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"Comparing THC and HHC: Understanding the Differences and Similarities"


HHC
Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC)

What Exactly is HHC?


Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC) stands as a naturally occurring phytocannabinoid within the cannabis plant, constituting a minor cannabinoid. It emerges as a hydrogenated derivative of delta-8 and delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).


Though found naturally in Cannabis sativa in small proportions, HHC can be synthetically produced via hydrogenation—where molecular hydrogen is added to cannabis extracts. This process was first employed in 1944 by chemist Roger Adams, who hydrogenated the compound delta-9 THC. Additionally, HHC can be derived from cannabidiol (CBD).


While research and data on HHC remain limited, anecdotal evidence suggests its euphoric effects akin to THC, indicating its psychoactive nature. Its resemblance to THC also hints at potential anti-inflammatory, anti-emetic, and appetite-stimulating properties, offering promise in managing conditions such as chronic pain, insomnia, and chemotherapy side effects.


The Science Behind HHC:


HHC, akin to cannabinol (CBN), emerges as a degradation byproduct of THC within cannabis. It can also be generated through the hydrogenation of cannabis extracts, where two hydrogen atoms (H2) are added to THC. While the molecular formula for HHC is C21H32O2, THC's formula is C21H30O2. Unlike delta-8 and delta-9 THC, HHC lacks double bonds in the cyclohexyl ring. Structurally, HHC bears resemblance to the novel cannabis constituent cannabiripsol.


Mechanism of Action:


HHC binds to cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) but with weaker affinity compared to THC, resulting in intoxicating and psychoactive effects, albeit to a lesser extent.

The addition of hydrogen molecules to delta-9 THC reduces HHC's binding capacity to CB1 and CB2 receptors within the body's endocannabinoid system and specific pain receptors, contributing to its altered potency. Moreover, this hydrogenated form enhances the compound's stability, prolonging its shelf life and maintaining potency over an extended period. HHC also exhibits greater resistance to improper storage conditions, UV light, or heat.


HHC vape cartridge
Benefits of HHC vape cartridges

Applications:


HHC purportedly induces a high akin to delta-9 THC while also possessing sedating and relaxing properties similar to other compounds like delta-8 THC. Users report experiencing euphoria, altered sensory perception, changes in cognition, heart rate, and body temperature. However, due to its novelty, research on HHC's effects and therapeutic potential remains scarce.


Potential Advantages:


Given its structural resemblance to THC, HHC may harbor anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, and anti-emetic properties. Its stability as a compound, coupled with prolonged shelf life and consistent potency, presents a notable advantage. HHC could potentially aid in managing various conditions including chronic pain, anxiety, depression, insomnia, inflammation, and nausea, as well as symptoms associated with chemotherapy and multiple sclerosis.


Risks and Limitations:


Despite its therapeutic potential, HHC shares adverse effects with THC, albeit to a lesser extent. These may include dizziness, dry mouth, red eyes, memory loss, anxiety, increased heart rate, coordination problems, and slower reaction times. However, synthetically-produced HHC may carry more severe side effects due to the use of harsh chemicals during industrial processes, potentially leading to higher concentrations of HHC and exacerbating adverse reactions.


Strains Rich in HHC:


Identifying cannabis strains high in HHC specifically can prove challenging. However, cultivars abundant in THC may also contain elevated levels of HHC, as THC naturally degrades into HHC over time. Some THC-rich cultivars include Bruce Banner, Kush Mints, Strawberry Cough, White Rhino, and Gorilla Glue #4.


Delta-9 THC cartridge and gummies

Understanding THC:


THC, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, serves as a principal cannabinoid within cannabis, responsible for its psychoactive effects when consumed. As a phytocannabinoid, delta-9 THC naturally occurs in the cannabis plant.


Mechanism of Action:


THC binds to the body's cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) in the nervous system and brain, inducing a high that typically lasts a few hours. It stimulates dopamine release, leading to euphoric sensations and potential effects such as relaxation, heightened sensory perception, altered time perception, and increased appetite.


Applications:


THC finds application in both recreational and medicinal contexts. Historically, marijuana has been utilized to alleviate various symptoms, either by inhalation, oral ingestion, topical application, or sublingual administration. Medicinally, THC may aid in managing conditions like depression, anxiety, inflammation, insomnia, migraines, nausea, pain, seizures, and symptoms associated with multiple sclerosis and PTSD. The FDA has even approved synthetic THC medications for specific uses, such as dronabinol for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, weight loss, and appetite stimulation in HIV/AIDS patients.


Risks and Limitations:


While THC offers pleasurable effects, it also carries potential adverse effects such as anxiety, paranoia, coughing, chest discomfort, fainting, cold sweats, and hallucinations. Long-term use, especially among adolescents, may lead to learning impairment and memory deficits. Additionally, marijuana remains illegal under federal law, necessitating legalization at the state level for its use.


Comparing HHC and THC:


Both HHC and THC induce euphoria and altered perception, albeit through different chemical pathways. While they share similarities in effects, their structural variances influence potency, binding affinity, and potential therapeutic applications.


Choosing Between HHC and THC:


The decision to use either HHC or THC should be approached cautiously, especially given the limited research on HHC's effects and safety. Synthetic HHC products, in particular, lack regulation and may pose unknown risks. THC, available both recreationally and medicinally, offers a more established understanding of its effects and applications, making it a safer choice for many users.


In summary, while HHC shows promise, its novelty and lack of research warrant caution. Conversely, THC, with its well-documented effects and applications, remains a viable option for those seeking therapeutic or recreational benefits from cannabinoids.

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