Hexahydrocannabinol, or HHC, is a hydrogenated form of THC.
This is a similar process used to turn vegetable oil into margarine using a process called hydrogenation (adding hydrogen atoms to the chemical structure to stabilize it).
HHC occurs naturally in hemp but only in trace concentrations. To obtain a usable amount, a sophisticated process is performed to saturate THC with hydrogen atoms in the presence of high pressure and a catalyst like nickel or palladium.
This breaks THC’s double bond chemical structure and replaces it with hydrogen, yet the cannabinoid’s effects and potency remain essentially unchanged. There are at least ten isomers of this hydrogenated form of THC currently known.
This seemingly minor alteration increases THC’s binding affinity for the CB1 and CB2 endocannabinoid receptors, as well as the TRP pain receptors.
What’s more, this change in THC’s molecular structure makes it a lot more stable since, in its natural form, THC is highly susceptible to oxidation and degradation.
When it oxidizes, THC loses hydrogen atoms, and two new double bonds are formed instead. The resulting formation, called CBN, only has around 10% of THC’s psychoactive potency.
HHC, on the other hand, doesn’t lose its potency anywhere near as quickly when exposed to air. HHC is also incredibly resistant to heat and UV light, making it the ideal cannabinoid
HHC’s effects are very similar to those of THC, such as feelings of euphoria, increased heart rate, and body temperature, as well as altered visual and auditory perceptions.
Some HHC users describe its effects as more relaxing than stimulating, similar to delta 8.
Since HHC is so similar to THC, it may offer many of THC’s therapeutic benefits, but few studies have investigated this. One study on beta-HHC in rats indicated it possesses notable painkilling benefits, but more research is required to assess HHC’s full potential.