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Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC) is a naturally occurring phytocannabinoid found in the cannabis plant and is considered a minor cannabinoid. HHC is a hydrogenated derivative of both delta-8 and delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Although it is naturally found in Cannabis sativa in small amounts, it can be produced synthetically by hydrogenation (the addition of molecular hydrogen to a double bond) of cannabis extracts. HHC can also be made from cannabidiol (CBD).
Although there is not a lot of research or data on HHC, people have reported that it has euphoric effects similar to THC, making it a psychoactive cannabinoid. Due to its similarity to THC, HHC may have anti-inflammatory, anti-emetic (anti-nausea and vomiting), and appetite-stimulating properties, making it potentially very useful for managing chronic pain, insomnia, and the side effects of chemotherapy.
What Is Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC)?
HHC is a cannabinoid in cannabis that, like cannabinol (CBN), is a degradation byproduct of THC. HHC can also be produced by hydrogenation of cannabis extracts, meaning that two hydrogen atoms (H2) are added to THC. The molecular formula for HHC is C21H32O2, whereas THC’s molecular formula is C21H30O2. Unlike delta-8 and delta-9 THC, HHC has no double bonds in the cyclohexyl ring. HHC is also structurally similar to the novel cannabis constituent cannabiripsol.
Hexahydrocannabinol should not be confused with the related compounds 9-Nor-9β-hydroxy-hexahydro cannabinol (9-Nor-9Beta-HHC), 9-Hydroxyhexahydrocannabinol (9-OH-HHC), or 11-Hydroxyhexahydrocannabinol (11-OH-HHC and 7-OH-HHC).
How Hexahydrocannabinol Works
HHC binds to cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) but with weaker affinity than THC and produces intoxicating and psychoactive effects but much less than THC.
Two enantiomers (pairs of compounds with precisely the same connectivity but opposite three-dimensional shapes) of HHC: 9α-HHC and 9β-HHC. The 9β-HHC enantiomer is much more active and could bind to CB1 receptors more readily than 9α-HHC.
Another related cannabinoid, HHC acetate (HHC-O), is up to 1.5 times more potent than HHC.
Potential Health Benefits and Uses
As HHC is structurally similar to THC, it could have anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, and anti-emetic effects. This means that HHC could be helpful for managing:
- Chronic pain, including neuropathic pain
- Appetite loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Spasms associated with conditions like multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Cancer and the side effects of chemotherapy
Potential Risks and Side Effects
As HHC is an intoxicating compound, it can have some adverse effects similar to THC. This includes dizziness, dry mouth, red eyes, memory loss, anxiety, increased heart rate, coordination problems, and slower reaction times. However, as HHC is less potent than THC, these side effects may not be as prominent.
Synthetically-produced HHC, however, may have more severe side effects. This is because industrial processes often utilize harsh chemicals that can find their way into the final product. Synthetically-produced HHC products are also likely to contain higher concentrations of HHC compared to natural cannabis, so higher doses may produce more severe adverse side effects. Lab-produced HHC could be said to be quite different from plant-produced HHC.
Strains High in HHC
HHC is a minor cannabinoid that is rarely found in the cannabis plant. It can be tough to find cannabis strains (cultivars) high in HHC specifically. However, cannabis cultivars high in THC may also contain more HHC as the cannabis ages and THC degrades in to HHC.
Some cultivars high in THC include:
- Bruce Banner
- Kush Mints
- Strawberry Cough
- White Rhino
- Gorilla Glue #4
Frequently Asked Questions
How potent is HHC?
HHC binds to CB1 receptors but not to the same degree as THC, meaning it is less potent than THC. Reports from users generally describe the HHC high as being somewhere between delta 8 and delta 9 THC, and some HHC products may be more intoxicating than others.
What does HHC do to you?
Most of what we know about HHC’s effects is anecdotal. Users report the same set of side effects familiar to delta 9 THC users, both positive and negative: euphoria, relaxation, reduced stress, pain reduction, and improved appetite; or anxiety and paranoia, dry mouth, dry and red eyes, hunger and insomnia.