Since Delta-8 THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) remains stuck in the legal gray area, manufacturers and consumers seek alternative ways to reap the potential therapeutic benefits offered by cannabinoids. One of the most promising candidates is hexahydrocannabinol—better known as HHC.
Before checking out the various HHC products available in the market, let’s go through the essential points you need to understand about this minor cannabinoid. How is HHC produced? What makes it a viable substitute for conventional THC and CBD? Is HHC safe and legal to consume?
We will answer these questions and more in this article so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not HHC is worth a try.
What is HHC?
Hexahydrocannabinol is one of the hundreds of compounds derived from the cannabis plant. However, unlike delta-9 THC and CBD, it naturally occurs in trace amounts only, so other processes must be performed to obtain enough potent HHC extract.
An American chemist, Roger Adams, first created it in the 1940s after saturating Delta-9 THC with hydrogen molecules. The procedure also involved using high pressure and palladium as a catalyst. If the details sound intimidating to you, know that adding hydrogen to base compounds has long been practiced in the food industry—for example, converting vegetable oil to margarine.
The hydrogenation of THC broke down its chemical structure, thus allowing the hydrogen molecules to bond. This resulted in a more stable form and enhanced the cannabinoid’s affinity to bind with the ECS (endocannabinoid system) receptors.
Note that, unlike its origin, the HHC products you can find in the market nowadays are typically made from hemp to comply with federal regulations.
How Does HHC Affect the Body and Mind?
Since HHC’s popularity is still on the rise, it has not yet gained much attention from the scientific community. Existing studies on HHC are limited in their scope—for example, the 2007 study conducted by Japanese researchers highlighted the high potential of HHC in blocking pain among mice.
Most information about its potential therapeutic benefits comes from anecdotal accounts from people who have tried this minor cannabinoid. They describe the experience as somewhere between Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC.
However, based on personal experience, it’s closer to Delta-8 because it produces a “cerebral” high rather than the euphoric state that Delta-9 typically induces. We could concentrate better on our tasks because the buzz felt pleasant, and the descent was mellow rather than sharp.
In terms of therapeutic benefits, HHC users have reported the following positive effects on their lifestyle:
- Reduces inflammations in different parts of the body
- Helps in managing chronic pain
- Lowers stress and anxiety levels
- Provides relief from nausea and vomiting
- Regulates a healthy sleep-wake cycle
Again, these potential health and wellness effects come from the subjective experiences of cannabis users. We still need scientific studies to verify these claims and understand better the impacts of HHC on our health. Therefore, we recommend erring on the side of caution by being extra careful in selecting which brands to trust and starting with a low HHC dosage at first.
Does HHC Have Any Adverse Side Effects?
Yes, especially if you take a high dose of HHC.
Like Delta-8 or Delta-9 THC, the probable adverse side effects of HHC include:
- Elevated anxiety
- Dry mouth
- Red eyes
- Inability to fall or stay asleep
- Increased appetite
- Increased heart rate
To minimize the risk of these side effects, you should practice moderation while figuring out the optimal dosage. The thing is, you cannot simply assume that it will be the same as your threshold for Delta-8 or Delta-9 THC.
Most HHC products consist of high-potent and low-potent HHC extracts. The manufacturing process performed today does not include separating the two, so most brands aim to minimize the latter’s presence rather than eliminate them. As such, you cannot expect a 25-mg HHC gummy to have consistent effects as a 25-mg Delta-8 gummy.
The recommended starting point, especially if you have not yet tried any THC products before, is a micro-dose of either 1 to 2 grams at first. If you don’t experience its intended effects, you can work your way up until you have reached your ideal dosage.
Is HHC Better Than THC?
There is no definitive answer because each cannabinoid has its perks and downsides. Let’s go over the known pros and cons of HHC versus the more popular forms of THC to guide you in choosing between the two.
|HHC||– Has a longer shelf life because it can last longer even when exposed to heat or light|
– May produce similar therapeutic effects as the other cannabinoids
– Does not bear the negative connotations associated with “THC”
|– Minimal studies on its therapeutic benefits and safety for human consumption|
– Tends to be more expensive because of the costly manufacturing process
– Limited HHC product selections
|Delta-9 THC||– Considered the most potent of the three choices|
– Relatively cheaper than HHC and other on-the-rise minor cannabinoids
– A wide array of product selections from trusted brands
|– Highly restricted and regulated on the federal and state levels|
– Greater risk of suffering from its known adverse side effects, such as paranoia, dry mouth, or reddened eyes
– Detectable by most drug tests
|Delta-8 THC||– May produce a functional “high” among other therapeutic benefits|
– Lower risk of suffering from the harmful side effects of THC consumption
– Available in various forms and dosages
|– Has been banned recently by more than 20 states|
– Fewer objective studies and clinical trials compared to Delta-9
– Not as affordable as Delta-9 products
Is HHC Better Than CBD?
That mostly depends on whether or not you want to experience the “buzz” or “high” associated with THC.
While HHC is not as potent as THC, it is considered psychoactive based on the experiences of its users. On the other hand, pure CBD provides therapeutic benefits without causing any mind-altering effects.
Personally, we like to mix and match our cannabinoids according to our mood and the kind of day we are having. If we want to feel energetic and focused, we prefer taking either Delta-8 or HHC products. For a quick hit, we would go for vapes, but we suggest consuming edibles instead for a long-lasting effect.
However, if we want to unwind and get ready for bed, we observe that CBD works better in relaxing our body and mind, so we would either enjoy a cup of CBD-infused tea or chew a CBD gummy an hour before bedtime.
Will HHC Show Up in a Drug Test?
While HHC has a different molecular structure and does not break down into 11-hydroxy-THC—which can be detected by many drug tests—we don’t recommend risking an opportunity or your career by taking HHC when you will undergo drug testing soon. Moreover, there is insufficient research data to prove that traces of HHC will not be found in your hair strand, blood, or urine is examined.
Is It Legal to Buy or Use HHC?
According to the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp and its derivatives are considered legal at the federal level, provided that they do not contain more than 0.3% THC. Therefore, in the most basic sense, the production and consumption of HHC are legal, except in states that might ban it, like in the case of Delta-8.
Some experts argue that HHC products don’t feature natural extracts because the hydrogenation process turns HHC into a synthetic substance. Therefore, they believe it should be considered illegal under the Federal Analog Act.
Currently, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has yet to step in regarding this matter, so at the federal level, HHC continues to be legal. On the other hand, most but not all states do not have any laws related to HHC mainly. Therefore, you can still purchase, possess, and use HHC without getting into legal trouble.
Remember that state laws on cannabis products change frequently, so be sure to check for updates before placing your order.
What Types of HHC Products Should You Try?
Since HHC has not yet gained mainstream popularity, only a handful of brands offer products that feature this minor cannabinoid. In terms of product categories, most of what you can find today are either HHC gummies or vape cartridges. There are also the occasional HHC tinctures and capsules, like the ones offered by Binoid.
Since HHC does not naturally occur in large quantities, some wellness companies combine this cannabinoid with CBD, Delta-8, or Delta-9 THC to widen its availability. Various terpenes are also added to activate the entourage effect, thus creating high-potency HHC products.
If you have not yet tried THC products before, we suggest going for HHC tinctures because you will have better control over the dosage. Most tinctures come with droppers that allow micro-doses to be administered with minimal effort.
However, if you need a quick hit, HHC vape cartridges are the better choice. They come in different flavors and strengths, so it can be fun to explore, albeit a little risky given the known side effects of vaping.
Our team enjoys HHC gummies more than any other product category. Aside from being nice little treats that we can just pop in our mouths any time, cannabinoid-infused gummies tend to have pleasant effects that can last several hours.
The Bottom Line
HHC stands as a promising alternative to CBD and conventional THC. It offers similar therapeutic effects on the body and mind, without the headaches caused by the debates on its legality.
However, we want to remind everyone that HHC has not been studied extensively. The anecdotes from actual HHC users might be enough to push you to try it now, but know that you will be putting yourself at risk of its unknown long-term effects on your health.
Moreover, as its market share grows, HHC might suffer the same fate as Delta-8. It’s no wonder that a growing number of people are grabbing the opportunity to try HHC now rather than wait for it to become more mainstream.
In the end, we leave it up to you to decide whether the pros and cons of taking HHC are worth the extra buck. Our team has always been open to trying these minor cannabinoids so that we can provide honest recommendations for our avid readers.