Cannabichromene (CBC) for Migraine
Cannabichromene (CBC) is the third most common cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant, trailing behind THC and CBD. There is a whole bunch of research showing that marijuana (cannabis with lots of THC) and hemp (cannabis with low THC levels) may treat migraines. In fact, I wrote a whole book about it. Most of the research revolves around CBD and THC, but CBC is another promising migraine treatment on the horizon.
CBC is non-psychoactive and is found in hemp, which means that you don’t need to get high to get the benefits of CBC. It’s not new and you can get now. CBC was discovered in the 1960s, but we are only now researching what it is capable of.
To be clear, the research cited is new and we will need substantially more research on CBC before recommending it for migraine. However, what we know now is a good sign for migraine sufferers. This article discusses why CBC may be the next-generation migraine treatment.
10 Things You Should Know About CBC
10. CBC Enhances THC’s Fight Against Migraine
CBC increases the absorption of THC in the brain, which is good news if you are using hemp for migraine. The small amount of THC in hemp may not be enough to elicit psychoactive effects, but it may help control migraines as part of the entourage effect.
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Here’s something fascinating: CBC may increase THC in the brain but it also reduces intoxication in mice. This increase of THC in the brain and reduction of THC side effects suggest that CBC may help a hemp extract fight off migraines. Some people are ultra-sensitive to low amounts of THC, but CBC (and CBD) counteract those negative side effects while improving the medicinal benefits of THC. It’s a win-win for migraine sufferers.
9. CBC Increases Endocannabinoids, Which Migraine Sufferers Need
CBC is an anandamide uptake inhibitor. What does that mean for migraine sufferers? Migraine sufferers have up to a 50 percent deficiency in the amount of endocannabinoids in their bodies. Anandamide is one of the main endocannabinoids that is measured to check the function of your body’s natural endocannabinoid system. CBC blocks anandamide from leaving the body and thereby increases the body’s endocannabinoid levels. Migraine sufferers need more endocannabinoids and CBC helps us get more endocannabinoids. You can read this free chapter from my new book to learn more about the fascinating connection between migraine and the endocannabinoid system.
8. CBC and Brain Cells
Brain cell generation certainly isn’t the first thing you think of when you hear the word cannabis. However, UCLA found that testing positive for cannabis quadrupled the survival rate of people who sustained traumatic brain injuries. You read that right, and CBC could play a role here. A 2013 animal study found that CBC played a role in developing adult brain cells called neural stem progenitor cells (NSPCs).
Stem cells can develop into many different types of cells that repair the human body. The research into NPSCs may be the future when it comes to treating Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, and migraine.
These neurological conditions are linked by oxidative stress, which damages neurons. Oxidative stress is a migraine trigger. In my opinion, oxidative stress is the migraine trigger. NSPCs generate cells called astrocytes. This is a good thing. Astrocytes prevent oxidative stress. Oxidative stress triggers migraines and NPSCs prevent oxidative stress. NPSCs are essential for migraine prevention.
This is the most fascinating subject in all of migraine research. It’s complex, but I’ll sum it up by stating that glutamate is a migraine trigger. When glutamate gets stuck between the cells, it causes oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is associated with nearly all migraine triggers. CBC helps generate NSPCs, which help prevent glutamate buildup, oxidative stress, migraines, and a whole list of other neurological conditions. Go CBC!
7. CBC Prevents Seizures
CBC has proven to be a successful treatment in experimental models of epilepsy. It makes sense that CBC helps with epilepsy because oxidative stress is involved in the progression of seizures.  Epilepsy medications are some of the most common migraine treatments. Cannabis, especially strains with high CBD concentrations, are popular in the treatment of epilepsy and migraine. Epilepsy treatments often help migraine sufferers, and it looks like CBC may operate the same way.
6. CBC May Help with Neuropathic Pain
Neuropathic pain is caused by inflammation in the nervous system. Neuropathic pain becomes particularly painful in the nerves around the neck and face. There’s a lot of evidence that suggests that these nerves are responsible for triggering migraines, which is why so many migraine treatments revolve around soothing the nerves on the face and neck. Some research describes migraine as a syndrome of neuropathic pain.
CBD is extremely successful at soothing the nerves that cause this pain, especially from topical creams. While the research on CBC isn’t available, GW Pharmaceuticals has the patent on CBC as a new treatment for neuropathic pain. The pharmaceutical industry is betting on CBC as a treatment for neuropathic pain, which is a condition that has few options and may come with excruciating pain. Most migraine treatments target neuropathic pain and CBC might as well. I’m excited to see what migraine research will come out of CBC as a topical cream to soothe the nerves that trigger migraines.
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5. CBC, Inflammation, and Pain Relief
There are several studies that show that CBC is anti-inflammatory and provides pain relief.    Inflammation is a migraine trigger. Inflammation also produces oxidative stress, which I think is responsible for all migraines. The pain relief aspect of CBC is also welcomed by migraine sufferers who have endured far too much pain. Anything that reduces total levels of inflammation and pain is a good thing for migraine sufferers—and it looks like CBC might be a good thing.
4. CBC Improves the Gut
CBC was successful in reducing gut inflammation in animal studies and is likely to benefit conditions that affect the gut such as IBS or IBD.  Conditions such as IBS and IBD are common with migraine. Gut inflammation will make migraines more likely. The gut is considered the second brain and gut health is required for migraine prevention.
Your body’s natural endocannabinoids control gut health, and CBC elevates endocannabinoid levels. Researchers also theorize that CBC may be controlling gut health with its ability to control a sensor called TRPA1. TRPA1 is a sensor of oxidative stress and can be triggered by pain, irritants, cold, and heat. The TRPA1 senses oxidative stress, and it is also part of the response that triggers migraines.
While the TRPA1 sensor may be responsible for triggering migraines, it may also help control migraines when it is desensitized. This is essentially how capsaicin (chili powder) spray has worked to control migraines. The chili powder activates the TRPA1 sensor, and over time, it desensitizes the sensor and nerves that trigger migraines. Botox and lidocaine operate on the same principal for treating migraines. 
The natural way to improve the TRPA1 sensor is to strengthen the autonomic nervous system, which responds to stressors such as cold, heat, and even emotional stress. CBC, along with CBD, seems to help control the TRPA1 sensor and autonomic nervous system. These systems are needed for gut health and migraine health. Here is an article on cold training and migraines, which discusses this concept and its stunning results in migraine research.
I got into the weeds on gut health and migraine. If you want clarification, you can read the articles that I linked to above and the info is also covered in my new book.
A study published in 2016 by the journal Experimental Dermatology found that CBC shows promise as a highly effective acne treatment. CBC also had remarkable anti-inflammatory actions on the skin. Children with migraine have seven times the odds of also developing acne.
Acne is an inflammatory process and oxidative stress “may be an early event that drives the acne process,” according to SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY. There is a connection between acne, inflammation, oxidative stress, and migraine. Migraine sufferers want to control the body’s inflammation levels, especially surrounding the nerves that trigger migraines.
Will CBC’s ability to control the inflammatory process that triggers acne also be able to control the inflammation associated with migraine? That remains to be seen. However, what migraine sufferer doesn’t want to tune up their complexion with better skin health? I don’t actually know what it means to “tune up your complexion,” but I’m guessing you need healthy skin to do that.
2. CBC Runs Away from Depression
Endocannabinoids and cannabinoids such as THC and CBD have substantial research for their anti-depressant properties. CBC was added to the list in 2010 by researchers from the University of Mississippi in 2010.  CBC was found to have anti-depressant properties and it elevated the mood and mobility of mice. CBC made the mice happier—after researchers made them unhappy by holding them upside down by the tail or forcing them to swim. Poor little mice.
The increased pep in their step suggests that CBC could counteract the sluggish side effects of THC. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications are some of the most common migraine treatments, but come with nasty side effects. CBC could be a natural alternative for migraine sufferers. After everything those mice went through, I think we’re obligated as humans to see if CBC makes us a tad happier.
1. Nitric Oxide
CBC reduces inflammation and nitric oxide. High levels of nitric oxide are associated with migraines and nitrate-rich foods are some of the most common migraine triggers. Here’s a fun fact: Viagra works by raising nitric-oxide levels, and one study found that it induced migraines in 10 out of 12 migraine patients. Perhaps CBC can help you eat nitrate-rich migraine triggers, such as hot dogs, sausage, bacon, salami, and aged meats, without triggering a migraine.
Sum it Up
New research shows that cannabichromene (CBC) may treat migraines by increasing THC absorption and reducing the side effects of THC as well as by increasing endocannabinoids. It could help by generating brain cells that help control oxidative stress, by reducing neuropathic pain, by reducing inflammation, by improving gut function, and by reducing nitric oxide levels. CBC’s anti-seizure and anti-depressant properties could also help.
Is CBC sure to help with your migraines? No. This research is new and needs to be validated by more extensive research. This research only suggests that CBC may become a migraine treatment, and that may explain why some migraine sufferers are finding success in hemp extracts that contain CBC.
Where can you find a CBD extract with CBC? I’ve tested two
hemp extracts that contain CBC: Bluebird Botanicals and Charlotte’s Web. Bluebird
Botanicals contains about double the CBC of Charlotte’s
Web and is a fraction of the price.