Cannabinoids Medical Research

CBC and Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome

Written by Lydia Kariuki

Cannabichromene (CBC) is a novel non-intoxicating cannabinoid that is piquing the interest of scientists due to its emerging therapeutic potential. Previous research has shown that this cannabinoid can induce neurogenesis, the process where new neurons are formed in the brain. [1] It has also been implicated in bladder cancer. Its role in acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS, however, has not been elucidated.

ARDS is a life-threatening condition whereby fluid from the blood vessels in the lungs leaks into the alveoli, which are air sacs where oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged during the process of breathing. ARDS may cause irreversible damage to the lungs. To date, there is no target-specific treatment for ARDS and therefore an alternative treatment that is safe and effective is welcome.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the urgent need for an effective treatment of ARDS which is a complication of the viral infection. Researchers from Augusta University in Georgia recently investigated the potential of CBC in treating ARDS. [2] They did find some potential benefits which require further investigation.

The researchers offered inhalant CBC to mice with induced ARDS-like symptoms. A control group was offered a placebo. The CBC group was provided the treatment for eight days. Different assays and analytical tools were used including immunohistochemistry, flow cytometry, and statistical techniques including ANOVA (analysis of variance), and the Newman-Keuls post hoc test, both of which evaluate sample means.

The results showed CBC’s ability to treat ARDS by reversing hypoxia (reduced oxygen content), reducing inflammation (50% reduction in pro-inflammatory molecules called cytokines), and protecting the lungs from further damage. Upon further analysis, it appeared that CBC protects the lung tissue through its actions on the TRPV channels, a family of six channels that are involved in heat and inflammation sensations. A similar pattern was not observed in the mice that received the placebo.

The researchers concluded that CBC is potentially effective at relieving symptoms of ARDS by increasing the expression of TRPV channels which regulate organ (lung) homeostasis by five-fold. They hypothesized that “binding CBC to TRPs may downregulate the inflammatory responses by shifting the so-called “cytokine storm” to a “cytokine breeze,” re-establishing the homeostasis and preventing additional structural damages to the vital organs.” Using inhalers containing CBC allows the cannabinoid to get into the bloodstream sooner than if it has been ingested. A safety and efficacy human trial will help to shed more light in this area.



[1] Prenderville JA, Kelly ÁM, Downer EJ. The role of cannabinoids in adult neurogenesis. Br J Pharmacol. 2015;172(16):3950-3963. doi:10.1111/bph.13186 [journal impact factor: 8.39; times cited: 32]


[2] Khodadadi H, Salles ÉL, Shin E, et al. A potential role for cannabichromene in modulating TRP channels during acute respiratory distress syndrome. J Cannabis Res. 2021;3(1):45. Published 2021 Oct 1. doi:10.1186/s42238-021-00101-0 [journal impact factor: 5.800; times cited: 1]

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Lydia Kariuki

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