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Cannabichromene (CBC): A Not So Uncommon Cannabinoid

Cannabichromene (CBC) along with cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is one of the more common cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant (including hemp flower strains) [5]. CBC can be found in cannabis and hemp strains of many geographic origins. This includes Afghani, Pakistani, Lebanese, Iranian, Turkish, Mexican, Brazilian, Costa Rican, Jamaican, and South African cannabis varieties. CBC is most abundant in marijuana, but you can also find the cannabinoid in hemp. Like CBD, CBC is not psychoactive and will not get you high on its own. However, when taken with THC, it may enhance the distribution of THC to the brain [1].

cannabichromene cbc cannabinoid

Table of Contents

What are the Benefits of Cannabichromene (CBC)?

Cannabichromene is not as abundant as CBD and THC, it can occur at lower levels like CBG and other minor cannabinoids. That means that getting CBC isolate is an expensive process. In studies of CBC benefits, most researchers are using a CBC isolate. That means that these CBC benefits are not something that you would experience from using a hemp strain that contains CBC. What it does mean is that you may experience some degree of these benefits in conjunction with the benefits of other cannabinoids and terpenes that are present.

Antibacterial and Antifungal Action

So what are the benefits of CBC? Multiple studies in animal models and lab experiments (in vitro) have noted that CBC has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties [5]. As an antibacterial, researchers observed that CBC was more effective than the common antibiotic streptomycin sulfate against B. subtilis, comparable to streptomycin sulfate against M. smegmatis, and very effective against S. aureus. As an antifungal, researchers observed that CBC had better antifungal activity than the common antifungal medication amphotericin B against T. mentagrophytes, mild to moderate activity against C. albicans and S. cervisiae.

Anti-Inflammatory and Analgesic Action

The anti-inflammatory properties of cannabichromene are attributed to some complicated biological interactions [3]. To put it briefly, CBC was observed to significantly reduced nitrite levels through activated immune cells called macrophages. CBC is also thought to work through the transient receptor potential ankyrin‐type 1 (TRPA1, an ion channel on cells that participates in inflammation signaling) and to inhibit endocannabinoid inactivation. The sum of all of these biological actions is that inflammatory processes are inhibited. The particular study that observed this mechanism found that colitis was inhibited in their mouse study.

Researchers have also observed that CBC has complex interactions with the CB1 receptor, the CB2 receptor, and with THC [1]. CBC does not work directly through CB1 or CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system, instead, like CBD, it influences the endocannabinoid system through indirect mechanisms. In another mouse study, CBC was observed to exert analgesic (pain sensation reducing) effects. Interestingly, the researchers observed that when CBC and THC were used together, more anti-inflammatory effects were observed. They also found that CBC aided THC in entering the brain.

DeLong, et al (2010) note, '30 or 100 mg/kg CBC led to significantly elevated THC levels in brain, but did not quite achieve statistical significance in affecting THC blood levels (p<0.07). It is noteworthy that these same doses of CBC produced enhanced pharmacological effects when given in combination with the threshold dose of THC.' This entourage effect means that CBC benefits can be enhanced by the addition of some THC. And it makes sense that they work well together since both tend to occur together naturally in certain cannabis strains.

How Does Cannabichromene Work?

We talked a bit about how CBC works as an anti-inflammatory agent, but if it does not work through CB1 or CB2, just how does it influence our bodies? Marcu, J. P. (2016) explains, 'CBC has been shown to significantly interact with TRP cation channels, including TRPA1, TRPV1–4, and TRPV8.' And Russo, E. B., & Marcu, J. (2017) elaborates, 'CBC can interact with transient receptor potential (TRP) cation channels that inhibit endocannabinoid inactivation, and stimulate CB2 receptors... but it does not have significant activity at CB1 receptors...'

To unpack that a little, 'TRP cation channels' are channels that occur on the membrane around an animal cell. These channels let cations into the cell. Some examples of cations are sodium, calcium, and magnesium. These cations are used as signals in the body that tell different mechanisms to turn on, turn off, release other signals, or have some other sort of reaction. In the case of CBC, the TRP channels are responding to CBC, and then in turn they are signaling changes to stimulate CB2 receptors [4].

That is why CBC can influence the endocannabinoid system without directly activating or inactivating cannabinoid receptors. Since both TRP channels and the endocannabinoid system can alter inflammation and pain responses in the body, it makes sense that CBC can benefit those responses.

CBC Dosage

There is no standard or FDA approved CBC dosage, but we do know that the 'lethal dose' of CBC is quite high. At up to 3000mg/kg/day, orally administered CBC did not result in any deaths [5]. When administered through injection, that dose was lethal to some test animals. However, a dosage that high would be very impractical and expensive. CBC has lower toxicity and could be administered at higher doses than phenylbutazone (PBZ) or aspirin for inflammation.

High CBC Cannabis Strains

Landrace strains from India are some of the strains that are most naturally abundant in cannabichromene. It is also found at higher levels in younger cannabis plants. Among marijuana and hemp types of cannabis, here are some that are known to be rich in CBC:

blueberry diesel hemp flower
Blueberry Diesel is a high-CBC hemp strain with Indian-derived genetics

How is CBC Made?

Cannabinoids in cannabis plants exist in an acidic state, meaning they have not been 'decarboxylated' to 'activate' them. So cannabichromene, in a living cannabis plant occurs as cannabichromenic acid (CBCa). CBCa is made from the combination of the precursors geranyl pyrophosphate and olivetolic acid with help from the enzyme CBCA synthase. Decarboxylation of CBCa to CBC occurs either over time, or by heating above 200°F.

Concluding Thoughts

CBC isolate is likely another product we will soon see hitting the shelves, but now that you know more about how CBC works in your body you may consider a high CBC hemp strain instead. This is because cannabinoids tend to work best as a team. Individually, they all have some benefits, but together in their natural state they can work as nature intended. Since there is little human research on CBC isolate, and no clinical trials, no one can say for certain what the long term effects or overall effectiveness of CBC really is. However, it is always interesting to learn that cannabis is more than just CBD and THC. Indeed, other cannabinoids (and terpenes) like cannabichromene play a huge role in the experience.

References

  1. 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 Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol. Drug and alcohol dependence, 112(1-2), 126–133.
  2. Marcu, J. P. (2016). An overview of major and minor phytocannabinoids. In Neuropathology of drug addictions and substance misuse (pp. 672-678). Academic Press.
  3. Romano, B., Borrelli, F., Fasolino, I., Capasso, R., Piscitelli, F., Cascio, M. G., … & Di Marzo, V. (2013). The cannabinoid TRPA1 agonist cannabichromene inhibits nitric oxide production in macrophages and ameliorates murine colitis. British journal of pharmacology, 169(1), 213-229.
  4. Russo, E. B., & Marcu, J. (2017). Cannabis pharmacology: the usual suspects and a few promising leads. In Advances in pharmacology (Vol. 80, pp. 67-134). Academic Press.
  5. Turner, C. E., & ElSohly, M. A. (1981). Biological activity of cannabichromene, its homologs and isomers. The Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 21(S1), 283S-291S.

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