Delta THC | Other Cannabinoids | Science

HHC VS THC: Effects, Risks and More Compared

Dr Abraham Benavides

MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY

Dr Abraham Benavides

Medical Doctor

So, you’ve already heard of HHC and are eager to learn more about it?

After all, it’s one of the rising stars in the ever-growing cannabinoid family.

Join us below for the ultimate HHC VS THC comparison.

thc vs hhc
HHC & THC Vape

HHC Is Not THC 

To start with, Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC) is not a form of THC, though it shares certain similarities with the good ol’ Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol.

Indeed, the molecular structure of HHC is similar to THC. Both of these compounds have five carbon atoms and share similar effects.

Yet, there are also notable differences. For example, HHC differs significantly from other isomers of THC, such as Delta 8 THC.

Above all, 

  • THC is a phytocannabinoid that occurs naturally in cannabis plants 
  • HHC is a semi-synthetic cannabinoid 

Now, prepare to get mind-blown. There are at least 10 types of HHC!  In fact, there may be even more.

The thing is, science has revealed about 10 types of HHC so far. Some of these are naturally occurring, though rarely and in minor amounts.

Currently, the most common types of HHC are lab-made.

But since HHC is mostly lab-made, why do we call it semi-synthetic?

HHC can be created from other cannabinoids, like CBD. This means that HHC is not 100% lab-made, which is the case with other synthetic cannabinoids.

The process of converting Cannabidiol into HHC includes boiling CBD in an acid.

Next, experts use ethanol or methanol to complete the reaction. Then, they can proceed with extracting the HHC.

In 2007, Hokuriku University’s Department of Hygienic Chemistry shared a groundbreaking study.

The researchers found out that CBD can be artificially converted into Delta 9 THC. Moreover, they revealed that a similar conversion can turn CBD into HHC.

Hydrogen Changes The Game 

It’s possible for CBD to convert into THC outside of a lab setting.

However, this reaction happens in nature only rarely, likely under specific or extreme conditions that won’t naturally occur upon ingestion. 

At the time of writing, experts have not come up with sustainable methods to replicate this and extract a sustainable amount of HHC.

So, what sets HHC apart from THC?

The keyword here is hydrogenation. So the only structural difference between THC and HHC is that the HHC molecule is saturated with hydrogen.

Hydrogenated compounds are naturally more stable and have a longer shelf life. As a comparison, THC quickly loses hydrogen atoms when exposed to oxidation. This causes denaturing of THC and affects the effects of the THC product.

Yup, another keyword here is oxidation. 

Oxidation is a fairly common chemical reaction that has to do with an atom or a compound losing one or more electrons. As a result, this also leads to hydrogen loss.

For example, THCa has 30 hydrogen atoms. When exposed to oxidation, it loses 4 hydrogen atoms. Thus, it turns into CBNa.

Yup! All it takes is just 4 hydrogen atoms being absent. And then boom, we have a brand new compound.

In the world of cannabis, the 3 major contributing factors to oxidation include: 

  • Oxygen 
  • UV-light
  • Heat

But HHC is less prone to degrading over time due to exposure to these 3 elements.

Thus, HHC has a much higher heat, oxygen, and UV-light resistance level than most other cannabinoids. This dramatically extends the shelf-life of HHC products.

Even if you store HHC for quite some time (for instance, hide it away in your secret ganja drawer), you’ll still experience the same effects as if you’ve just ordered it.

If the same scenario happens with any THC product, the levels of THC will degrade over time. That’s because THC will naturally get converted into CBN. Hence, the effects will also change.

And yes. This is why old weed feels different!

THC Is Old School 

Undoubtedly, Delta 9 THC is the most prevalent cannabinoid out there.

Mhm, THC has got people high for millennia through cannabis use. Also, slowly but surely, the science of THC has been progressing.

THC will always remain the Big Daddy in the cannabinoid family line. Yet there are new rising superstars hitting the global ganja stage.

Nowadays, thanks to the ongoing legalization and cut-edge technologies, such as mass-spectrometry, we’re free to explore and optimize cannabis medicine.

We can thank the 2018 farm bill for not only legalizing Hemp but also motivating scientists to explore the range of THC Isomers we now see taking over the nation.

Up to date, we already know that THC has multiple isomers. So yeah, Delta 9 THC is not alone, not at all. Even CBD is an isomer of THC!

Other and popular forms of THC include:

Whereas another similar but more potent phytocannabinoid is THCP.

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HHC VS THC 

THC VS HHC Effects 


As a rule of thumb, HHC is one of the new cannabinoids to hit the market. Unfortunately, being so new, the available scientific studies about the effects of HHC on the human body are non-existent.

In my experience, the HHC experience is very similar to the type of high we get with THC.

By comparison, HHC closely resembles the feeling we experience with Delta 9 THC rather than the feeling of Delta 8 THC

Think of:

  • Body relaxation 
  • Soothing head-to-toe buzz 
  • Temporary mental cloudiness

In a nutshell, the effects of HHC strongly lean to the effects of Indica strains.

Related Read: THCP Compared To HHC

Anecdotal Reports 

A variety of HHC users suggest that this cannabinoid relates to a deep sense of relaxation rather than an invigorating cerebral buzz and improved focus.

Also, other anecdotal reports suggest that once you take a large dose of HHC, you most probably won’t be able to keep your eyes open.

In my personal experience with HHC, I relate deeply to one particular user’s report. In this report, the user shares that HHC leads to “fuzziness and softness that pulsates lightly through the body” 

Yup. That’s exactly my experience too.

A majority of HHC enthusiasts out there highlight the pain-relieving as well as sleep-promoting properties of HHC.

Generally speaking, the most common effects of HHC are indeed similar to Delta 9 THC.

But we must not forget about the strictly individual factors that shape and influence the cannabis experience. These include: 

  • Method of consumption 
  • The setting (e.g. cozy home-alone HHC use vs. social time HHC use) 
  • Purpose of use (e.g. recreation vs. medication) 
  • Dosage 
  • Metabolism 
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Tolerance levels

The Science 

A 2010 study examined the effects of HHC analogs in-vitro (in a petri dish) and in-vivo (in a living organism).

Analog compounds are known to share a very similar structure to that of another compound. However, these compounds differ from each other with respect to a particular component. For example, Delta 8 THC is an analog of Delta 9 THC.

The study focused on HHC analogs’ affinity to bind with the CB1 and CB2 receptor models found in mice, humans, and rats as they all share similar sequence identities.

The researchers revealed that the strong intoxicating effects of HHC last for an extended period of time. Suggesting that the effects of HHC last longer than Delta 9 THC.

HHC And THC Benefits Compared

Just like the most common effects, the potential benefits of HHC are projected to be very similar to Delta 9 THC.

Important note: As the science is limited at best, we’re saying projected here as all we have is my own experience and the experience of others. 

We do know for sure that HHC works through the body’s endocannabinoid system, just like other cannabinoids do. Whether they affect other receptors, too, is yet to be determined.

However, there is no guaranteed safety or any health claims about the long-term or short-term benefits of HHC. Therefore, consume at your own risk.

Nonetheless, the limited pre-clinical research has revealed a couple of exciting things.  

The first is that HHC may elicit antinociceptive (pain-blocking) properties. 

This has been demonstrated in a 2007 study with mice. The research team from Hokiruku University tested 2 forms of HHC on mice. HHC was found to prolong sleep time and inhibit pain.

The researchers further point out that the pharmacological effects of HHC were
less potent than those of ∆9 -THC.”

Secondly, a 2011 study published in the European Journal of Pharmacology highlights that HHC may possess strong anti-cancer properties.

In this study, the researchers investigated the potential benefits of two analogs of HHC, namely LYR-7 and LYR-8. 

In the end, the researchers concluded that the analogs inhibited the growth of cancerous tumor cells and tumor blood vessels. 

Side Effects 

Even though very scarce and limited, the available preliminary research shows that HHC has a fairly similar safety profile to Delta 9 THC.

Up to date, there are no user reports related to severe side effects related to HHC consumption.

The most common side effects of HHC are quite familiar to every average Delta 9 THC user:

  • Dry eyes
  • Dry mouth
  • Temporary impairment of cognitive function

HHC, just like other new cannabinoids, has been put on the market long before any safety studies have been finalized.

As such, make sure to avoid low-quality HHC products at any cost! Only buy from vendors with a positive history with customers and without historical issues of safety. 

This is the most sensible way to consume HHC if you choose to do so. A few of these well-established vendors include Binoid, Extract Labs, and Botany Farms. 

Legality 

The legality of HHC is a gray area, similar to the case with Delta 8 THC.

As long as HHC is derived from hemp, HHC is thought to be legal in line with the 2018 Farm Bill. But you should always check your local state laws as the compound may be banned locally.

Furthermore, since HHC is not a form of THC, you might be able to pass a drug test, even when using HHC.

However, it may turn out that the HHC product you’re consuming does contain traces of THC or other THC isomers, which may lead to you failing a drug test.

Your safest bet?  Do your due diligence.

Also, sticking to HHC isolate is the least risky option. This is the purest form of HHC, and it contains no other cannabinoids.

Wrapping Up HHC VS THC

HHC is a semi-synthetic cannabinoid that closely resembles the effects of Delta 9 THC.

However, anxiety and racing thoughts seem to be anecdotally less of a concern with HHC. Also, HHC comes with other potential benefits, such as extended shelf life and broad availability in states without access to legal marijuana.

Currently, you’ll find plenty of HHC products on the market, including HHC in combination with other minor cannabinoids.

For anybody who’s curious to try out HHC: remember that you’re consuming it at your own risk. 

Unfortunately, solid scientific studies about HHC are not available at this point, and low-quality products are a dime a dozen.