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Exploring HHC vs. Delta-8: What Are the Risks and Benefits?

The cannabis plant produces 80-100 cannabinoids. The more widely known and studied cannabinoid is Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which has an analog variant – Delta-8 THC. Then there’s HHC, a lesser-known cannabinoid that has also been getting much attention lately. 

Many new compounds and cannabinoid products have flooded the market since states began legalizing the sale of THC products, and it can be challenging to tell which hemp product is right for you.

This article will specifically explore HHC vs. Delta-8 THC to understand the differences, benefits, and risks. To better grasp these differences, it would be best to have a better understanding of cannabinoids.

Cannabinoid Chemical Structure Explained

THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) Chemical Formula and Structure in Notebook - HHC vs. Delta-8

All cannabinoids are made up of three elements: carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen. However, it’s the way that these elements are joined together that makes the difference. The distinction is that Delta-9, Delta-8, and HHC contain a double bond in their chemical structures.

Here’s what sets each apart: Delta-9 THC has a double bond at the ninth carbon molecule in the central ring structure. On the other hand, Delta-8 THC has it at the eighth carbon. HHC has no double bond at either location. 


What is HHC?

Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC) is a synthesized cannabinoid typically manufactured using THC derived from Cannabis sativa. It was first discovered in 1944 by Roger Adams, an American chemist at the University of Illinois, who used regular Delta-9 THC and added hydrogen molecules to it to change its chemical structure. 

That resulted in HHC, a highly potent hydrogenated version of Delta-9 that scientists are still researching. Because it’s a relatively new cannabinoid slowly entering the market, much of the information surrounding it is anecdotal, as it hasn’t been around long enough for researchers to fully understand its side effects, proper dosage, and other therapeutic properties.  


What is Delta-8 THC?

Delta-8 is an analog of the traditional Delta-9 THC. The only difference is the location of the double bond in each cannabinoid’s chemical structure. Delta-8 THC’s double bond is located on the eighth chain, while Delta-9’s is on the ninth chain. 

This slight difference in chemical structure means both cannabinoids produce slightly different effects. Delta-8 is often called “cannabis lite,” as it delivers a milder high than the regular Delta-9.

Generally, HHC is very similar to Delta-8 and Delta-9. It is milder than Delta-9 but more potent than Delta-8. It offers a similar relaxing effect as Delta-8 but maintains the psychoactive effects associated with Delta-9 THC, especially in high doses. 


The Effects of Delta-8 THC and HHC

Studies indicate that HHC is closer to Delta-9 in intoxication but bears more similarities to Delta-8. Therefore, HHC’s effects are very similar to THC, so higher doses (over 20mg) have energizing and euphoric effects, while lower doses produce more calming, lightheaded effects like Delta-8 THC. 

Delta-8 THC is known to have the following benefits:

  • Increased appetite
  • Mild euphoria
  • Improved sleep quality
  • Lifted mood

HHC provides the best of both worlds, and its effects spread across a broader spectrum. These effects include:

  • A grounded and relaxed feeling similar to Delta-8
  • An exciting cerebral buzz
  • Semi-hallucinatory
  • Semi-psychedelic
  • Euphoria
  • Increased focus
  • Alleviates paranoia

The reason why HHC’s impact varies widely is highly hinged on the way the compound is manufactured. A well-formulated HHC product combines two HHC molecules:

  1. 9R HHC – The active side of the molecule that binds to the body’s endocannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2)
  2. 9S HHC – The partially active side of the HHC molecule with a slightly different structure that doesn’t bind to the body’s endocannabinoid system

Manufacturers have yet to determine the best way to isolate high-potency HHC molecules from low-potency molecules. Because of that, most HHC products feature a blend of the two molecules, and the effects vary based on the product you choose. 


The Medical Benefits of HHC vs. Delta-8 THC

Since the introduction of smokeable cannabis in the US in the early 1910s, people have extracted cannabinoids for medical purposes. Although most studies have focused on Delta-9 THC and CBD, researchers have begun studying HHC and its potential benefits in depth. 


Potential Medicinal Benefits of HHC

HHC Gummies

Anecdotal evidence indicates that HHC produces similar therapeutic effects to THC. We can rely on these findings since the molecules’ chemical structures are similar and have the same affinity to the body’s endocannabinoid receptors. Here are some conditions that researchers believe HHC may treat:

Chronic Pain Relief

When tested on lab rats, HHC showed strong pain-relieving effects. Although scientists are yet to test it on humans, studies have shown promising therapeutic outcomes of using HHC as a pain reliever and point to it as a viable medicine for chronic pain management. 

Improved Sleep Quality

HHC’s psychotropic effects are believed to be caused by its interaction with CB1 receptors in the brain. The compound’s mechanism of action is unknown, but research shows that activating the CB1 receptors (in this case, by Delta-9 THC) may improve sleep quality. 

Reduced Inflammation

Most cannabinoids combat pain and reduce inflammation effectively. Since HHC’s molecular structure matches Delta-8 and Delta-9, it’s reported to have similar properties. Although experts haven’t researched HHC for pain yet, one study indicated that hydrogenated THC binds well with CB1 receptors in the brain and may reduce inflammation in joints. 


Potential Therapeutic Benefits of Delta-8 THC

CBG + Delta8 Gummies

Only a few studies provide insights into the potential therapeutic benefits of delta-8 THC. Most of its clinically significant effects come from anecdotal evidence and assumptions based on its similarity to delta-9 THC (which has been extensively researched).

Anxiety Relief

One thing that makes Delta-8 a suitable cannabinoid for anxiety relief is that it delivers a milder “high” than Delta-9. Therefore, it’s believed to cause much less anxiety than regular THC and a lighthearted high that enhances focus and clarity. Besides, its anxiety-relieving properties are consistent regardless of the dose. We can’t say the same about Delta-9. 

 Reduced Nausea

Scientists have studied Delta-8 and Delta-9 and reported promising outcomes. Delta-8 reportedly reduces nausea more effectively than Delta-9, as it doesn’t cause any significant side effects. 

Inflammation and Pain Relief

One preclinical study in 2018 showed that topical administration of Delta-8 significantly reduced pain and inflammation in eye injuries. The research showed that this medicinal property is achieved by activating CB1 receptors, which control critical body functions, such as pain, sleep, and metabolism.

Promotes Appetite

Delta-8 is also believed to be a stronger stimulant than Delta-9. When tested on mice, scientists observed that Delta-8 increased the feeding patterns by up to 22%.


The Side Effects of HHC vs. Delta-8 THC

When consumers react sensitively to HHC, they experience side effects similar to when consuming high doses of THC. Users report the following side effects after consuming HHC:

  • Red eyes
  • Dry mouth
  • Paranoia
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Increased hunger
  • Insomnia

On the flip side, Delta-8 is less potent than HHC. Its consumption is known to cause side effects, including:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Increased blood pressure

HHC vs. Delta-8: Are They Legal?

We need not discuss the legality of THC in the US because it’s classified as a Schedule I substance and hence, not federally legal. The continuing legalization of high-THC products in the US is only because of state laws that promote the sale of Delta-9 products within their borders. The legality of HHC vs. Delta-8 THC is a different and complicated story.

Amid the ongoing debate, HHC product manufacturers claim that the compound is entirely legal in the US. It’s the same narrative with Delta-8. Whether the two are natural or synthetic compounds is not well established. If considered natural, they’ll be federally legal and can be infused in products with less than 0.3% THC. However, if deemed synthetic, they’ll be banned like other illegal substances. 

So, which one is better, HHC or Delta-8 THC? It depends on what you’re looking for. If you want a milder euphoric effect, HHC might be the best option. But if you want a more potent psychoactive effect, Delta-8 is a better choice. Hemponix provides true farm-to-table cannabis-infused HHC, CBD, CBN, Delta-9, Delta-8, and CBG products.

All our seeds are carefully selected and genetically engineered to produce stable and highly potent cannabis crops to ensure our cannabinoid products deliver consistent outcomes with each use. Purchase CBG products from Hemponix today!

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