As soon as you begin to familiarize yourself with the world of cannabis, you begin to hear about cannabinoids such as THC and CBD. And while the most likely thing is that if you came to this article, you already know what we are talking about, let’s briefly recap.
Cannabinoids, specifically THC, are an active component of cannabis that, when smoked, are mostly responsible for generating the effects that have created so much controversy over the years. At the same time, the series of effects that THC causes can be therapeutic and of great help for some users. However, delta 9 is only the tip of the iceberg. This cannabinoid has some variants that can fulfill different functions in the body depending on how you consume it, act in different ways, and generate other effects.
In this article, we will talk a little about 11-Hydroxy-THC, a variant of THC that is not so well known to most cannabis users. You may have heard that THC-rich cannabis-infused edibles hit harder than just smoking a joint. Well, 11-Hydroxy-THC has a lot to do with this.
But how are 11-Hydroxy-THC and Delta 9 THC related? What happens to THC once it enters our body? Why do edibles hit harder than smoking cannabis? In this article, you will find the answers to these questions. We will delve a little deeper into how our body metabolizes THC and what happens to this cannabinoid as our body digests it.
What is 11-hydroxy-THC?
11-Hydroxy-THC is a metabolite that occurs in our body after we ingest THC. Our gastrointestinal system, including the liver, breaks down the famous Delta-9 during the digestion process, thus forming 11-Hydroxy, also known as 11-OH-THC.
We must highlight that 11-Hydroxy-THC does not occur naturally in the cannabis plant, nor does it come from smoking cannabis. 11-Hydroxy-THC only happens when we ingest cannabis and only if it is adequately decarboxylated. The way our bodies absorb and assimilate 11-Hydroxy-THC is what gives cannabis-infused edibles their distinctive high and makes them “kick harder.”
How Does 11-Hydroxy-THC Work?
The transformation of Delta-9 to 11-Hydroxy-THC begins in the stomach but mostly takes place in the liver. There, the organ transfers 11-OH-THC to our bloodstream through which it can reach our brain to generate its effects. Then, 11-Hydroxy-THC, like the rest of the cannabinoids, interacts with our endocannabinoid system. The difference is that the work our body does to break the Delta-9 THC increases the bioavailability of this cannabinoid in our system.
Regardless of how you consume Delta 9 THC, your liver will convert it to 11-OH-THC. However, if you smoke cannabis, the Delta 9-THC content in it will enter your body through your lungs, and as only a little circulatory blood enters the liver at a time, the conversion of Delta 9 THC to 11-OH-THC is much slower.
Benefits Of 11-Hydroxy-THC
Although 11-Hydroxy-THC and Delta 9 are closely related, the human body assimilates and metabolizes them differently. Also, the effects of 11-Hydroxy-THC, compared to delta 9, can vary a bit.
Some studies suggest that 11-OH-THC is more psychoactive than Delta 9 THC and can cross the blood-brain barrier significantly faster. In addition, 11-OH-THC is the compound most responsible for the “munchies” because it is an appetite enhancer. In fact, the lag between Delta 9 THC consumption and munchies is only due to the time it takes for the liver to metabolize Delta 9 into 11-OH-THC.
Other than this, the effects and benefits of 11 hydroxy are pretty similar to the ones caused by Delta 9. As we said, no matter how you consume Delta 9, eventually, the body digests it into 11-OH-THC. Among other benefits of 11-Hydroxy-THC, we have that this compound can help with:
- Lack Of Appetite
- Muscle Spasms
Unfortunately, restrictions on cannabis research create a lack of studies on this topic, and we still need more data to fully differentiate the medical profile of 11 Hydroxy vs. Delta 9.
The exact ideal dosage of 11-Hydroxy-THC is quite tricky, if not impossible, to determine. However, when you make cannabis edibles, they initially contain Delta-9 THC. So, we can link the dosage of 11-Hydroxy-THC to the consumption of cannabis edibles because the body eventually metabolizes Delta 9 THC content into 11-Hydroxy.
Each person has a unique internal physiology, and therefore, each medication experience can vary greatly depending on the person, especially herbal medications. With cannabis, several factors can make a difference, such as digestive factors, tolerance or history of previous use, and the sensitivity and functionality of each person’s endocannabinoid system. For example, some people are susceptible to cannabis and may not need doses greater than 1 to 5 mg of cannabis when ingested to achieve its full potential.
So if you eat cannabis edibles rich in Delta 9 THC, you already know that your body will transform it into 11-Hydroxy-THC. Considering this, we will describe a little the effects it can generate in relation to the amounts ingested. Thus, we find that:
- 1 to 2.5mg THC: Effects include increased focus and creativity. The relief of mild symptoms of stress, anxiety, and pain. This dosage is ideal for patients looking to microdose.
- 2.5 to 15mg of THC: You may experience an inevitable deterioration in coordination and perception and a certain feeling of euphoria. At the same time, get relief from stronger symptoms of anxiety and pain. In addition, this dose improves the quality of sleep.
- 15 to 30mg of THC: May cause impaired perception and coordination. Unaccustomed patients may experience some unwanted effects. This dose is ideal for previously medicated patients with a history of higher tolerance and for patients seeking help to treat insomnia.
- 30 to 50mg of THC: For patients with a significant tolerance to THC or with low absorption of cannabinoids. Coordination and perception will definitely be affected, and this type of dose can generate an intense euphoria in unaccustomed users.
- 50 to 100mg THC: This 11-Hydroxy-THC dosage is only for experienced users with a high tolerance to THC. It is ideal for cancer patients, inflammatory disorders, and conditions that need high doses of THC. However, this amount of 11 hydroxy has a high probability of impairing perception and coordination. Moreover, this compound can generate some negative effects such as increased heart rate, nausea, and pain.
Once you pass the 100mg threshold, the risks of experiencing adverse effects associated with overconsumption increase. Even for users with a high tolerance, 150mg doses or more can generate unwanted sensations, nausea, vomiting, paranoia, or cold sweats. Therefore, we recommend not exceeding these limits.
11 Hydroxy THC vs Delta 9 THC
Although the properties of both compounds go hand in hand, making an exact comparison of 11 Hydroxy vs. Delta 9 THC would be a bit tricky due to the lack of specific information regarding 11-Hydroxy-THC. But considering that smoking cannabis generates high peaks of Delta 9 THC in blood and that the only way to experience the effects of 11 Hydroxy is by ingesting cannabis, the more accurate comparison we can make to face 11 Hydroxy vs. Delta 9 would be smoking vs. eating cannabis.
Although they produce similar effects, 11-Hydroxy-THC and Delta 9 are not the same, and neither are any of the other compounds with the acronym THC in their name. The composition of these two compounds is entirely different, as is that of smoking and eating cannabis. As we already mentioned, 11-OH-THC is significantly more psychoactive than Delta 9 THC, and its effects are also long-lasting.
Which of the two compounds is better? Without a doubt, we believe that the best answer to this question would be that it depends on you and what your needs are. Whether your interests are recreational or therapeutic use, deciding whether 11-Hydroxy-THC is better than Delta 9 or vice versa will depend on your conditions and the results and effects you expect to feel when using cannabis.
Delta 9 THC When Smoked
When we smoke cannabis, the vessels in our lungs process the Δ9-THC-laden smoke, and it passes directly into our bloodstream through them. Once in our bloodstream, Delta 9 begins to generate its effects, and our body begins to metabolize it. Smoking cannabis results in a peak in blood plasma concentration of Δ9-THC in minutes that drops dramatically in an hour or two.
The above doesn’t mean that the effects completely pass after two hours. In fact, the effects of smoking Delta-9 THC can last from 4 to 6 hours with an afterglow effect of up to 12 hours or sometimes even till the other day.
Delta 9 THC Edibles
Raw cannabis contains THC-A, an acidic, non-activated form of THC. It is heat or a process called decarboxylation that activates THC-A, turning it into Δ9-THC. You can do this process before baking the cannabis-infused edibles, or, in some cases, the heat applied during the edible bake time may be enough to activate the THC-A in Delta-9 THC.
In the case of edibles made with THC oil, Δ9-THC oil is usually already activated as it receives heat during the oil extraction process. Once ingested, our digestive system converts Δ9-THC into 11-Hydroxy THC in our liver.
The 11-Hydroxy-THC high usually takes longer to kick in, but you will feel its effects up to 8 hours after ingestion with an afterglow that, in most cases, lasts 24 hours or more depending on the dose. Eating cannabis edibles produces concentrations of 11-Hydroxy-THC that remain stable for hours; this is why many people find cannabis edibles more helpful in dealing with their conditions.
We must not forget that for some patients, smoking is not a viable option. Marijuana edibles eliminate the need to expose airways to irritation caused by inhaling smoke or hot fumes from smoking cannabis. Furthermore, cannabis edibles can help reduce nausea, insomnia and better deal with pain. They also offer the option of enjoying the therapeutic properties of cannabis to those patients who cannot smoke or run any kind of risk concerning their respiratory tract.
Metabolizing Delta 9-THC Into 11-OH-THC
The process that Delta 9 THC fulfills and how our body metabolizes it depends greatly on how it enters our system. The time it takes us to experience the effects of THC also depends on several factors, such as the bioavailability of the form of THC we are consuming and the amount consumed.
For example, when we smoke cannabis, the THC content reaches our bloodstream through the vessels of our lungs. Once Delta 9 THC is in our blood, it begins to exert its effects. But in this case, most of the effects we experience are those of Delta 9 THC since very little circulatory blood passes to our liver, and therefore, very little of this Delta 9 THC has the chance to become 11-Hydroxy-THC.
After Delta 9 THC is in our body, and our liver converts it into 11-OH-THC, it returns to the bloodstream. From there, it travels to our brain. Once 11-OH-THC passes the blood barrier that protects our brain, it takes effect.
The difference between smoking and eating cannabis is that the Delta 9 THC content, when ingested, is processed entirely by our liver and not by our lungs. Therefore, more of this Delta 9 THC becomes 11-Hydroxy-THC. The time it takes for us to feel the impact of a cannabis edible is usually the time it takes for our bodies to begin to digest. But once this begins, all the therapeutic power of 11-OH-THC starts to generate its effects in our body.
After about 8 hours, the effects of 11-OH-THC begin to disappear, and after a day, they are practically indistinguishable. Once the 11-Hydroxy-THC completes this cycle, it breaks down into COOH, an inert form of THC that remains in the fat of our body even for weeks. Urine drug tests specifically target COOH to determine if the person has used THC-rich cannabis within the previous weeks.
11 Hydroxy Metabolite vs THC
The metabolic enzymes of our body modify and break the compounds of everything we eat. THC is no exception. These digestive enzymes and the process carried out by THC in the liver are responsible for generating this by-product known as the metabolite of 11-Hydroxy-THC.
Comparing THC with 11-Hydroxy-THC would be practically the same as comparing smoking cannabis vs. eating it. However, it is vital to highlight that if you eat fresh cannabis without first applying heat to activate THC-A into THC, you will most likely not feel the effects you might expect since THC-A alone is not psychoactive.
THC stimulates a part of the brain that responds to pleasure, just like food and sex. This stimulus releases dopamine in the brain, which can create a feeling of relaxation and euphoria. 11-hydroxy-THC has this same capacity, with the difference that its effect onset is slower than THC. Nevertheless, the 11-hydroxy-THC metabolite can be more psychoactive and generate more stable and long-lasting effects than THC.
Either way, deciding which of these two compounds is the best is a very subjective opinion and can vary depending on the personal needs of each user and the effects they want to achieve.