Ever wonder why the high produced from smoking versus ingesting cannabis feels different? Look no further than cannabinoid 11-OH-THC.
Most people familiar with marijuana know about the rockstars of the cannabinoid world–THC and CBD–but there are more than 100 other cannabinoids produced by marijuana, including 11-OH-THC. And while THC is known for its psychoactive effects, there’s evidence that 11-OH-THC is more potent than THC.
What does that have to do with smoking versus eating cannabis? That requires a bit of background on cannabinoids and how they’re formed.
Most cannabinoids aren’t actually present in the cannabis plant, but are the result of chemical interactions between our bodies and cannabis. And the way we consume marijuana affects the type and concentration of cannabinoids produced.
When we smoke cannabis, it’s metabolized through the lungs and the absorbed cannabinoids are distributed throughout the body. Smoking cannabis results in only a very small amount of cannabinoids metabolized by the digestive system.
Ingesting cannabis, on the other hand, metabolizes cannabis through the digestive system. The liver breaks down THC molecules, converting them into other molecules to be eliminated from the body. One of the metabolites created during this process is 11-OH-THC. When THC is converted to 11-OH-THC, it becomes more potent.
According to the Prof of Pot:
“The levels of 11-OH-THC in your blood after smoking cannabis are only about 5% of THC levels. This is probably not enough to feel any effects from the 11-OH-THC.
However, after taking cannabis orally, the average levels of 11-OH-THC vary from 25% of THC to more than 300% of THC levels…so some people will have well over 3 times more 11-OH-THC in their body than THC after ingesting cannabis!”
The different levels of THC and 11-OH-THC are probably responsible for the different qualities of high produced from smoking or ingesting marijuana.
Citing a study that compared the potency of THC vs. 11-OH-THC, the Prof of Pot explains, “With this molecule )11-OH-THC), subjects reached nearly an 8 out of 10 on the highness scale, vs. only about a 3 out of 10 for THC.”