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Hexahydrocannabinol Cannabinoid found in weed

What is Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC)?

09/14/2023

Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC) is a cannabinoid produced by cannabis sativa plants that is relatively unknown but has recently been gaining more attention in the media. It is classed as a “minor cannabinoid” due to its low presence in the plant, with much less concentrations than the more commonly known cannabinoids THC and CBD. There has been limited scientific research on HHC, however, and the potential benefits, effects, and risks are not yet well identified.

What is HHC?

HHC is a lesser-known cannabinoid, although is similar in chemical structure to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC delta-9 is the main psychoactive compound that causes the high or euphoria felt when consuming cannabis. Cannabidiol, CBD, is the cannabinoid that is commonly used in CBD products to promote relief from pain, inflammation, anxiety, sleep problems, and other medical and mental health issues. HHC is commonly derived from CBD and binds to the CB1 cannabinoid neural receptor in the human endocannabinoid system, the same as THC.

HHC was first identified in the scientific world in the 1940s when it was synthesized by Roger Adams, an organic chemist who also isolated and identified CBD in the 40s as head of the chemistry department at the University of Illinois. HHC naturally occurs in the cannabis sativa plant, although is rarely identified as typically only trace components exist naturally in the plant.

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The Similarities of HHC to THC

HHC is only present in minute amounts, although it can be synthetically reproduced by hydrogenation of cannabis extracts. HHC is closely related to THC in molecular composition as the chemical structure is a hydrogenated derivative of THC. Similar to THC, HHC is a resin-like material with a solid yet viscous consistency at room temperature that is yellowish in color. The chemical structure of HHC is C21H32O2, which means it consists of 21 carbon (C) atoms, 32 hydrogen (H) atoms, and 2 oxygen (O) atoms. The hydrogen atoms connect to the carbon atoms and form functional groups that influence the reactivity and properties of the HHC compound.

HHC has almost the same molecular composition as THC, the primary psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis plants. The main difference between the two is that in THC, both delta-8 and delta-9, there is a double bond in the cyclohexyl ring, whereas in HHC, the double bonds have been removed, and there is a hydrogen atom there instead.

What are the Effects of HHC?

More research is needed on the effects of HHC, although based on anecdotal evidence to date, some potential effects of HHC include a feeling of euphoria similar to THC. HHC is also thought to provide pain relief, to act as an appetite stimulant, and can increase the heart rate. It has been described as providing the calming effects of CBD and a THC high similar to a Sativa strain. The impact of any effects will vary from person to person. More research is needed to examine the physical and mental impacts of HHC as well as potential health risks.

HHC, Natural or Synthetic?

Because HHC is found in such small concentrations in the Cannabis Sativa plant, it is often times reproduced by commercial producers that synthesize it from other cannabinoids. HHC can be reproduced chemically through a process called hydrogenation in which hydrogen atoms are added to the unsaturated molecules with a catalyst.

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