The Magic of CBC (Cannabichromene)
CBC is a unique chemical in cannabis that offers many health benefits.
While most people are familiar with THC and CBD, there are many chemicals in cannabis that contribute to its diverse effects on the human body.
These effects include protecting neurons from damage, pain relief, suppressing nausea and vomiting, and many more.
Cannabichromene (CBC) is an important chemical in cannabis that demonstrates the complexity of how the cannabis plant works.
What are Cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are a diverse class of chemicals that produce a broad range of effects associated with cannabis.
Scientists have identified over 113 different cannabinoids in marijuana. The most well known cannabinoid is THC, which is responsible for producing the “high.”
Cannabinoids are important because they act on the body’s endocannabinoid system, which is responsible for regulating many biological functions.
Most notably, cannabinoids are thought to promote homeostasis or balance, within the human body by interacting with pathways known as cannabinoid receptors.
What is CBC?
Cannabichromene (CBC) is one of the lesser known cannabinoids found in cannabis. But it is nonetheless an important component of the plant that contributes to its effects.
While initially discovered in 1966, not much research has been conducted on CBC specifically.
This is largely due to THC attracting most of the attention from scientists and researchers. However, in recent years, scientists have begun to shift their focus towards non-psychoactive cannabinoids like CBD and CBC.
Despite being less commonly known, CBC is actually the second most prevalent cannabinoid compound found in marijuana.
Like other cannabinoids, CBC is produced through an enzymatic process that takes place in the trichomes of the plant. This process involves the conversion of cannabigerol acid (CBGA) into cannabichromene acid (CBCA) by an enzyme known as CBCA synthase.
Similar to the conversion of THCA to THC, CBCA then gets transformed into CBC when exposed to heat, a process known as decarboxylation.
Effects of CBC
CBC is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid. This means that CBC will not produce a high when consumed.
The absence of a high is likely due to the fact that CBC binds poorly to cannabinoid receptors. There are two of these in the body: CB1 and CB2 receptors.
CB1 receptors are located primarily in the brain. When activated by THC or other cannabinoids, they produce a variety of psychological effects, including feelings of euphoria and relaxation.
Since CBC does not bind very well to CB1 receptors, it does not have psychological effects. CBC also does not bind to CB2 receptors, which are found primarily on immune cells.
Although CBC does not directly activate cannabinoid receptors, it has been shown to interact with a number of other receptors in the body. These receptors include vanilloid receptor 1 (TRPV1) and transient receptor potential ankyrin 1 (TRPA1).
By activating these receptors, CBC can increase levels of endocannabinoids in the body (e.g. anandamide and 2-AG) by interfering with natural processes that degrade them.
This essentially means that CBC can activate cannabinoid receptors, albeit indirectly, by enhancing the receptor activity of naturally-occurring cannabinoids.
Benefits and Uses
Past research has suggested that certain cannabinoids like CBD can reduce symptoms of acne. This discovery led researchers to investigate whether other non-psychoactive cannabinoids may be beneficial in treating acne disorders.
A 2016 study found that CBC was particularly useful as it reduced the production of sebum by sebaceous glands, which causes symptoms of acne. CBC was also found to reduce the effects of arachidonic acid, which plays a major role in acne production.
These effects, coupled with the ability of CBC to reduce inflammation, led the researchers to conclude that CBC may be “highly efficient” as an anti-acne treatment.
A 2012 study investigated the potential for CBC to manage bowel hypermotility, also known as diarrhea.
The researchers discovered that CBC reduced inflammation-induced hypermotility without causing hypomotility, or constipation.
This suggests that CBC may be a better treatment for diarrhea since many current anti-diarrheal medications are known to cause constipation.
CBC may also play a role in regulating bone growth. Scientists have found that low concentrations of cannabinoids can activate cells that are responsible for bone growth and repair, known as osteoclasts.
While CBC specifically has not yet been investigated by researchers in this function, other cannabinoids have demonstrated very promising potential in contributing to bone growth and repair through their activity on the CB2 receptor.
This notion can be expanded to include CBC since it activates the CB2 receptor indirectly and also increases levels of endocannabinoids, which act to enhance osteoclasts.
Cannabinoids have been found to display various anti-cancer properties in a number of studies. One of these properties involves the ability of cannabinoids to induce apoptosis in cancer cells, which is a programmed cell death response.
Another anti-cancer property of cannabinoids involves the ability of this class of chemicals to block cancer cells from proliferating. This means that the ability of cancer cells to divide in order to grow and expand can be inhibited by cannabinoids.
However, studies have not investigated the role of CBC specifically in producing anti-cancer effects.
But CBC’s indirect activity on the CB2 receptor, as well as its ability to influence the activity of endocannabinoids such as 2-AG and anandamide, suggest that CBC may contribute to the anti-cancer properties of marijuana.
One of the earliest studies involving cannabichromene was published in 1981 by researchers at the University of Mississippi.
In the study, researchers found that CBC exhibited “strong” antibacterial effects on a variety of gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, including E. coli and staph (S. aureus).
CBC showed a “mild to moderate” activity against different types of fungi too, including a common food contaminant known as black mold.
Interestingly, CBC appears to fight inflammation without activating cannabinoid receptors. This could explain why CBC produces a stronger anti-inflammatory effect when combined with other cannabinoids like THC.
Cannabichromene has also been found to reduce pain in animal models, although its effect may not be as strong as THC.
However, a 2010 study concluded that CBC and CBD could both fight pain by “interacting with several targets involved in the control of pain” at the spinal level.
Since CBC and CBD are both non-psychoactive, scientists are hopeful that these marijuana compounds can be used to treat pain without causing a high.
A 2010 study from the University of Mississippi identified a significant antidepressant effect of CBC in rat models.
The researchers concluded that CBC along with other cannabinoids including THC, CBD, CBN, and CBG may “contribute to the overall mood-elevating properties of cannabis.”
Recent studies on CBC have led to the discovery of a very unique benefit — it may actually help promote the growth of new brain cells. Specifically, CBC appeared to increase the viability of developing brain cells, a process known as neurogenesis.
Contrary to popular belief, the brain doesn’t stop growing once you reach a certain age. However, neurogenesis in adults only occurs in a specific part of the brain called the hippocampus.
While CBC’s ability to promote neurogenesis is a very recent finding, previous studies have suggested that THC and CBD might do the same.
As Dr. Xia Jiang of the University of Saskatchewan — one of the first scientists to uncover this remarkable effect — explained in an interview with Science Daily: