Following the wild success of Delta 8 THC as a legal alternative to the more controlled availability of Delta 9 THC, the cannabis industry has sought other less-known cannabinoids to compete in the diverse cannabis marketplace. One of the newest and most promising is hexahydrocannabinol, usually shortened to HHC.
Let’s dive into the full spectrum of what HHC is and everything you need to know about this non-THC cannabinoid…
A Brief History of Hexahydrocannabinol
HHC was discovered in the 1940s by chemist Roger Adams. He created HHC by adding hydrogen to the THC molecule and altering its physical properties. The process, called hydrogenation, is first described in a 1947 patent document. The hydrogenation process modifies the structure of Delta 9 THC by replacing a double bond with two hydrogen atoms, which changes its molecular weight and also makes it more stable. (It’s a lot of science terminology but the pharmacokinetics of cannabinoids is important to understand, especially when HHC is not THC, yet offers like-minded effects.)
According to Mark Scialdone, a chemist and BR Brands Chief Science Officer, hydrogenation improves “stability and resistance to thermo-oxidative breakdown”—which means HHC has a longer shelf life and is less prone to damage caused by UV light and heat. So your stash stays fresher longer when you shop HHC.
How is HHC Made?
Here’s even more science for ya:
Given HHC is a semi-synthetic compound, it’s produced in a lab. Molecules of low -THC cannabis are isolated to give specific cannabinoids with the potential to compete with their family tree. HHC is produced when a specific amount of hydrogen is administered to a cannabis compound altering its chemical structure.
After that, a metal catalyst is added to induce a reaction with the compound. This catalyst heightens the overall reaction without damaging the product. The overall chemical reaction produces HHC which wouldn’t otherwise occur in nature.
The catalysts usually used for the production of HHC include platinum, palladium, and nickel. These metal catalysts are removed once the reaction is complete. And once the smoke clears, we are granted the magical hexahydrocannabinol!
Does It Hit like THC?
This is kind of tricky. Although HHC isn’t technically a THC, it does produce similar effects—if you use enough of it. When it’s produced in the lab, an HHC batch is a mix of active and inactive HHC molecules. The active HHC binds well with your body’s cannabinoid receptors; the others don’t.
There is a lack of consensus around HHC’s potency. The complication arises, in part, from the fact that when the cannabinoid is manufactured, the end result is a mixture of two different kinds of HHC molecules: 9R HHC actively binds to the body’s natural endocannabinoid receptors, while 9S HHC, because of its slightly different molecular structure, doesn’t do so nearly as well.
The one that fits into the receptors produces similar effects as Delta 8 THC, but takes a much higher amount to do so. With a sufficient dose, THC-like effects can be observed. In other words, HHC can have THC-like effects on the body and mind, but HHC is less potent, milligram-per-milligram, than Delta-8 THC. Delta-8 THC is itself generally regarded as about half as potent as the standard delta-9 THC.
What Does an HHC High Feel Like?
HHC causes a high similar to THC and Delta-8. This is due to the fact that all three cannabinoids have five-carbon side chains meaning that they attach efficiently to your cannabinoid receptors. A majority of users have claimed that it causes a gradual increase in mood, altered headspace and cognition, and increased activity compared to other products.
Some HHC users have claimed that HHC gives a pleasant and average cerebral high. There are also claims of HHC serving as pain relief. Some claim they feel sharp, energetic, and strong after using HHC. The only way for you to know the effects is to try it yourself and share your experience!
Will HHC Show Up in a Drug Test?
It’s the million dollar question: does HHC show up on a drug test? It appears that HHC may not break down in the body in the same way as THC. Unlike the Delta 8, Delta 9, and Delta 10 forms of THC, there is some evidence that HHC doesn’t metabolize into 11-hydroxy-THC, which is the breakdown substance many drug panels test for.
But that hasn’t been studied and isn’t certain. So far, no one knows for sure that HHC won’t leave evidence of use in your blood, urine, or hair. If your employer tests for drug use, we suggest you not risk your job by using HHC.
Does It Have Medical Benefits?
HHC hasn’t been widely studied, unlike more abundant cannabinoids like Delta 9 THC or CBD, but there has been some promising research. A 2011 study showed that some synthetic analogs of hexahydrocannabinol (HHC) “strongly inhibited breast cancer cell-induced angiogenesis and tumor growth.” Japanese researchers published a paper in 2007 describing HHC’s impressive pain-blocking capability in mice. But it is probably too early to say whether HHC has great promise as a therapeutic drug.
Let’s get technical for a minute here one last time.
Cannabinoids in their natural state attach to cannabinoid receptors in the body. This allows a chemical reaction to take place, triggering regulatory actions that balance the functions of our bodily systems.
However, the body doesn’t fully absorb these substances, which means you don’t get the full effect, even in high doses. On the other hand, HHC has the potential to make cannabinoids more bioavailable. In other words, the cannabinoids better absorb into the bloodstream, and therefore, they are more likely to produce a powerful effect.
HHC can provide a higher bioavailability because the process of forming the compound makes it more resilient to heat and light, which causes cannabinoids to degrade. So, in layman’s terms, you’ll get way more out of HHC than THC, and it all depends on how your body reacts and metabolizes the cannabinoid.
Just like with trends, the only way to know for yourself is to try it out.
As of now, the availability of HHC is limited. The only real HHC products on the market are in the form of vape cartridges. However, we predict HHC will become more available in the future given the fact that manufacturers can apply the hydrogenation process to any existing cannabinoid-based product on the hemp market. This is how D8 THC Shop became the first to launch our own HHC syrup, following in the footsteps of our most popular Delta 8 syrup!
Liven things up with a little non-THC and fly on the perfect high with legal, hemp-derived cannabinoids!