What is CBC (Cannabichromene): Uses & Effects of this Cannabinoid

Area 52
September 06, 2021 | Blog

The 2018 Farm Bill opened the gate for cannabinoids to flood the market, albeit slowly. It started with CBD, which quickly became a popular go-to for those wanting alternative treatments.

Now, we have CBG, CBN, THCV, delta 8, delta 10, HHC… we’ve lost track at this point.

Here are all the details you need on CBC — what it is, what it does, what makes it unique, and how to buy it.

Bottom Line: What Is CBC?

Illustration of CBC chemical structure

Cannabichromene, or CBC, is the third most abundant cannabinoid in cannabis. It’s right up there with CBD and THC.

All three of these cannabinoids are made from CBG, though most of the CBG converts to CBD in hemp or THC in marijuana.

Traditionally, cultivators breed these plants for high amounts of CBD and THC, respectively, even though we’ve known about CBC for decades — since 1966 to be exact.

Today we have a renewed interest in cannabinoids like CBC and their influence on the human body, thanks to the Farm Bill and the discovery of the endocannabinoid system. This interest has prompted breeders to adjust their focus to produce new, CBC-rich cannabis.

Realistically, it’s going to take several more years before we see any quantitative results.

For now, CBC is extracted from hemp plants and concentrated using chromatography and distillation techniques.

CBC & the Endocannabinoid System

As a cannabinoid, CBC affects receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS), though not in the same way as THC and CBD.

Unlike THC, CBC has little interaction with the CB1 receptor, found mainly in the brain, central nervous system, lungs, liver, and kidneys. Because of this, CBC isn’t psychoactive.

Instead, CBC is more like CBD and interacts primarily with the CB2 receptor, found mostly in the immune system.

It’s unclear exactly how these two cannabinoids affect the ECS, but preliminary research shows CBD is able to elevate the boy’s natural endocannabinoids — just like CBD.

What makes CBC different is its focus on a parallel system called the vanilloid (TRP) receptors. The TRP receptors are involved with temperature regulation, pain transmission, mood, and more.

While CBC doesn’t have many studies behind it, what we do know only encourages more research.

The Science of CBC: How It Works

We’re not going to lie; unless you have a degree or a passion for this field, the following information might not mean much to you without a science dictionary and a lot of free time.

We add this information to provide clarity about CBC’s potential, even if we don’t have the details yet. Here’s what studies show so far:

  1. CBC inhibits endocannabinoid inactivation and activates the transient receptor potential ankyrin-1.
  2. CBC is a selective CB2 agonist.
  3. CBC interacts with TRP cation channels, including TRPA1, TRPV1–4, and TRPV8.
  4. CBC produces a dose-dependent cell activation in CB2 cells but without hyperpolarization in CB1 cells.
  5. CBC signals through the Gi/o type G proteins causing CB2 receptor internalization independent of GRK2/3 kinases.

The next section hinges on some of these points and makes them a little clearer.

What Are the Benefits of CBC?

Focus Captured of Hemp Plant in the Field

There hasn’t been enough research and testing to prove CBC’s health benefits — the studies above are just the beginning.

We can — very loosely — connect the dots based on the information available and speculate on the possibilities. As CBC undergoes more thorough research, we’ll see whether or not its biological effects impact us in any real way.

1. CBC & the Nervous System

We’ve mentioned CBC interacts with TRP channels already. This is important; it’s the primary mechanism CBC uses to support neurological health [4].

TRPV1 and TRPA1 are multifunctional sensors in neuronal and non-neuronal tissues, possibly having a vital role physiologically and pathophysiologically.

Some of these channels cause sensations like pain, certain tastes, and pressure, while others act like thermometers and give hot and cold feelings, making them a target for pain therapy.

TRP channels also help form synapses between neurons in the nervous system, making them of particular interest for neurological and psychiatric disorders.

If CBC has enough influence on these channels, it might prove to be an excellent way to reduce pain and help with specific treatments.

2. CBC & the Brain

CBC might raise the viability of neural stem progenitor cells (NSCPs), an essential part of brain health, function, and pathology.

NSCPs help with neurogenesis (generating new neurons) and brain plasticity (changing and adapting through experience). Researchers hope that they can use this process to help repair injured and diseased brains.

Because of this influence, CBC could be effective at boosting brain health.

3. CBC & Pain

CBC can interact with proteins that control nociceptors (pain receptors).

These receptors sense a threat and send signals to the brain in an attempt to mitigate the danger.

This might be another layer to CBC’s possible effectiveness at pain relief.

4. CBC & Skin Health

Some cannabinoids, including CBC, might help with acne.

Acne is usually caused by too much sebum production and inflammation in the glands. CBC can be a tool against acne and improve skin health by helping the immune system fight the root of the problem.

5. CBC & the Entourage Effect

Cannabinoids work better together, creating what’s known as the entourage effect. It seems CBC, CBD, and THC make an incredibly potent team.

Scientists use the tetrad test, a series of behavioral tests used to screen the effects of cannabinoids on endocannabinoid receptors.

In this test, rodents are treated with various cannabinoids then tested in four areas: hypolocomotion, hypothermia, catalepsy, and analgesia.

CBC shows therapeutic effects but without involving the CB1 and CB2 receptors — this is exemplified when used with THC.

What this means is that the rats that were given both CBC and THC performed better than the rats given just CBC or just THC.

Similar studies have explored the synergy of CBC with CBD, various terpenes, and more.

Will CBC Make Me High?

No. CBC is non-psychoactive, which means no amount of CBC will make users feel high.

THC binds to the CB1 receptor, causing the characteristic high associated with marijuana. CBC doesn’t significantly affect the CB1 receptor and therefore doesn’t make you high.

Like CBD, the effects are more involved in mood and overall support of homeostasis (a fancy word for balance).

CBD, however, is calming — while CBC can provide more of an energy and mental boost.

Is CBC Legal?

Justice Scale and Gavel for CBC Legal

Yes, because of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp-derived CBC is federally legal.

However, make sure to check the other ingredients before you buy. It’s common for companies to mix delta 8 THC or delta 9 THC with CBC products because of how well these cannabinoids work together.

Is CBC Safe?

So far, there’s no evidence to suggest CBC is dangerous. Studies involving large doses of CBC marked a surprising deficit of adverse effects.

Since hemp-derived cannabinoids are similar to each other, researchers use the information on THC and CBD to estimate the safety profile of CBC.

There are some side effects and dangers to using marijuana (short-term memory loss, drug interactions, anxiety, etc.). Still, it’s safe overall, and the benefits far outweigh the risks, especially compared to other prescription medications.

CBC is more comparable to CBD since neither acts as an antagonist to CB receptors but instead influences them in other ways. CBD is safe and, so far, shows great promise in many areas and is generally well-tolerated with few side effects.

CBC Side Effects

Of course, there’s always a chance some people could have an adverse reaction to it, so always start with a small amount.

Most people don’t experience side effects when using CBC in the recommended dose. Large doses could make users feel nauseous or dizzy.

Here are possible side effects of CBC: 

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Anxiety (rare)
  • Changes in heart rate (slower or faster)
  • Low blood pressure
  • Fatigue

As usual, avoid using CBC while pregnant and don’t mix it with other medications or alcohol.

This advice holds true for all cannabinoids.

How Do I Use CBC?

You’re most likely to find CBC tinctures, vape carts, concentrates, and hemp flowers, though flowers usually have minimal amounts.

Maybe you’ll luck out and find something else too. Companies are innovating in this space very rapidly, so you can expect to see plenty of unique CBC-based products coming to market over the next few months.

Just remember to look for those third-party tests.

The best way of using CBC comes down to personal preference, don’t be afraid to try multiple methods to find what works best for you.

Here’s a summary of the different ways of using CBC: 

  1. CBC Vape Carts — Easy to get started, rapid onset of effects.
  2. CBC Tinctures — Long-lasting effects, ability to use precise dosages.
  3. CBC Distillate — Hard to use, but very cost-effective.
  4. CBC Gummies — Safe, simple, delicious.
  5. CBC Flower — Not readily available yet, but coming soon.

CBC Dosage

There’s not enough information on the dose of CBC to fully elucidate the optimal dose of this cannabinoid. However, from the research that is available, CBC appears to follow more or less the same dosage range as CBD.

The dose varies with each individual, and certain things like weight, tolerance, and if you’re taking it on an empty stomach or not.

Usually, people take between 10 and 50 mg of CBC.

With that as your guide, start on the low end and increase the dose gradually over time once you’re familiar with how it affects your body individually.

How Do I Buy CBC?

CBC is hard to find — not many vendors sell it yet.

The biggest problem with CBC (as is the case with other cannabinoids) is purity. Not all manufacturers apply the level of care and attention needed to produce pure cannabinoid concentrates. Extracting CBC isn’t easy — it requires the skill and oversight of an expert chemist and plenty of high-tech testing equipment.

How can you know for sure that the CBC you’re buying is actually CBC?

The answer is third-party testing. Always check these to confirm the CBC doesn’t contain harmful contaminants like pesticides, heavy metals, or solvents.

You can also buy a broad or full-spectrum CBD oil. These will have CBC in them, though in lower amounts. Full-spectrum is ideal since CBC works better with THC, but broad-spectrum still has benefits.

How Is CBC Different From Other Cannabinoids?

Dual Toned Red and Blue Vaporwave Flowering Hemp Plant in Black Background

All cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system in one way or another.

In total, there are at least 120 individual cannabinoids, but most remain unstudied — for now. Incorporating them into medicines could stimulate or inhibit the ECS and play a significant role in health.

Each cannabinoid is unique in its effects and worth studying. Here’s a quick look at the more popular ones so you can compare them to CBC.

1. CBC vs. CBD

CBC and CBD are very similar and are used for more or less the same applications.

In general, CBC is more energizing than CBD, and early research suggests it may be better for the health of our nerve cells.

Most other cannabinoids bind to endocannabinoid receptors or at least influence them in a pronounced way. CBD (cannabidiol) and CBC play a different role, though researchers haven’t quite figured out how they do it; CBD seems to mimic other molecules that bind to the receptors (such as anandamide or 2-AG), enhancing their signals.

CBD might ease discomfort and improve mood because of how it interacts with opioid receptors (regulates pain) and glycine receptors (regulates serotonin).

2. CBC vs. CBG

CBG (cannabigerol) is the precursor to CBC, as well as THC and CBD. It’s often called the “mother of all cannabinoids” or the “cannabinoid stem cell.”

The biggest difference between CBC and CBG is their effects on the TRP channels. CBG has very little effect, while CBC has a strong effect. This could make CBC a better option for nerve-related benefits, while CBG is generally used for immune health and concentration.

CBG appears to be a strong agonist of the alpha-2 adrenergic receptor, making it a point of interest in the medical community for everything from stress reduction to cardiovascular function.

Because many drugs and treatments for opiate withdrawal, hypertension, anxiety, pain, and ADHD target this specific receptor, researchers wonder how CBG might help these issues.

3. CBC vs. CBN

The biggest difference between CBC and CBN is that the CBN (cannabinol) is mildly psychoactive (about 10% as strong as delta 9 THC, and 20% as strong as delta 8 THC). CBC, on the other hand, has no psychoactive effects whatsoever.

Young cannabis plants have trace amounts of CBN, while older, dried plants contain more. This cannabinoid forms as THC breaks down (some delta 9 THC converts to delta 8 THC; the rest turns into CBN).

Some speculate CBN is the reason old weed can make you more tired. There may be some truth to that, but it’s more likely due to how CBN works with THC.

Little else is known about this cannabinoid, except that it binds to CB1 and CB2 receptors and possibly interacts with other systems. Its interaction with the CB1 receptor is minimal, and therefore it’s not psychoactive.

It’s possible that CBN could bolster our immune system in a way other drugs don’t, but might also help with brain health, sleep, and appetite.

4. CBC vs. Delta 9 THC

CBC is very different from THC, but both cannabinoids appear to have strong synergy when used together. If you take CBC with THC, you’re going to feel the psychoactive effects stronger, faster, and longer compared to using THC all by itself.

THC, or delta 9, is by far the most popular and the most studied cannabinoid.

Its tight binding to the CB1 receptor is a gift, granting us not only the high but other benefits that make it useful in medicine.

Unfortunately, this binding ability is also the reason why marijuana is a Schedule 1 Drug federally and in many states. Its psychoactive effects can be too much for some people, making it hard to use for medical purposes.

5. CBC vs. Delta 8 THC

Delta 8 is molecularly similar to delta 9 and has many of the same benefits and effects but there are also some differences between these two.

Just like delta 9 THC, CBC may boost the effects of delta 8. This is why it’s so common to find delta 8 THC products formulated with CBC already — usually in a ratio of about 1:1 or 1:2.

We often mix our delta 8 THC with CBC tinctures for this reason.

Delta 8 THC binds to both CB1 and CB2 receptors but has an affinity for CB2 — making it slightly less psychoactive but also more relaxing and clear-headed than delta 9 THC.

Both CBC and delta 8 THC are primarily made from hemp and therefore legal throughout the continental United States.

6. CBC vs. Delta 10 THC

Delta 10 is another cannabinoid that’s gained a lot of attention lately.

It’s like delta 8 and delta 9, but less potent and more energizing. It binds to the same receptors and offers the same types of benefits. CBC also appears to boost the effects of delta 10 the same way it does for other forms of THC.

The high is similar to delta 8’s, but it’s better for daytime use or whenever you need a jolt. Delta 8 is better for relaxing, and delta 9 is perfect only if you have nothing else to do.

Learn More: Differences between Delta 8 and Delta 10 THC

7. CBC vs. THCV

Tetrahydrocannabivarin, or THCV, sounds like it should behave like THC and delta 8 THC, but it doesn’t. In fact, it’s the opposite. It turns off the CB1 receptor instead of binding to it.

This makes THCV energizing instead of calming, isn’t psychoactive, and reduces your appetite.

CBC and THCV are similar in their abilities to interact with the TRP channels. CBC is thought generally considered the best non-psychoactive option for nerve health, while THCV is the best psychoactive option. These cannabinoids work great in combination with each other for this reason.

What is the Endocannabinoid System?

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is an intricate network spread throughout every major system in the body. This system is essential for any living being with a nervous system. It’s present in all animals, not just humans.

The role of the ECS is to keep everything in balance; it regulates things like pain perception, appetite, memory, the reproductive system, the immune system, motor activity, coordination, stress, hunger, and the cardiovascular system.

The ECS acts as a communication network between the internal organs. Without it, the body would be unable to maintain internal balance.

This is why cannabinoids have such a wide range of benefits. They work on a central network that regulates everything we do. When the ECS is healthy, we’re much more likely to be healthy too.

Final Thoughts: Is CBC Worth Trying?

CBC is one of the many cannabinoids just starting its time in the spotlight, and each shines differently.

As new products come out, it’ll be easier to pick and choose what benefits you want to focus on, essentially giving you the power to formulate a personalized supplement.

Because it’s deemed safe and has therapeutic potential, CBC could be an excellent addition to a daily — or inconsistent — health plan (anything is better than nothing; we won’t judge).

If you want to try it out, make sure it’s lab-tested. Don’t waste your money or risk your safety on inferior or dangerous CBC.


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