CBC – The Least of the Major Four is Carrying a Great Promise

Cannabichromene (CBC) is traditionally considered, along with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), and cannabigerol (CBG), a major phytocannabinoid, and a member of the so-called big four. Cannabichromene was first isolated from Cannabis sativa L. in 1966, by YGaoni and R. Mechoulam from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot.  

There has been some confusion about the concentration of this cannabinoid in the plant. According to research published in 1981 in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, CBD and CBC are present in nearly equal amounts in certain types of the plant; for example, Afghanistani and Pakistani. In other samples, CBD was the major cannabinoid under the peak, with a trace of cannabichromene; for example, Iranian, Lebanese, and Turkish.

However, later data shows that CBCs concentration in cannabis has been overestimated because of the difficulty to separate CBC and CBD on the gas chromatography conditions at the time, so the concentration of cannabichromene in the plant is much lower than that of the other major phytocannabinoids. The newest research shows that its concentration rarely exceeds 0.2-0.3%.

Cannabichromene as an anti-acne agent

Even if coming in small concentration, cannabichromene has shown the most promising effects in several research areas. The 1981 study found it has a very strong antibacterial activity. More recently, it was confirmed that CBC could be a highly efficient, novel anti‐acne agent, as well as a novel tool in the management of skin affecting inflammations

CBC as a potential treatment of IBD

Furthermore, because of its anti-inflammatory properties, CBC has been found to exert actions in activated macrophages (immune effector cells) and ameliorate experimental murine colitis. 

This ability of CBC to regulate the abnormal responses of the macrophages could present a breakthrough for the treatment of IBD. Cannabichromene decreases nitric oxide production, and can potentially limit intestinal tissue destruction brought on by the presence of nitric oxide in certain autoimmune diseases. Like THC and CBD, CBC shows promise in the future research of the effects of phytocannabinoids in the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases.

Significant antidepressant effect

Apart from these beneficial properties, in a study on the antidepressant-like effect of phytocannabinoids, CBC displayed a significant antidepressant-like effect. Cannabichromene showed a significant overall reduction in immobility time and a significant reduction in locomotor activity in a force swimming test. In fact, CBC was the only cannabinoid observed in this study that showed a significant antidepressant-like effect in both, the force test swimming and tail suspension test, research models of animal behavioral despair.

Additive relationship with THC

Apparently, there is a strong connection between CBC and THC when it comes to their pharmacological effects. In a study that examined CBC, THC, and the combination of both, both CBC and THC elicited anti-inflammatory effects. The effects of cannabichromene were enhanced when it was given in combination with THC. There is an additive relationship between the anti-inflammatory effects of CBC and THC, the study indicated. However, a threshold dose of THC augmented the effects of CBC and high doses of cannabichromene led to increased brain levels of THC. That suggests a potential pharmacokinetic interaction of the two drugs given in combination. 

Reviewed by Sasha Bajilo, founder of ILESOL Pharmaceuticals, an industrial scale producer of CBD products and formulations. Expert on Hemp/Cannabis policy, member of the Croatian Ministry of Health regulatory commission for medical cannabis.