The ever-increasing cannabinoid family has new members coming in every day, and there’s reason to be excited as new research comes out about CBC.
In the last couple of years, CBD (cannabidiol) – a cannabis cannabinoid, has risen to prominence as an effective treatment for many suffering from medical issues like insomnia, anxiety, pain, depression, seizures, high blood sugars, pathogenic diseases, ADHD etc., and a possible answer to many other issues that still require more research like: different forms of cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, and even prion diseases. It seems like every day a new breakthrough is coming out about the use of CBD as a treatment.
It’s easy to forget that CBD, along with THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) – the main cannabinoid of cannabis plants – are just two of the possibly hundreds of cannabinoids that are present in cannabis plants. In fact, by now, well over 100 cannabinoids have been identified, and each one – though sometimes only appearing in extremely small concentrations – has its own medicinal benefits. One of these lesser known cannabinoids that is starting to make it into the mainstream is CBC, or Cannabichromene.
What is CBC?
Cannabichromene, which also goes by the names cannabichrome, pentylcannabichromene, cannabinochromene, and cannanbichromene is a phytocannabinoid that is structurally similar to other cannabinoids like THC, CBD and CBN, and the second most prevalent cannabinoid in cannabis.
Much like other cannabinoids, CBC does not actually start out as CBC, but rather as cannabichromenic acid, and is produced over time through decarboxylation. CBC is non-psychoactive, and interacts with the endocannabinoid system differently than both THC and CBD in that it only poorly binds to the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the brain.
In 2019, a study was done looking into the often misunderstood mechanisms of action of CBC, which found that CBC acts as a selective CB2 receptor agonist. As of yet it has not undergone scheduling by the Convention on Psychotropic Substances meaning it is legal to use as of now.
What does the research say about CBC?
The isolation of new cannabinoids means all new avenues of medical research to go down. The studies on CBC, in fact, go back as far as a 1981 study that tested the anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties of CBC in rats. According to the research, CBC showed anti-inflammatory effects superior to phenylbutazone, an NSAID anti-inflammatory/pain medication. It also showed to be a strong antibacterial agent and a mild to moderate antifungal.
Then, in a 2006, study into the anti-tumor effects of cannabidiol, cannabigerol, cannabichromene, cannabidiol acid and THC acid, it was found that while CBD had a more expected effect on the inhibition of certain tumor growth in rats, the other cannabinoids tested, including CBC, did as well, leading investigators to point in the direction of further testing of cannabinoids for cancer treatment.
In 2010 there was a study investigating how CBD and CBC effect activity of the descending pathway of antinociception in anesthetized rats. It was found that both cannabinoids produce an antinociceptive response by interacting with various targets involved in pain control. A less complicated way of saying this is that both CBD and CBC were found to help alleviate pain caused by nerve damage by the ability to block the detection of pain by sensory neuron cells.
It was looked at again in 2012 as an inhibitor of inflammation induced hyper motility in rats. The investigators were looking at CBC as a way to control, or inhibit, the overactive digestive tracts in rats that was caused as a result of inflammation. The results showed a positive correlation between CBC and the normalization of intestinal motility.
In the 2013 study, The effect of cannabichromene on adult neural stem/progenitor cells, three different phytocannabinoids were looked at in reference to adult neural stem progenitor cells in rats. These cells are similar to stem cells, but more specified, and play a large role in brain function and overall pathology, making them very important. CBC was found to have a positive effect when looking at the viability of adult neural stem progenitor cells in vitro, indicating neural protective qualities.
An interesting systematic review from 2017 investigated the use of cannabinoids including CBC for the treatment of several different pathogenic diseases. The conclusion was important in that though it showed the use of cannabinoids and the elicitation of the endocannabinoid system to be useful in treating many issues, it also pointed to the idea that simply making the assumption that cannabinoids can help with all issues related to a problem, is quite insufficient.
‘This review was able to point to incidences in research where the application of cannabinoids and the elicitation of the endocannabinoid system was not beneficial, and possibly harmful. While this does not in any way undo, or take away from, the possible positive benefits, it does act as a reminder that it’s important to do thorough investigations that do, indeed, look at everything, and to remember that medications – whether plant-based or pharmaceutical – are often specific to a particular problem, and often times cannot be generalized past that.
CBC shows similar properties to other cannabinoids in its anti-inflammatory, pain management, neuroprotectant, pathogenic disease fighting, anti-tumor, and stomach settling properties. Much like CBD and THC, the research into this compound is ongoing, with new applications coming out all the time. CBC has been shown in studies to both work alone as a standalone treatment, and in conjunction with other cannabinoids.
Cannabichromene and the Entourage Effect
While CBD, and cannabis in general, have risen to mainstream medicine, they are different than standard pharmaceuticals because they fall into the category of plant-based medicine. When dealing with plant-based medicine it is often preferable to take just one part of a plant – for example, a cannabinoid like CBC – isolate it, and magnify it for its specific medicinal properties.
This can often be beneficial when a particular property of a plant has been found to treat a precise ailment. Sometimes that’s the best answer. Sometimes it’s not. When dealing with plant-based medicine, the entourage effect can be a powerful force. When looking up the entourage effect online these days, you’re likely to only see articles about cannabis, when in reality this idea is relevant to all plant medicine.
Plants are complicated structures made up of different substances. These substances can provide benefit on their own, or combine with other substances within to create an even more powerful response, we call this the entourage effect, but what it really is, is a full plant effect. Instead of focusing on one isolated part of the plant, it focuses on the combination of parts and the added benefit that these combinations can bring.
When dealing with cannabinoids like CBC, CBD, CBN, THC, etc., the idea of what they can do in concert is often more appealing than what they can accomplish in isolated form. In this 2019 systematic review, researchers took a look at years of research into cannabinoid isolation versus a cannabinoid entourage effect, and the many different applications of both.
They found when reviewing this research that often times the entourage effect far exceeds the effects of a single compound. In this review are examples of cannabis applications for microbial diseases, cancer treatments, anti-inflammatory treatments, anticonvulsant properties, and so on.
CBC has yet to gain the overall popularity of THC or CBD. As medical research continues to uncover useful benefits, more products and flowers are sure to make it to the marketplace. As of right now, CBC can be found in hemp capsules from different retailers, as an isolate, in oils, and in hemp flowers.
One of the more well-known high-CBC flower strains is Three Kings: a sativa dominant hybrid mixing Headband, OG Kush, and Sour Diesel. It has bright green flowers with tons of trichomes, and an earthy taste of pine and citrus when smoked or vaped.