What is cannabichromene (CBC)?

What is cannabichromene (CBC)?
Miguel Antonio Ordoñez

Cannabichromene, or CBC, is a major component of cannabis with unique medical benefits that may aid in treating pain, depression, and more.

Cannabichromene, or CBC, is a phytocannabinoid found in cannabis. Compared to cannabinoids like THC, CBD, and CBG, it is one of the lesser known compounds found in the plant. It is believed to be non-psychoactive.

Cannabichromene was first discovered in 1966. It is very similar in structure to other cannabinoids including THC, CBD, and cannabinol, and is believed to play a key role in giving cannabis its anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and analgesic properties.

Like other cannabinoids, CBC interacts with the CB1 and CB2 receptors of our endocannabinoid system. However, it is also known to react with other receptors, including TRPV1 and TRPA1. The fact that CBC interacts with these receptors is believed to be one of the reasons behind its medicinal properties.

CBC is synthesized from CBGA, the first cannabinoid to be produced in the cannabis plant as it matures. CBGA eventually synthesizes into a variety of cannabinoid acids due to enzyme activity, one of which (CBCA) eventually synthesizes further into CBC.


Cannabichromene, like other cannabinoids, is proving to have some notable medicinal benefits. The fact that it is a non-psychoactive compound make it particularly appealing for patients, doctors, and/or researchers looking to harness the benefits of cannabis without the intoxicating effects.

Research into CBC is limited and we still don’t completely understand this compound and the effect it has on our body. However, here are some of the top medicinal benefits of this cannabinoid we know about to date.


Acne is a really common and severe medical condition. It has been well noted that severe forms of acne can have a significant impact on the quality of life of an individual, their self-esteem, and more.

Until now, arguably the most effective agent used to combat acne is isotretinoin, an oral pharmaceutical drug that combats the development of acne on multiple levels. While the drug is effective, it can produce severe side effects including dry skin, itching, joint pain, back pain, dizziness, and more.

However, new research suggests that CBC may be a safe and effective alternative treatment for acne.

In 2016, a study published in the journal for Experimental Dermatology explored the effectiveness of CBC and other phytocannabinoids in the treatment of acne.[1] All the cannabinoids tested in the study were found to be effective, but CBC, CBDV and THCV stood out among the crowd, with researchers suggesting they promise to become highly efficient, novel anti-acne agents in the future.

The study explained that CBC reduced the production of sebum by sebaceous glands, while simultaneously reducing the effects of arachidonic acid. These are both key factors of controlling acne and, coupled with CBC’s antiinflammatory effect, make this cannabinoid a really viable alternative for treatment.


Pain is a symptom of many different conditions and is a telltale sign that something isn’t right with our body. While acute pain is generally simple to treat, treating chronic or neuropathic pain (caused by nerve damage) can prove extremely difficult.

Common treatments for pain generally rely on basic over-the-counter medication like ibuprofen or strong opiates. Unfortunately, both of these treatment options have their limitations; ibuprofen and similar drugs tend to provide only short-term relief, while long-term opiate users quickly build up a tolerance to their medication.

Thanks to new research, cannabis is now known to offer effective relief from a variety of pain. The main compounds usually associated with marijuana’s analgesic properties are THC and CBD, but research suggests that CBC can also offer effective relief.

In 2011, a study in the British Journal of Pharmacology conducted by the Endocannabinoid Research Group, examined the pain-relieving effects of both CBC and CBD.[2] The researchers found that CBC and CBD interacted with several key target proteins in the spine that are involved in the management of pain.

The study was conducted in rats which were closely observed for their response to pain using the “tail flick test,” a method commonly used in basic pain research. The scientists noted that both cannabinoids reduced the rats’ sensitivity to pain by having antagonistic effects on cannabinoid, adenosine, and TRPA1 receptors.


Neurogenesis refers to the development and growth of nervous tissue. Adult neurogenesis is known to take place within 2 distinct parts of the brain; the hippocampus and the subventricular zone.

Promoting neurogenesis is a really important aspect of treating a wide variety of conditions. Professor Poul Videbech, a specialist at the Centre for Psychiatric Research at Aarhus University Hospital, for example, suggests that neurogenesis might play a major role in the management of depression.[3]

Research has shown that people with depression suffer from an imbalance of nerve degeneration and regeneration in the hippocampus. Contrary to healthy patients, those with depression actually suffer higher levels of nerve cell degeneration, which commonly affects their memory. Antidepressants are designed to promote neurogenesis and restore a balance to the process of nerve regeneration/degeneration in the brain. Unfortunately, an estimated 50% of patients with depression do not respond to antidepressants.

Hence, researchers are looking into the chemicals in the brain that promote neurogenesis, suggesting treatments targeting those chemicals could offer better results than existing drugs. One of these chemicals might be CBC.

A recent study published in Neurochemistry International in 2013 suggests that CBC might help promote neurogenesis.[4] Other research shows that THC and CBD may have similar effects and may therefore play a key role in treating depression.

But the benefits of neurogenesis aren’t just limited to treating depression; it may also help in the treatment/management of a wide variety of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Prion disease, motor neuron disease, Huntington's, and more.


Research from the 1970s actually found that Indian landrace strains contained surprisingly high amounts of CBC.[5] In fact, it was the second most abundant cannabinoid found in plant samples after THC.

More recent studies have shown that CBC, like some other cannabinoids, is found in higher concentrations in younger plants and naturally degrades to cannabicyclol in the presence of heat and light.[6]

Unfortunately, most cannabis today is bred indoors, from hybrid genetics, and is optimized for THC or CBD content. This means that most plants do not contain such high concentrations of CBC as the landrace strains tested in the 1970s. In fact, in 2013 research analysed the cannabinoid content of Bediol, a medicinal strain from Bedrocan BV in The Netherlands.[7] The plants flowered for 8 weeks, and both CBC and CBN were identified as only minor compounds in the sample.

Harvesting plants earlier in their flowering cycle may produce more CBC-rich cannabis. The study on Bediol, for example, found that CBG content was highest about three-quarters of the way through the flowering cycle, and the same might be true for CBC.


Research into the cannabinoids in cannabis is booming, and while we still don’t fully understand how this plant works and affects our bodies, we’re finding out more on a regular basis. CBC promises to be yet another powerful cannabinoid with serious health benefits and only adds to the growing evidence that cannabis may play a key role in modern medicine.


  1. ^ NCBI, Differential effectiveness of selected non-psychotropic phytocannabinoids on human sebocyte functions implicates their introduction in dry/seborrhoeic skin and acne treatment., retrieved January-16-2019
  2. ^ NCBI, Non-psychoactive cannabinoids modulate the descending pathway of antinociception in anaesthetized rats through several mechanisms of action., retrieved January-16-2019
  3. ^ Dartmouth, The future of depression treatment: the neurogenesis theory, retrieved January-16-2019
  4. ^ Science Direct, The effect of cannabichromene on adult neural stem/progenitor cells, retrieved January-16-2019
  5. ^ Science Direct, Constituents of Cannabis sativa L. XI: Cannabidiol and Cannabichromene in Samples of Known Geographical Origin, retrieved January-16-2019
  6. ^ Genetics, The Inheritance of Chemical Phenotype in Cannabis sativa L., retrieved January-16-2019
  7. ^ NCBI, Analysis of cannabinoids in laser-microdissected trichomes of medicinal Cannabis sativa using LCMS and cryogenic NMR., retrieved January-16-2019

Miguel Antonio Ordoñez
Miguel Antonio Ordoñez

Miguel Ordoñez is a long-time writer by trade. Utilizing his AB Mass Media and Communications degree, he has 13 years of experience and counting. He’s covered a wide array of topics, with passion lying in combat sports, mental health, and of course, cannabis.