In addition to cannabis' main psychoactive ingredient, delta 9 THC, users can now also turn to delta 8 and HHC for a more personalized experience. But how do these cannabinoids compare?
This article offers a deep dive into the similarities and differences of HHC, delta 8, and delta 9 THC.
Its main purpose is to help you decide which one is best for you by directly comparing how each one makes you feel, its benefits, side effects and legal status.
Comparison HHC with Delta 8 THC and Delta 9 THC side by side:
In general, HHC is very similar to delta 8 and delta 9 THC. It's slightly less powerful than the D9, but more powerful than the D8. It has similar relaxing qualities to D8, but retains the euphoric effects of D9 (especially at higher doses). Unlike D9, HHC is legal in most states and the cost is more comparable to delta 8.
Here's a quick comparison of these three popular cannabinoids:
|Metric||HHC||delta 8||delta 9|
|marijuana concentration||less than 0.1%||less than 1%||Up to 30%|
|Receivers||CB1 e CB2||CB1 e CB2||CB1 e CB2|
|typical dose||10-30 mg||10–40 mg||5-20 mg|
|Effects on appetite||weak stimulant||strong stimulant||moderate stimulant|
|anxiety side effects||Very soft||Very soft||mild to moderate|
|Legality||cool gray area||cool gray area||Illegal|
|Duration||Very long (5+ years)||Moderate (3-5 years)||Short to moderate (1-3 years)|
What is HHC?
Hexaidrocanabinol (HHC)is a hydrogenated form of THC, also known as an analogue better known for its THC-like effects and storage stability. HHC products can safely exist in your cupboards or fridge for a while because they have a substantially longer shelf life than delta 9 THC.
HHC is naturally present in the cannabis plant, but in minimal concentrations. Companies sell it in large quantities because they can create it in the lab, usually by hydrogenation.
This compound was first discovered in 1947 by Roger Adams, the American organic chemist who isolated and identified CBD in 1940. Adams synthesized this cannabinoid from the THC found in CBD.Cannabis sativato plant. At that time, other structurally related compounds were isolated, but rarely hexahydrocannabinol itself.
This hydrogenated THC derivative has approximately 70-80% the strength of Δ9 THC.
Chemically, HHC is different from THC because it has no double bonds in its chemical structure. During the "conversion" process, all THC double bonds are broken and replaced with hydrogen atoms. This process is known ashydrogenationand creates HHC, the exact opposite molecule of CBN (cannabinol), a by-product of THC with extra double bonds.
Although subtle, this difference alters the binding affinity of this molecule to the CB1 and CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system. It also gives this compound a longer shelf life and makes it less susceptible to breakage and more resistant to improper storage, heat and UV light exposure.
What is Delta 8 THC?
Delta 8 THC is another THC analogue🇧🇷 It has the same structure as delta 9 THC, with the only difference being the placement of a double bond. As its name implies, the delta 9 isomer has a double bond on the carbon 9 chain, while the delta 8 isomer on the carbon 8 chain.
This subtle difference in their structure creates remarkable effects. Delta 8 is considered the perfect alternative to delta 9 for anyone looking to "escape" to a less intoxicating, less anxiety-inducing compound. That is, delta 8 is known to be about half the power of delta 9.
Delta 9 THC has a longer shelf life than HHC because it is designed to break down into other cannabinoids when exposed to outside conditions. It is usually “dissolved” into delta 8 and cannabinol (CBN). Cannabinol is about 10% as potent as delta 9 and is known as the best cannabinoid for sleep.
There are no hemp flower varieties with an extra high percentage of delta 8 THC. Plant breeders have not found a way to selectively breed cannabis with a high concentration of delta 8 because this cannabinoid is produced primarily as a by-product of THC.
That said, cannabis plants that have spent longer in storage exposed to environmental conditions have a higher concentration of delta 8 than fresh plants. Therefore, by deliberately "aging" the cannabis flower by exposing it to oxygen and ultraviolet light, breeders can create cannabis flowers with a higher "natural" concentration of delta 8.
However, the most common method of obtaining delta 8 is through chemical conversion, which we will talk about later.
What is Delta 9 THC?
The chemical makeup of the cannabis plant includes over 100 cannabinoids. But, only one, delta 9 THC (or simply THC), is known to be the main active ingredient that produces a "high".
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the main psychotropic compound in marijuana. It is present in hemp, but in traces that do not exceed the legal limit of 0.3% in dry weight, established by the Farm Bill 2018.
In our complex world, delta 9 exists at the intersection of an illegal substance and a drug. This cannabinoid activates receptors in the brain that regulate appetite, sleep, memory, and visual and auditory perception. These receptors also cause the “high” associated with the marijuana plant.
The two main types of THC are delta 9 and delta 8. While delta 9 represents up to 25% of the plant weight, delta 8 is present in small amounts (less than 1%) and is 50-70%. as strong as delta 9.
Delta 9 is the most common form of THC in cannabis, but it is also the least stable, breaking down to CBN when exposed to oxygen.
Effects and Benefits: Comparison of HHC, Delta 8 and Delta 9 THC
The effects of HHC span the broadest spectrum, from reducing anxiety to euphoria and sedation.
Anecdotal evidence shows that HHC is closer to delta 9 in intoxication, but has more similarities to delta 8. Although it makes the user "higher" than delta 8, it exhibits an incredibly smooth and lucid "high".
This cannabinoid is closer to delta 9 because it alters our auditory and visual perception. Some users experience hallucinations and increased divergent thinking. In general, the effects of HHC are very similar to those of THC, so higher doses (above 20mg) are euphoric and energizing, while lower doses have more calming effects identical to delta 8.
For certain users, HHC can be more intense than delta 9, although we know that it is approximately 80% potent. These sensitive users often describe its effects as a "distinct body high" that is much more pronounced than delta 9. Furthermore, it can cause hypnagogic images more quickly than THC and other major psychotropic cannabinoids.
On average, the effects ofHHC Cartridgeswhen steamed or smoked lasts 3-4 hours. Like other compounds, vaped or smoked HHC products activate quickly, so you'll feel it after 10 minutes. The more you smoke, the longer the effects last. Multiple puffs can last up to 4 hours compared to one puff disappearing after two hours.
Like THC edibles, the effects ofEdible HHC (gummies)They take a little longer to kick in, but they last longer. For some people, edibles may be noticeable for up to 6 hours after consumption. That said, many users report a high tolerance after taking HHC products a few times.
In short, it all depends on what you are looking for. If you want a more everyday experience of a lucid "high", the delta 8 is perfect. If what you're looking for is to relax and fly high like a kite, delta 9 is the best option. However, it comes with more pronounced side effects. So if you don't like the anxiety or drowsiness that delta 9 causes, HHC is your choice, especially as a daytime alternative with a predominantly euphoric side.
Most evidence on the effects of cannabinoids is anecdotal, so it's fair to say that HHC tends to cause less anxiety than delta 8. If delta 8 gives you mild spikes of anxiety, then HHC is definitely less anxious than delta 8. THC, even in people with typical anxiety symptoms. Be prepared for side effects like heart palpitations and heightened euphoria.
Many users prefer to mix an intoxicating cannabinoid with less intoxicating or non-intoxicating cannabinoids and get a full spectrum experience. The effects also depend on the person's neurochemical balance and the cannabinoid's mechanism of action and binding affinity.
Why do the effects of HHC vary so much?
There are no unified standards of quality or control when it comes to creating this cannabinoid. Users should be careful when looking for a product that contains HHC in its composition in the first palace. Additionally, some products may contain higher levels of delta 9 and delta 8 or be mixed with other compounds, producing a variety of effects.
But, the reason why the effects of HHC vary so much is probably due to the way it's made.
A properly made HHC product is a mixture of two different types of HHC molecules:
- 9R HHC, the active part of the molecule that binds to endocannabinoid receptors in the body, and
- 9S HHC, the partially active side of the molecule with a slightly different structure that doesn't bind as well to endocannabinoid receptors in the body.
Manufacturers have not determined how to effectively separate the high potency HHC molecule from the low potency molecule. Because of this, commercially produced HHC is a combination of two forms and varies depending on which one you get.
The effects of HHC on the mind and body are very similar to the effects of THC. But since HHC is less potent, you will need larger amounts to get the full effects of THC.
Is it safe to mix Delta 8 and HHC?
You can hear some people mixing Delta 8 and HHC. this is a good idea? How do these cannabinoids interact in the body when combined? Finally, if you mix them, what's the best ratio to aim for?
First, we don't know much about the interaction of cannabinoids in the body, let alone mixing them with delta 8. Many brands deliberately mix these two compounds (1:2 or 2:2) or with non-intoxicating cannabinoids like CBD to achieve a little balance Anecdotal evidence shows that such combinations are safe for now, but try them at your own risk.
Medicinal benefits of HHC vs. Delta 8 and Delta 9 THC
There are not many credible studies on HHC and its potential effects. Since the arrival of cannabis in North America, people have used its extracts for medicinal purposes. The most studied compounds are delta 9 THC and cannabidiol (CBD).
Potential therapeutic benefits of HHC
Anecdotal evidence shows that HHC exhibits therapeutic properties similar to other forms of THC. One of the reasons we can be confident is the similarity in structure between these molecules and the affinity for the same receptors in the body. Here are some of the few studies that show its potential benefits:
1. HHC can help manage chronic pain
When tested in rats, this cannabinoid showed significant analgesic properties.
Although we need human studies, research shows promising results from using HHC in this area and points to it as a viable drug for the treatment of chronic pain.
2. HHC can help reduce inflammation
Most cannabinoids effectively fight pain and reduce inflammation, so HHC is no different. Although HHC for pain has yet to be directly investigated, one study concluded that hydrogenated cannabinoids bind well to the CB1 receptor in the brain and may reduce joint inflammation.
3. HHC may serve as a possible sleep aid
The psychotropic effects of HHC are likely due to its interaction with CB1 receptors in the brain. The exact mechanism of action of this compound is unknown, but research has shown that activating the CB1 receptor (in this case, delta 9) helps with sleep.
Potential therapeutic benefits of Delta 8
There are few studies that provide information about the potentialtherapeutic effects of delta 8 THC🇧🇷 Most of this cannabinoid's effects come from anecdotal evidence or assumptions based on delta 8 THC's similarities to delta 9 THC (for which there is much more research).
Here's what some of the findings and leading theories suggest:
1. Delta 8 can relieve anxiety
The thing about delta 8 that makes it a suitable cannabinoid for anxiety is that it gives a milder "high" than delta 9. Anecdotal reports show that delta 8 causes much less anxiety than delta 9 and a lucid that does not interfere with focus and clarity. Its effects on anxiety remain the same regardless of dosage, which is not the case with delta 9.
2. Delta 8 can help with pain and inflammation
According to a preclinical study published in 2018, topical administration of delta 8 significantly improved pain and inflammation in ocular lesions. The study showed that this result was achieved by activating CB1 receptors, critical for functions such as pain, sleep and metabolism.
3. Delta 8 can reduce nausea
Both delta 8 and delta 9 have been studied for nausea in cancer patients and have shown promising results. Research shows that delta 8 is better than delta 9 for nausea because it leaves no significant side effects.
4. Delta 8 can promote appetite
Delta 8 is also considered to be a stronger appetite stimulant than delta 9. A mouse study showed that delta 8 increased eating patterns by up to 22%.
Delta 9 Therapeutic Benefits
As the primary cannabinoid in marijuana, delta 9 has always been a top priority in research. Its therapeutic potential in several areas is imminent, mainly where traditional treatment does not work, even in severe cases of multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and cancer. This is what studies on the therapeutic benefits of delta 9 show:
1. Delta 9 can ease anxiety
A recent study by researchers at the University of Chicago showed that the impact of delta 9 on anxiety is dose dependent. Lower doses of 7.5 mg had a positive impact on public speaking anxiety, while higher doses of 12.5 mg elicited higher levels of perceived stress and anxiety.
2. Delta 9 can increase appetite
Increased appetite is usually linked to delta 9 due to the unbearable hunger, "or cravings" that the user experiences after smoking marijuana. Some critical applications of delta 9's appetite-stimulating benefits are in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and patients with HIV. Studies investigating these cases show elevated levels of appetite stimulants or "hunger hormones" such as leptin and ghrelin.
3. Delta 9 helps with certain types of epilepsy
Along with CBD, considered the main anticonvulsant component of cannabis, delta 9 also shows promise for treating this debilitating condition. Its effectiveness in reducing and eliminating seizures is demonstrated through two government-approved epilepsy drugs, including Epidiolex (100% CBD) and Sativex (a combination of CBD and THC).
Safety and side effects of HHC vs. Delta 8 and Delta 9
Is HHC safe? Officially, there have been no studies to speak of its safety profile. So all the research we have is based on anecdotal evidence. Although HHC is not as popular and widely used as delta 8, many people continue to use it on a daily basis.
Delta 9 is a safe cannabinoid because it is naturally extracted from the hemp plant. This is not the case with delta 8 and HHC. There have been a few incidents of corrupted delta 8 products, followed by an FDA warning about their safety. With HHC, users have not reported serious side effects.
Similar to delta 8, the risk of consuming HHC comes from the potential presence of toxic and harmful by-products in the final article resulting from the use of harsh chemicals during the manufacturing process.
Take precautions with delta 8 and HHC by always checking what is in the product you are purchasing. Ask for third-party labs for heavy metals and chemical solvents to stay safe, and if the supplier can't supply them, avoid buying them.
Regarding side effects, it is important to mention that they tend to vary, but are similar in both HHC and THC.
Users report some of the following side effects when consuming this cannabinoid:
- Dry mouth
- Red eyes
- increased hunger
When the user reacts sensitively to HHC, they report having side effects similar to consuming high doses of THC. Delta 9 tends to cause the most severe side effects of the three, but if taken in high doses, the side effects of HHC and delta 8 are also more pronounced.
The severity of THC side effects depends on the product. With THC, users are likely to experience paranoia and anxiety the first few times. If the product is mixed with high levels of CBD, the paranoia, anxiety and general psychotropic potential tend to decrease.
Full-spectrum products rich in all cannabinoids and relaxing terpenes are likely to have more balanced, non-anxiety-inducing effects. Delta 8 is much milder than delta 9, but it can cause some of the common side effects like anxiety, extreme tiredness and low blood pressure.
Some of the possible side effects of THC include:
- fast heartbeat
- Increased blood pressure
The legality of HHC vs. Delta 8 and Delta 9
We do not need to discuss the legality of delta 9 because, in the United States, THC is an illegal Schedule I substance. The exception to this federal provision is state laws that permit the sale of products rich in delta 9 within its borders.
The legal status of HHC and delta 8 is a different and very murky story. Amidst the ongoing debate, companies claim that HHC isa completely legal natural compound to sell.
The same narrative was present with delta 8. Are they natural or synthetic? Are they included in the Federal Analogues Act, which makes any analogue of a Schedule I drug (such as delta 9) an illegal substance?
These are valid questions with no clear answers, which means Delta 8 and HHC are stuck in a legal gray area. If they are deemed to be synthetics, they will be banned at the federal level as illegal substances. If they are considered natural, they will be as legal as the hemp plant if added to products with less than 0.3% THC concentration.
Manufacture of HHC x Delta 8 THC
Since delta 9 is extracted directly from the cannabis plant, let's discuss the differences in manufacturing HHC and delta 8.
Delta 8 occurs naturally in the cannabis plant, but in minuscule concentrations. Therefore, manufacturers use hemp-derived CBD (and harsh chemicals) to convert it to delta 8 THC.
Once the CBD is extracted from the plant, the laboratories use the isomerization process (transformation of a compound into one of its isomeric forms) to obtain delta 8. In the process, they use solvents that, for safety reasons, must be removed from the product end by evaporation.
HHC can be made using three different methods, but the main one is the hydrogenation of THC. HHC can be produced by hydrogenating any isomer of THC, including delta 9, delta 8 and delta 10. The process involves THC under high pressure, hydrogen atoms and catalysts such as palladium, nickel or platinum.
The other two methods are the hydrogenation of terpenes (such as citronellol) into HHC and the conversion of CBD into HHC with the help of artificial gastric juice.
Final Thoughts: HHC vs. Delta 8 and Delta 9
Each cannabinoid is unique in its own way. HHC has very similar effects and potency to delta 9, but it also has similarities to delta 8. Despite structural differences, all three cannabinoids bind to CB1 receptors in the brain, the main ones involved in regulating vital functions such as sleep, memory and metabolism.
When it comes to which one is best, it all comes down to individual preferences and what you're looking for at any given time. For a more powerful high, HHC will work better than delta 8. For a more lucid high with relaxing effects, go for delta 8.
In general, consider the legality of each product and always check third-party tests that show purity and potency.
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