CBC – What is this cannabinoid?

by Laura Howarth June 10, 2024

CBC – What is this cannabinoid?

The majority of cannabinoid research was initiated by a desire to learn more about the potential dangers posed by cannabis. While trying to dig up dirt on THC, researchers discovered an array of other compounds worthy of further investigation.

CBC molecule

One of these cannabinoids is CBC (cannabichromene). It was discovered around 50 years ago and is only now starting to get the attention it deserves. Early evidence suggests that it can support the human endocannabinoid system by increasing the amount of anandamide available in the body. 

The endocannabinoid system is a cell signalling system that influences biological processes by helping maintain homeostasis or balance. 

CBD is often touted as the cannabinoid of choice for those looking to support the ECS. However, CBC is also thought to work synergistically with other cannabinoids, meaning its presence could make compounds like CBD more effective. 

As with all cannabinoids, more research is required to best understand how to use this natural compound.

Fast facts about CBC cannabinoid

  • CBC is non-psychoactive, which means it cannot get you high
  • CBC binds poorly to CB1 receptors but offers other benefits
  • This cannabinoid is thought to work synergistically with other compounds
  • This is one of the most abundant cannabinoids in young hemp plants

Cannabichromene: The lesser-known cannabinoid

The big six

The “big six” of cannabinoids include THC, CBN, CBD, CBG, CBC, and CBGA. Interestingly, all cannabinoids start life as CBGA, which is why this compound is known as the mother of all cannabinoids.

As the plant matures, the CBGA further differentiates into THCA, CBDA, and CBCA while leaving behind variable amounts of CBGA. The ‘A’ simply means that the cannabinoid is still in its natural form and contains a carboxylic acid group.

After exposure to heat or UV light, the compounds undergo a process of decarboxylation, which removes this acid chain and alters their molecular structure. 

One of the compounds left behind is the cannabinoid CBC. Manufacturers can further refine the profile of their oils, usually by emphasising the CBD content. However, there is evidence that CBC could offer widespread benefits.

This is why products like this 50% Signature Collection CBD oil from GreenLeaf are so popular with customers. This oil contains a wide spectrum of cannabinoids, including an impressive 2.5mg CBC per drop.

CBC and the entourage effect

CBC is being studied for its benefits and uses in isolation and with other cannabinoids as a major contributor to the entourage effect.

CBC does not bind to CB1 receptors, which are linked to the psychoactive impact of cannabinoids. Therefore, CBC cannot alter one's mental state. CBC has a greater affinity for CB2 receptors linked to the inflammatory response and immunosuppression.

Man embracing sunWhen CBC binds to CB2 receptors, it prevents your body's naturally occurring endocannabinoids (anandamide) from binding with these sites. This triggers the body to increase anandamide production, which increases the amount available in your bloodstream, allowing the endocannabinoid system to work more efficiently.

In one study, CBC was singled out as the compound that increased CBD's impact. There is also hope that CBC could help to limit the adverse side effects experienced with THC, which could potentially pave the way for a legal form of THC that could offer therapeutic benefits without adverse side effects.

Most of the studies around CBC focus on its potential benefits in oncological research, brain function improvement, inflammatory pain conditions, and acne treatment. However, further research is needed before any definitive conclusions can be drawn.

How does CBC oil make you feel?

CBC is not widely available as a standalone supplement, but you can purchase it as part of a full-spectrum CBD oil. Since CBC is non-psychoactive, it shouldn’t impact your mental state.

CBC is thought to bind with PPAR receptors, which play an essential role in inflammatory response, among other functions. Many cannabinoid users are most interested in its potential pain-relieving properties.

As with all cannabinoid products, finding the right serving size for your needs is vital. Take too much, and you could experience some of the less pleasant side effects, such as gastrointestinal upset and increased sleepiness. However, if you take too little, you might find that the cannabinoids have no impact.

Is CBC oil legal in the UK?

CBC is legal in the UK, provided it is not sold alongside psychoactive substances such as THC. Since CBC is less common, suppliers might not be aware of the benefits and might not market the oil as containing CBC. It could be a bonus in your full-spectrum or broad-spectrum CBD product.

To find out if a product has high levels of CBC (and legal levels of THC), you should consult the certificate of analysis. If the supplier cannot provide one, consider looking elsewhere for your CBD/CBC products, as there is no way to guarantee the levels of THC are low enough to be legal.

Closing thoughts on CBC cannabinoid

CBC is a cannabinoid that shows incredible promise as research into medical cannabis expands and becomes more widely accepted. Currently, CBC isn’t commonly sold as a standalone product, but it can be found in high concentrations in some high-strength CBD oils.

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Laura Howarth
Laura Howarth


Laura Howarth is a specialist CBD author based in Manchester, UK. She is passionate about sharing her love for CBD through educational articles and in-depth guides.

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