14 July 2015

Cannabichromenic acid (CBC-a) and Cannabichromenes (CBC's)

In 2015, University of Mississippi scientists discovered seven new naturally occurring cannabinoids. There are now around 111 known natural cannabinoids as reported in the scientific literature. 

Cannabichromic (cannabichrome carboxylic) acid (CBC-a)

CBC-a is regarded as the fourth major cannabinoid, found in almost every cannabis strain, but more commonly in 'tropical' varieties, and but a small part of the overall cannabinoid profile. However, some cannabis strains have been developed with higher amounts of CBC-a and studies have shown mild to moderate anti-fungal and strong anti-bacterial activity. PubMed returns 8 results for a search on Cannabichromic acid

Cannabichromene (CBC)

CBC is the third cannabinoid synthesised from CBG in the cannabis plant and displays several characteristics that indicate robust medicinal value. To get CBC, decarboxylation of CBC-a must occur. Naturally (over time) or quickly (if exposed to heat) the CBC-a will lose a molecule of CO2, and become CBC. Just as THC-a becomes THC, so CBC-a becomes CBC. Hebrew University research doctors, Yehiel Gaoni and Raphael Mechoulam, discovered a host of phytocannabinoids in the 1960's, with CBC being isolated in 1966. This non-psychoactive cannabinoid, usually found in low levels (<1% [more exacting analysis showed that the compound often reported as CBD may actually be CBC]), not only has benefits of its own, it works with other cannabinoids to produce a synergistic effect. It gives merit to the saying “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” and reminds us all to never underestimate the power of the 'Entourage Effect'. A term coined by Professor Raphael Mechoulam alongside fellow research scientists, stating; "This effect ('entourage effect') may represent a novel route for molecular regulation of endogenous cannabinoid activity" (published in the European Journal of Pharmacology, 17 July 1998).

CBC has the same chemical formula and weight as CBD and THC but differs from its chemical cousins by the arrangement of its atoms (may explain why analysis showed that the compound often reported as CBD may actually be CBC). The lack of research hasn’t stopped it from being the subject of multiple patents recognising its wide range of medical uses. CBC is an analgesic, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, bone stimulant, neurogenic, anti-proliferative (slows tumour growth/combats cancer), just like CBD and THC. CBC has also been shown to be ten times more effective than CBD in treating anxiety and stress. 

Therapeutic and medicinal values include:
Targeting the spinal cord can reduce pain signals sent to the brain (Photo: chalmerswellness.com)
Targeting the spinal cord can reduce
pain signals sent to the brain

Analgesic CBC has been found to reduce pain in animal models, although its effect may not be as strong as THC. study in 2011 by The British Pharmacological Society concluded that CBC and CBD could both fight pain by “interacting with several targets involved in the control of pain” at the spinal level. When combined, CBC and CBD pack a powerful healing punch, “these compounds might represent useful therapeutic agents with multiple mechanisms of action”, wrote the researchers. In this case, two cannabinoids are better than one! CBC has also been used successfully to remedy migraines, minimising the pain by reducing inflammation. CBC improves the pain-relieving effects of THC as a result of synergies or 'interplay' with THC. It is theorised that CBC’s pain fighting ability is derived from its role in increasing THC’s pain relieving properties, not necessarily CBC’s ability to do so independently. CBC also provides a sedative effect (it is not known whether it does so independently or in conjunction with another cannabinoid). Other studes have confirmed that CBC enhances analgesia, and that it is one of the compounds responsible for the 'Entourage Effect' on pain relief.  CBC has been identified as working for acute pain. Since CBC is non-psychoactive, it can provide medical benefits without making the patient 'high'. 

♋ Anti-bacterial and Anti-fungal - in a 1981 study from the University of Mississippi, US, researchers found that CBC exhibited strong anti-bacterial effects on a variety of gram-positive, gram-negative and acid-fast bacteria, including E. coli and staph (S. aureus). CBC showed mild to moderate activity against different types of fungi too, including a common food contaminant known as black mould (Aspergillus niger). CBC was shown to be superior to both THC and CBD in most instances.

(Photo: Psychology Today)
Cannabis is known to improve mood
♋ Anti-depressant - a study from the University of Mississippi identified a significant anti-depressant effect of CBC in rat models, concluding that CBC and a number of other cannabinoids may “contribute to the overall mood-elevating properties of cannabis”. Scientists are still trying to figure out more about how CBC does this, since it doesn’t seem to activate the same pathways in the brain as THC. Research has also shown that this relatively rare cannabinoid has an anti-depressant effect 10 times greater than that of CBD. It is believed that CBC’s primary purpose is to enhance the effects of THC. It has been suggested that elevated CBC levels will make a high-THC strain of cannabis even more potent. In this respect, think of CBC as THC’s amplifier, or booster. Like the cannabinoids CBD and CBG, CBC lacks psychoactive properties, but helps THC deliver them with greater effect. It is found in the highest concentrations in strains of cannabis native to the tropics. In what is called the entourage effect, researchers theorise that dozens of cannabinoids and terpenes are involved in forming an overall therapeutic efficacy that is greater than the sum of the individual cannabinoids. Research also points to the fact that these plant-based cannabinoids interact not only with each other, but also with the body’s internally produced cannabinoids (endocannabinoids).

♋ Anti - diarrhoeal - In another study CBC was demonstrated to alleviate diarrhoea without causing constipation, which is unique among treatments for diarrhoea, a useful if somewhat obscure use for this particular extract of cannabis.

Inflammation is an immune reaction and plays a key role in many diseases (Photo: drfranklipman.com)
Inflammation is an immune reaction
 Anti-inflammatory - studies show CBC has superior anti-inflammatory abilities, and tested superior to phenylbutazone as early as 1988. The abstract of a 2010 report states "CBC, THC, and a combination of both phytocannabinoids were examined and found that the anti-oedematous effects of these cannabinoids in combination were additive. Although CBC produced pharmacological effects, unlike THC, its underlying mechanism of action did not involve CB1 or CB2 receptors. In addition, there was evidence of a possible pharmacokinetic component in which CBC dose-dependently increased THC brain levels. In conclusion, CBC reduced oedema through a non-cannabinoid receptor mechanism of action. These effects were augmented when CBC and THC were co-administered". By inhibiting inflammation, CBC (in synergy with other cannabinoids and terpenes etc) helps the body establish homeostasis (balance).

CBC is promising as a gastro-intestinal anti-inflammatory aid, as shown in a 2012 study by The British Pharmacological Society. The researchers induced inflammation in the small intestine of a mouse and studied the effect of the phytocannabinoid on the animal’s intestinal motility. They drew the conclusion that “CBC selectively reduces inflammation-induced hypermotility in vivo in a manner that is not dependent on cannabinoid receptors”, thus, CBC can reduce both swelling and inflammation and produces a stronger anti-inflammatory effect when combined with other cannabinoids like THC. Not involving CB1 or CB2 receptors may explain why CBC produces a stronger anti-inflammatory effect when combined with other cannabinoids like THC. 

 Anti-proliferative - inhibits cancer cell growth. Studies have shown CBC to have anti-proliferative effects, meaning it can inhibit cancerous tumour growth, particularly breast-cancer and colorectal cancer. It works because of anandamide, a cancer-fighting endocannabinoid that our bodies produce naturally. CBC inhibits the uptake of anandamide, making it stay in the blood stream for a longer period of time meaning it basically improves the immune system’s ability to use its own healthy chemicals, such as anandamide, to rid itself of cancer. 

 Anxiolytic – Relieves anxiety. Studies have demonstrated that CBC has sedative effects, promoting relaxation. 

♋ Bone Stimulant – promotes bone growth. CBC has been shown to stimulate bone growth.

Brain growth continues in adulthood through a process called neurogenesis (Photo: Sixty & Me)
Brain growth continues during
adulthood through neurogenesis
 Neurogenesis – promoting the growth of new brain cells. Research in 2013 on CBC highlighted one of the most unique benefits of this compound, neurogenesis: it may actually help your brain grow. Specifically, CBC appeared to increase the viability of developing brain cells. Contrary to popular belief, neurogenesis doesn’t stop once you reach a certain age. However, it only occurs in a specific part of the adult brain called the hippocampus. The hippocampus is important for memory and learning and a lack of growth in this area is believed to contribute to a number of disorders, including depression and Alzheimer’s. While CBC’s ability to promote neurogenesis is a recent finding, previous studies suggest THC and CBD can do the same. As Dr Xia Jiang of the University of Saskatchewan, one of the first scientists to uncover this remarkable effect of cannabis explained: Most ‘drugs of abuse’ suppress neurogenesis. Only 'marijuana' promotes neurogenesis”. Opiates, alcohol, nicotine and cocaine are all known to inhibit brain growth. Thankfully, CBC and other compounds in cannabis are proving to have the opposite effect.

Many experts, care-givers and patients have concluded that therapy involving a single cannabinoid - such as the CBD oils being used to treat children with intractable epilepsy - may be insufficient for the majority of patients. Many proponents of whole plant therapy point toward the 'Entourage Effect' and the subtle ways in which one cannabinoid, such as CBC, may buffer or enhance the effect of another, like THC (or an endocannabinoid like anandamide). With more than 110 cannabinoids having been discovered, additional research is necessary to understand the nuanced interaction of these specialised chemicals that fit perfectly into receptors throughout the human brain and nervous system. Greater knowledge of cannabinoids and the efficacy of particular cannabinoid profiles is needed before patients can be administered solutions targeted to their particular endocannabinoid system and the specific disease or ailment they are attempting to treat. 

CBC requires a temperature of 220°C (428°F) to decarboxylate and the LD50 (Lethal Dose) is 270mg/kg for monkeys (compared to nicotine for humans, 40–60 mg, 0.5-1.0 mg/kg).

A search for the compound Cannabichromene in PubMed returns over 70 results.

Cannabicyclol (CBL)
A degradative product like Cannabinol (CBN), during extraction, light converts CBC to CBL. It is found in small amounts, if at all, in fresh plant material, and there are, as yet, no reports on its activity in humans. It remains hidden in the shadows of other more prevalent cannabinoids. Its positive medical values have yet to be researched but it is expected that future studies will decipher its properties. Official research reports include 15 records on PubMed and Pubfacts.

This is Part 3 of a four-part series, covering one of the three major branches; Cannabichromenes (CBC's), including Cannabichromenic acid (CBC-a). Part 1 covered CBG-a, The Precursor, and CBG and Part 2 covered Cannabidiols (CBD's) including Cannabidiolic acid (CBD-a)Part 4 will cover the last of the three major branches of cannabinoids; Tetrahydrocannabinols (THC's), including Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THC-a) along with Delta-8 and Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, and Cannabinolic-acid (CBN-a) and Cannabinol (CBN).

Reference sources included;

CBC: THC Enhancer and Cancer Killer

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