The consumption of products containing Delta-8 THC or Delta-9 THC results in the processing of THC by the liver, leading to its conversion into 11-hydroxy-THC. This compound, also known as 11-OH-THC, is the primary active metabolite of THC upon absorption.
11-hydroxy THC, despite sharing psychoactive properties with THC, exhibits a faster onset of action and may hold particular efficacy for individuals experiencing chronic pain. However, the body’s absorption rates of 11-hydroxy-THC are relatively low, and maintaining its stability without the use of solvents poses challenges.
While Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) may be a superior option for medical cannabis use in managing pain and stress, 11-hydroxy THC does possess certain benefits, particularly in addressing inflammation. Regrettably, the medicinal and therapeutic properties of this metabolite, much like THC, have yet to be extensively studied.
What Is 11-hydroxy-THC?
In raw cannabis, there exists a chemical called THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid), which undergoes conversion to THC after aging and heating. Subsequently, when THC is consumed, it is metabolized in the liver, resulting in the formation of 11-hydroxy-THC and then 11-nor-9-carboxy-THC. Oral consumption of THC-infused edibles increases the concentration of 11-hydroxy-THC in the bloodstream due to the first-pass metabolism in the liver. This process is facilitated by the liver enzyme CYP2C9. Interestingly, while less THC circulates throughout the body when cannabis is consumed orally, a higher proportion is converted into 11-hydroxy-THC. Consequently, the perceived potency of orally consumed THC, even in smaller quantities, can be greater than that of inhaled THC.
When THC is inhaled through vaping or smoke, it enters the bloodstream directly through the lungs, bypassing the liver’s ability to convert a significant amount of THC into 11-hydroxy-THC.
How It Impacts the Human Body
The potency of 11-hydroxy-THC is believed to be approximately 2-3 times greater than THC, resulting in potentially more significant psychoactive effects. Unlike inhaled THC, orally consumed THC requires digestion, leading to a delayed onset of effects of around 1-2 hours.
Limited research exists on the impact of 11-hydroxy THC on the brain and body. However, the prolonged duration of edibles’ effects and the potentially heightened psychoactivity of 11-hydroxy THC suggest its potential in addressing chronic pain and insomnia. It is worth noting that individuals with low tolerance to THC may find the effects overwhelming.
How to Avoid Consuming Too Much 11-hydroxy-THC
To prevent excessive THC consumption, it is recommended to adopt a slow and gradual approach. Begin with a dosage ranging from 15 to 35 mg and allow an hour or two to assess its effects. If necessary, additional increments of 15+ mg can be consumed. Remember, it is always possible to increase the dosage, but impossible to decrease it. It is important to resist the temptation of consuming all edibles at once, as the perception of their ineffectiveness may lead to overindulgence. Many individuals have experienced heightened intoxication through this behavior. To mitigate this risk, it is advisable to have non-cannabis treats readily available, preferably ones that are wholesome and healthy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do people say the high from eating edibles is different?
Consuming edibles offers a distinct experience compared to inhaling cannabis. This is due to the process in which THC travels through the digestive system and liver, resulting in a higher conversion rate of THC to the potent 11-hydroxy-THC (11-OH-THC), which possesses enhanced psychoactive properties. Decarboxylated cannabis, when consumed orally, often yields a more intense impact than inhalation. Additionally, the effects of edibles tend to have a prolonged duration.
Why do cannabis edibles seem to have little to no effect on me?
The processing of THC varies among individuals due to differences in metabolism and genetic variations in liver enzymes like cytochrome P450. Factors such as diet, recent food intake, body-mass index (BMI), individual tolerance, and activity levels can all influence the effects of edibles. Additionally, the presence of other cannabinoids and terpenes, such as cannabidiol (CBD) and beta-caryophyllene, can impact the overall experience by potentially reducing THC’s psychoactivity.