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  • by Nicola Boulton September 07, 2022 5 min read

    What Is HHC? What You Need to Know About Hexahydrocannabinol

    What exactly is HHC? Is HHC synthetic or natural? Does HHC cause high? What are ways to use HHC? What are the benefits of HHC? And what are the dangers of HHC? The article explains more about tetrahydrocannabinol by providing information on the above questions.

    As time passes, more research is being done on cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. THC and famous CBD are not the only big names in the cannabis community since more compounds are extracted, tested, and verified. HHC refers to the scientist as hexahydrocannabinol, one of the 400 cannabinoids under research. It has found its way into people's lives since proven to be effective in tackling some chronic conditions. While most cannabis clinical trials are centered on CBD and THC, HHC is not gaining major popularity in the wellness market. This is because very few people know and understand it stands in the health field and how it interacts with the human body.

    What is HHC?

    It is a chemical compound naturally existing in small traces in the Cannabis Sativa plant. Its molecular structure is similar to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is largely associated with highness in marijuana users. According to Ho et al. (2021), HHC poses similar traits to delta-9 THC, such as psychoactive effects that induce feelings of confusion, euphoria, and perception change, as well as potential benefits like relieving pain and anti-inflammatory characteristics.

    Is HHC Synthetic or Natural?

    Depending on the source and the creation process, HHC can be considered a natural and semi-synthetic compound. Nike et al. (1977) explained that since HHC exists in small quantities, it is difficult to extract it from the plant by removing other 100s of cannabinoids. Furthermore, the chemical structure of HHC is largely similar to THC molecules like delta-8, 9, and 10, so separating the compounds during extraction is hard.

    The tiny traces of HHC alongside delta-10 and delta-8 appear when the cannabis plant grows old, and THC is oxidized into CBN. Therefore, during the manufacturing of HHC, producers hydrogenate THC to develop HHC products. The process is simple; THC is chemically converted into hydrogen atoms, exposed to a metal catalyst such as Zinc or Nickel, then converted to your desired compound. Thus HHC is neither natural nor synthetic, but it refers to by scientists as semi-synthetic cannabinoids.

    Does HHC Cause a Psychoactive Effect?

    Since it is chemically derived from THC, it is also a psychoactive compound. It causes a high similar to delta-9 but with relaxing and calming qualities of delta -10. Highness in these compounds is caused by several carbons in their side chains which help them bind with body receptors to induce a sensation of highness. It is important to moderate the doses of HHC to avoid noticeable side effects such as visual problems, euphoria, and impaired cognition. Like THC, high compound doses can result in various health benefits.

    What Are Ways to Use HHC?

    You can consume HHC by ingesting it in the form of gummies, inhaling it, or sublingually with oils. Each method has its bioavailability level, how much the system absorbs HHC, and how long it will take for the compound effects to kick in.

    • Ingestion- HHC is available in dispensaries and authorized cannabis stores in the form of edibles, capsules, and gummies. You can also add the HHC oil to your food recipe, whereby it is drizzled in a completer dish. The method involves taking the compound orally into the digestive tract and then to the liver for metabolism. It takes around 2 to 2 hours for effects to kick in.
    • Sublingually- the compound is also available in oils and tinctures. The hydrogenated THC is diluted with carrier oils like MCT to form HHC oil. A few drops of the oil are placed under the tongue using a dropper; holding the liquid for 60 seconds allows the compound to diffuse through the mouth membranes into the bloodstream. Within 5 minutes, you start feeling the relaxing effects.
    • Inhaling- using vape pens and pods, HHC oil is heated to vape and inhaled through the mouth to the lungs. The lungs' capillaries absorb the molecules into the bloodstream, and since the compound is finalized, it can interact with body receptors faster, and effects kick in less than 2 minutes.

    What are the Benefits of HHC?

    There is little research done on how the compound reacts with body systems. Though, clinical trials and studies on animal tests have subjected that it is useful on several occasions. Upon consumption, HHC interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system (ECS) like other plant cannabinoids. ECS is responsible for maintaining body balance by eradicating imbalances such as pain, inflammation, sleep problem, anxiety, and stress. The system contains several cannabinoid receptors (CB1 &CB2) in the body. Pratt et al. (2019) stated that, unlike CBD, HHC binds with the receptors and is transmitted in the form of electrical impulses to the desired area to bring the following benefits;

    Elevating Mood and Calm for Good Sleep

    Most people use cannabis compounds to help them restore their mood after a stressful day to achieve a good and deep sleep. HHC is not exceptional, and it activates CB1 receptors in the central nervous system, which alters brain senses and thoughts and provides a sense of relaxation and calmness for good sleep.

    Pain Relief

    Clinical studies done on a rat with HHC have proven to contain analgesic effects. Sometimes, Doctors claim that high doses of the compound alleviate pain better and faster than delta-8, 9, and 10. HHC is inefficient as CBD, which does not cause psychoactive effects but can bind with CB2 receptors to reduce the occurrence of inflammations that causes cell damage.

    Reducing Anxiety and Depression

    CBD reduces these disorders by increasing the production of serotonin hormone and reducing the release of cytokines. HHC binds with brain receptors resulting in neurons increasing the production of stress and nervous thought, making you feel like you are floating in friendly memories.

    It Stimulates Appetite

    Like delta-8, it stimulates appetite double the way other cannabinoids do. It makes you feel high cravings for food hence useful in cancer treatment to bypass the loss of appetite caused by medicinal treatments.

    What Are the Dangers of HHC?

    Nguyen et al. (2019) highlighted that even though little research has been done on the compound, scientists are aware of potential side effects associated with taking the intoxicating cannabinoids. They include;

    • During pregnancy, it can lower a baby's birth weight.
    • Drowsiness can raise the risk of car accidents
    • Dependency and addiction if used frequently
    • Causing hypotension
    • Dizziness and diarrhea


    The 2018 farm bill allows cannabinoids derived from the hemp plant to contain less than 0.3% of THC. Therefore HHC products are legal in federal law, which has increased the use and awareness of the compound in causing highness associated with THC. Even though it is not popular as delta-9, it has found its way into people's lifestyles as semi-synthetic THC. It is believed to help in tackling sleep issues, pain, anxiety, stress, and stimulating appetite. However, it is important to consult your doctor before joining the HHC regime since it may cause undesired side effects like dizziness and hypotension.


    Dike, S. Y., Kamath, M., & Merchant, J. R. (1977). A New One-Step Synthesis Of Hexahydrocannabinoid Analogs. Experientia, 33(8), 985-985.

    Ho, T. C., Tius, M. A., Nikas, S. P., Tran, N. K., Tong, F., Zhou, H., ... & Makriyannis, A. (2021). Oxa-Adamantyl Cannabinoids. Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters, 38, 127882.

    Nguyen, T., Thomas, B. F., & Zhang, Y. (2019). Overcoming The Psychiatric Side Effects Of The Cannabinoid CB1 Receptor Antagonists: Current Approaches For Therapeutics Development. Current Topics In Medicinal Chemistry, 19(16), 1418-1435.

    Pratt, M., Stevens, A., Thuku, M., Butler, C., Skidmore, B., Wieland, L. S., ... & Hutton, B. (2019). Benefits And Harms Of Medical Cannabis: A Scoping Review Of Systematic Reviews. Systematic Reviews, 8(1), 1-35.

    Nicola Boulton
    Nicola Boulton

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