We’re as guilty as everybody else of going on and on about THC and CBD, but we all know these aren’t the only useful compounds in the cannabis plant. While THC and CBD are the most popular of the 100+ cannabinoids, it doesn’t mean the other cannabinoids should be overlooked. Our case in point for today: cannabichromene, or CBC.
While the majority of us have been sleeping on CBC, cannabis researchers have been trying to understand more about the cannabinoid’s potential medical benefits. And even though it was discovered back in the ‘60s, we still don’t know all too much about it.
When it comes to chemical structure, CBC is pretty similar to THC and CBD. This is because they are all derived from the same “parent,” a.k.a CBGA.
“Synthases—proteins that perform a job—take CBGA and turn it into either THCA, CBDA or CBCA,” explains Daniela Vergara, PhD, cannabis researcher and founder of non-profit Agricultural Genomics Foundation. The ‘A’ at the end of these stand for acid, so for example, CBCA is cannabichromenic acid. “When you heat them up they lose their acid and turn into THC, CBD, and CBC. This happens outside of the plant,” Vergara says.
While all three of those compounds stem from CBGA, they aren’t being produced in equal amounts. “We don’t know much about CBC because the plant produces very little of it, and we really don’t understand why,” Vergara says. Usually, the amount of CBC in a strain will be less than 1 percent. Aww, so smol.
What we do know about CBC, though, is that it’s non-psychoactive like CBD. “CBC works more predominantly on the CB2 receptor and doesn’t really activate the CB1 receptor,” says cannabis nurse Heather Manus, RN. “The CB2 receptors are found mainly in your organs. They have to do with the immune system, and they’re found in the skin. [CBC] also uses the pathways called TRPV1 and TRPA1, which go along with pain and inflammation.”
Because of the cannabinoid’s ability to affect the CB2 receptors and those pathways which affect inflammation, scientists have hypothesized that CBC has the potential to help those with conditions involving inflammation and pain.
“We really believe that there’s a reason that the plant produces all of these cannabinoids within it … These plants are really our teachers.”
Despite the small amounts of CBC that researchers have to work with, studies have been conducted to test the medicinal effects of CBC. Currently, we have minimal research results available to us, but the information that we do have is very encouraging.
“We only have animal studies and laboratory studies on CBC, so there’s still a lot we don’t know about how it affects humans,” says cannabis nurse Jessie Gill RN. “Based on the preliminary research we have so far, CBC is showing promise as an antidepressant, an anti-inflammatory, an analgesic, and for its ability to inhibit cancer cell growth.” Sounds a lot like our friend, ol’ pain-relieving CBD, after all.
Manus adds, “Researchers have said that CBC could be potentially useful for brain disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s.” Also, since the CB2 receptors are found in the skin, Manus states CBC can possibly even help with acne.
One other thing we do know for sure is that CBC works more effectively in conjunction with other cannabinoids than on its own. You know what they say, team work makes the dream work! Yep, it all comes back around to the entourage effect. “[Researchers] found that using CBC with CBD or THC really makes it work better,” says Manus. “We’re finding that, with basically all cannabinoids, alone, they can have some benefit, but it’s not nearly as beneficial or long lasting as using a full spectrum entourage of all the cannabinoids working together.” All the more reason to incorporate full spectrum products into your wellness routine, we say.
Backing this up, two studies conducted in 2010 showed that CBC seems to be an auspicious remedy for general inflammation as well as for depression, but even more so when THC is added, as the two appear to have an “additive relationship,” meaning that one can amplify the effects of the other.
“We really believe that there’s a reason that the plant produces all of these cannabinoids within it,” says Manus. “These plants are really our teachers.”
Hopefully, researchers will be able to test these findings further in humans to better understand the efficacy of CBC on the human body, and the plant can continue to teach us more and more.
In the meantime, if you’re looking to get your hands on some bud with high CBC, we’re going to be honest with you: it isn’t too easy to come across. While it’s super easy to find flower varietals high in THC, and relatively easy to find those high in CBD, it’s much more difficult to find them with at least some noticeable trace of CBC.
“Two known strains that have been shown to produce CBC are 3 Kings and Jorge’s Diamonds #1,” says Andrew Mieure of Top Shelf Budtending. According to Potbiotics, the average CBC content in 3 Kings is 0.461 percent. While this seems like a miniscule amount, keep in mind that the other cannabinoids, especially THC, will enhance the effects of the CBC. Plus, it’s more than most other varietals will offer.
“Now, this does not mean that there aren’t other strains that also carry high amounts of CBC,” Mieure adds. “Ask for the full testing results of each of the strains from the dispensary next time you make a purchase. They legally have to provide it, and it will give you insight on the ‘minor’ cannabinoids found during testing.”
There really aren’t many CBC-centric products out there to try yet, but if you do come across some, Gill also recommends doing your research. She says, “Unfortunately many of the products on the market do not contain the amount of cannabinoids advertised. Don’t trust the label, always look at the lab tests.” Additionally, she recommends using full spectrum, whole-plant products, rather than cannabinoid isolates. This goes back to the entourage effect, pals.
The bottom line is we really need more research to be done surrounding CBC (as with all cannabinoids), to fully understand it. There is sure to be plenty of untapped potential with CBC, and the future looks (dare we say) lit.