What is HHC? The Science of Hemp-Derived Cannabinoids – Hempire Gardens

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What is HHC? The Science of Hemp-Derived Cannabinoids

What is HHC? Hexahydrocannabinol, or HHC for short, is a term used to describe cannabinoids extracted from hemp plants or historically from cannabis-derived THC.

While there are many cannabinoids present in both hemp and cannabis, scientists have found more than 100 types, HHC is unique, but overall, it isn't a new cannabinoid.

In this blog post, we'll explore what HHC is, its benefits, the legality of this cannabinoid, and some of the critical differences between HHC and other cannabinoids.


What Is HHC?

What is HHC? Hexahydrocannabinol, or HHC for short, is a term used to describe cannabinoids that are extracted from hemp plants or historically from cannabis-derived THC. While this cannabinoid is like Cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the two most well-known cannabinoids, it's essential to understand the critical differences between HHC and other cannabinoids.

It may seem like HHC is a relatively new product, but that isn't the case; unlike the natural varieties of cannabinoids like THC or CBD, HHC is semi-synthetic. While the cannabis craze seems to be producing new products every day, like CBD-infused gummies or topicals, HHC has been around for a while. 

It was first synthesized in the 1940s. An American chemist named Roger Adams, who also isolated CBD in 1940, synthesized the compound by adding two hydrogen molecules to THC in a process called Hydrogenation.

At the time, he created this semi-synthetic compound from THC sources. Still, according to Roger Brown, the President, and CEO of ACS Laboratory in Florida, HHC can also be derived from hemp-derived delta-8. Many scientists claim that, like CBD, HHC exists naturally in cannabis in trace amounts, but peer-reviewed research has shown that it rarely comprises more than 1% of the cannabinoids. So, all HHC on the market must be derived through hydrogenation or another synthetic process.


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What Are The Potential Benefits of HHC?

Now that we understand what HHC is and where it comes from, let's explore some potential benefits this cannabinoid might offer. While HHC is similar to other cannabinoids in structure, it has some unique properties that may provide various possible uses. Unfortunately, there is limited data available on HHC's long-term effects, positive or negative, compared to other cannabinoids.

The effects of HHC vary due to the manufacturing process of creating this molecule. In practice, when HHC is made, the concentrated product is a blend of two molecules:

  • 9R HHC - this is the active molecule and what binds to the endocannabinoid receptors in the Endocannabinoid system.
  • 9S HHC - is a partially active molecule with a structure that doesn't bind well to the ECS.


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Due to the randomized nature of HHC products and the concentration of 9R HHC and 9S HHC, it's difficult to pinpoint how beneficial the cannabinoid may or may not be. Anecdotally, some people report that HHC provides similar benefits to CBD and THC cannabinoids; however, there is little scientific evidence to support these claims.

So, while HHC might offer some potential benefits, more research is needed to understand the long-term effects; however, we can reasonably suspect that HHC has similar benefits to other forms of THC. It's reasonable to infer that HHC is similar because:

  • Structural similarities between the molecules indicate they may behave in the same manner in the ECS
  • Because of the similar structure, HHC would have the same capacity for the same receptors in the human body

Ideally, HHC would produce the same type of high as THC; however, because it's a semi-synthetic cannabinoid, HHC is not as potent as THC. Recent studies have revealed that HHC is about 80% as potent as THC, but saturating the compound with hydrogen molecules, which happens during Hydrogenation, doesn't seem to change the profile much.


Potential Benefits of HHC Include:

  • HHC May Help Regulate Chronic Pain
  • HHC May Reduce Inflammation
  • HHC May Promote a deeper sleep
  • HHC May help with nausea or vomiting
  • HHC May alleviate anxiety

What Are the Potential Side Effects of HHC?

First and foremost, research is still underway on HHC, so we do not know everything about this cannabinoid yet. Like all cannabinoids, there is a possibility of adverse effects when using the drug.

Are you worried about the potential side effects of this product slowly gaining market power; you're not alone. Like all cannabinoids, HHC does have the potential to produce some adverse effects; however, most of these are mild and temporary. The most commonly reported side effects of HHC include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Anxiety or paranoia
  • Higher risk of injury in older adults
  • Drowsiness or sleepiness
  • Decreased blood pressure or dizziness upon standing up can cause people to faint
  • Lowering your baby's birth weight if used during pregnancy
  • Raising mental illness risk in some people

Creating HHC isn't always safe; the catalysts used to create HHC are "pyrophoric," so they can ignite under the right conditions. In addition, the process is dangerous for someone who doesn't know what they are doing or doesn't have the right equipment. Either way, more research needs to be conducted to make informed decisions.

What Are the Effects of HHC?

In general, we cannot stress enough that we do not know everything about HHC cannabinoids yet; however, we can reasonably assume that the effects of HHC are similar to THC and delta-8. HHC is more potent than delta-8 but less potent than delta-9 THC. Users mention feeling robust instances of:

  • Euphoria and stimulation
  • Altered visual and auditory perception
  • Altered headspace and cognition

When tested on rats, HHC possessed painkilling effects and offered a similar therapeutic profile to patients as other forms of cannabis. Generally, people take HHC to get the cannabis 'high' without the potent kick that comes with it.

Product Safety: How HHC Compares To Other Cannabinoids

Regarding safety, we cannot speak to the efficacy of cannabinoids as we're not medical professionals. Still, we can tell you that HHC is relatively safe, considering the lack of research. However, HHC isn't as popular as the cannabinoids, and more naturally-occurring cannabinoids seem to be the safest option.

The safety aspect has to do with the manufacturing process. HHC hasn't reported any severe side effects, but using harsh chemicals during manufacturing could leach into the product. Look for a third-party lab that measures heavy metals and chemical solvents to stay safe.

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As you can see, HHC's most significant benefit is its extended shelf-life, which is thought to be due to the extra hydrogen added to the molecular structure. The extended shelf-life makes this product great for preparedness kits and stashes.

Is HHC Legal?

The legal status of cannabinoids can be confusing, and HHC is no different; whether the ambiguity is on purpose or not remains to be seen. Cannabinoids are federally illegal in the United States, but some states have passed laws concerning cannabinoids.

The 2018 Farm Bill legalized the use of the cannabis plant that contains 0.3% THC, which is also known as hemp. So, technically, HHC is not THC, even though it can be derived from THC. Nevertheless, the bill determines that hemp is a legally established material. Therefore, businesses can legally sell any by-products made from it if they are 0.2 % or less of delta 9.


The Future of HHC cannabinoids

HHC cannabinoids are still in their infancy; we have not seen the full potential that this cannabinoid has to offer. With more research, we will be able to unlock the mysteries of HHC and learn more about the effects and benefits of the product.

For now, we advise that you remain vigilant when consuming HHC and only buy from reputable sources.

Vaping cartridges are also a popular option but come second to Gummies. HHC cannabinoids are a new and exciting way to consume cannabis without the potent 'high' that comes with other cannabinoids. Determining if HHC is better than other cannabis alternatives come from personal preference. Depending on what you're looking for, there's a cannabinoid that can serve your needs.

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