Delta-11 THC Vs. Delta-9 THC: What's the Difference?

Person looking at a cannabis plant with a magnifying glass for 11-Hydroxy THC

Shop this article

View all
Delta-9 Hybrid Relax
Delta-9 Hybrid Relax
Delta-9 Hybrid Relax
Delta-9 Hybrid Relax
Delta-9 Hybrid Relax
Delta-9 Hybrid Relax
Delta-9 Hybrid Relax
Delta-9 Hybrid Relax
Delta-9 Hybrid Relax
Delta-9 Hybrid Relax
Delta-9 Hybrid Relax
Delta-9 Hybrid Relax
Table Of Contents

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, generate 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 helpful.

In this article, we talk about 11-Hydroxy-THC, or Delta-11 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.

Delta 9, 10, and HHC! The gang's all here at Botany Farms.

Key Takeaways

    11-Hydroxy-THC (Delta-11 THC) is a metabolite formed after ingesting THC, specifically during the digestion process in the liver. It’s more psychoactive than Delta-9 THC and can cross the blood-brain barrier faster, resulting in longer-lasting effects. When cannabis is smoked, Delta-9 THC enters the bloodstream via the lungs. Its conversion into 11-Hydroxy-THC in the liver is fast, leading to effects that last 4-6 hours with an afterglow of up to 12 hours. When cannabis is ingested (as in edibles), Delta-9 THC is slowly converted into 11-Hydroxy-THC in the liver, leading to effects that can last up to 8 hours with an afterglow of 24 hours or more. Both 11-Hydroxy-THC and Delta-9 THC offer similar potential medical benefits, e.g., relief from pain, insomnia, glaucoma, lack of appetite, anxiety, and muscle spasms. Determining the exact dosage of 11-Hydroxy-THC is complex due to individual differences in physiology and tolerance.

What is 11-Hydroxy-THC?

11-Hydroxy-THC, or Delta-11 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 breaking down Delta-9 THC increases the bioavailability of this cannabinoid in our system.

Regardless of how you consume Delta-9 THC, your liver converts it to 11-OH-THC. However, if you smoke cannabis, the Delta-9 THC content enters 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 (Delta-11 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-THC are pretty similar to the ones caused by Delta 9. 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 may help with:

    Pain Insomnia Glaucoma Sickness Lack Of Appetite Anxiety Muscle Spasms

Unfortunately, a lack of studies on this topic and cannabis in general means we need more data to extensively understand the medical profile of 11-Hydroxy vs. Delta 9.

11-Hydroxy-THC Dosage

The exact ideal dosage of 11-Hydroxy-THC is tricky 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-THC.

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 to experience the effects.

So if you eat cannabis edibles rich in Delta-9 THC, your body transforms it into 11-Hydroxy-THC. Considering this, we will describe the effects it can generate in relation to the amounts consumed.

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 could help with cancer pain, 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 exceed the 100mg threshold, the risks of experiencing adverse effects associated with overconsumption increase. Even for high tolerance users, 150mg doses or more can generate unwanted sensations, nausea, vomiting, paranoia, or cold sweats. Therefore, we recommend lower doses.

11-Hydroxy-THC vs Delta-9 THC

Although the properties of both compounds are similar, comparing 11-Hydroxy vs. Delta 9 THC is tricky due to the lack of information regarding 11-Hydroxy-THC. But since smoking cannabis generates high levels of Delta-9 THC in the blood and that the only way to experience the effects of 11-Hydroxy is by ingesting cannabis, the more accurate comparison between Delta-11 THC 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? This depends on 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 depends on your conditions and the results you expect.

Delta-9 THC When Smoked

When you smoke cannabis, the vessels in our lungs process the Δ9-THC-laden smoke, and it passes directly into our bloodstream. Once in our bloodstream, Delta 9 begins to generate its effects, as our body begins to metabolize it. Smoking cannabis results in an increase in blood plasma concentration of Δ9-THC in minutes which 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. Decarboxylation activates THC-A, turning it into Δ9-THC. You can do this process before baking cannabis-infused edibles. In some cases, the heat applied during baking actually activates THC-A in Delta-9 THC.

In the case of edibles made with THC oil, Δ9-THC oil is usually already activated as it is heated during the oil extraction process. Once ingested, our digestive system converts Δ9-THC into 11-hydroxy THC in the 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 may last 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 the airways to irritation caused by inhaling smoke or hot fumes from smoking cannabis.

Furthermore, cannabis edibles can help reduce nausea, insomnia, and pain. They also offer therapeutic benefits to users who don't like smoking.

Metabolizing Delta-9 THC into 11-OH-THC

The effects of Delta-9 THC and how your body metabolizes it depend on how it enters your system. The time it takes to experience the effects also depends on several factors, such as the bioavailability and the amount consumed.

For example, when you smoke cannabis, the THC reaches our bloodstream through the vessels of our lungs. Once Delta-9 THC is in your blood, it begins to exert its effects. But in this case, most of the effects we experience are those of Delta-9 THC since little circulatory blood passes through the liver, and therefore, little THC changes into 11-Hydroxy-THC.

After Delta-9 THC enters the bloodstream, your liver converts it into 11-OH-THC. From there, it travels to the brain. Once 11-OH-THC passes the blood-brain barrier, it takes effect.

The difference between smoking and eating cannabis is that the THC content, when ingested, is processed in the liver. Therefore, much of this THC becomes 11-hydroxy-THC. The time it takes for you to feel the impact of a cannabis edible reflects the time it takes for your body to metabolize it. But once this begins, the therapeutic power of 11-OH-THC starts to manifest.

After about 8 hours, the effects of 11-OH-THC begin to dissipate, 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 fatty tissues for weeks. Urine drug tests specifically target COOH to determine if a person has used THC-rich cannabis.

11-Hydroxy Metabolite vs THC

The metabolic enzymes of your body modify and break the compounds in everything you 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 is 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 capacity, with the difference that its effect onset is slower than that of 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 subjective and varies depending on the personal needs of each user and the effects they want to achieve.

Looking for more info on Delta 11 Hydroxy THC vs Delta 9? Check out this video.

This comparison highlights the differences and similarities between these two compounds, emphasizing their unique properties and effects.

Aspect 11-Hydroxy-THC (Delta-11 THC) Delta-9 THC
Occurrence Does not occur naturally in the cannabis plant; formed in the body after ingesting THC. Occurs naturally in the cannabis plant.
Formation Formed in the liver during digestion of Delta-9 THC. Inhaled or ingested directly as part of the cannabis plant.
Bioavailability Higher bioavailability due to the body's metabolic process. Lower bioavailability when smoked due to limited liver processing.
Psychoactivity More psychoactive than Delta-9 THC, it can cross the blood-brain barrier faster. Psychoactive but less so compared to 11-Hydroxy-THC.
Effects Long-lasting effects; responsible for the "munchies" (appetite enhancement). Shorter peak effects; various therapeutic and recreational effects.
Usage Found in cannabis-infused edibles; affects depend on the digestive process and liver function. Smoked or ingested; effects vary based on method of consumption.
Duration of Effects Longer onset time, but effects can last up to 8 hours with an afterglow of 24 hours or more. Quick onset when smoked, with effects lasting 4-6 hours and an afterglow of up to 12 hours.
Medical Benefits Similar to Delta-9 THC, including relief from pain, insomnia, glaucoma, sickness, lack of appetite, anxiety, and muscle spasms. Similar to 11-Hydroxy-THC, with a range of therapeutic benefits.
Dosage and Tolerance Tricky to determine exact dosage; varies based on individual physiology and tolerance. Dosage varies based on form (smoked or ingested) and individual tolerance.
Metabolization Only formed when Delta-9 THC is ingested and processed by the liver. Metabolized into 11-Hydroxy-THC by the liver when ingested; direct effects when smoked.
Suitability Preferred by those who need long-lasting effects and those who cannot smoke. Choice depends on user's needs, whether for recreational or therapeutic use.

Final Thoughts

How you consume Delta-9 THC determines, to a large extent, the effects. Generally, smoking cannabis results into faster effects compared to edibles. That's because the THC enters the bloodstream directly, leading to faster effects onset.

On the other hand, edibles are processed in the liver from where the THC metabolite, i.e., 11-hydroxy-THC enter the bloodstream. This creates more intense and longer-lasting effects given than this metabolite is thought to be more psychoactive than THC.

Taking all these into consideration, it's clear why edibles typically hit harder than smoked cannabis. Overall, this underscores the importance of eating edibles cautiously for the best cannabis experience.

Reading next

CBD vs. Delta 8
White Sherbet strain nug