A to Cannabinoids: Everything About HHC Explained 


HHC needs no further introduction than what can only be called THC without THC. The basis of the acetate works by trying the different variations of what THC does when activated, but in its own unique reaction. Let’s take a look at all things HHC…

What is HHC?

HHC has a unique onset, different from both delta-8 and delta-9. It has a more gradual onset followed by a calming and smooth experience, longer than delta-8 and shorter than delta-9. Many people state that it’s a less energetic feeling than delta-8, more cerebral, not as strong as delta-9, but a little more other-worldly as opposed to more clarity and focus. 

Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC), which was patented in the late 1940s as a “therapeutic substance having marihuana activity,” is a cannabinoid that’s growing in popularity and availability. This synthetic derivative of naturally occurring delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9-THC) was first reported by noted cannabis chemist Professor Roger Adams at the University of Illinois in 1940.

HHC was synthesized in Adams’ laboratory as part of research to understand the active compounds in the cannabis plant. It was also later found that HHC can be produced in the lab during the conversion of THC to CBN in what is known as a disproportionation reaction. The importance of this finding is that, similar to CBN, HHC may occur naturally as a degradation product in aged cannabis, extracts, and concentrates.

In 1991, Harvey and Brown reported that, similar to THC, HHC is oxidized by liver microsomes from rats, mice, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rabbits to form hydroxylated derivatives including 11-hydroxy-hexahydrocannabinol (11-OH-HHC) as the major metabolite identified.  This would indicate that similar to THC, HHC is metabolized in humans to 11-hydroxy-HHC which could in part be responsible for the psychoactive effects of HHC when consumed.

What is Hydrogenation?

Hydrogenation is a well-known industrial process where hydrogen (H2) is added to organic compounds that possess unsaturation (i.e., double bonds) to generate the corresponding saturated compound. The resulting saturated product has enhanced oxidative stability vs. the unsaturated starting material from which it was derived. An everyday example of this is the hydrogenation of unsaturated fats used as shortening for shelf-stable baked goods and margarine.

Hydrogenation of THC isomers such as delta-9-THC or delta-8-THC results in the formation of hexahydrocannabinol (HHC), a hydrogenated cannabinoid.  As with most other cannabinoids, HHC can also be obtained from thermal decarboxylation of hexahydrocannabinolic acid (HHCA). This hydrogenated cannabinoid acid can be created through the hydrogenation of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (delta-9-THCA), the carboxylated precursor to delta-9-THC produced by cannabis.

The HHC value of what this cannabinoid offers isn’t something that you can typically find in THC cannabinoids. What HHC is capable of varies like most effects do, with potency for some much stronger than others. HHC can hold a longer shelf life than its THC cousins, making it a worthwhile investment to your stash. 

The Science Behind HHC

HHC gives way to a unique high not so different from regular THC-extracted cannabinoids. When HHC works with TRP pain receptors, the result is a coupling effect along with the CB1 and CB2 endocannabinoid receptors. 

There are several isomers of this hydrogenated form of THC. HHC is to THC, what margarine is to butter. By saturating the molecule with hydrogen atoms, the shelf-life of this cannabinoid is extended substantially without affecting the effect profile too much.

HHC is naturally occurring, but only in trace concentrations. For companies to sell this cannabinoid, they’re going to need to make it in a lab.

There are four main types of HHC:

  1. 9-OH-HHC — 9α-hydroxyhexahydrocannabinol(CAS# 36028-45-2)
  2. 7-OH-HHC — 7-hydroxyhexahydrocannabinol (CAS# 64663-39-4)
  3. HU211 — 1,1-Dimethylheptyl-11-hydroxytetrahydrocannabinol (CAS 112924-45-5)
  4. HU243 — 11-Hydroxy-3-(1′,1′-dimethylheptyl)hexahydrocannabinol (CAS 140835-14-9)

Others include 10α-hydroxyhexahydrocannabinol, 10aR-hydroxyhexahydrocannabinol, 7-oxo-9α-hydroxyhexahydrocannabinol, 1S-hydroxycannabinol, 8-oxo-Δ9-THC, Δ9-THC aldehyde A and cannabiripsol.

Basically, HHC is THC without any double bonds in its chemical structure. It’s the exact opposite molecule as CBN (cannabinol), which forms as THC breaks down and gains additional double-bonds.

With HHC, all the double bonds have been broken and replaced with hydrogen (AKA hydrogenation).

What are the Effects of HHC?

The difference is subtle, but this changes the geometry of the molecule, along with its binding affinity for the CB1 and CB2 endocannabinoid receptors and TRP pain receptors.

This change also makes the molecule much more stable — meaning it’s going to have a longer shelf-life before losing its potency than other forms of THC. This happens for the same reason that hydrogenated vegetable oils last so much longer than regular vegetable oils. By saturating the chemical structure, it becomes less susceptible to oxidation and breakdown.

This compound is also much more resistant to improper storage or exposure to heat and UV light. HHC would make for a perfect apocalypse cannabinoid because of how long it remains viable in storage.

Delta 9 THC, the most abundant naturally-occurring form of THC, but it’s also the least stable. As it oxidizes, it loses hydrogen atoms and forms two new double bonds on its top ring structure. When this happens, THC becomes CBN (cannabinol) — which has only 10% of the psychoactivity of THC.

  • HHC is a hydrogenated (semi-synthetic) form of THC
  • HHC offers similar effects & potency compared to THC
  • HHC has a substantially longer shelf-life & is more resistant to high heat or UV exposure
  • The safety profile of HHC is still unclear, but there’s no evidence to suggest it’s dangerous

HHC has very similar effects as THC. It produces feelings of euphoria and stimulation, altered visual and auditory perception, changes in heart rate and body temperature, and altered headspace and cognition.

Many users report the effects of HHC are similar to that of delta 8 THC in terms of being more heavily weighted towards relaxation than stimulation. HHC is more potent than delta 8 but slightly less potent than delta 9 THC.

HHC is still very new, so there aren’t many studies available to evaluate its potential therapeutic effects — but so far, it seems this cannabinoid offers most of the same therapeutic effect profile as other forms of THC. There’s even been some animal testing that showed beta-HHC possesses notable painkilling effects when tested on rats.

The potential benefits of HHC include:

  • May help manage chronic pain
  • May reduce inflammation
  • May promote deeper, more restorative sleep
  • May alleviate nausea or vomiting
  • May alleviate anxiety (may also increase anxiousness)

The real benefit of these cannabinoids comes from its impressive shelf-life, more so than its physical effects. It offers very similar benefits to THC but comes in a much more stable form. For the best HHC and most exclusive formulations, check out D8 THC Shop for premium products, including Delta 8, legal Delta 9, and THC-O

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