HHC (hexahydrocannabinol) Explained: Everything You Need to Know & More


If you’re a fan of cannabis, then you’ve probably heard of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). But what about hexahydrocannabinol (HHC)? This cannabinoid has recently attracted global attention – and for good reason. It’s lesser-known but is gaining popularity, as it plays a role in both the recreational and therapeutic uses of cannabis. But what is it? Where does it come from? Is it safe? Will it get you high?

While similar compounds have been identified in the cannabis plant, HHC itself has not often been isolated and widely studied. Therefore, the data is presently limited. Basically, science has yet to catch up with user experiences. In the meantime, here’s what the world knows (and what you need to know) about HHC.

Key Points:
  • HHC is a semi-synthetic cannabis compound
  • It produces a high similar to THC
  • HHC has a longer shelf-life and is more resistant to UV light and heat
  • There is anecdotal evidence that suggests HHC may not show up on a conventional drug test
  • You can buy HHC online
  • There have been no reports of adverse effects from HHC use

What is Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC)?

HHC, or hexahydrocannabinol, is a type of cannabinoid found in trace amounts in cannabis and hemp plants. In the 1940s, HHC was first created by cannabis chemist Roger Adams at the University of Illinois. During a study performed to identify the active compounds of the cannabis plant, Adams discovered that by adding hydrogen atoms to THC, he could create HHC. Since then, it hasn’t received much attention. Well, until recently. Now that cannabis users have caught on, they are pressuring the scientific community to catch up. However, as with any newly adopted cannabis compound, it will take some time before we get answers to our burning questions. Let’s start with what we do know.

Is HHC natural or synthetic?

The answer is both – let us explain. HHC has been found naturally in both the seeds and pollen of hemp plants. However, the HHC that has received global attention isn’t pulled from either of these sources. The amounts found naturally are too small and extraction proves expensive. Instead, HHC is prepared in a laboratory using CBD and other natural methods. Although HHC occurs naturally in trace amounts, the fact remains that the HHC you find in cannabis products on the market is technically produced in a lab. As a result, it is frequently referred to as a semi-synthetic cannabinoid since the material used is natural hemp, yet the process is encouraged in a lab setting with a scientist facilitating the process.

How is HHC made?

HHC is typically created from CBD or delta-9 THC (what many refer to as plain-old THC). To keep things simple, double carbon bonds from these cannabinoids are removed and replaced with two hydrogen atoms. This process is called hydrogenation. Hydrogenation is not unique to the cannabis world. This is the same process that many food products undergo to increase shelf-life. This matters to cannabis users because it means HHC, when compared to other cannabinoids like THC, will take longer to break down and lose potency.

It is worth noting that the most potent HHC is derived from delta-9 THC. Derivatives of delta-10, delta-8 or delta-6 will not be as strong. Delta-9 derived HHC will produce the experience we will refer to in this article.

Will HHC show up on a drug test?

One of the biggest appeals for HHC is that it is not THC, therefore there is hope it may not show up on a standard 12-panel drug test. There is evidence to support the claim that HHC might evade detection. However, the evidence is purely anecdotal and is nothing to rely on until further evidence is provided.

How do drug tests work?

When you ingest any substance, your body breaks it down using metabolic enzymes

. Depending on what you ingest, your body will use a particular enzyme to break it down. When you ingest Delta-9 THC for example, it breaks down into several different metabolites. Drug tests that are designed to test for delta-9 THC use don’t actually test for THC. They test for the associated metabolites your body uses to break down THC. When breaking down HHC, your body doesn’t use the same metabolites it uses for delta-9 THC. Therefore it is thought that the same drug test used to test for delta-9 THC usage will not be equipped to detect the metabolites associated with HHC. However, we want to stress that the jury is still out on this one. We don’t recommend relying on this information if you are hoping to pass your drug test after HHC use.

HHC Effects: How Does It Make You Feel?

Although HHC isn’t technically a THC, users report it induces nearly identical effects including:

  • Euphoria
  • Head buzz
  • Body high
  • Sedative
  • Better sleep
  • Improved moods
  • Stress relief on mind and body
  • Pain relief
  • Appetite increase

Does HHC get you high?

Yes. HHC does produce a feeling similar to other psychoactive cannabinoids- more specifically, similar to that of delta-9 THC.

How Does HHC Work? The Endocannabinoid System and Cannabis

HHC works like any other cannabinoid – it is able to attach to molecules called cannabinoid receptors on neurons in the brain and throughout the peripheral nervous system and activates them, disrupting various mental and physical functions and causing the effects described above. This all happens in the body’s Endocannabinoid System.

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is responsible for regulating various physiological processes, including appetite, pain sensations, mood, and memory. Endocannabinoids, often known as endogenous cannabinoids, are chemicals manufactured by your body. They’re comparable to cannabinoids from cannabis in terms of structure, function, and effects, although they’re produced naturally by your body. Their function is to keep things running smoothly and maintain homeostasis.

Because cannabinoids (naturally found in cannabis) are so similar in structure to endocannabinoids and how they interact with the receptor sites (naturally found in the body), they can essentially perform similar functions in the body. When cannabis is consumed, the cannabinoids(which the body mistakes as endocannabinoids) interact with the ECS to produce its characteristic effects. Essentially, cannabinoids can help supplement any imbalances or deficits in the endocannabinoid system.

Going Deeper: Endocannabinoid Receptors

Each cannabinoid interacts with the ECS in a different way which is why each cannabinoid offers a unique user experience. More specifically, each cannabinoid interacts with the ECS by binding to its cannabinoid receptors. There are two primary cannabinoid receptors: CB1 receptors(which are located in the central nervous system) and CB2 receptors(which are located in the peripheral nervous system and have also been found in the brain). Cannabinoids can bind to either one or both of these receptors – this is what determines its effects. A cannabinoid, for example, may influence CB1 receptors in a spinal nerve to alleviate pain. Others may bind to a CB2 receptor in an immune cell which will signal your ECS to treat inflammation.

What’s the Difference Between HHC, Delta-9 THC, CBD, THC-O and Delta-8?

Over 100 natural cannabinoids have been found in the cannabis and hemp plants. However, not all of them are psychoactive and not all of them have the same effect. The ones that will make you feel a head high are THC delta-9, THC delta-8, THCP, THCO and HHC. Let’s see how HHC compares to the most popular cannabinoids on the market today.

HHC vs Delta-9 THC

The molecular structures of HHC and delta-9 THC are nearly identical. However, small changes in molecular makeup make HHC more stable and therefore be much more resistant to heat and UV light. This longer shelf-life is a huge benefit to both manufacturers and consumers. People who have consumed HHC say the high feels similar to that of delta-9 THC. Although the experience is comparable, HHC users report that after usage they don’t experience the same groggy crash associated with THC.

HHC vs Delta-8 THC

As delta-8 THC has attracted more and more attention, governments across the globe are quick to jump on regulation and impose bans. The cannabis community is turning to HHC in hopes that because it is not a THC at all, it will not be subject to the same strict regulations as THCs like delta-8 and delta-10. In terms of experience, Delta-8 is considered a stimulating cannabinoid that produces less of a cerebral effect thus is less likely to cause paranoia and out-of-body experiences. HHC is more similar to THC in that the high experience is full-bodied and cerebral, involving both the body and the mind.


Depending on dosage, those who use THC-O can experience effects similar to those of psychedelics depending on how much is ingested. THC-O users report a more relaxed and spiritual experience that engages them. HHC provides a high that is more stimulating and internal while provoking actions that are artistic and creative. THC-O, unlike HHC, is completely manmade and does not occur naturally in the hemp plant.


While CBD and HHC both come from cannabis plants they have shared therapeutic benefits, the experience they provide differ. Unlike CBD, HHC is psychoactive and can produce a high. Like CBD, HHC can induce feelings of calmness, relaxation, and a loss of body tension. Although the mentioned benefits experienced will be less intense than those of CBD. Unlike CBD, users report getting a “head high” from HHC.

Potency: How Strong Is HHC?

The psychoactive effects of any type of cannabinoid relates to the number of carbons contained in their molecular makeup. Both HHC and THC contain five carbons. There is a bit more science that goes into it but, in short, HHC is about 80% the strength of delta-9 THC. This means it has a greater potency than the other cannabinoids such as Delta-8 and Delta-10. Current evidence suggests that HHC potency can be put in between that of delta-8 and delta-9 THC. 

How can I take HHC?

HHC is available in many forms including: oil form, ointment, tablet, capsule, spray, topical creams, edibles, and more. This product can be used by patients for specific diseases or conditions or simply as a supplement. Our favorite way to ingest HHC is through edibles like HHC gummies and through vapor.

Potential Health Benefits and Side Effects of HHC

HHC, like THC and other cannabinoids, is expected to be beneficial in managing any disease where the endocannabinoid system is disrupted.

Some of the proposed benefits include:

  • Reducing inflammation
  • Help managing chronic pain
  • May help with anxiety (although some consumers report an increase in anxiousness)
  • Reducing nausea and vomiting
  • Treatment of seizures
  • Helping with addiction to other substances such as Alcohol
  • The potential to prevent tumors from spreading by fighting cancer cell activity (anti-tumor)
  • Increase in appetite

Is HHC safe?

There are still no studies published on the safety of HHC use in humans. Science is still catching up with the cannabis community’s interest in HHC. However, studies have been done on animals like mice, rats, rabbits, etc. and as of today, there have been no reported negative side effects or safety issues concerning HHC. As for how HHC affects humans, information about side effects comes from individual reports rather than clinical trials.

Because HHC is synthesized in a lab, it does run the risk of being contaminated. This goes for any hemp extract so it is important to exercise caution. As with any other substance you put into your body, we recommend you exercise prudence and be very selective about which brands you buy from. Always look for a certificate of analysis from a qualified lab so that you can see that there is no toxicity in your product. It is important to make sure the product you consume has a favorable Certificate of Analysis (COA) that reports both the potency and toxicity. This way, you can make sure it is free from harmful residual solvents, heavy metals, or microbial.

Where Can You Buy HHC Online?

HHC is becoming more and more readily available. You can buy HHC online in shops like ours – Hummingbird Extracts. Looking for the purest, highest-quality HHC products around? Look no further than our vapes and gummies! Our products are made with only the finest ingredients and offer a smooth, enjoyable experience every time – not to mention they are rigorously tested to ensure unsurpassed quality, potency and safety. As mentioned before, the most potent HHC is derived from delta-9 THC. However, because it is more expensive to create HHC from Delta-9 THC as opposed to Delta-8 THC, Delta-10 THC, or Delta-6 THC, many products are not derived from Delta-9 THC. Because we are committed to providing the highest quality products, our HHC is always Delta-9 derived. Check out all of our HHC products here. 

Is HHC a Promising THC Alternative?

Cannabis is an exciting industry to be in right now. It’s not just about the legalization of marijuana, but also about how much science has gone into understanding this plant, its compounds, and all its benefits. Whether you are looking for something that promotes relaxation or stimulation, there is a product out there for you. Delta-8, THC-O, and HHC and Delta-9 are currently the most sought after products on the market – providing consumers with some of the most pleasurable sensory experiences of all the cannabinoids.

HHC, the most recent to enter the spotlight, is quickly gaining attention from all over the world, but we still don’t know that much about it. That said, people are using it anyway because it seems to have some great benefits with few drawbacks (at least so far). HHC seems like a promising alternative and potentially a replacement for THC. There is a strong case to suggest that HHC will become the commercialized version of THC because of its extended shelf-life, resistance to heat and UV light, and the extended high it produces.

So what’s the verdict? Is HHC the next big thing, or is it all just smoke and mirrors? Many users, ourselves included, are loving the value HHC brings to the cannabis market and are confident it is here to stay. If you want to try out this legal high for yourself, sign up for our newsletter and check out our HHC products.

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