What is CBC? – All About Cannabichromenes, Introduction, Medical Benefits, CBC vs CBD and More

You already know CBD… but what about CBC? The Cannabichromenes (CBCs) are a major constituent of cannabis plants, including hemp. identified it as “one of four major cannabinoids in Cannabis sativa L. and is the second most abundant cannabinoid in drug type cannabis.”. So what does this cannabinoid do?
Zora Degrandpre
Written by Zora Degrandpre, MS, ND
Last Updated
CBC

Cannabinoids are produced by members of the Cannabis family of plants including hemp plants. The cannabinoids are a large class of chemicals with many different families and one of those families is known as the cannabichromenes. In the alphabet soup of cannabinoid studies, the cannabichromenes are known as the CBCs.

The cannabichromenes include:

  • Cannabichromene (CBC)
  • Cannabichromenic acid (CBCA)
  • Cannabichromevarin (CBCV)
  • Cannabichromevarinic acid (CBCVA)

Table of Contents:

 

About the Cannabichromenes

One of the earliest studies on cannabichromene identified it as “one of four major cannabinoids in Cannabis sativa L. and is the second most abundant cannabinoid in drug type cannabis.”[1] This study found that CBC had antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties. CBC is non-intoxicating, meaning it will not get you high.[2]

So far, the primary effect of the cannabichromenes CBC and CBCV are anti-inflammatory in nature.

 

Cannabichromene (CBC)

Cannabichromene or CBC is non-intoxicating, has anti-inflammatory properties and is less toxic than other anti-inflammatory medications.1,[3] Other studies have indicated that CBC may act as an antidepressant in a mouse model of depression. [4] More recent work indicates that CBC does not bind to the CB1 OR the CB2 receptor to produce its anti-inflammatory actions.[5] Most recently, however, CBC was shown to bind to CB2 receptors but in such a way as to decrease the levels of CB2 receptors on cell surfaces.[6] Binding of CBC causes cells to internalize the receptor proteins and store then for later use. Other studies indicate that CBC slows down the developmental changes of neural stem cells which transform them into differentiated astroglial cells, though the potential significance of this is not clear. [7]

The full effects of binding of CBC to either the CB1 or the CB2 receptors is still a bit unclear,. Different labs using varying assay systems report different results. There appears to be less uncertainty regarding the binding of CBC to another receptor, the TRPA1 receptor, and possibly other TRP-type receptors. TRPA1 is the “transient receptor potential ankyrin 1”.[8] These TRPA1 receptors are involved in the perception of pain, regulation of body temperature and other sensory perceptions. The current consensus is that CBC binds to a variety of receptors and has the potential to decrease pain, at least partly through its anti-inflammatory effects.[9]

 

Cannabichromevarin (CBCV)

Much less is known about cannabichromevarin or CBCV, though there is some indication that CBCV may exhibit higher activity than CBC.

There is even less known about the actions or effects of other cannabichromenes like cannabichromenic acid (CBCA) or cannabichromevarinic acid (CBCVA).

 

Potential Medical Benefits of CBC

What we know so far is that CBC may benefit:

 

How do the Cannabichromenes Compare to CBD?

The CBCs are similar in many ways to CBD. Both types of cannabinoids have an anti-inflammatory component and they may reduce pain, both directly and by decreasing inflammation. The fact remains that CBC binds to a different set of receptors than CBD does and it may or may not bind to either the CB1 or the CB2 receptor. This opens a possibility for creating combinations of various cannabinoids which may lead to superior results as far as reducing inflammation and/or pain. We just don’t know yet.

 

Are the CBCs Legal?

CBCs are found in many CBD products, especially if you are looking at the full spectrum products. CBCs are in a similar group of cannabinoids that are extracted right along with CBD. The CBCs are non-intoxicating and won’t get you high. Because CBC and CBCV are co-extracted with CBD, they are, within the same legal category as CBD. However, it should be noted that the laws don’t specifically mention this group of cannabinoids but as long as the THC level in the product is below 0.3%, it is considered legal.

 

How are CBC and CBCV made?

CBC and CBCV are both extracted from cannabis plants. Different strains can be bred to produce more CBC or CBCV. These materials may be extracted using either the ethanol or CO2 extraction methods. There are a few companies that sell CBC and CBCV, but interestingly, none of the “major” CBD companies participate in this market. CBC and CBCV can be quite expensive depending on concentration and potency. In addition, economies of scale do not apply because demand is still pretty low. I did find a few lab analyses which included results for both CBC and CBCV levels. The oils contain higher amounts of these cannabinoids, but they also contain significant amounts of other cannabinoids like CBD. Since at this point, the actions and benefits are pretty similar, there is no huge rationale for placing an emphasis on CBC or CBCV over CBD because you will be getting mostly CBD anyway at least according to the analyses I was able to find.

 

Choosing a CBC Product

Use the same guidance for buying CBC or CBCV as you would for CBD. Make certain that the seller has a good reputation and uses 3rd party testing to confirm that you are getting significant amounts of CBC or CBCV. Again, from the lab analyses I looked over, the ratio of CBC to CBD was about 1:3 and the ratio of CBCV to CBD was about 1:5.Given the money you are paying, you may be getting less CBC or CBCV than you think. Read the labels and check the lab analyses!

 

References Cited

  1. [1] Turner CE, Elsohly MA., Biological activity of cannabichromene, its homologs and isomers. J Clin Pharmacol. 1981 Aug-Sep;21(S1):283S-291S.
  2. [2] ElSohly MA,Radwan MM, Gul W.,Chandra S, Galal A., Phytochemistry of Cannabis sativa L. Prog Chem Org Nat Prod. 2017;103:1-36. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-45541-9_1.
  3. [3] Wirth, P. W., Watson, E. S., ElSohly, M., Turner, C. E., Murphy, J. C. (1980) Anti-inflammatory properties of cannabichromene. Life Sci. 26, 1991–1995
  4. [4] Deyo R, Musty R (2003). A cannabichromene (CBC) extract alters behavioral despair on the mouse tail suspension test of depression. Proceedings 2003 Symposium on the Cannabinoids. International Cannabinoid Research Society: Cornwall, ON, p. 146.
  5. [5] DeLong GT, Wolf CE, Poklis A, Lichtman AH. Pharmacological evaluation of the natural constituent of Cannabis sativa, cannabichromene and its modulation by Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2010 Nov 1;112(1-2):126-33. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2010.05.019.
  6. [6] Udoh M, Santiago M, Devenish S, McGregor IS, Connor M., Cannabichromene is a cannabinoid CB2 receptor agonist. Br J Pharmacol. 2019 Dec;176(23):4537-4547. doi: 10.1111/bph.14815. Epub 2019 Nov 21.
  7. [7] Shinjyo N, Di Marzo V. The effect of cannabichromene on adult neural stem/progenitor cells. Neurochem Int. 2013 Nov;63(5):432-7. doi: 10.1016/j.neuint.2013.08.002. Epub 2013 Aug 11.
  8. [8] De Petrocellis L, Ligresti A, Moriello AS, Allarà M, Bisogno T, Petrosino S, Stott CG, Di Marzo V. Effects of cannabinoids and cannabinoid enriched Cannabis extracts on TRP channels and endocannabinoid metabolic enzymes. Br J Pharmacol. 2011 Aug;163(7):1479-94. doi: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.2010.01166.x.
  9. [9] 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.
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Dr. Zora DeGrandpre practices naturopathic medicine (home visits) in rural Washington and is a professional medical and scientific writer and editor, specializing in naturopathic, functional, botanical and integrative medicine. Dr. DeGrandpre has degrees in drug design, immunology and natural medicine and has extensive research experience in cancer and molecular immunology. In her practice, Dr DeGrandpre has found the use of CBD with elderly patients and others to be safe and clinically effective. She brings to all her writing a straightforward approach that is accurate, clear and authentic.
Leonard Haberman
Leonard Haberman
Physician & Chemist
Dr. Leonard Haberman is a physician and chemist who has been involved in solving chemical and medical problems for 43 years. He graduated from New York University as a dual major in chemistry and biology and went on to obtain a PhD in chemistry from the University of Minnesota where his focus was synthetic methods. He spent 18 years with the Shell organization, working in a mixture of technical and business roles. He returned to the university in 2005, graduating with an MD degree in 2009. He has published in the open literature and in the proprietary literature of the Shell organization. He holds two patents and currently works as a consultant, assisting clients with projects within the disciplines of medicine and chemistry that have potential business applications.

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