HHC Uncovered: A Complete Guide to the Rising Star of Cannabinoids
HHC – the new cannabinoid kid on the block
The cannabis industry constantly seeks new and lesser-known cannabinoids to appeal to the diverse cannabis market. One of the most recent and promising of these is hexahydrocannabinol, commonly known as HHC. Despite being a relative of THC, HHC has not been widely discussed by cannabis users until recently.
What is HHC?
HHC, or hexahydrocannabinol, is a unique cannabinoid found in both cannabis and hemp plants. While it may be mistaken for a THC compound like delta-8 THC, HHC is distinct and has its own properties.
One major advantage of HHC over other THC derivatives, such as delta 8 and delta 10, is that it is not referred to as THC. Although in name only, the removal of ‘THC’ from its nomenclature has arguably helped HHC stay under the watchful eye of regulatory bodies and shed some of the stigma still associated with THC use.
How is HHC Made?
Where Does it Come From?
Unlike other cannabinoids, such as CBD and THC, HHC is not commonly found in high concentrations in natural cannabis plants and, as such, is considered to be a ‘minor cannabinoid.’ Because of this, extraction is typically deemed uneconomical.
Instead, it is often synthesized or manipulated from other cannabinoids to create a new, distinct compound. Despite this, HHC has been found to have psychoactive effects similar to THC.
HHC’s Debut on the World Stage
In the 1940s, HHC was discovered by Roger Adams, a chemist studying THC and how the molecule could be modified or altered. Through a method called hydrogenation, he was able to add a hydrogen atom to the THC molecule, altering its physical properties and creating what we now know (and enjoy) as HHC.
This process effectively replaced THC’s double bond with not one but two hydrogen atoms, modifying the structure of delta 9 THC and altering THC’s molecular weight to improve stability.
Mark Scialdone, a noteworthy chemist and the Chief Science Officer of BR Brands, reported that hydrogenation improves the “stability and resistance to a thermo-oxidative breakdown of HHC.” The net result? A longer shelf life and reduced susceptibility to damage caused by UV light and heat.
Although Adams’ work relied on THC to make HHC, today, HHC is typically derived from hemp-derived compounds rather than conventional cannabis-derived THC. Its low THC content is because hemp was made federally legal by the 2018 farm bill.
FUN FACT: Hydrogenation is not only used in cannabinoid production but also in the creation of other products, such as margarine. By converting vegetable oil, hydrogenation creates a new product with different properties.
How is HHC Different From Delta-8?
HHC, or hexahydrocannabinol, is a unique cannabinoid that differs from others, such as THC and delta-8, in several ways. One major distinction is that it includes a hydrogen molecule not present in THC.
This chemical difference results in a less potent and psychoactive experience for those who consume HHC. While manufacturers may compare the effects of HHC to those of delta-8 THC, many users have reported that it is even less psychoactive than delta-8.
Due to limited research on the compound, most information on the effects and side effects of HHC is based on anecdotal evidence.
*More below on the effect of HHC
Does HHC Get You High?
The question of whether HHC gets you high is a bit of a complex one. HHC, also known as hexahydrocannabinol, is a cannabinoid found in cannabis and hemp. While it is not technically a THC compound, it can produce similar effects when used in high enough concentrations.
The issue is that when HHC is produced in a lab, it can come in a mix of active and inactive molecules. The active molecules bind well with the body’s cannabinoid receptors, while the inactive ones do not. This can make it difficult for manufacturers to produce a consistently potent product.
HHC Isomers and Their Role in Effects
When HHC is produced in a lab, the resulting HHC is a mixture of two different types of molecules: 9R HHC and 9S HHC. The 9R HHC molecule actively binds to the body’s natural endocannabinoid receptors, while the 9S HHC does not.
This can make it difficult to determine the exact potency of HHC, as a higher dose may be required to achieve similar effects to delta-8 THC.
Experts suggest that HHC may be less potent than delta-8 THC, which is already considered less potent than delta-9 THC. Despite the lack of research, anecdotal reports suggest that HHC can produce similar effects on the body and mind as THC, including dry mouth, dry and red eyes, hunger, and insomnia.
What Does HHC Feel Like?
While there is limited scientific research on the effects of HHC on the body and mind, anecdotal evidence suggests that it may have a range of benefits, with many users reporting that HHC provides relaxing experiences that soothe the mind and body, along with mild to moderate euphoria often associated with D9.
Additionally, some users have reported that HHC can positively impact the mind, providing an uplifting and cerebral effect.
Common Effects Reported with HHC Use:
- Relaxation and calmness
- Relief from aches and pains
- Reduced stress and tension
- Improved mood and sense of well-being
- Increased appetite
- Reduced inflammation
- Analgesic properties
- Increased blood flow
- Improved sleep
- Anxiolytic effects (reduced anxiety)
It’s important to note that the effects of HHC can vary from person to person, and more research is needed to fully understand its potential benefits and risks. Additionally, the quality of HHC products can vary depending on the manufacturer, so it’s important to only purchase products from reputable sources.
Will HHC Show Up on a Drug Test?
It is currently unclear as to whether or not HHC will show up on a drug test. While some evidence suggests that HHC does not metabolize into the same breakdown substance (11-hydroxy-THC) commonly tested for in drug panels, this has not been thoroughly studied, and the results are uncertain.
Anecdotally, those who have vaped HHC have noted that they have passed various drug tests, while others have ‘popped’ as positive. This could be due to variations in product quality or impurities, with some HHC brands having tested positive for the presence of D8, D10, or THC.
Suppose you are concerned about the possibility of testing positive for HHC in a drug test. In that case, it is best to avoid using it to ensure you do not risk your job or other opportunities.
Does HHC have medical benefits?
*Disclaimer* – we do NOT claim that HHC can treat, diagnose, or prevent any medical condition.
Always speak with your doctor before use. Hexahydrocannabinol is a less commonly studied cannabinoid than delta 9 THC or CBD. However, there have been some indications of its potential therapeutic benefits.
For example, a 2011 study found that certain synthetic versions of HHC effectively inhibited breast cancer cell growth and angiogenesis. Additionally, a 2007 study by Japanese researchers demonstrated HHC’s ability to block pain in mice. It is important to note that more research is needed to fully understand the medical benefits of HHC.
As research continues, we may see that HHC’s purported effects on users play out in clinical trials. Revealing this cannabinoid as a potential therapeutic and wellness aid for many use cases.
Is HHC Legal?
Hexahydrocannabinol, or HHC, lives in a gray area regarding the law. In 2018, Congress passed the Farm Bill, which made hemp and all of its derivatives, like HHC, legal at the federal level, so long as they had less than 0.3% delta-9 THC. This doesn’t mean that it’s legal in every state.
HHC is a “semi-synthetic” cannabis compound. It is made by hydrogenating cannabinoids from hemp under pressure with a catalyst. In May 2022, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that delta-8 THC was legal under the Farm Bill’s definition of hemp and that all other compounds and derivatives of hemp are also legal as long as they don’t have more than the legal maximum of 0.3% delta-9 THC.
This means that HHC is technically legal, but individual states could still ban it if it becomes so popular that it hurts sales in the legal cannabis market, as delta-8 THC did. Also, it’s important to remember that other federal courts could come to different conclusions about whether or not HHC is legal.
Is HHC Safe?
The safety of HHC consumption is still largely unknown, as there is limited research on its effects. Anecdotally, people have been smoking and consuming small quantities of HHC in cannabis for centuries. Similarly, millions of individuals are using HHC daily worldwide, noting nothing more than the ‘usual’ types of side effects you might expect from traditional THC use.
Further, HHC is structurally quite similar to THC, replacing the double bond with a hydrogen atom and interacting with CB1 and CB2 receptors. As such, we may theorize that the effects and safety profile could be similar to that of THC/D9.
Although HHC is derived from the hemp plant, it is not subject to the same regulations as cannabis products in legal states. This means that manufacturers and retailers are not required to test HHC products for potency and purity, raising questions about their safety.
Some companies, like Hemponix, include third-party testing results with their HHC products to ensure potency and purity. Beyond that, long-term studies still need to be carried out to confidently say how safe HHC is.
Can You Vape HHC?
Yes, it is possible to vape HHC. Many companies (like ours) sell HHC vape cartridges or other forms of HHC that can be vaporized. However, due to the lack of research on HHC, it is unclear what the potential health effects of vaping HHC may be. It is important to use caution and consult a healthcare professional before using any vaping products, including HHC.
Can You Mix HHC with Other Cannabinoids?
Mixing different cannabinoids with HHC can potentially create an “entourage effect,” where the various compounds work together to enhance the overall therapeutic effects.
This concept is based on the idea that the different compounds in the cannabis plant, including cannabinoids and terpenes, interact with each other in ways that can enhance or inhibit their individual effects.
For example, CBD and THC may have a synergistic effect when used together, with CBD potentially reducing some of the negative side effects of THC, such as anxiety and paranoia. Similarly, terpenes, which are responsible for the aroma and flavor of cannabis, can also interact with cannabinoids and influence the effects of the plant.
Research on the entourage effect is still in its early stages. More research is needed to fully understand the potential therapeutic benefits of combining different cannabinoids. However, many people who use cannabis products find that using a combination of compounds is more effective than using any one compound alone.
Final Thoughts on HHC
Since going mainstream, HHC has quickly risen the ranks to become one of the most popular cannabinoids. Users thought HHC as being stronger than D8 but weaker than THC, providing a head-like high that offers moderate euphoria without the anxiety of D9 and without the sleepiness of D8. This combo makes it a fan favorite for daytime use, social occasions, and more.
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