In the 1970s, an investigation found that Indian landrace strains contained unusually high CBC content. As a matter of fact, CBC was the second most abundant chemical after THC. Other tests have found that young cannabis plants contain more CBC which is naturally broken down to cannabicyclol when exposed to heat and light.
Today, cannabis is primarily grown indoors under tightly controlled conditions that often focus on maximizing THC and CBD output. As a result, most plants do not contain nearly as much CBC as the Indian strains. To get more CBC, harvest the plants about three-quarters of the way through the flowering cycle.
For now, we do not know much about the endocannabinoid system and how all the cannabinoids interact with this system. However, with more research trickling in every day, this is set to change. CBC has great potential of becoming yet another powerful medicine derived from this rather simple plant that has been shunned by current laws. This adds to the growing evidence that marijuana may hold the key to some of the most common illnesses and conditions that we struggle with today.