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What Is HHC (Hexahydrocannabinol)?
CBD Education

What Is HHC (Hexahydrocannabinol)?

Cannabinoids are causing quite a stir in wellness. These natural compounds, derived from the cannabis plant, are known to interact with the body in ways that can help maintain healthy stress levels, support relaxation, and bolster our body’s defenses against tension and discomfort.

Amidst the buzz is a relatively lesser-known cannabinoid called hexahydrocannabinol. Although not as famous as its cousins CBD and THC, hexahydrocannabinol, or HHC, is carving out a niche for itself in the cannabinoid world. So what exactly is HHC, and how does this more recently discovered cannabinoid work? Let’s break it down.

What Are Cannabinoids?

Before we dive into HHC, let’s brush up on the basics: Cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are chemical compounds found in all forms of the Cannabis sativa plant, including hemp and cannabis plants. They're the powerhouses behind the effects of cannabis products, interacting with the body's endocannabinoid system to help maintain wellness. There are over a hundred known cannabinoids, but a few have been stealing the spotlight.

First, we have CBD, or cannabidiol. CBD has soothing benefits and can partner with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to help ease feelings of tension. It's non-psychoactive, meaning it won't get you "high." CBD is found in a variety of products, from tinctures and edibles to topicals and vapes.

Next, we have delta-9 THC, or delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol. This is the cannabinoid most people think of when they hear "cannabis." It's known for its psychoactive effects, but it also has potential benefits for wellness.

Then we have the minor cannabinoids, like CBN, or cannabinol. While they may not get as much press as CBD or THC, minor cannabinoids are gaining recognition for their potential benefits. They're the quiet heroes of the cannabis plant, contributing to the overall effects of cannabis products.

How Do Cannabinoids Work?

Cannabinoids are like the key to a lock that opens the door to maintaining wellness. This lock is the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a complex cell-signaling system in our bodies. It plays an important role in maintaining homeostasis, which is just a fancy term for internal balance.

The ECS consists of three main components: Endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes. Endocannabinoids are naturally produced in our bodies and are similar to cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. The two key endocannabinoids are anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG).

Cannabinoid receptors are found throughout our bodies and are the sites where cannabinoids and endocannabinoids bind. Two primary types of receptors exist: CB1 receptors (mostly in the brain) and CB2 receptors (mostly in peripheral organs).

Enzymes are the third component of the ECS. They're responsible for breaking down endocannabinoids once they've fulfilled their purpose.

Cannabinoids from the cannabis plant, like CBD and THC, interact with these receptors. CBD works subtly, keeping enzymes from breaking down our endocannabinoids too quickly. This helps maintain a state of balance. On the other hand, THC binds directly with CB1 receptors in the brain, leading to its psychoactive effects.

What Is HHC?

Let's talk about HHC, or hexahydrocannabinol. HHC is a minor cannabinoid that naturally occurs in cannabis and hemp plants like CBD or THC but with a twist. Its unique chemical structure sets it apart in the world of cannabinoids.

The name hexahydrocannabinol gives us a clue about what makes HHC unique. The "hexa" refers to six hydrogen atoms that are added to the THC molecule. This addition is done through a process called hydrogenation, where two hydrogen atoms (H2) are added to THC.

While HHC does share similarities with delta-9 and delta-10 THC, it's actually a degradation byproduct of THC. This means it forms when THC breaks down. But, what makes HHC different is the extra hydrogen atoms from the hydrogenation process. These extra atoms give HHC a unique structure, making it a standout player in the cannabinoid field.

Another factor that sets HHC apart: It is found in such trace quantities within the hemp and cannabis plants that it is almost impossible to extract enough of it to use naturally. Because of this, scientists sometimes create HHC by hydrogenating cannabis extracts.

The concept of hydrogenation was first discovered by a scientist named Roger Adams. He found that adding hydrogen atoms to a compound could change its properties. For HHC, the hydrogenation process gives it a slightly different effect than other cannabinoids. So, if you're looking for a fresh take on the cannabinoid experience, HHC might just be the ticket.

How Does HHC Compare to Other Cannabinoids?

HHC shares some similarities with THC. Both are believed to bind directly with CB1 receptors in the brain, a critical component of the endocannabinoid system. This binding is what triggers the effects of HHC we associate with these cannabinoids. But, unlike other forms of THC like delta-8 THC and delta-9, HHC does not have a double bond on its carbon chain, which inhibits its ability to bind with cannabinoid receptors as effectively.

In this way, HHC is like the gentler sibling, binding with CB1 receptors in a way that causes less intense psychoactive effects. So, while HHC can alter the mental state, the HHC high is usually milder and less strong compared to a THC high.

When we compare HHC to CBD, the dynamics change. CBD is known for its calming and soothing benefits and does not produce psychoactive effects. HHC, on the other hand, does have psychoactive properties due to its interaction with CB1 receptors, making it a bit more intense than CBD.

HHC also has a connection with CBN, another cannabinoid. Both HHC and CBN are degradation byproducts of THC, meaning they form when THC is exposed to oxygen and heat over time.

But HHC molecules have a unique twist. It's also produced through the process of hydrogenation, which involves adding hydrogen atoms to the THC molecule. This process gives HHC its unique structure and sets it apart from other cannabinoids.

What Are the Potential Benefits of HHC?

While research regarding HHC's effects is still in its early stages, the potential benefits of this unique cannabinoid are promising. With similar effects to THC, HHC could help ease feelings of tension, support an ideal sleep pattern, encourage a healthy mind, and bolster optimal stress levels. But how exactly does it do this?

The secret lies in HHC's interaction with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS plays a role in maintaining the body's balance or homeostasis. HHC, by binding with CB1 receptors in the ECS, albeit weakly, can influence this system. This interaction can result in a range of wellness benefits, helping the body maintain a state of balance.

HHC's potential benefits extend beyond its individual effects. As a minor cannabinoid, HHC contributes to the entourage effect. The entourage effect suggests that the combined effect of all cannabinoids is greater than the sum of their individual effects, with each one working to enhance the overall effects of the plant. So, even as a minor cannabinoid, HHC is a solid team member, contributing to the overall wellness potential of cannabis products.

HHC shines as an exciting alternative when it comes to cannabinoids. It offers a unique set of potential benefits that are worth exploring. As always, it's important to do so responsibly and keep up-to-date with the latest research and legal aspects related to cannabinoids.

Is HHC Legal?

So, where does HHC stand in terms of legality for Americans?

To understand this, we need to rewind to 2018, when the Farm Bill was passed. This legislation legalized hemp-derived products on the federal level as long as they contain no more than 0.3 percent THC content. This means that the low levels of HHC found naturally in CBD and hemp-derived products are legal at the federal level.

However, the situation gets a bit murkier when we talk about synthetically derived HHC. HHC products are often made by converting other cannabinoids, which falls into a legal grey area. It's always a good idea to know where your product is coming from and what amount of different cannabinoids it contains to ensure it's legal in your area.

So, does HHC show up on drug tests? Since HHC shares similarities with THC, it's possible for HHC to appear on a drug test. While this is still a developing area of research, it's something to keep in mind.

Is HHC Safe?

When it comes to safety, HHC's side effects can be similar to that of THC. These can include dry mouth, nervousness, and an elevated heart rate. However, HHC typically has less strength in its naturally occurring state, so using it in moderation and starting with low doses can help avoid these unwanted effects.

However, there's a unique risk associated with synthetically derived HHC. Products that utilize HHC in larger amounts than what is naturally found within the cannabis plant, such as HHC gummies or HHC vapes, are typically made with synthetic cannabinoids.

The chemicals used to create these synthetics can sometimes make their way into the final product, which may be harmful. This highlights the importance of opting for high-quality, hemp-derived cannabinoids.

Another factor to consider is the shelf life of HHC products. Like all cannabinoids, HHC can degrade over time, so storing your products properly is important for maintaining their strength.

At Muscle MX, we ensure all our THC and CBD products are third-party tested for transparency. This lets you know exactly what's in your product and how much. We're committed to providing products made with naturally derived hemp, clean ingredients, and no parabens, harsh chemicals, or synthetic additives.

Remember, knowledge is power when it comes to cannabinoids. Staying informed about the legality and safety of products like HHC can help you make the best choices for your wellness journey.

How Can You Best Enjoy the Benefits of HHC?

When it comes to enjoying the benefits of HHC, the golden rule is to stick to its naturally occurring form. We recommend avoiding synthetic HHC and instead enjoying the presence of HHC as a naturally occurring minor cannabinoid found in other products with cannabis and hemp derivatives, such as our delta-9 gummies or full-spectrum CBD oils.

Full-spectrum products keep all of the terpenes and minor cannabinoids intact, even the ones found in small doses. While these products won't contain much HHC, the cannabinoid still contributes to the entourage effect. This is the beauty of full-spectrum products — they let you enjoy the benefits of all the compounds in the cannabis plant.

And, of course, remember to take as directed and adhere to serving sizes and daily doses. At Muscle MX, we recommend starting with a quarter of our delta-9 gummies in a serving and adjusting as needed.

The Bottom Line

HHC shines as a unique minor cannabinoid. Its potential to soothe feelings of tension, encourage relaxation, and support healthy stress levels makes it a promising addition to the cannabinoid family.

However, enjoying HHC responsibly is essential, sticking to naturally occurring forms found in high-quality, hemp-derived products. Synthetic and semi-synthetic forms of HHC come with potential risks, so it's always a good idea to know exactly what you're putting into your body.

At Muscle MX, we're committed to supporting your wellness journey. We invite you to explore our full range of hemp-derived products, from our delta-9 gummies to our full-spectrum CBD oils. Each product is crafted with care, ensuring you get the best that nature offers.

Remember, your wellness journey is unique, and we're here to support you every step of the way. Here's to discovering new ways to support your well-being, one cannabinoid at a time.

To get started with adding CBD to your wellness routine, check out our wide range of products.


Cannabinoid - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics

An introduction to the endogenous cannabinoid system | PMC

Endocannabinoid Binding to the Cannabinoid Receptors: What Is Known and What Remains Unknown | PMC

Studies Pertaining to the Emerging Cannabinoid Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC) | PMC

The Case for the Entourage Effect and Conventional Breeding of Clinical Cannabis: No “Strain,” No Gain | Frontiers

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