Can CBC, a cannabinoid, regenerate the nervous system?
Updated: Apr 29
Ten years ago, two scientists studied cannabichromene (CBC) and found it performs profound effects on the nervous system. Now, a different group of scientists further investigated the decade-old discovery. They identified seven mechanisms that the cannabinoid, CBC, depends on to protect and regenerate the nervous system.
In 2013, Noriko Shinjyo, Ph.D, now a Research Associate at Chiba University in Japan, coauthored a study on cannabichromene and stem cells with Vincenzo Di Marzo. Published in Neurochemistry International, the pair exposed young neurons to three different compounds derived from cannabis ingredients. They tested cells known as neural stem cells during their maturation phase, exposing them to three cannabinoids — CBC, cannabigerol (CBG), and cannabidiol) CBD.
What are neural stem cells?
Neural stem cells undergo a maturation process. And that process, known as differentiation, is an important stage for young cells located in either the spinal cord, brainstem, or brain programmed for muscle control. These young stem cells mature into new neurons. Alternatively, though, they can also form cells that comprise the protective sheath surrounding nerves.
Lastly, as a third option, neural stem cells differentiate into astroglial cells, and a certain subpopulation of these mature cells remain dormant. Active astrocytes can, however, stunt a brain’s natural regeneration after an injury. This means that a regulated maturation of neural stem cells, typically located in the spinal cord, helps protect and regenerate the nervous system. In line with this role, CBC, a minor cannabinoid, regulates the production of new neurons while reducing the formation of active mature cells. The array of functions induced by cannabichromene effectively liberates regeneration after a brain injury.
Can cannabichromene regenerate embryonic cells?
In 2023, researchers published new details in the journal Life that explain how CBC protects and regenerates damaged neurons and nervous system components. They used a special type of cell derived from the spinal cord of an embryonic mouse, combined with neuroblastoma cells to make their discovery. The team assessed the genetic landscape of the cells after exposing them to a control media and the cannabinoid for either 24 or 48 hours.
By further refining their analysis, the team elucidated new mechanisms behind cannabichromene. The cannabinoid indirectly helps encourage proper dopamine neuron and glutamate receptor maturation. And while cannabinoids regulate the formation of the nerve’s protective sheath, their neuronal regeneration depended on other functions of CBC.
The entourage featuring choline
One newly found mechanism of CBC might work synergistically with another cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol. Yet, the terpene, alpha-pinene, likely acts directly against cannabichromene at one neurotransmitter that sends signals from muscle to neuron. That transmitter is in the choline family, which is protected by pinene but broken down more rapidly under cannabichromene exposure. THC directly knocks down the choline transmitter, but CBC boosts a gene that codes for a special choline-destroying enzyme.
THC, and possibly CBC, reduce a transmitter important for cognition but also neural stem cell maturation. The cannabinoids might keep cells dormant by reducing choline, which can protect the nervous system and regenerate neurons. Alpha-pinene, on the other hand, keeps cognition taut by protecting choline.
The follow-up study holds great promise for CBC in the clinic as a regenerative medicine for damaged nerves or brain injury. Yet, the research still only provides evidence in rodents in a test tube. Although therapies capable of regenerating the nervous systems, with cannabinoids or otherwise, are of vital importance.
Let us know in the comments if you have experience with CBC or other cannabinoids as regenerative medicine.
Shinjyo, N., & Di Marzo, V. (2013). The effect of cannabichromene on adult neural stem/progenitor cells. Neurochemistry international, 63(5), 432–437. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuint.2013.08.002
Valeri, A., Chiricosta, L., D'Angiolini, S., Pollastro, F., Salamone, S., & Mazzon, E. (2023). Cannabichromene Induces Neuronal Differentiation in NSC-34 Cells: Insights from Transcriptomic Analysis. Life (Basel, Switzerland), 13(3), 742. https://doi.org/10.3390/life13030742