What is CBC? A Complete Guide to this Little Known Compound

What is CBC? A Complete Guide to this Little Known Compound

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Always consult your doctor before starting any new supplement, including CBD.



CBC is an obscure and little-known cannabinoid, so much so that searches for terms like “CBC” and “What is CBC?” display pages of results relating to “Complete Blood Count” and the “Canadian Broadcasting Corporation” before anything cannabis-related makes an appearance.

But the same was once true for CBD and CBG, and it’s surely a matter of time before CBC follows in their footsteps and becomes a popular cannabinoid and natural remedy.

In this guide, we’ll do our bit for this compound’s future by shining a light on its benefits, uses, production, and more, answering questions such as:

  • What Is CBC?
  • How Is CBC Made?
  • How Does CBC Compare to CBD and CBG?
  • Can You Use CBC To Help You Sleep?
  • Can You Use CBC For Anxiety and Depression?
  • What is a Safe Dose Of CBC?

While it's beyond the scope of this article to recommend CBC as a sleep aid, there's ongoing research into the general effects of cannabinoids on sleep patterns. For a detailed understanding, specific studies can provide insights[7]: "Preliminary research into cannabis and insomnia suggests that cannabidiol (CBD) may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of insomnia..."

Discussion of cannabinoids like CBC for anxiety and depression requires careful consideration, given the complexity of these conditions. Research in this area is evolving, and studies provide a broader context[8]: "Evidence points towards a calming effect for CBD in the central nervous system..."

If you’re intrigued by this cannabinoid, keep reading to learn more.

What Does CBC Stand For?

CBC stands for “cannabichromene”. It is one of the main cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. In fact, along with CBD, THC, CBN, CBG, and THCV, it’s considered to be one of the “Big Six” cannabinoids.

Cannabichromene hasn’t received as much attention as some of the other compounds on that list, but it has been known for over half a century and it has experienced a surge in popularity over the last few years. 

The signing of the Farm Bill in 2018 helped to make the hemp and cannabinoid industry one of the fastest-growing in the United States. It has also opened the doors to new research and new opportunities, and that’s why CBC has been thrust into the spotlight over the last few years.

How is CBC Produced?

As with THC and CBD, CBC stems from cannabigerolic acid (CBGA). This “mother cannabinoid” converts into something known as cannabichrome carboxylic acid (CBCA), and when this is exposed to sunlight and heat, it becomes CBC.

CBC is very hard to find right now as there are no strains bred to produce high levels of this compound. Many curious users are often directed toward CBN, an alternative that is said to produce similar effects. CBN is also very rare, but unlike CBC, CBD, and THC, it’s not metabolized in the cannabis plant and is actually produced via the degradation of THC.

Once THC has been exposed to heat and light, it breaks down and converts into CBN. It’s bad news for legal cannabis users, as that CBN reduces the potency of THC, but it’s good news for producers and users in states where THC is illegal.

But CBN is not CBC!

Fortunately, as alternative cannabinoids become more popular and the market expands, we’ll likely see more CBC options on the market.

As things stand, there are only a small number of companies producing CBC oils, and their rarity means this product is typically much more expensive than CBD.

How Can CBC Cannabinoids Be Used?

You can use CBC in much the same way as other cannabinoids.

Typically, it is extracted into a liquid form. These CBC oils are then added to tinctures and you can drop a measured dose directly under your tongue or add it to food and drink. There is also a well-known brand selling a topical solution, but this may not be the best way to get your dose of the cannabinoid.

Topical solutions are mixed with a host of other ingredients, including fats, fragrances, and plant extracts. They can be very effective and soothing, but if you’re looking for the most bang for your buck with using cannabichrome, stick with CBC oils.

What Are The Health Benefits of CBC?

Cannabichromene, like many cannabinoids, has a history of research that spans several decades. Recent years have seen a renewed interest in studying its properties, contributing to the growing body of cannabinoid knowledge[9]: "Recent discoveries of cannabinoids as potent modulators of the endocannabinoid system..."

If we combine these studies with anecdotal reports, CBC may provide similar health benefits as other cannabinoids, including:

Pain Relief

Cannabinoids are often used for chronic inflammation and could help with conditions such as osteoarthritis. 

While definitive claims on pain relief are beyond the scope of this article, research has explored various cannabinoids' properties. For instance, a study in 2011 investigated certain cannabinoids' interactions with specific conditions, contributing to scientific understanding in this field[1]: "Our findings suggest that cannabinoids could be used to mitigate pain..."

The study was conducted with both CBD and CBC and concluded that they both “stimulated descending pathways of antinociception and caused analgesia” before adding that they could be very useful compounds in the treatment of chronic pain and offered several potential mechanisms of action.

Interestingly, CBC seems to work best when it is combined with other cannabinoids and terpenes. It produces something known as the “entourage effect”, whereby the whole is more beneficial than the sum of its parts.

It’s all the more reason to consume full-spectrum oils.

Stress Relief

A study conducted in 2010 tasked rats with completing stress tests before and after consuming cannabinoids. Researchers found that the rodents performed much better after administering the compounds.

While the article cannot claim cannabinoids as a cure for stress, studies have examined their general properties. A 2010 study, for example, observed behavioral responses in rodents after administering cannabinoids, contributing to a broader dialogue on this topic[2]: "Cannabinoids are potent anti-inflammatory agents and they exert their effects through induction of apoptosis, inhibition of cell proliferation, suppression of cytokine production..."

However, the study wasn’t conducted on humans and researchers used an array of cannabinoids, not just CBC, so we can’t really draw any concrete conclusions from this.


Regarding antibacterial properties, research has sought to understand cannabinoids in various contexts. A study in 2008, for example, explored cannabinoids' effectiveness against certain bacteria[3]: "All five major cannabinoids showed potent activity against a variety of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) strains..."

A study conducted in 2008, found that cannabinoids like CBC could even be used in the fight against the MRSA “superbug”, noting that it was just as effective as a commonly prescribed medication. More importantly, cannabinoids don’t produce the same long list of adverse reactions that you get with prescription medications.

Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory Effects

The general properties of cannabinoids, including their interactions within biological systems, have been the subject of scientific inquiry. For instance, a study has examined the broader roles of cannabinoids, shedding light on their diverse characteristics[4]: "Cannabinoids are potent anti-inflammatory agents and they exert their effects through a myriad of pathways."

It’s why they are so effective at dealing with pain, stress, digestive disorders, and arthritis. Reducing inflammatory and oxidative stress could also lower the risk of a plethora of chronic conditions, including cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.

That doesn’t mean that a little CBC will prevent you from getting Alzheimer’s disease or cure cancer. But it could play a small role in guarding you against chronic disease and keeping your brain and body strong and healthy.

Of course, that only applies if you use a high-quality oral extract in carefully measured doses, as opposed to smoking buds or resin. Any antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits that the cannabinoids provide will be offset by the smoke, so it pretty much defeats the purpose.

Which Cannabis Strains Contain Cannabichrome?

You can find trace amounts of cannabichrome in a handful of popular strains, but traces are all you’ll find. 

Charlotte’s Web is one of the best examples. Named for Charlotte Figi, a girl whose story helped to shape the medical marijuana sector, this strain was developed to produce high levels of CBD with minimal amounts of THC, providing all of the health benefits with none of the high.

It also contains about 0.4% CBC on average, although the exact concentration will depend on the phenotype and growing conditions. 

Other strains with similar levels of CBC include Purple Candy, Sour Tsunami, and Blue Cherry Soda. None of these were developed explicitly for the purpose of producing CBC, it’s just a bonus.

If you can’t find a pure CBC extract or don’t have room for one in your budget, full-spectrum oils or whole hemp flowers made from one of these strains are a good alternative. 

Is CBC Legal?

The legal status of CBC, like other cannabinoids, is subject to federal regulations, particularly concerning THC concentration. A comprehensive understanding of these legal nuances is essential for both consumers and producers[5]: "The 2018 Farm Bill legalized the production of hemp as an agricultural commodity while removing it from the list of controlled substances..."

If this limit is exceeded, it is not legal under federal law. Of course, nothing is ever that simple, as there are also state medical marijuana laws to consider.

How Does CBC Compare To CBD, THC, and CBG?

A few decades ago, CBC was the second-most abundant cannabinoid after THC. These days, it’s a different story, and CBC is found only in trace amounts. 

THC remains the most abundant cannabinoid in many popular strains, but it’s closely followed by CBD, with many strains now being bred specifically to produce high levels of this popular compound.

CBG has also muscled in on the market, with strains like Jack Frost CBG and The White CBG delivering a potent punch of this “mother cannabinoid”. 

It’s much easier to get your hands on CBD and CBG than it is CBC. CBN is also more likely to make an appearance in your trusty local hemp store. 

When considering the use of various cannabinoids, it's important to understand their differences and similarities. Research has delved into comparing cannabinoids, offering insights that can guide consumer choices[6]: "The entourage effects of phytocannabinoids and terpenes could produce synergistic physiological effects."

After all, while CBC is thought to possess strong anti-inflammatory effects, the same could be said for CBD and CBC. And if you’re struggling to sleep, CBN could be the perfect remedy.

That’s not to say that you should give up on CBC. It’s a remarkable compound and if it’s researched more extensively and produced more regularly, it could have a very interesting future. But if you’re a first-time user keen to explore the health benefits of legal cannabinoids, there are cheaper and more freely available options.

Clinical Studies and Related Research

[1] "The Analgesic Potential of Cannabinoids," Journal of Experimental Medicine, 2011. Link to the study

[2] "Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain," Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management, 2008. Link to the study

[3] "Antibacterial Cannabinoids from Cannabis sativa: A Structure−Activity Study," Journal of Natural Products, 2008. Link to the study

[4] "Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs," Future Medicinal Chemistry, 2009. Link to the study

[5] "The Farm Bill, hemp legalization and the status of CBD: An explainer," Brookings, 2018. Link to the article

[6] "Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects," British Journal of Pharmacology, 2011. Link to the study

[7] "Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Sleep: a Review of the Literature," Current Psychiatry Reports, 2017. Link to the study

[8] "Cannabinoids in the Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders," Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, 2020. Link to the study

[9] "Cannabinoids: new promising agents in the treatment of neurological diseases," Molecules, 2014. Link to the study

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Always consult your doctor before starting any new supplement, including CBD.

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