11-Hydroxy-THC and the Effect of Cannabis Edibles

Edibles are often said to produce a potent, more pronounced experience than other consumption methods, and the reason for this is 11-Hydroxy-THC. 

Those already familiar with cannabis cannabinoids will find this specific compound to be peculiar. Unlike its more popular THC and CBD cousins, this cannabinoid is not found naturally within the cannabis plant itself.

Instead, it’s produced within the body.

Canada’s rollout of Cannabis 2.0 has made edibles available for Canadians across the country with warnings cautioning against overconsumption due to its stronger effects. While cannabis edibles are a form of cannabis concentrate, the secret to their potency isn’t found in their THC content but the human body. 

What is 11-Hydroxy-THC? 

what is 11 hydroxy thc

When it comes to cannabis, not all consumption methods are equal. Depending on your consumption method, the way the body processes cannabis can vary in onset, duration, and potency. 

Contrary to popular belief, we cannot consume cannabis flower in its ‘raw,’ uncured state to elicit its effects. For cannabis to be “activated,” it must go through a process known as decarboxylation. Decarboxylation in cannabis involves the removal of a carboxyl ring from THCA, the acid form of THC.

THCA is non-psychoactive and won’t have any effect in its inactive state. Drying, curing, and combusting cannabis flower will transform THCA from its acid form to its bioavailable form of THC. From there, the cannabinoids are diffused through the lungs to the rest of the body.

Since edibles are consumed instead of inhaled, the body’s metabolizing and processing of cannabinoids will differ greatly. 

Unlike smoking or vaping, the cannabinoids are metabolized instead of diffused throughout the body. When ingested, cannabis edibles enter the stomach and digestive tract. After digestive enzymes break the edible down, the cannabinoids are processed by the liver, where the THC is converted into 11-Hydroxy-THC. 

THC vs 11-Hydroxy-THC – What’s the Difference?

The most significant difference between 11-Hydroxy-THC and regular THC is its potency. While regular decarboxylated THC has to be circulated through the lungs and the body before it can enter the brain, 11-Hydroxy-THC enters the bloodstream after being processed by the liver. 

This special step, known as first-pass metabolism, is undertaken by the liver to filter out foreign substances and compounds, such as cannabinoids. While this prevents cannabinoids from circulating throughout the body’s bloodstream, this step also converts THC into 11-Hydroxy-THC. 

This additional step also allows this cannabinoid to penetrate the blood-brain barrier more quickly and efficiently, explaining its more potent effects. 

Since edibles are affected by the body’s metabolism, those with faster metabolisms may feel the onset of effects quicker than those with a slower metabolism. Additional variables, such as the amount of food one eats beforehand, can also affect the onset rate. 

Cannabis Edibles and the Hidden Cannabinoid

Cannabis edibles present a fun, accurate, and precise avenue for cannabis dosing, but they can also lead to a negative experience if the proper steps and measures aren’t taken. Ever since their first introduction into their market, guidelines surrounding the consumption of cannabis edibles have stressed the importance of starting low and going slow. 

To get the best experience out of your cannabis edibles, start with a low dosage, wait for the onset of effects to activate, and then decide if you want to reduce or increase the dosage for the next time. With knowledge about the 11-Hydroxy-THC cannabinoid, you’re well equipped to enjoy cannabis edibles to the fullest! 

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