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Cannabichromene: What is it, and does it have benefits?

A guide to CBC

The cannabis plant produces over 100 cannabinoids. They are chemical substances that join the cannabinoid receptors of the body and regulate how cells communicate. The two main cannabinoids, delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and cannabidiol (CBD) are known to provide people health benefits. However, recent research is shedding light on the other minor cannabinoids. CBC is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid from the cannabis plant and has shown potential for providing therapeutic benefits for inflammation, mood, and cell function, among others. 

What is Cannabichromene (CBC)? 

Cannabichromene or CBC is one of the six most popular cannabinoids of the Cannabis sativa plant that is known to have therapeutic potential. Like the two most common cannabinoids, THC and CBD, CBC has been getting so much attention due to its promising health benefits. CBC has the same origins as THC and CBD, and they stem from cannabigerolic acid (CBGA). Like CBD, which is a non-psychoactive ingredient derived from the hemp plant, CBC doesn’t produce a high like THC as both of them don’t contain more than 0.3% THC.

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a cell-signalling system known to play a role in regulating the functions in the body including sleep, mood, appetite and memory. The effects of Cannabinoids occur because of the interaction with the receptors (CB1 and CB2) found in the endocannabinoid system. When CBC interacts with your ECS it doesn’t produce a high like THC as it doesn’t bond well with the CB1 receptors in the brain. Instead, CBC interacts with the transient receptor potential (TRP) including TRPV1 and TRPA1. 

Both of these receptors are linked to pain reception and when CBC activates them, it promotes the increased levels of the body’s endocannabinoids like anandamide, which is known as the “bliss” molecule due to its mood-elevating and antidepressant properties.

Currently, cannabis is not legal in the UK, except CBD. Cannabis in marijuana form is illegal to possess, grow, distribute, or sell. It is a class B drug and people caught will get up to 14 years in prison for unlicensed distribution. Although CBC is not psychoactive, it is still illegal in the UK.  

How does CBC Interact with Other Cannabinoids?

There is a theory that suggests that if a cannabinoid can work together with other cannabinoids they create unique effects and benefits. This theory is called “the entourage effect”. THC and CBD are the two most abundant cannabinoids known to provide unique benefits including pain relief. Some studies also suggest that they provide an “enhanced” effect when combined but it requires further analysis. A study was published in 2010 by the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, wherein cancer patients were given either a pure THC extract or an extract containing both levels of THC and CBD. Those who were given the combination of THC and CBD reported having less pain which could be attributed to the benefits of multiple cannabinoids. The cannabis plant also produces other cannabinoids like cannabinol (CBN), cannabichromene (CBC), and cannabigerol (CBG), among others, as well as terpenes, which are aromatic compounds found in essential oils. 

A study called “Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects” was published in the British Journal of Pharmacology. In this review, Dr Ethan Russo studied the different cannabis compounds and their potential synergistic effects. He found that CBD and CBG inhibit bacterial staph infection, and THC plus CBN can potentially yield enhanced sedating effects. 

However, the entourage effect is still considered a theory as it’s only supported by small research. More study is needed to know the safety and efficacy of the combination of cannabinoids.

What are the possible medicinal benefits of CBC?

Although there are a lot of similarities between CBD and CBC, the amount of research and their biological activity are different. CBD has been subject to more studies than CBD, so this compound’s benefits and effects are more known. However, recent research on cannabinoids has also been focusing on minor cannabinoids like CBC. CBC is said to be an anti-inflammatory and can provide a potential treatment for neurological diseases and gut health among others.

As CBC increases the levels of anandamide, it allows it to remain longer in the bloodstream. In a study conducted in 2014, anandamide showed potential in preventing the growth of cancer cells which can represent a potential chemo-preventive agent for future studies. An experiment conducted in 2013 also suggested that CBC has the potential to reduce inflammation and tumour growth in mice with skin carcinogenesis. 

While these studies are promising and might mean eventually we have better access to other cannabinoids such as CBC, more clinical studies are required. It is important that we understand how CBC can benefit humans and not just a mouse. 

How does Cannabichromene Affect Cancer?

Cannabinoids, in general, have been used as a part of palliative care to alleviate pain, relieve nausea, and stimulate appetite in cancer patients. One of the main functions of the endocannabinoid system is to maintain body homeostasis, which is why people use them to help counter the adverse effects of cancer. Alterations in the ECS occur in many diseases including neurodegenerative diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer. CBC is a rare cannabinoid that has shown strong anti-cancer activity and could be used for its beneficial effects. 

CBC, as well as the other cannabinoids, can help with cancer due to its capability of inducing apoptosis by activating the CB2 receptor. CBC can also increase the anandamide, which can inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells in the body.  Generally, cannabinoids have anti-inflammatory effects which make them a useful health supplement to take alongside medication and other vitamins.

As inflammation is a sign of injury or illness in the body, the anti-inflammatory effects of cannabinoids make them extremely useful. Incorporating cannabinol and cannabichromene could help promote antibacterial activity and other beneficial effects throughout your body, helping to protect your overall health. 

How does CBC affect Pain and Inflammation in the body?

Cannabinoids are potent anti-inflammatory agents and they exert their protective effects through induction of apoptosis, cell proliferation, suppression of cytokine production, and induction of T-regulatory cells. Like CBD, CBC has also shown anti-inflammatory properties. The CB2 receptor is believed to be free of psychoactivity and has significant anti-inflammatory functions.

CBC is a CB2 receptor agonist and is principally involved in the inflammatory response and immune response. CBC can also help alleviate pain as the compound was found to block pain reception through multiple mechanisms of action through the vanilloid receptors (TRPV1).

There may also be some benefits of using CBC for inflammation-induced hypermotility. Hypermobility is when you have very flexible joints and it causes you pain and stiffness in joints and muscles. It is usually most present in children and young people, improving as you get older. Anti-inflammatory pain killers are usually the solution to this problem. However, some people prefer a more natural product like using CBD or other cannabinoids for their anti-inflammatory effects. This will require further study observing the effects in animal models and hypermotility in mice before it is confirmed. 

What effect does CBC have on Brain Cells?

CBC has also been studied on its potential to promote the growth of brain cells and the development of new ones, a process known as neurogenesis. Neurogenesis is linked with increased cognitive function and better memory. CBC has been found to have a positive effect on the viability of adult neural stem progenitor cells (NSPCs), which are an essential component of brain function.

What effect does CBC have on Acne?

Acne develops due to an increase in sebum production and sebaceous gland inflammation. A rise in androgen levels might lead to acne due to elevated lipogenesis or sebum synthesis. CBC fights acne due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. CBC also slows down the lipid production in the sebaceous gland. Additionally, arachidonic acid (AA) is needed to create lipogenesis, but CBC reduces the rate of the production of AA. 

What effect does CBC have on Depression?

The brain chemical anandamide produces feelings of pleasure or happiness. This chemical is broken down by the fatty acid amino hydrolase (FAAH). Once broken down, it leaves the body and will no longer offer its benefits. People who experience anandamide are happier and experience less fear and anxiety.

CBD and THC are known to offer positive effects to help with depression. CBC is also known to improve mood without the psychoactive side effects. When our endocannabinoid system is not functioning properly or unbalanced anandamide can lead to depression. CBC works by binding with the TRP channels linked to pain perception, anandamide, and dopamine. Activating these channels elevates mood without any intoxicating effects.

Are there any relevant studies on CBC?

Multiple research on cannabichromene and its potential benefits have been conducted. However, more research is needed to know more about this cannabinoid's full benefits as well as its safety and efficacy. Below are some of the relevant studies on CBC.

A study was published in the British Journal of Pharmacology wherein they found that CBC is effective to block pain perception. It was also found that CBC can stimulate descending pathways of antinociception and produce analgesia in rats by interacting with several target proteins in the nociceptive control.

One study published by the Drug Alcohol Depend suggested that CBD has enhanced benefits when combined with THC. They noticed that CBC’s anti-inflammatory effects were not CB1 and CB2 receptor-mediated, and THC was producing the anti-inflammatory effects via the CB2 receptor activation. This research can back up the theory that cannabinoids work better when combined as it provides enhanced benefits. This theory is called the “the entourage” effect.

Some cannabinoids are also being studied for their potential to influence learning and memory. A 2013 study was conducted wherein they tested the effects of the three major non-psychotropic cannabinoids, CBD, CBG, and CBC, placing particular attention on CBC specifically. The results showed that CBC can prevent neuronal cell death and has a positive effect on neural progenitor stem cells (NPSCs). However, the possible clinical implication of these results needs to be further investigated.

Depression is believed to be a life-limiting illness just secondary to chronic diseases. Clinical observations indicate that cannabinoids may provide new treatment options for people with anxiety or depression. A study was published in 2010, whose aim was to assess the antidepressant-like and dose-dependent effect of CBC and other cannabinoids. The results showed that CBC and some cannabinoids contribute to the overall mood-elevating properties of cannabis.

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