Marijuana and other derivatives of cannabis have been used in medicine for millennia and have been the subject of chemical research since the 1800s. “Cannabinoids” is a broad term for over 50 different chemicals produced by Cannabis sativa, the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids attach to cannabinoid receptors in the human brain and body. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the two most popular cannabinoids, but there are several others that are becoming medically significant. Among these is cannabichromene, or CBC, which is considered in the ranks of the “big six” cannabinoids in emerging research.
WHAT IS CBC?
CBC is often referred to as cannabichromene in medical literature, but also goes by cannabinochromene and cannabichrome. CBC originates from cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), the precursor to both THC and CBD. CBGA gets broken down into tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), and cannabichromenic acid (CBCA). Then heat energy or ultraviolet light converts these acids into THC, CBD, or CBC, respectively. CBC is one of the most abundant cannabinoids in drug-type cannabis, usually second only to THC although this can differ among strains.
WHAT ARE THE POTENTIAL BENEFITS OF CBC?
As mentioned above, marijuana and its derivatives have been used in medicine for a long time, but it’s only in the last century that we’ve begun to understand the exact mechanisms behind its effect on the human body. And when it comes to cannabinoids outside of CBD and THC, we’ve only just scratched the surface. CBC is not as well-researched as CBD or THC, but in the past couple decades more research has emerged about its medical potential.
- Like many cannabinoids, CBC can reduce swelling and inflammation. According to several studies, CBC reduces inflammation and can reduce inflammation-induced hypermotility in vivo in mice without dependence on activation of cannabinoid receptors and without affecting motility. One study showed it was as effective as (and sometimes even superior to) phenylbutazone and notably less toxic, suggesting it could potentially be a great alternative to phenylbutazone as an anti-inflammatory.
- CBC has also demonstrated antimicrobial and antifungal properties. A study from 1982 tested cannabinoids including cannabichromene and its isomers and homologs. They used gram‐positive, gram‐negative, and acid‐fast bacteria, and found CBC showed strong antibacterial activity. Antifungal activity was evaluated using yeastlike and filamentous fungi and was shown to be mild to moderate.
- CBC is a well-known painkiller and could potentially provide an alternative to addictive painkillers with harmful side effects such as many NSAIDS. CBC doesn’t bind to the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors in the brain like many cannabinoids – it actually binds most effectively to vanilloid receptor 1 (TRPV1) and transient receptor potential ankyrin 1 (TRPA1). These receptor types are linked to pain perception in the human body. CBC has been shown to have an analgesic (pain-relieving) effect in rats by interacting with proteins involved in nociceptive control.
- As mentioned above, CBC binds to TRPV1 and TRPA1. Activation of these receptors can boost production of certain endocannabinoids in your body, including one called anandamide. Anandamide is naturally produced by the body and has been referred to as the “bliss” molecule. A recent study found that anandamide inhibits proliferation, migration and invasiveness of breast cancer cells in vitro and in vivo.
CAN CBC GET YOU HIGH?
Short answer? No. CBC is considered non-psychotropic, which means that it doesn’t have any significant impacts on cognitive ability. The “high” felt when using marijuana is due to THC content, and THC is actually one of the only cannabinoids that can cause a high. THC binds to the cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 in the brain; CBC, on the other hand, is unable to bind to these receptors.
However, as mentioned above, it can bind to other receptors in the body and still influence brain function indirectly. In a 2019 literature review examining psychiatric treatments using non-psychotropic medications, Vincent Hede, MD and Cedric Deville, MD found that most of these medications had some key advantages over their psychotropic counterparts:
- Most alternatives have fewer and less harmful side effects
- Studying their mechanism of action can help us understand the functioning of the human brain and body better and often leads to more research
- Oftentimes these drugs have minimal development cost
- Most non-psychotropic options being studied have been used for a long time (marijuana being a prime example), and there is existing knowledge about the tolerance and risk profile of these drugs
Based on current research, CBC shows a lot of promise as a non-psychotropic alternative medication for many diseases and illnesses, and as more research emerges that list only continues to grow. Hopefully with greater understanding and more scientific-based legislation, access to cannabinoids such as CBC will become easier and more commonplace.