Despite remaining relatively unknown among consumers, cannabis researchers have high hopes for cannabichromene (CBC), a non-intoxicating cannabinoid with unique properties that differentiate it from cannabidiol (CBD). Methods of producing CBC are improving every year, so it’s only a matter of time until this cannabinoid attains mainstream success on par with CBD. In this guide, learn what cannabichromene is, what it’s used for, and how to enjoy the unique benefits of this rare cannabinoid for yourself.
What is CBC?
CBC is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid found naturally in most strains of Cannabis sativa. While CBC is practically ubiquitous within cannabis plants, this cannabinoid is usually only present in very small concentrations of 1% or lower. As a result, it is practically impossible to enjoy the full effects of CBC by ingesting either intoxicating or non-intoxicating Cannabis sativa flower, and cannabis breeders have not yet developed CBC-rich strains.
Instead, CBC must be derived from cannabichromenic acid (CBCA), this cannabinoid’s carboxylic acid precursor. CBCA is also only available in Cannabis sativa in exceedingly low concentrations, however, making it necessary to convert this carboxylic acid from cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), another cannabinoid precursor.
Unlike CBCA, CBGA is relatively plentiful in Cannabis sativa strains, and recent breeding efforts have produced cannabis cultivars that contain CBGA as a dominant compound. To produce CBC, the first step is to expose CBGA to a compound called cannabicromenic acid synthase, which converts this “stem cell” carboxylic acid into CBCA. From there, CBCA can be decarboxylated into CBC, which occurs when this carboxylic acid is exposed to temperatures exceeding 105° C.
Due to the laborious process necessary for its production, CBC is considerably more expensive than CBD, THC, or other cannabinoids that can be readily produced via conventional Cannabis sativa cultivation. Regardless, CBC has been a target of scientific research for more than half a century, and cannabis scientists believe that this cannabinoid may have remarkable therapeutic potential.
While cannabichromene is still not widely available in consumer products, we’ve learned a lot about this cannabinoid over the decades, and it's only a matter of time until CBC products become more widely available. Similar to CBD in that it is non-intoxicating, CBC nonetheless has unique properties that consumers will value upon this cannabinoid’s full entry into the hemp market.
History of CBC research
Cannabichromene was first discovered in Israel in 1966. Considered the epicenter of international cannabis research even in that early era, Israel was also the site of many other momentous cannabinoid discoveries throughout the latter half of the 20th century.
Two years after the discovery of CBC, Japanese researchers led by renowned cannabis scientist Masahiro Masayama isolated this cannabinoid’s carboxylic acid precursor, CBCA. In 1975, Masayama led another team to the discovery of cannabichromevarinic acid (CBCVA), a close relative of CBC, further shedding light on this cannabinoid’s status within the complex web of unique Cannabis sativa compounds.
Japanese scientists again elucidated the mystery of CBC in 1996 by determining that CBGA was likely the source substance for CBCA, the carboxylic acid precursor to CBC. Shortly thereafter, Japanese researchers were successful in isolating cannabichromenic acid synthase, the substance responsible for transforming CBGA into CBCA. With this discovery, it finally became possible to produce large quantities of CBC in laboratory settings, reducing the cost of CBC research and paving the way to the eventual commercial success of this unique cannabinoid.
Starting in 2006, the first pieces of scientific evidence supporting the potential benefits of CBC started trickling in. In 2008, for instance, cannabichromene was included in a study into the potential antimicrobial effects of cannabinoids, and in 2010, researchers released a study detailing the potential modulatory effects that CBC might exert on THC.
Since 2012, research into CBC has accelerated, and the greatest density of research into this cannabinoid has taken place over the last three years. It’s clear that interest in CBC continues to grow, and it’s only a matter of time until we know more about this cannabinoid and its potential benefits.
What is CBC currently used for?
At present, CBC is not very widely used. While it is possible to purchase CBC concentrate online, this cannabinoid has not yet achieved mainstream popularity. As a result, consumers remain mainly unaware of the potential benefits of cannabichromene, and it will likely still be a few years until CBC achieves mainstream success.
The potential uses of CBC that have been initially determined are, however, remarkably intriguing. Like CBD, for instance, it appears that CBC alters and may even reduce the effects of THC. At the same time, recent research has identified that CBC may interact with the CB2 receptors, which are also stimulated by THC. Due to their concentration in the peripheral nervous system, however, CB2 receptors do not cause intoxication even though their activation may reduce inflammation.
Researchers have also discovered that CBC appears to have significant affinity for TRPV1, a neuroreceptor that is critically involved in inflammation and the sensation of inflammatory pain. While CBD also appears to stimulate the body’s TRPV1 receptors, initial research indicates that CBC may exert higher affinity for these important regulators of the body’s inflammatory responses.
Activation of TRPV1 leads to greater levels of endocannabinoids (body-generated cannabinoids) throughout the body, and anandamide is chief among the endocannabinoids. Research indicates that CBC may prevent the reuptake of anandamide and other endocannabinoids, potentially leading to higher serum concentrations of these essential substances. Since anandamide is critically involved in a variety of disease-preventing processes, it is highly beneficial to increase this endocannabinoid’s concentration in the human body.
What might CBC be used for in the future?
If current research trends are any indication, future uses of CBC will most likely center around this cannabinoid’s potential impact on anandamide, CB2, and TRPV1. As a non-intoxicating potential CB2 stimulator, it’s possible that CBC may end up becoming a viable alternative to THC for inflammation reduction. Due to the fact that this cannabinoid may also activate the TRPV1 receptors, it’s highly likely that CBC will be included in products that directly target pain and inflammation.
At the same time, anandamide is involved in an enormous array of vital bodily processes, so if it’s true that CBC boosts anandamide levels, CBC may end being used for a wide range of different purposes. More research into CBC must be done before it becomes possible to gauge the best potential applications of this cannabinoid.
Anecdotal testimony also plays a critically important role in the process of determining which potential uses a cannabinoid might have. While limited research already supported the anticonvulsant potential of CBD, for instance, it wasn’t until parents around the country started using this cannabinoid as a treatment for childhood epilepsy that researchers were able to hone in on this potential benefit.
As a result, it is critically important that CBC enters the hemp market as soon as possible. Like CBD, this cannabinoid does not appear to have any significant side effects, and the sooner that consumers gain access to CBC, the sooner we will have the anecdotal testimony necessary to make firm determinations regarding the potential benefits of this unique cannabis constituent.
What are the best ways to use CBC?
While some CBD-rich and THC-rich cannabis strains are advertised as being “high-CBC,” the truth is that these cultivars rarely contain much more than 1% of this rare cannabinoid. It’s possible to consume CBC by ingesting strains that contain this cannabinoid in small concentrations, but you’ll also ingest high concentrations of CBD or THC at the same time, making it difficult to pinpoint the potential benefits of CBC.
Instead of using cannabis flower to ingest CBC, the best way to consume this rare cannabinoid is in concentrate form. Already, a variety of manufacturers offer CBC as an isolate extract, and it’s easy to combine this concentrate with oil-based substances to make DIY CBC oil.
At present, it does not appear that any manufacturers produce finished CBC consumer products. Therefore, it is necessary to purchase isolated forms of this cannabinoid in bulk and produce your own CBC products. While highly rewarding, this process is time-intensive, and some potential CBC products, such as vape cartridges, are much harder to make than simpler alternatives, like tinctures.
The next major cannabinoid arrives on the scene
The CBD phenomenon has now achieved mainstream success, and CBG appears to be close behind. Once these two non-intoxicating cannabinoids have set the stage, it will only be a matter of time until the world embraces other Cannabis sativa constituents that don’t get you high.
While other non-intoxicating cannabinoids, such as cannabidivarin (CBDV) and cannabinol (CBN) are also likely to achieve mainstream success at some point in the near future, CBC will probably be first. Currently elusive, CBC is nonetheless essentially just as easy to produce as CBG, and once consumers become aware of the unique benefits of this cannabinoid, demand for CBC will spike practically overnight.
There’s a lot to hope for from this distant cousin to CBD. While CBC is comfortingly similar to both CBD and CBG, buzz will soon start circulating regarding this cannabinoid’s potentially earthshaking impact on inflammatory pain. For individuals with rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, or other inflammatory conditions, it might become the natural choice to reach for CBC instead of CBD within the surprisingly near future.