What Is H4CBD?

Published August 31, 2022
What Is H4CBD? - Secret Nature

As far as chemical compounds go, cannabinoids are pretty malleable, which means it's easy to tinker with them in a lab. Some of this experimentation has resulted in Frankenstein’s monster abominations like Spice and K2, but other attempts at cannabinoid alchemy have resulted in substances that might offer improved benefits compared to their original forms.

H4CBD is one of the newest cannabinoids to enter the market, but it’s already making waves as a slightly stronger, quasi-intoxicating form of CBD. What is H4CBD, is it better than CBD, and where can you buy it? Find the answers in this guide.

Is there a cannabinoid called H4CBD?

Yes, hexahydrocannabidiol (H4CBD), also known as hydrogenated CBD, is a synthetic form of CBD first produced in the mid-20th century. Only of interest for research purposes until relatively recently, a handful of H4CBD products have now appeared online as consumers become aware of this cannabinoid’s unique benefits.

How is H4CBD made?

H4CBD is made by adding hydrogen atoms to CBD molecules. The process of making H4CBD can be likened to manufacturing margarine in a factory by hydrogenating vegetable oil. While hydrogenation may not be a particularly safe practice in food production, there’s no reason to believe it has a negative impact on concentrated extracts like H4CBD.

When was H4CBD discovered?

H4CBD was discovered in 1940 as part of the efforts of the Todd group, a pioneering cohort of cannabis researchers responsible for the identification of dozens of cannabinoids and the synthesis of dozens more. In the early days, H4CBD was produced by catalyzing CBD with a metal alloy, but safer processes are usually used in today’s H4CBD products.

What does H4CBD do?

Most of the information we have on the effects of H4CBD comes from a single study. In 2006, a research team lead by Shimon Ben-Shabat determined that — like most cannabinoids — H4CBD has some degree of anti-inflammatory potential, but more importantly that this form of CBD appears to interact strongly with your CB1 receptors, something CBD itself does not do. A 2017 research review referenced Ben-Shabat’s study, but it did not mention any further research into the pharmacology of H4CBD.

To have any degree of certainty regarding the potential effects of H4CBD, more research will need to be done. Anecdotal evidence is beginning to come in, however, that generally supports the effects of H4CBD that are suggested by research. This cannabinoid appears to affect users similarly to CBD but with a considerably higher degree of psychoactivity.

How is H4CBD different from CBD?

H4CBD is inherently different from CBD in that it is technically synthetic. Hydrogenation is considered to be one of the simpler forms of synthesis, but because its chemical structure has been altered to accommodate more hydrogen items, H4CBD can no longer be considered a strictly natural cannabinoid.

CBD and H4CBD also appear to be quite different in terms of the effects they provide. One of the perks of CBD for many users is that it is entirely non-intoxicating while still providing many of the benefits associated with cannabis. H4CBD seems to waver on the non-intoxicating side of the spectrum, but by a razor-thin margin.

H4CBD isn’t exactly THC, but it isn’t CBD either. In this way, H4CBD is similar to many of the THC alternatives that have recently appeared on the market, but in this case, the substance in question is a CBD alternative instead. Given that cannabinoids aren’t all that chemically different from each other, repeated tinkering was bound to produce options that spanned the entire spectrum of psychoactivity.

Is H4CBD better than CBD?

If H4CBD were simply stronger than CBD in the ways that CBD is already effective, it might be fair to consider this synthesized cannabinoid a direct upgrade. CBD and H4CBD are two different animals, however, so it’s hard to compare them side-by-side.

Don’t try H4CBD because you’re looking for a different form of CBD. Try H4CBD because you’re determined to experience something new even if you’re not quite sure where your journey will take you.

Is H4CBD synthetic?

Yes, H4CBD is technically synthetic even if only in the sense that margarine is synthetic. Hydrogenation may be a relatively simple procedure, but it undeniably changes the chemical structure of affected compounds, making them synthetic.

Is H4CBD safe?

We don’t know enough about H4CBD to remark on its safety. All we can say is that the general safety of CBD has now been firmly established, and H4CBD and CBD aren’t that different chemically speaking. Hydrogenation can, however, sometimes alter compounds for the worse, so we’ll need to wait for more research to be done on the subject of H4CBD safety.

Is H4CBD legal?

The legality of H4CBD is disputable. In general, the 2018 Farm Bill labeled cannabinoids other than delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol “industrial hemp,” removing these substances from the DEA’s definition of “marijuana.”

From the beginning, though, the bill’s vague wording caused concern. Clear guidance was not provided regarding chemically altered cannabinoids, which were nonetheless already appearing on the market at that time.

It’s only recently that the FDA has come out and “clarified” that the definition of marijuana only applies to delta 9 THC, but the legal status of chemically altered cannabinoids like H4CBD remains largely unarticulated at the federal level. In the absence of any looming danger signs, online cannabinoid producers are going ahead and offering H4CBD products.

Can you buy H4CBD online?

Yes, it is now possible to buy H4CBD products online, but this cannabinoid is usually only available in bulk quantities. Expect consumer-grade H4CBD products to become available as awareness of this chemically altered cannabinoid spreads.

What types of H4CBD products are there?

Right now, we aren’t aware of any consumer-grade H4CBD products available online. You can buy high-purity H4CBD extracts, but only in bulk quantities. While samples of H4CBD extracts are generally inexpensive, it’s hard to say whether they’re suitable for human consumption.

The bottom line: Should I try H4CBD?

H4CBD is a cannabinoid that’s still too new for us to provide any direct recommendations. If it’s true that H4CBD is a slightly-intoxicating-yet-still-safe form of CBD, we should expect for it to appear on the consumer market over the coming months and years. Check to see if consumer-grade H4CBD products are available at the time you read this article, and assess each item based on its quality and safety.

H4CBD cannabinoid FAQ

Learn more about H4CBD in this FAQ section:

1. Does H4CBD get you high?

That’s a hard question to answer. H4CBD doesn’t appear to get you high per se, but it also doesn’t offer the strictly non-intoxicating effects of CBD.

Look at it this way. If delta 8 is like delta 9 THC but with slightly reduced psychoactivity, H4CBD is what happens if you take CBD and slightly increase its psychoactivity. There’s still quite a gap in the middle between the effects of H4CBD and delta 8, but they both verge on a central point where intoxication and non-intoxication are balanced.

2. Is it true that H4CBD is 100x stronger than CBD?

Any claims that H4CBD is outright 100 times stronger than CBD are oversimplified. H4CBD isn’t stronger than CBD in the ways CBD is strong — by stimulating your CB1 receptors, it’s effective in a way that CBD isn’t at all.

Plus, even the idea that H4CBD stimulates the CB1 receptors is entirely based on the results of a single study from more than a decade ago that has not yet received any follow-up. As a result, it’s reasonable to reserve a healthy degree of skepticism regarding claims made about H4CBD.

3. Is H4CBD the same as hydrogenated CBD?

H4CBD is a form of hydrogenated CBD, but it isn’t the only kind. Another option is H2CBD, which only contains two added hydrogen atoms instead of four. In fact, a variety of different hydrogenated forms of CBD have been produced, and they all have unique chemical structures and effects.

4. Is H4CBD the same as HHC?

No, H4CBD and HHC are completely different compounds even if they have similar origins. In the same way that H4CBD is the hydrogenated form of CBD, HHC is the hydrogenated form of THC. Since the cannabinoids they come from are different, though, HHC and H4CBD have very different effects.

5. What is CBD-DMH?

CBD-DMH is another example of an altered form of CBD that has stronger psychoactive effects. Limited research into this synthetic cannabinoid indicates that it affects the conventional cannabinoid receptors just like H4CBD.

It’s important to keep in mind, however, that there are multiple isomers of CBD-DMH, and one does not have any considerable psychoactive effects. It doesn’t appear that there are any consumer-grade CBD-DMH products yet.

6. What are congeneric cannabinoids?

In chemistry and biology, the term “congeneric” is used to refer to plants or substances that come from similar genuses. Though not commonly used in the context of cannabis, the term “congeneric cannabinoids” is sometimes used to refer to the additional cannabinoids that accompany dominant cannabinoids like CBD or THC in cannabis.

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