What is HHC – Hexahydrocannabinol

What is HHC – Hexahydrocannabinol
HHC is a relative of THC long known to science, but until recently not often discussed by cannabis users. HHC is a minor cannabinoid. It occurs naturally in cannabis, but in quantities too small to make extraction economically viable. Since commercial production of HHC is just starting, it is not yet widely known.

Most cannabinoids can be converted to other cannabinoids by changing the chemistry of the molecules. Like delta 8 THC and delta 10 THC, commercial HHC is made from CBD derived from industrial hemp in a laboratory through chemical processes.

How HHC is made
The production process of HHC is somewhat similar to the production of margarine. We know that it starts with hemp oil extracted from the hemp plant. One method uses isolated CBD (isolate). To create demoniated CBD, hemp oil is extracted from raw industrial hemp. From there, the CBD is distilled into a powder form. Another method uses a more basic product THC and other cannabinoids and converts them into HHC.

We know that HHC is created by a process known as hydrogenation. This is a process where hydrogen is injected into another substance to force the hydrogen molecules to become part of the molecular structure of the original substance. This process is used in many food products. For example, it is used to convert vegetable oil into margarine. It is also used to convert crude vegetable oil into hydrogenated vegetable oil to extend its shelf life.

Producers describe the crude compound produced from this hydrogenation of the isolate as “golden, dark oil”, which is then refined and distilled to create the final HHC product.

HHC vs THC: What is the difference?
Structurally, HHC and THC are almost identical. THC normally has a double bond in its upper ring structure, which is absent in HHC.

This makes HHC more stable than THC in the long term and changes its ability to bind to various receptors in the body.

Overall, HHC is considered to be about 70%-80% as potent as THC (some suggest it is stronger), but otherwise shares almost the same characteristics.

The effect profiles of HHC and THC are very similar. Any form of THC that has more than three carbons in its side chain has psychoactive effects. Basically, the more carbons in the chain, the stronger the psychoactive effects.

Is HHC Natural or Synthetic?
HHC is considered both a natural and semi-synthetic cannabinoid depending on where it comes from and how it is created.

HHC occurs naturally in cannabis but in small amounts. Microscopic concentrations of HHC, along with delta-8 THC and delta-10 THC, occur when THC is oxidized to CBN over a long period of time. CBN is a cannabinoid present in aged cannabis.

However, since the natural concentration of HHC in hemp is so low, producers are not able to produce HHC products from it.

Since hydrogenation uses a chemical substance to change the physical molecular weight and geometry, HHC is now considered semi-synthetic.

Does HHC have medical benefits?
HHC has not been widely studied, unlike the more well-known cannabinoids such as delta 9 THC or CBD, but there has been some promising research. A 2011 study showed that certain synthetic analogues of hexahydrocannabinol (HHC) “strongly inhibited angiogenesis and tumour growth induced by breast cancer”. Japanese researchers published a paper in 2007 describing HHC’s impressive ability to inhibit pain in mice. But it is probably too early to say whether HHC has much promise as a therapeutic drug.

What are the benefits of HHC?
The benefits of HHC are largely unknown. Little research exists to determine how HHC could benefit you, although early preclinical studies in laboratory animals suggest that it has analgesic and anti-cancer properties.

Scientific research aside, we could argue that the benefits of HHC are mostly the same as THC due to their molecular similarity and affinity to your cannabinoid receptors. These benefits may include:

  • Stimulation of the appetite
  • Treatment of insomnia
  • Reduction of pain
  • Improvement of mood

Side effects of HHC
Again, the short- and long-term side effects of HHC are largely unknown. So far, there have been no reports of serious or life-threatening side effects from the use of HHC or its products.

However, considering that the effects of HHC are similar to THC, we assume that the side effects are also similar. Side effects of HHC may include:

  • Concern
  • Paranoia
  • Sleep disorders and insomnia
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Fast heart rate
  • Increased appetite
  • Red eyes
  • Dry mouth
  • Shipping

Does HHC appear in drug tests?
It is not clear whether HHC appears in drug tests.

Drug tests are designed to detect THC-COOH, a primary metabolite of THC that is formed in your body after THC consumption.

An early study in experimental animals shows that HHC is metabolized to 8a-hydroxy-HHC and 8beta-hydroxy-HHC, both of which are similar to THC-COOH.

Does this similarity mean that HHC metabolites are detectable through drug testing?
Researchers are not sure. There are no other studies demonstrating whether or not HHC metabolites are detected by drug tests or are responsible for triggering false positive results.

There is also the additional issue of HHC products carrying residues or residues of THC after chemical hydrogenation. If the residual amount of THC is enough for your urine to show more than 50 nanograms per milliliter of THC-COOH after metabolism, you risk failing a drug test.

If you have an upcoming drug test, we recommend you stay away from HHC and its products just to be safe.


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