Most of us know cannabis by the characteristic effect of inducing a high in users. The credit for introducing these effects goes to a notable cannabinoid, THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, available in variable quantities in different strains. But cannabis is also home to a wide variety of cannabinoids besides THC. These include significant compounds like CBD and minor ones such as CBG, Delta-8, and HHC.
As the cannabis laws evolve and the attitude towards the herb also begins to change significantly, the interest in exploring these smaller cannabinoids has also plummeted. One such cannabinoid that is quickly gaining momentum in the cannabis space is HHC. So, what is HHC, and how is it different from THC? Let us dig deeper to find out more about these cannabinoids.
A brief introduction to HHC can be a good base for understanding answers to questions like how HHC is different from THC and how does HHC get you high? HHC, also known as hexahydrocannabinol, is among the many cannabinoids that occur in small concentrations in a cannabis plant variety called hemp. The lipid molecule structure follows the famous THC molecule, also known as delta-9 THC, in several ways, except for replacing one double carbon bond with two hydrogen atoms. It means that HHC molecules are nothing but hydrogenated delta-9 THC molecules. But what difference can this one molecule make?
Comparing HHC and THC
Many consider HHCe the promising alternative to delta-9 THC, given that the added hydrogen atoms indicate a more stable component less susceptible to degradation. A golden rule for THC storage is keeping it away from sunlight under ambient temperatures to protect the integrity and potency of the substance. The hydrogen molecule addition now significantly reduces the sensitivity of HHC to UV and heat, indicating a practically viable alternative to THC infusions.
Both THC and HHC naturally occur in different concentrations in the cannabis plant. While THC predominantly occurs in flowers, especially in the trichomes, HHC, on the other hand, is also available in the pollen and seeds of hemp plants.
One of the advantages of HHC over delta-8 or delta-10 variants of THC is that it is neither called THC nor does it necessarily derive from this cannabinoid that has complex legal implications in different states.
Although altering the physical characteristics of THC can result in HHC, commercial HHC derives from a process called hydrogenation of CBD molecules, deriving from the hemp plant as the source. Two hydrogen molecules are introduced to the CBD molecule to create the final HHC product. Given the use of hemp, which is legal in several states, the end product may still be legal in most places.
Interaction With The System
The interaction of cannabinoids with the endocannabinoid system is how the cannabis plant influences several spectacular user benefits. Each cannabinoid has a unique way of communicating and binding with the endocannabinoid system, influenced by the chemical structure of its molecules. Whether the molecule interacts with CB1 or CB2 receptors also affects how it works in the body.
THC and HHC are similar compounds and have therefore shown similar interactions with cannabinoid receptors in the body. Typically, THC can stimulate both receptor categories and mimic the functions of a naturally occurring bio cannabinoid in the body called anandamide. The result is improved mood, appetite, relaxation, and fertility. HHC is slightly more complicated. Depending on the form, it could activate either or both categories of receptors.
From understanding the interactions of HHC with the cannabinoid receptor, we observe that HHC has a slightly lower affinity to CB1 receptors than THC. This receptor is responsible for the high caused by THC-dominant strains. The absence of solid interaction between CBD and this receptor is the reason for the lack of psychoactive effects from this cannabinoid. It leads to HHC deriving from THC, typically expressing higher potency than CBD. But these levels are still lower than the natural potency of delta-9 THC.
The effects of HHC are along the same lines as THC. It introduces psychoactive effects much like the latter. Some report feeling relatively relaxed and at ease while using the cannabinoid. But when produced in the lab, HHC comes out as a mixture of active and inactive compounds. While active molecules bind with the body and introduce high, inactive receptors do not. Therefore, the effects may not be as intense.
While THC and variants such as delta-8 and delta-10 break down into 11-hydroxy-THC that shows up in drug tests, HHC does not metabolize into this compound and may, therefore, not show up in the current drug test panel. But HHC is a relatively new compound to the market, and there is much to understand about how it could leave residues in drug test samples like hair, urine, and blood. So it might not be advisable to take risks with this cannabinoid.
Overall, HHC possesses some wonderful properties of THC but with increased stability. The stability may offer particular advantages, especially for infused products, to extend the life. It is also not too strong compared to the delta-9 variant, which might appeal to some users. Understanding the primary distinctions between the two may help assess the best choice for each application. Keep these differences between THC and HHC in mind while looking for cannabis products to ensure you pick the right choice for your specific needs.