CBC - Cannabichromen

CBC - Cannabichromen


Cannabichromene, or CBC for short, is one of the more than 100 phytocannabinoids already identified in the cannabis plant. Like most of its relatives, it has no psychoactive effects. Although it is one of the four main cannabinoids in cannabis sativa, it is found in a higher concentration in Indian hemp, (Cannabis Indica), than in cannabis sativa.

As is common for phytocannabinoids, CBC is not limited to one area of use in different procedures. Although it cannot produce an analgesic effect alone, it is a great team player when used in partnership with THC. It supports the pain-relieving effects of the popular cannabinoid and produces a relaxing, calming and even antidepressant effect on those who consume it.

CBC develops through conversion by enzymes from its predecessor, cannabigerol (CBG). Exposure to light transforms cannabichromene into the product that breaks down CBL (cannabicyclol).

CBC and its effects

Although CBC has not been proven to have a direct pain-relieving effect on its own, the cannabinoid has another characteristic: its comprehensive pharmacological properties.

Scientists tested the cannabinoid and its substances for their possible anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects in the early 1980s. The anti-inflammatory effects were examined using the erythrocyte membrane stabilisation method and showed that CBC is superior to certain conventional preparations such as phenylbutazone.[1]

Since the early 1950s, phenylbutazone has been known as a drug from the group of 'non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs’ (NSAID for short), with analgesic, anti-inflammatory and anti-pyretic effects

Originally, this derivative of pyrazolidinedione was only intended to be prescribed and distributed as a medicine to patients who showed a certain resistance to a certain procedure or/and medication.

Patients can now get phenylbutazone from their doctor if they suffer from rheumatism, i.e. inflammatory rheumatic diseases. This heterogeneous illness, which often has a chronic and progressive course within the immune system, includes symptoms such as mild to severe joint pain and restricted mobility. This can lead to irreversible impairments of independence and ultimately disabilities that need care for sufferers. In Germany, an estimated 2% of the adult population contract inflammatory rheumatic disease. Although the number of sufferers may seem small, the procedure costs cosmic amounts like billions. The main reason is the expensive medications that have to be used for effective results.[2]

It is a well-known fact that manufacturing costs for medical cannabis are much lower in price.

Since the import and sale of pharmaceutical cannabis in Germany has been legal since 2017 and pharmaceutical start-up companies have already developed their own biosynthetic processes for production, company founders expect that production costs will continue to decrease, ending up at 0.1% of what they are now.

Acid-resistant bacteria and mushroom-growing fungi, among others, have also been used to test whether CBC has antifungal and antibacterial properties. While the result confirmed strong antibacterial action, the antifungal activity was low to average.

CBC can act as an antibiotic against fungal infections and can be used as an antibiotic against bacteria that no longer respond to conventional antibiotics due to increasing resistance.

Studies have already shown that a large number of phytocannabinoids have an antidepressant effect and that there is an interaction between antidepressant drugs and our endocannabinoid system. New studies have observed the antidepressant effect and other properties of CBC. In animal experiments on mice, the optimal dose to rule out neurological disorders was specified. While the cannabinoids CBC and CBN showed no significant antidepressant effects, CBC was aligned with CBD and THC. All three phytocannabinoids showed benefits. For CBC, this was seen at 20mg per kg.[3]Further animal tests confirmed this and also demonstrated antidepressant properties in stressful situations. Consumption of CBC was also clearly seen to counteract mobility restrictions according to the correct dose administered. This means that cannabichromene is one of the anti-depressant cannabinoids of the cannabis plant and is jointly responsible for the mood-enhancing properties of the cannabis plant without any psychoactive effects for consumers.

CBC shares another common feature with THC through a process called neurogenesis. CBC can increase the development of cells in the brain and strengthening their viability at the same time.

Scientists do not yet know whether CBC alone can have any effect on the receptors in the endocannabinoid system and, if so, what these effects might be. Since it seems that CBC is reluctant to activate ECS receptors, this means that supporting the effects of THC or CBD throughout the body is easy for the cannabinoid.

CBC in medicine

Since there is no proof as yet that CBC can bind to the well-known CB1 and CB2 receptors, the assumption is that its main task is to support other cannabinoids. Therefore, CBC can reinforce the effects of THC when used to deal with pain and anxiety.

As typical for the many cannabinoids, CBC displays a small, largely unknown, all-round talent. Its effectiveness in various cases has already been seen, including digestive problems, irritable bowel syndrome and other chronic inflammatory irritable bowel diseases. CBC has been able to alleviate postoperative pain or nervous conditions that lead to disorders in the autonomic nervous system.

Intestinal disorders

We have long suspected that cannabis can have an effect on certain inflammatory conditions in the intestine, as endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids have many overlapping behaviours after binding with CB1 and CB2 receptors in the ECS.

A study from 2018 was the scientific proof of this positive influence. Researchers from the Medical School University of Massachusetts and the University of Bath found that cannabis works in a very similar way to an endogenous messenger substance that is responsible for controlling inflammation in the intestinal tract.[4] The natural underlying process works in two major ways:

Regulatory processes are ongoing and react immediately if conditions in the intestine change.

Firstly, pathogens can be destroyed. This is part of the gut's natural immune system. However, the process is also able to damage the intestinal mucosa if immune cells launch an uncontrolled attack here. Since approximately 80% percent of human immune cells are located in the intestine, it is easy to trigger a state of alert, leading to intestine trying to get rid of incoming germs by regulatory processes.

Secondly, the inflammatory response can be switched off by several molecules. These molecules are transported across the cells within the epithelium, which is the upper cell layer of the skin and mucous tissues. These cells are found throughout the intestine. The new discovery for scientists, however, was the realisation that this process can only take place through the body's naturally-produced molecule called the endocannabinoid.

This biological messenger is similar in nature to cannabis molecules.

If the body does not have access to sufficient endocannabinoids, i.e. the body's own cannabinoids, the inflammatory reaction cannot be properly balanced and it becomes disrupted, continuing on an uncontrollable path.

However, if the body takes in phytocannabinoids from the cannabis plant, according to researchers, it should be possible to help the body with inflammation in the intestine. In this case, these phytocannabinoids would take over the work of the endocannabinoids that the body lacks for the extensive healing process.

Although the findings of this study provide the American research team with a clearer picture of the effects of phytocannabinoids, scientific studies in humans and well-founded results are still pending.

Antibiotic effects

Various molecules from the cannabis plant have long been known to be an effective drug against highly resistant bacteria. These multi-resistant germs, also known as superbugs, are on the rise in hospitals and old people's homes and, according to an OECD analysis, could cost the lives of over 2.4 million people worldwide by 2050. Successful recovery is difficult because the germs can change their genetic makeup and build resistance after contact with antibiotics. Estimated recovery costs run into the billions and accounts for 10% of the total budget for dealing with infectious diseases in the fight against resistant germs.

In several laboratory studies, Scientists from the School of Pharmacy in London and the University of Piemonte Orientale in Novara, as well as researchers from the Cra-Cin Agricultural Research Institute in Rovigo have found that phytocannabinoids can be effective in combatting these highly resistant superbugs. The cannabinoids tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabigerol (CBG), cannabidiol (CBD), cannabinol (CBN) and cannabichromene, i.e. CBC, have been classed as particularly effective.[5]

The cannabinoids showed the greatest success in bacteria resistant to the antibiotic penicillin.

Although this study also offers promising outcomes in the fight against dangerous pathogens, current research is still in its pilot phase. At the moment, it is not fully clear as to how CBC and its related cannabinoids actually kill germs.


In a study published in 2014 on 'Cannabinoids as Therapeutic Agents in Cancer', scientists examined the pharmacological importance of the active ingredients of cannabinoids in cancer.[6] They found that cannabinoids have an effect on organic processes outside of living organisms, as well as inside the living organism. Anti-proliferation has been observed in various types of cancer. This means that cannabinoids can inhibit the growth of cells and tissues.

In addition, they seem to have an antiangiogenic effect. This means they can protect from vascular formation in, for example, tumour diseases.

The plant cannabinoids mainly act via the two receptor types in the endocannabinoid system, but CBC also plays a major role in helping with measures without a prescription.

During chemotherapy, patients not only struggle with the malignant disease itself, but also with symptoms such as a general feeling of pain, nausea, vomiting or loss of appetite.

In cases like these, THC has the potential to improve general mood. Receptors considered as the binding point for THC are mainly in the frontal brain and limbic system. This is where emotions are processed and the sensation of pain is built up, among others. Scientific tests have shown that although THC has no analgesic effect, it can help some patients to be less troubled by their pain.

Moreover, CBC can support the popular cannabinoid and increase its method of action to effectively strengthen THC. CBC can also help a lot with pain relief. As a loyal team player, the reduction of pain works best when CBC is used in combination with THC. Like its brother, CBD, CBC’s full potential has been seen in alleviating chronic pain.[7]

Various studies are currently assessing whether CBC can fully inhibit cancer tumours by interacting with the body's endocannabinoid anandamide or even being responsible for stimulating bone growth.

Analgesic effect

The analgesic role of cannabinoids like CBC play an important part in many medical conditions as part of medical cannabis. Most striking is that a number of cannabinoids with analgesic properties have no significant relationship to CB1 and CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system. Unfortunately, this area of research is still largely new, even though the prospects for new forms of medications in pain and palliative medicine have a positive outlook. While most studies have focused on the pain management side of the better-known cannabinoids like THC or CBD, CBC is also coming to the fore in this respect.

In Canada, various cannabinoids for dealing with neuropathic pain symptoms, such as multiple sclerosis, were approved as early as 2005.

Research has shown that CBC has an effect on the spine and can positively influence the way that pain is perceived. This effect can be increased if taken in combination with CBD.

Anti-inflammatory effect

Studies in mice show that CBC can reduce swelling and inflammation in the digestive tract.[8] To do so, it does not bind with cannabinoid receptors in the ECS. CBC has been tested along with THC for anti-inflammatory properties. Scientists examined both cannabinoids separately and in combination. CBC acts in various ways without doing so via ECS receptors. In combination with THC, the two cannabinoids were exceptional in exchanging roles and THC supported CBC to yield an increased concentration of THC in the brain.

Although a CB2 receptor can block the natural anti-edematous effects of THC, CBC can bypass this. Therefore, the two cannabinoids work together well to have anti-inflammatory effects.

CBC in the brain

In addition to all these positive properties for the benefit of physical health, CBC still has the biggest surprise in store.

So far, the role of cannabinoids in the neurogenesis of adults with developed brains has been something of a controversial subject. A study published in 2015 entitled 'The Role of Cannabinoids in Neurogenesis in Adults' deals with this very topic. Finally, because the compounds of not only phytocannabinoids but also endocannabinoids and even synthetic cannabinoids are believed to play an increasing role in the neuronal development process, researchers have found that cannabinoids can play modulatory role in adult neurogenesis by activating both receptor types in the endocannabinoid system.

So, the question arises as to what role CBC plays in neurogenesis if it is known to avoid CB1 and CB2 receptors to such a great extent?

In animal experiments, scientists have taken a close look at adenosine. This is a chemical compound produced by the body and part of the neuromodulator. Therefore, adenosine is significantly involved in influencing the functioning of the nervous system. It regulates growth factors and IL-1 receptors. Observations have shown that the well-known cannabinoid THC is not as much in the spotlight as cannabichromene. This means that CBC is largely responsible for the survival of cells.[9] The cannabinoid is also reputed to promote the growth of new nerve cells. These brain cells can be found on the inner edge of the temporal lobe, more precisely in the hippocampus, which is the control centre for the limbic system.

CBC appears to be a mediator between neuronal cells. Initial indications show that cannabinoids can even target the actin-binding protein "fascin" during neurogenesis. The role of fascin is to stabilise protein structures and support them through mechanical resistance, as well as by constructing networks through branching.

Scientific studies have also examined the growth promotion of nerve tissue through CBC, but the results are not yet conclusive. Some researchers believe that the phytocannabinoid could influence or even stop neuronal degeneration in the brain. Other cannabinoids are also suspected of having this effect.

CBC content in cannabis

Research found a high cannabichrome content, especially in landrace varieties from Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent, including North India, Nepal or Tibet.

In fact, the CBC content in Cannabis Indica plants usually even exceeds the natural levels of CBD. Since CBC changes into the cannabinoid cannabicyclol (CBL) through light and heat, young plants also have a higher CBC content.

Accordingly, the proportion of CBC is low in cannabis plants that are purposefully reared to yield the highest possible THC or CBD content after harvesting.

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Robin Roy Krigslund-Hansen

Robin Roy Krigslund-Hansen

About the author:

Robin Roy Krigslund-Hansen is known for his extensive knowledge and expertise in the fields of CBD and hemp production. With a career spanning over a decade in the cannabis industry, he has dedicated his life to understanding the intricacies of these plants and their potential benefits to human health and the environment. Over the years, Robin has worked tirelessly to promote the full legalization of hemp in Europe. His fascination with the plant's versatility and potential for sustainable production led him to pursue a career in the field.

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