Cannabichromene (CBC): The Third Major Cannabinoid

Dan Simms Last Updated: April 08, 2022 Print

The majority of research surrounding cannabis is devoted to two of the most prominent cannabinoids found in marijuana and hemp: THC and CBD. 

However, cannabis contains over 100 cannabinoids, all of which have their own effects and potential medical benefits. Cannabichromene (CBC) is one minor cannabinoid that shows immense promise in the medical field.

In this article, you’ll learn all about CBC, including where it comes from, its effects on the human body, and the potential benefits of consuming it.

What Is CBC?

CBC is one of many natural chemicals called “phytocannabinoids” found in the cannabis family of plants. It interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the human body, which is responsible for regulating a wide range of neurochemical processes. The ECS regulated everything from hunger and satiety to stimulation and sedation of the central nervous system. 

CBC is often compared to cannabidiol (CBD) because of its non-intoxicating effects and comparable healing abilities.

And while it’s true that CBC shares many of the same benefits as CBD and even looks strikingly similar, there are some key differences that give this cannabinoid merit on its own. 

The most promising findings associated with this cannabinoid come down to its ability to interact with both the endocannabinoid system and the TRPA1 and TRPV1 receptors. Through these actions, CBC is thought to offer protection from neurodegenerative disorders, chronic pain, and depression.

In fact, one study even noted that CBC showed the greatest improvement in reducing depression scores when compared with both THC and CBD [7].

Where Does CBC Come From?

CBC is naturally produced by cannabis plants throughout their life cycles. Marijuana and hemp plants both produce cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), considered the mother of all cannabinoids.

Over time or with exposure to heat or UV light, CBGA gradually breaks down into a number of other cannabinoids, one of which is cannabichromenic acid (CBCA). Eventually, CBCA further breaks down into CBC.

CBC appears in cannabis plants in nature. It is produced in high levels like THC and CBD and is considered a major cannabinoid, but it is only now gaining popularity and being studied in greater depth.

Is CBC Natural?

Yes, CBC is natural. There are ways of synthesizing this cannabinoid, but there’s no real reason to do so since it’s already a byproduct of CBD and THC manufacturing. 

CBC is one of the six major cannabinoids that are naturally occurring in marijuana and hemp plants, so concentrations in cannabis are naturally very high.

Is CBC Psychoactive?

No, CBC is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, so it will not produce a high, even in large doses.

Like CBD, CBC doesn’t bind directly to endocannabinoid receptors and instead is an antagonist of CB2 receptors. As such, CBC does have an effect on the body and can induce relaxation.

However, it won’t produce changes in perception, giddiness, or intoxication like THC or other psychoactive cannabinoids.

Is CBC Legal?

CBC is currently legal throughout most of the world, and this status is unlikely to change in the near future. Only a handful of countries ban all forms of cannabis outright. In most places, as long as the CBC extract was derived from hemp (not marijuana), it’s legal to buy and sell. 

In the United States, CBC is one of many cannabinoids derived from hemp plants, which, according to the Farm Bill of 2018, is legal to cultivate, harvest, sell, possess, and consume throughout the country.

CBC is present in both marijuana and hemp plants, so not all CBC is technically legal, even if it’s separated from other federally illegal cannabinoids, like delta 9 THC. Only CBC that is hemp-derived is considered legal.

Related: Legalization vs. Decriminalization –What’s the Difference?

How Does CBC Work?

Cannabinoids interact with the body by binding to or affecting CB1 and/or CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system. This system is intimately involved with control over the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system, so it’s tied to mood, feelings of stress, energy levels, sleep, and more.

Unlike many psychoactive cannabinoids, CBC doesn’t have a binding affinity with the CB1 receptors [1]. However, it’s an agonist of the CB2 receptors, so it still produces a significant effect on the endocannabinoid system.

CBC also interacts with the TRP ion channels, which are also involved with the regulation of our central nervous system. CBC is especially active at the TRPA1 and TRPV1 receptors, which are involved in the regulation of pain.

What Do You Use CBC For? Potential Benefits

Despite CBC is one of the most prominent phytocannabinoids in cannabis plants, comparatively little is known about it in contrast to THC and CBD, both of which have been studied for decades now. However, there is some research available on CBC, and the potential medical benefits are plentiful.

In line with other CB2 receptor agonists, CBC has been shown to relieve pain and reduce inflammation [2], making it a natural solution for patients experiencing chronic or intense pain.

Much like THC and CBD, CBC has shown promise in treating neurodegenerative diseases, including Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s disease [3]. There is some evidence to suggest that CBC is a neuroprotectant [4], further making a case for it as a treatment of these ailments.

Additionally, CBC’s interaction with the endocannabinoid system means that it can have some effect on dopamine levels and uptake [5], making it a potential treatment for depression.

Are There Risks Involved With Taking CBC?

There isn’t much research to substantiate any major risks associated with taking cannabichromene. Some evidence points to the possibility of long-term use leading to fatigue, but all other potential risk factors are associated with consumption methods.

Most notably, consuming CBC typically involves ingesting cannabis, which is commonly done via smoking or vaping. The research is clear that inhaling smoke can increase the risk of lung cancer and other types of cancer [6]. Smoke can also cause irritation of the lungs and throat, especially with frequent or long-term users.

Other consumption methods — including taking CBC via edibles or tinctures — are generally considered safe. However, these methods are less available to users, as isolated or concentrated CBC is far less popular than THC and CBD and are harder to come by.

What’s the Standard Dose of CBC?

Dosing CBC properly is crucial for experiencing the desired benefits. Most users and experts state that CBC should be taken in similar doses to CBD. As such, the average dose is around 25 mg, with users taking anywhere from 10 mg up to 100 mg.

Dosing CBC is generally challenging unless you can find an edible, gummy, or tincture that contains isolated CBC. Smoking CBD-rich hemp is a popular option but makes accurate dosing all but impossible. Most users consume approximately a quarter to a third of a gram at a time if using hemp flower to consume CBC.

Final Thoughts: CBC is a Promising Cannabinoid, but More Research is Needed

Cannabichromene (CBC) is one of the most prominent cannabinoids found in marijuana and hemp plants. Despite being a major cannabinoid alongside THC and CBD, it’s far less popular and has only recently begun to gain popularity and attention in the medical community.

CBC is a naturally occurring compound that interacts with the endocannabinoid system. As such, it has a wealth of effects on humans, offering users anti-inflammatory benefits, pain relief, neuroprotective qualities, and more. Research on CBC is still ongoing, but it looks promising as a useful tool for treating a number of conditions.

CBC is currently legal worldwide, and as a non-psychoactive cannabinoid with health benefits, it’s becoming more popular and could eventually be equally as obtainable and widespread as CBD.

References

  1. Udoh, M., Santiago, M., Devenish, S., McGregor, I. S., & Connor, M. (2019). Cannabichromene is a cannabinoid CB2 receptor agonist. British journal of pharmacology, 176(23), 4537-4547.
  2. DeLong, G. T., Wolf, C. E., Poklis, A., & Lichtman, A. H. (2010). Pharmacological evaluation of the natural constituent of Cannabis sativa, cannabichromene and its modulation by Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol. Drug and alcohol dependence, 112(1-2), 126-133.
  3. Stone, N. L., Murphy, A. J., England, T. J., & O’Sullivan, S. E. (2020). A systematic review of minor phytocannabinoids with promising neuroprotective potential. British Journal of Pharmacology, 177(19), 4330-4352.
  4. Russo, E. B. (2008). Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain. Therapeutics and clinical risk management, 4(1), 245.
  5. Solinas, M., Goldberg, S. R., & Piomelli, D. (2008). The endocannabinoid system in brain reward processes. British journal of pharmacology, 154(2), 369-383.
  6. Ghasemiesfe, M., Barrow, B., Leonard, S., Keyhani, S., & Korenstein, D. (2019). Association between marijuana use and risk of cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA network open, 2(11), e1916318-e1916318.
  7. El-Alfy, A. T., Ivey, K., Robinson, K., Ahmed, S., Radwan, M., Slade, D., … & Ross, S. (2010). Antidepressant-like effect of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol and other cannabinoids isolated from Cannabis sativa L. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 95(4), 434-442.