Cannabichromene (CBC) is an up and coming cannabinoid in cannabis science.
Much of the research available on CBC today is preliminary, but we know it holds therapeutic potential like other phytocannabinoids. Although researchers discovered this little-discussed compound over fifty years ago, it has seemingly escaped the world’s attention until very recently. What is so intriguing about CBC? For starters, CBC may have anti-tumoral effects. It could also help with pain relief, boost mood, and promote neurogenesis. Most interestingly, the evidence thus far paints CBC as a surprisingly powerful cannabinoid within a broader spectrum of compounds. This is because it has a mild affinity to both CB1 and CB2 receptors. Overall, it means CBC could be a useful tool to unlock the benefits of the Entourage Effect.
A Brief History of CBC Research
Gaoni and Raphael Mechoulam established the first scientific evidence for CBC in 1966 in a paper titled, “Cannabichromene, a new active principle in hashish.” In this paper, the pair outlined the structure and makeup of what was at the time a novel new cannabinoid. They reported CBC made up between one to five percent of cannabinoid content in the sample they worked with. Gaoni, Y., & Mechoulam, R. (1966). Cannabichromene, a new active principle in hashish. Chemical Communications (London), (1), 20. doi:10.1039/c19660000020
In 1981, researchers again approached the CBC cannabinoid in “Biological Activity of Cannabichromene, its Homologs and Isomers,” published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. According to this evaluation, CBC was the second most prevalent cannabinoid in cannabis sativa L. However, today we know this was inaccurate and due to the difficulties in separating CBC and CBD. In various animal-based investigations, the authors of this 1981 study reported CBC exhibited anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal activity. Turner, C. E., & Elsohly, M. A. (1981). Biological Activity of Cannabichromene, its Homologs and Isomers. The Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 21(S1). doi:10.1002/j.1552-4604.1981.tb02606.x
Over the following decades, CBC didn’t earn much attention, especially in comparison with THC and CBD. It was not only challenging to get funding for cannabinoid-based research, but newer research published in Natural Product Communications has demonstrated that CBC rarely appears in levels above 0.2 to 0.3 percent of dry weight. So for many years, other more prominent cannabinoids got the little funding attention available. Pollastro, F., Caprioglio, D., Del Prete, D., Rogati, F., Minassi, A., Taglialatela-Scafati, O., … Appendino, G. (2018). Cannabichromene. Natural Product Communications, 13(9), 1934578X1801300. … Continue reading
What is CBC?
Based on the information available, we know a few critical details about CBC to paint a picture of this exciting cannabinoid. Cannabichromene, like THC and CBD, originates with a single mother cannabinoid, also called cannabigerolic acid (CBGA). This cannabinoid is also the precursor to two of the most prevalent cannabinoids (THC, CBD), but transforms into a small amount of cannabichromene acid (CBCA). Through the process of decarboxylation, CBCA then becomes CBC.
All these cannabinoids look structurally similar at the molecular level. It’s why they all work well within the endocannabinoid system and deliver similar therapeutic benefits. The CBC cannabinoid does not bind with the CB1 receptor, like THC, and therefore is normally not an intoxicant. In laboratory-based animal studies, high doses of CBC trigger what is called a tetrad response, or behavioral impairment. In real life, it is unlikely that people would be able to physically consume enough CBC to trigger this same intoxication.
As per the report in Natural Product Communications, CBC only has a mild affinity for both endocannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2. Other research, published by the British Pharmacological Society in 2019, reported that CBC was a selective CB2 receptor agonist, in some regards more so than it’s more famous cousin, THC. The authors concluded, “CBC may contribute to the potential therapeutic effectiveness of some cannabis preparations,” meaning it may contribute to the Entourage Effect.
The Therapeutic Potential of the CBC Cannabinoid
It is bizarre that despite CBC being one of the earliest discoveries and one of the most widely available cannabinoids, there is little research into it for therapeutic purposes. Much of the research lingers in Petri dishes and animal studies. But, as the world slowly turns its attention to minor cannabinoids, like CBC, this lack of study is rapidly changing.
Here are a few scientific suggestions of where CBC research may go:
May Promote Neurogenesis
CBC has positive effects on neurogenesis, at least in a mouse model. It promotes neural stem progenitor cell activity. These progenitor cells are vital for brain homeostasis and proper functioning. As per a 2013 study in Science Direct, these cells show more viability in the presence of CBC. Shinjyo, N., & Marzo, V. D. (2013). The effect of cannabichromene on adult neural stem/progenitor cells. Neurochemistry International, 63(5), 432-437. doi:10.1016/j.neuint.2013.08.002
Studies show this cannabinoid as effective against breast cancer cells, both in vivo and in vitro. A study conducted in 2006 and published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, showed the effectiveness of cannabinoids other than THC in suppressing cancer cells. CBC was the second most powerful cannabinoid in fighting cancer. Ligresti, A., Moriello, A. S., Starowicz, K., Matias, I., Pisanti, S., Petrocellis, L. D., . . . Marzo, V. D. (2006). Antitumor Activity of Plant Cannabinoids with Emphasis on the Effect of … Continue reading
Though out of date, a study conducted in the 1980s showed the CBC cannabinoid’s efficacy as a potent antibacterial agent. CBC was able to combat both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, such as S. aureus and E. coli. Newer research, summarized in the 2019 National Product Communications, “CBC was reported to outperform the other major cannabinoids in antibacterial and antifungal activity.” However, it didn’t target MRSA any better than THC, CBD, and CBG.
Antidepressant and Synergistic Effects
In combination with THC, CBC seems to help with depression. In 2010, researchers published their findings on this in Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behaviour, in a paper titled “Antidepressant-like effect of delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol and other cannabinoids isolated from Cannabis sativa L.” This study used an animal model to represent depression and discovered that THC, CBC, and CBD all improved mood. Other cannabinoids like CBN and CBG, did not promote the same response. El-Alfy, A. T., Ivey, K., Robinson, K., Ahmed, S., Radwan, M., Slade, D., Khan, I., ElSohly, M., & Ross, S. (2010). Antidepressant-like effect of delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol and other … Continue reading
CBC may be effective in suppressing inflammation, such as that seen in osteoarthritis. In combination with THC, CBC has a synergistic effect on pain control. Unlike NSAIDs, which also fight inflammatory pain, CBC is not associated with ulcerative disease when used for a long duration. Maione S, Piscitelli F, Gatta L, Vita D, De Petrocellis L, Palazzo E, de Novellis V, Di Marzo V. Non-psychoactive cannabinoids modulate the descending pathway of antinociception in anaesthetized rats … Continue reading
The CBC Cannabinoid is Worth a Closer Inspection
Even though CBC has been on the radar for over 50 years, scientists are just beginning to understand the potential medicinal benefits of the CBC cannabinoid. There may be a future for CBC as a stand-alone medicine, but likely, as a part of the synergistic effects of whole plant medicine. Still, this is a long way off. Lastly, it is worthwhile to note, that the time of writing, there were no known clinical trials underway exploring the CBC cannabinoids.
|↑1||Gaoni, Y., & Mechoulam, R. (1966). Cannabichromene, a new active principle in hashish. Chemical Communications (London), (1), 20. doi:10.1039/c19660000020|
|↑2||Turner, C. E., & Elsohly, M. A. (1981). Biological Activity of Cannabichromene, its Homologs and Isomers. The Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 21(S1). doi:10.1002/j.1552-4604.1981.tb02606.x|
|↑3||Pollastro, F., Caprioglio, D., Del Prete, D., Rogati, F., Minassi, A., Taglialatela-Scafati, O., … Appendino, G. (2018). Cannabichromene. Natural Product Communications, 13(9), 1934578X1801300. doi:10.1177/1934578×1801300922|
|↑4||Shinjyo, N., & Marzo, V. D. (2013). The effect of cannabichromene on adult neural stem/progenitor cells. Neurochemistry International, 63(5), 432-437. doi:10.1016/j.neuint.2013.08.002|
|↑5||Ligresti, A., Moriello, A. S., Starowicz, K., Matias, I., Pisanti, S., Petrocellis, L. D., . . . Marzo, V. D. (2006). Antitumor Activity of Plant Cannabinoids with Emphasis on the Effect of Cannabidiol on Human Breast Carcinoma. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, 318(3), 1375-1387. doi:10.1124/jpet.106.105247|
|↑6||El-Alfy, A. T., Ivey, K., Robinson, K., Ahmed, S., Radwan, M., Slade, D., Khan, I., ElSohly, M., & Ross, S. (2010). Antidepressant-like effect of delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol and other cannabinoids isolated from Cannabis sativa L. Pharmacology, biochemistry, and behavior, 95(4), 434–442. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pbb.2010.03.004|
|↑7||Maione S, Piscitelli F, Gatta L, Vita D, De Petrocellis L, Palazzo E, de Novellis V, Di Marzo V. Non-psychoactive cannabinoids modulate the descending pathway of antinociception in anaesthetized rats through several mechanisms of action. Br J Pharmacol. 2011 Feb;162(3):584-96. doi: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.2010.01063.x. PMID: 20942863; PMCID: PMC3041249.|