What is Cannabichromene (CBC)?

Alternaleaf Team
Written by
Alternaleaf Team
Feb 2, 2024
Last updated:
Apr 11, 2024

You’re probably familiar with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), the two main cannabinoids in medical cannabis – but there are over 100 other minor cannabinoids. Among these minor cannabinoids is cannabichromene (CBC).

Despite being discovered over 50 years ago, researchers aren’t yet sure of CBC’s potential role in medicine, as most research focuses on THC and CBD. We do know that CBC is typically found in high amounts in cannabis plants with a specific gene called a ‘recessive gene,’ which growers can deliberately develop in the breeding process.

Minor cannabinoids such as CBC are gaining popularity for their potential benefits. To understand these potential benefits, it’s important to know how cannabinoids such as CBC interact with our system to produce different effects.  

Is CBC Psychoactive?

CBC has more in common with CBD than THC. Like CBD, CBC can be considered psychoactive but doesn’t produce strong psychotropic effects like THC – instead, researchers are investigating its potential health benefits. THC’s strong psychotropic effects also have medical significance, but some people can’t or choose not to experience these effects. 

Pure CBC products won’t cause intoxication, making them suited for people who don’t desire the psychotropic effects of cannabis. You can also still drive while using CBC products that contain no THC, provided you don’t have an adverse reaction to the medication. 

How Does CBC Work?

All cannabinoids, including CBC, interact with our endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a complex network of cells that help regulate several of our bodily functions, including pain sensation, sleep, appetite and mood. 

There are two receptor types in the ECS: CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are primarily found in the brain and central nervous system, while CB2 receptors are found mainly in the immune system and peripheral tissues. THC’s psychotropic effects come from its interaction with the CB1 receptors, CBC has low affinity for these receptors,whereas CBC selectively interacts with the CB2 receptors

CBC also acts on the transient potential vanilloid (TRPV) receptors, which help regulate our sensation of pain and heat. TRPV receptors have been observed as being dysregulated in people with neuropathic pain, inflammation and respiratory diseases, so researchers are investigating how cannabinoids such as CBC may be able to help through modulating these receptors. 

What Are The Benefits Of CBC?

Recent research into CBC’s potential benefits is limited to animal studies, so we can’t say with confidence how CBC might be able to help humans. Despite this, there have been some promising preclinical studies and we're likely to see more human research into CBC in the future. 

A 2021 study examined the effect a CBC-based mouth spray might have on acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) in mice. The researchers found that, through affecting the TRPV receptors, reducing inflammation and reversing hypoxia (lack of oxygen), ARDS symptoms were improved. However, it’s unclear whether these results might translate to humans.

Another recent study in mice also found CBC to have some potential anti-inflammatory effects. The 2019 study tested the effects of CBC on a murine (rodent) model of arthritis, and found that CBC, particularly when administered together with CBD, reduced arthritis-associated inflammation compared to the placebo group. 

Again, these results may not apply to humans, so we can’t say with confidence that CBC is an effective arthritis treatment until human studies are conducted. 

Does CBC Have Any Side Effects?

Whether CBC alone has any unique side effects hasn’t been studied, but non-psychotropic cannabinoid formulations that contain cannabinoids such as CBC, CBN and CBD and may include side effects such as:

  • drowsiness 
  • appetite changes
  • dry mouth
  • nausea.

It’s also important to let your doctor know about your current treatment plan, as CBC and other cannabinoids may pose risks when taken alongside other medications. Overall, medical cannabis is usually well-tolerated when used with a doctor’s guidance, and serious complications are very rare. 

Are CBC Products Legal, And Where Can You Purchase Them?

As with all medical cannabis products, CBC is legal in Australia but requires a valid prescription. Isolate CBC products aren’t common, so if you’re interested in CBC speak with your doctor about full-spectrum medical cannabis. 

Full-spectrum medical cannabis products are extracted from the whole cannabis plant, meaning they contain most or all of the cannabinoids and terpenes including CBC. Full-spectrum medical cannabis products include oils, capsules and dried cannabis flower, which you consume via vaporisation. Different cannabis strains have different levels of certain cannabinoids, so you can discuss high-CBC strains during your appointment. 

Medical cannabis is available for prescription from any qualified doctor in Australia. You can choose to discuss medical cannabis with your regular healthcare provider or you can book an appointment with a medical cannabis clinic. Some medical cannabis clinics have the prescription process automated so you may receive your prescription faster. 

CBC’s Role In Medical Cannabis Research

Medical cannabis is a relatively new treatment option in Australia, and most research tends to focus on THC and CBD. This means it might be a while before minor cannabinoids such as CBC reach their full potential, but early research suggests that CBC is worthy of attention just like the more well-known cannabis compounds. 

Keep your eye out for future research into minor cannabinoids like CBC. The medical cannabis industry is evolving rapidly, and we’re likely to see more CBC-focused cannabis formulations in the future. 

Related articles