Cannabeginners: Cannabichromene (CBC) explained

Although it is made through the same biochemistry that converts CBG to THC or CBD, cannabichromene (CBC) has received much less research and attention. Like CBD, CBC is non-intoxicating, so it won’t get you high, and it has some unique and promising medical benefits with more research each year. Although CBC has been less researched than some of the more well-known cannabinoids, there are still hundreds of patents pending.

The discovery and history of cannabichromene

There is some debate as to which group of researchers was the first to isolate CBC in 1966, but was it Raphael Mechoulam and colleagues looking at hashish or another team using an extraction method and hemp different. Since CBC was first isolated from cannabis, as with many other cannabinoids, CBC or CBC-like compounds have been found in sources other than cannabis. CBC has been found to be the second most abundant phytocannabinoid in some marijuana strains in the United States, and is specifically more abundant in freshly harvested dry cannabis material.

CBC is made through a similar chemical conversion that creates THC or CBD, starting with olivetolic acid and geranyl diphosphate that combine to make CBGa. In the next step, CBGa combines with a CBC-synthase to form CBCa, which is decarboxylated to CBC. Research has also shown that, similar to the genetic mutation that allows CBG-rich cultivars, there is a mutation to allow CBC-rich cannabis plants as well. Just as THC can be further decarboxylated to CBN, CBC can be decarboxylated to a much less researched cannabinoid, cannabicyclol (CBL).

What is Chromene?

Word nerds might be thinking: I know what the cannabi half of cannabichrome means, but what is a chrome? Chromiums are chemicals that are commonly found in nature and are used in a wide range of products, including food, cosmetics and agrochemicals. Just as cannabis has cannabichromene, all kinds of other plants have their own specialized chromenes. Chromiums are such an incredibly broad class of chemicals that, included in their scope, are groups of chemicals such as alkaloids and anthocyanins.

What are the medical effects of cannabichromene?

CBC has been shown to be an effective analgesic in multiple studies, both as an analgesic and antinociceptive. Although most of the research on CBC as a pain reliever has focused on animals, it is believed to have similar effects in humans. Research on CBC and pain has also shown it to be an effective tool for reducing inflammation, with one study naming it the second most likely cannabinoid to produce anti-inflammatory effects. What really makes the anti-inflammatory effects of CBC unique is that they are completely independent of the endocannabinoid system and other commonly used methods of action, something that still puzzles researchers. In a clear example of the joint/environment effect, the anti-inflammatory effects of CBC were dose-dependently increased when CBC and THC were co-administered.

Studies have shown that CBC can be an effective treatment for fungal activity and has antibacterial effects, noting that the antibacterial activity was strong and the antifungal activity was mild to moderate. So while CBC may not be a way to deal with Last of Us cordyceps zombies, it might do something for athlete’s foot. Another very unique property of CBC is that it functions as a neurogenic, helping to create new brain cells, aiding healthy recovery after brain damage by controlling neural stem/progenitor cells. Although most cannabinoids work to reduce pain and inflammation, CBC, CBG, and CBD appear to be the only cannabinoids currently known to have benefits in helping with spinal cord or brain injuries.

The ability of CBCs to help the brain is not only limited to physical ailments, it has also been shown to show a pronounced anti-depressant effect.[s]. Another study, which looked at both THC and CBC, found that CBC may contribute to the general mood-elevating properties of cannabis, but the researchers noted that the exact mechanism underlying this activity is still unclear. Although these findings are very promising, these studies were done on rodents, not people, and people are not the same as rodents, so more research looking at CBC in humans is needed.

The main reason researchers have had trouble determining the exact mechanism by which CBC interacts with our bodies is that it is not just one method of action. CBC has been shown to have low affinity for CB1 and CB2 receptors, meaning it does not have a strong interaction with our endocannabinoid receptors. Instead, CBC has activity with several TRP receptors (pain sensing) and adenosine receptors (where caffeine interacts).

One quick hit

CBC is the lesser-known relative of THC and CBD, made through the same chemical conversion process as CBGa. Despite being the subject of much less research than other cannabinoids, CBC has been shown to have a number of unique medical properties, including acting as an antifungal, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, analgesic, and neurogenic compound.

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