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What is Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC)?

Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC) cartridge

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Disclaimer: The information provided here is intended solely for informational and entertainment purposes. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read here. .

The cannabis plant produces a range of substances, some of whose physiological effects are pleasurable and stimulating, others of which are elevating and enlightening, and yet others of which are relaxing and medicinal. We are not quite done yet.

With each new discovery, humankind continues to identify new chemicals, understand their effects, and improve on them through study. The new family of compounds to which HHC belongs can be called semi-synthetic cannabinoids.

Key Takeaways

  • Definition of HHC: HHC stands for hexahydrocannabinol. It is a semi-synthetic cannabinoid derived from THC through hydrogenation, notable for its stability and longevity compared to THC.

  • Comparison with Synthetic Cannabinoids: Unlike fully synthetic cannabinoids, which are completely lab-manufactured, semi-synthetic cannabinoids like HHC start from a biological base. HHC has effects and health impacts that need careful consideration, as synthetic variants can have harmful consequences.

  • Potential Benefits: Research suggests HHC could be more effective than natural cannabinoids in managing pain, reducing inflammation, aiding sleep, and potentially combating anxiety and nausea.

  • Legal Status and Safety: HHC exists in a regulatory gray area and is generally considered legal where hemp products are allowed. However, its safety, particularly in comparison to other cannabinoids, remains under research with concerns about the effects of long-term use and synthetic manipulation.

What is HHC Cannabinoid?

HHC is the abbreviation for hexahydrocannabinol. It is a semi-synthetic cannabinoid derived from THC when it is hydrogenated. Hydrogenation resistant, HHC has a much longer shelf life than THC.

Check out this video for a quick, over-the-shoulder explanation of HHC! Helpful video explaining and going over the most important things to know about HHC! But while HHC occurs naturally in minute quantities, HHC products are manufactured and distilled in a lab to reach their potency, and they are currently available most often as vape cartridges.

What is a Synthetic Cannabinoid?

Synthetic or semi-synthetic cannabinoids are compounds produced in a lab following processes aimed at mimicking the effects of cannabinoids naturally present in hemp plants. The compounds bind to the same targets, or receptors, as endocannabinoids do and therefore trigger an analogous set of outcomes, such as alterations in perception and sensation, action via anti-inflammation, anxiety, and pain.

Synthetic cannabinoids are available under several commercial names; for example, Spice, K2, or AK-47. The active ingredient is usually 11-Nor-9β-hydroxy-hexahydro cannabinol (and not HHC, which is produced by a different process, and represents a semi-synthetic cannabinoid). But these cannabinoids are not always legal, because they can affect one’s health in harmful ways.

Often, users of synthetic cannabinoids report alarming neurological effects such as confusion, agitation, visual and auditory hallucinations, seizures, and psychotic breaks. Other effects include gastrointestinal symptoms and injuries to internal organs, including the liver, lungs, and heart.

What is a Semi-Synthetic Cannabinoid?

Although all of their ingredients are lab-made, synthetic cannabinoids must start from scratch. Semi-synthetic cannabinoids, on the other hand, have a biological source. They begin with the extraction of natural cannabis oils, which are then refined to separate their primary cannabinoids (THC, CBD, and others) from the plant matter and alter their chemical structures.

The original cannabinoids have been slightly modified, either enhancing or dampening some of their qualities. HHC is a semi-synthetic cannabinoid or THC isomer, a molecule similar in composition to THC.

The difference lies in one of the double carbon bonds of THC being broken during the hydrogenation process to form HHC—a similar change in the molecule that takes place with the other cannabinoids when they are hydrogenated.

What is Hydrogenation?

One of the methods to obtain semi-synthetic cannabinoids is the hydrogenation of natural cannabinoids. The developers seal the cannabinoid in a pressurized container with hydrogen gas (H2) during this process. The hydrogen reacts with the target molecule by breaking the double bonds of carbon atoms and leaving them as single bonds.

To make the hydrogenation process more efficient, the manufacturers use catalysts. These substances help the chemical reaction go faster, but they do not react or bond with the other reagents involved.

The catalytic agent needs to be in the most contact with the substances in the reaction, so manufacturers use supports made of silica, calcium carbonate, alumina, or titanium dioxide to hold the catalyst inside the reaction container.

The catalytic agent itself is usually a metal like iridium, palladium, nickel, or platinum. After the hydrogenation process is complete, the manufacturer can take the catalyst out to use it again since it does not get used up in the reaction. The process to obtain raw cannabis oil does not use heat, so it keeps the original THCA, CBDA, and CBD from the hemp flowers.

The decarbing (short for decarboxylating) process is another chemical reaction that uses heat to act upon the THCA and CBDA. These compounds barely have any effect and are difficult for our bodies to process. When the cannabis oil is decarbed, it turns into THC and CBD, which can interact with our bodies.

The hydrogenating reaction can work on the different compounds, whether they come from raw or decarbed cannabis. When manufacturers apply this process to natural cannabis extract, they obtain hydrogenated cannabis oil (HCO), rich in the semi-synthetic compound HHCA. Once decarbed, the HHCA turns into the HHC they need.

On the other hand, the raw decarbed extract, rich in THC and CBD, turns into decarbed HCO with a fair amount of HHC. THC and CBD are not the only cannabis components that change with the hydrogenation process. Other molecules with double carbon bonds lose them and turn into analogs.

Terpenes, terpenoids, and flavonoids are aromatic compounds that also change during hydrogenation. The original molecules act in tandem with THC and CBD, enhancing their effects in the Entourage Effect. However, researchers still do not know how this effect would work with the hydrogenated molecules, if it works at all.

Difference Between Natural and Semi-Synthetic Cannabinoids

It is quite possible that the chemical alteration of any substance, no matter how slight, has the ability to change that substance’s properties in a meaningful way. The hydrogenated cannabinoids also have significantly different properties: they would respond differently to external stimuli than the natural cannabinoids, and would also interact differently with the human body.

The key difference between the two categories of chemicals is their molecular structure: in the place where double-bonded carbon atoms occur in the natural compound, their counterparts in the hydrogenated compounds are simply single-bonded. Hydrogen atoms from the gas fill in the remaining bonding slots. The natural and hydrogenated cannabinoids each interact with the endocannabinoid system in slightly different ways.

Scientists are only now beginning to understand that the hydrogenated compounds associate with other neural receptors than the natural substances with which they compete. Their effects are also different regarding the many pathologies. Thus, for example, in the case of inflammation, the hydrogenated cannabinoids sometimes prove to be more effective than the natural ones.

Benefits of Hydrogenated Cannabinoids

Another of the researchers of hydrogenated cannabinoids’ first findings concerns these enhanced stabilities. Hydrogenation improves their longevity as active molecules. For example, hydrogenated cannabis oil is resistant to light-induced oxidation better than so-called natural cannabis oil, and that is why we want to preserve it by storing it dark in a cupboard.

This resistance also prevents the hydrogenated cannabinoids from breaking down easily in the liver, which promotes the health of that organ. Hydrogenated cannabinoids are up to a hundred times more effective than natural cannabinoids in the treatment of tumours. In the lab, when hydrogenated cannabinoids are administered to tumours, they reduce them more than in control subjects or when tumours are treated with natural cannabinoids.

So far, so good. But hydrogenated cannabinoids are also a molecule in development, and therefore everything that we know about all the benefits that could hide here might also be true of the side-effects we don’t know yet.

Management of Chronic Pain

Hydrogenated cannabinoids have been recommended as a strong agent for pain relief, particularly with chronic pain. They exhibit fewer negative side effects than many prescription medicines for this purpose, whilst still being potent enough to effectively manage pain, whether it be from causes such as arthritis or nerve pain.

Reduce Inflammation

The anti-inflammatory properties of all cannabis products have been widely documented. Hydrogenated cannabinoids are no different in that they can help reduce inflammation within the whole body, a particularly positive benefit for those who suffer from chronic issues in this regard.

Promotes Better Sleep Health

Thanks to the sedating and relaxant properties of hydrogenated cannabinoids, they can help users improve their sleep and provide all the benefits of high-quality daily rest.

Alleviate Nausea or Vomiting

Research has shown that the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the human brain is linked to nausea and vomiting. Consumption of cannabinoids, particularly hydrogenated cannabinoids, seems to suppress and regulate this bodily instinct, making it more manageable.

May Help With Anxiety

Though further research into this benefit of hydrogenated cannabinoids will be necessary, it appears that for many users, the relaxant and sedative properties of these chemicals help manage chronic anxiety at a far lower risk for negative side effects than conventional prescription medicines.

Hexahydrocannabinol Effects

Their molecular structure has been modified – as the hydrogenated cannabinoids have modified their behavior to be different from the natural ones. The psychotropic ‘high’ effect of THC is its most potent effect The molecular engineering of THC into HHC brings about responses that are distinct from those of THC. Beyond the ‘high’, THC has numerous effects in the body, many of them healthy.

This drug has proved to be a powerful pain-reliever, appetite booster, anxiety suppressor, and an enormously promising treatment for glaucoma. Some of the properties of THC are altered by the hydrogenation process, but others are made better. The health benefits and side-effects of the resulting product are still being studied, but researchers are working to make sure that it is never more dangerous than it needs to be.

Effects of HHC

The euphoric high of THC, however, remains mostly the same when converted to HHC. Many who have tested it have reported a sensory amplification experience similar to that from THC, with limb-tingling effects and a shift in the visual and auditory senses.

The psychotropic effects of HHC take longer to kick in than with THC. On the other side, this effect is more present when using the compound HHC. The medicinal effects of HHC for pain and inflammation, for example, are more effective than those of THC without hydrogenation.

The anti-tumour property do the same thing and are more effective that THC. All other effects are missing. The results appear to be positive enough to be used in medicine.

How Potent is HHC?

The potency of HHC has not yet been unanimously established, though there is some evidence to suggest that the effects of HHC are weaker than those of delta-9 THC. Many users report a similar potency to delta-8 THC, which is stronger as a relaxant than as a stimulant.

Types of HHC

To date, scientists have documented over 10 different types of HHC. Apart from its main form, Hexahydrocannabinol, HHC also exists as HU211, HU243, 7-OH-HHC, 8-OH-iso-HHC, and many other variations.

The effects of and differences between these discrete HHC variants have not yet been thoroughly isolated. For the most part, knowledge about their unique properties still relies on word of mouth and anecdotal evidence.

How is HHC Made?

HHC is not a synthetic cannabinoid and can actually be found in nature. Some researchers have documented it in trace amounts within the seeds of the cannabis plant. However, isolating HHC is a highly inefficient process, particularly due to its low concentration in nature. Therefore, nearly all HHC sold today is produced in a lab environment.

The most widespread process for synthesizing HHC is by agitating THC with hydrogen. Essentially, the double bonds that are found in THC are broken apart and replaced by hydrogen molecules, altering the chemical structure.

Is It Safe to Make HHC?

The typical hydrogenation reaction used to produce HHC from THC (or CBD) employs heavy metals such as copper, nickel, or zinc, which manufacturers must extract out of the final product at the end of the process. Furthermore, the chemical reaction that is generated – especially when scaled up, involves risks of combustion, which is generally contained within specific confines of a lab setup that is specifically designed for the purpose.

Therefore, the HHC production process is not 100 percent safe and is certainly something that should be confined to operating within a laboratory setup adorned with the appropriate safety devices and equipment.

Is HHC Safe to Consume?

As of yet, there isn’t enough scientific research regarding the properties and health risks of HHC, but, judging by reports, it induces most of the same physical reactions and carries the same common side effects as THC. When all is said and done, potential side-effects could include nausea, dizziness, memory loss, red eyes, dry mouth and throat, poor blood pressure, and more.

But when consumed in the correct doses, HHC shouldn’t present any more of a health risk than other cannabinoids – which is to say, it’s safe to consume in normal quantities.

HHC vs. THC

HHC’s psychoactivity is marginally less intense than THC and could take a bit more time to get a person ‘high’, but this difference is not really a large one, and in comparison with some other forms of THC – such as delta-8 – HHC might even be more potent.

Additionally, being a hydrogenated cannabinoid, HHC is far more stable and easier to store without degrading, unlike THC. From a legal perspective, it’s also a lot less tightly regulated than THC.

HHC vs. CBN

As for HHC, when placed side by side with the current cannabis trendsetter, CBN (another lesser-known cannabinoid), the chasm that separates the two chemicals, not to mention the rest of the cannabinoid wardrobe, is quite substantial. HHC (short for Tetrahydrocannabinolol) is a minor cannabinoid that, along with CBN, is also a naturally occurring cannabinoid that exists in the hemp plant in trace amounts.

Furthermore, CBN, like HHC, is an analogue that is synthetically made by manipulating the chemical structure of the main cannabinoid THC, in this case, as ageing and oxidising cannabis flower causes the chemical reaction that produces CBN). On the bright side, CBN doesn’t carry any psychoactivity, if anything, you won’t get high from consuming it.

Though it contains most of the relaxant effects and health benefits of THC (and, by proxy, HHC), and is safe to consume, CBN is actually far more sleep-inducing than either those compounds when used in this type of way.

HHC vs. Delta-9 THC

Compared to Delta-9 THC, HHC appears to be weaker in its effects. In fact, many users report that HHC compared to delta-9 results in a less pronounced “high,” with instead stronger relaxant effects in common with other cannabinoids. The pain-killing, anti-inflammatory, and other health benefits of delta-9 THC appear to mostly remain intact with HHC.

HHC is more stable than delta-9 thanks to its chemical makeup and remains potent for longer. Storing it is also much more convenient as it doesn’t degrade nearly as easily and is more resistant to UV radiation and heat.

Is HHC Legal?

Even though HHC was first synthesized as far back as 1944, there are no widespread laws as of yet specifically regulating its distribution. For the most part, HHC exists in a grey zone nearly. However, it is considered a hemp product and thus free to be bought, sold, and consumed wherever hemp is legal.

Even when HHC is synthesized through the hydrogenation of THC, the final HHC product won’t contain any significant amounts of THC, allowing it to be sold in many countries and jurisdictions where THC is illegal. In the United States, for example, HHC is federally legal and legal in 38 states, making it a much more readily available option than THC.

Does HHC Show up on a Drug Test?

Many claim that HHC has the unique property of evading drug tests, ostensibly due to its unique chemical makeup. However, there has been no proper research into this matter and all the evidence for HHC’s capabilities in this regard is anecdotal. For now, the best answer to this question, unfortunately, remains “maybe!”

Where to Buy HHC?

The developers of HHC are very confident in its many properties and health benefits. However, this compound is still under study, and it is not commercially available for now. Both developers and users hope to have it sold commercially soon.

References for this Article:

  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK425767/
  • https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/what-is-hhc
  • https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37269160/
  • https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37934167/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6222489/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6326553/

Note: This article is provided by Botany Farms for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The content is intended to offer insights into the practice of dabbing and the use of cannabis concentrates, reflecting current knowledge and research within these areas. It is not aimed at diagnosing, treating, curing, or preventing any diseases or health conditions. As the legal status of cannabis varies across different regions, it is the responsibility of the reader to be informed about their local laws regarding cannabis use. Botany Farms advises all readers to consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions about cannabis consumption to understand fully the potential risks and benefits. Botany Farms and the authors of this content disclaim all liability for any adverse effects that may arise from the use of information provided in this article.

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