Cannabichromene, or CBC, was discovered over 50 years ago. It is considered one of the most prominent cannabinoids, though we still have a lot to learn about its properties. Despite bearing molecular similarity to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), its effects are very different. Research studies have shown that CBC can have a key role in the prevention and treatment of a wide range of medical conditions such as acne, cancer, depression, and bone growth disorders.
Cannabichromene (CBC) is a non-psychoactive compound found in marijuana. It is believed to be the second most abundant cannabinoid and it is produced in the plant's trichomes by way of an enzymatic reaction. Although discovered in 1966, CBC has not had as much attention as THC or CBD, but is still considered one of the 'big six' cannabinoids prominent in medical research. Despite its current lack of notoriety, its therapeutic potential is extremely promising.
How is CBC formed?
Like THC and CBD, CBC also originates from the 'stem cell' of cannabinoids: cannabigerolic acid (CBGA). Cannabis plants produce CBGA and natural enzymes decompose it into the main three acidic cannabinoids: tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), and cannabichromenic acid (CBCA). The specific plant enzymes 'direct' the breakdown product into one of the three lines of acidic cannabinoids. For CBC, CBGA converts into CBCA, and then finally into CBC after exposure to heat (through a process known as decarboxylation) or after exposure to ultraviolet light.
What are the effects of CBC?
CBC is non-psychoactive, so it does not produce a euphoric high like THC, because it does not bind to either CB1 cannabinoid receptors in the brain, or to CB2 receptors in the peripheral nervous system. Nonetheless, CBC can bind to other receptors in the body, such as the vanilloid receptor 1 (TRPV1) and the transient receptor potential ankyrin 1 (TRPA1), both of which are linked to pain transmission and modulation. So when CBC activates these receptors, increased levels of natural body endocannabinoids like anandamide (also known as the 'bliss molecule') are released.
While CBC has singular pain-killing properties, scientists also believe that it seems to synergistically work with other cannabinoids, a term known as the 'entourage effect.' This effect of THC and CBD working together is well-known, but it is unclear whether there are other cannabinoids involved in this process. However, CBC seems to be a real team player, working jointly with other cannabinoids to enhance their effects. Essentially, the activation of the TRPV1 and TRPA1 receptors helps increase the effectiveness of the endocannabinoid system, which makes other body receptors more sensitive to the various cannabinoids present in cannabis.
What is CBC's medicinal potential?
CBC for pain and inflammation
Research has already revealed CBC's potential for the effective treatment of inflammation, a symptom common to many medical complaints. According to some recent research with rats, CBC can block pain and inflammation linked to osteoarthritis, a disorder that damages the cartilage surrounding the joints. In another another rat study, CBC in combination with THC reduced inflammation to a larger extent than any isolated compounds, which also proves CBC's role in the entourage effect.
CBC for depression
In another amazing display of the entourage effect, CBC appears to work together with THC and CBD to deliver a great array of antidepressant properties. The results of one of the mice studies investigating this, showed that "Delta(9)-THC and other cannabinoids like CBC exert antidepressant-like actions, and thus may contribute to the overall mood-elevating properties of cannabis." Even though the exact mechanisms of this function are still undefined, it seems to be a great opportunity for further research into more natural treatments for mood disorders.
CBC for neurogenesis
CBC also shows potential for the protection of brain cells like neurones. A 2013 study showed that CBC has a positive effect on neural stem progenitor cells (NSPCs). These cells are essential for healthy brain function, as they help restore damaged neurones, and work to defend them against oxidative stress. NSP cells become healthier in the presence of CBC, which can be crucial in the treatment and prevention of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's.
CBC for acne
Two of the main causes of acne are excess sebum production and inflammation of the sebaceous glands. Sebum is an oily substance produced by the skin for hydration purposes. CBC was found to have anti-inflammatory properties for acne similar to those of CBD oil, by reducing lipid production in the sebaceous glands. These findings suggest that some day CBC could become an effective and preventative treatment for acne, though more research is needed before any final conclusions can be reached regarding this.
CBC for cancer
Cannabichromene may also be a powerful fighter against cancer, and the reason might be in its interaction with the body's natural endocannabinoid, anandamide. CBC also seems to inhibit the absorption of anandamide, enabling it to remain in the bloodstream for longer. Since anandamide has been shown to help fight breast cancer, maybe one day CBC and other cannabinoids might become preventive agents against this disease.
Where can we find CBC?
CBC can be found in some cannabis strains, but always in very small quantities.
However, CBC can also be found in some 'full-spectrum' CBD oils, which are extracts that keep the natural concentrations of cannabinoids. If you are interested in the potential benefits of CBC, or wish to experience the plant's entourage effect, look for CBD products containing CBC and other cannabinoids, as well as terpenes, flavonoids, and natural fatty acids.
CBC's therapeutic properties are significant and further research is required to determine its full potential and to understand its synergy with other cannabinoids in the entourage effect. Therefore, as new studies are being carried out and marijuana laws are becoming more lenient, CBC could soon become an option for new cannabis-based medication.
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