Most people know that cannabis edibles last longer and often give a more intense, full-body effect. So why do cannabis edibles feel so different? This can be explained by exploring the effects of the potent metabolic byproduct, 11-hydroxy-THC.
11-hydroxy-THC is one of our naturally occurring endocannabinoids; meaning it’s made in the body. After delta-8 or delta-9 THC has been swallowed, the body breaks it down and metabolizes it via the liver. 11-hydroxy-THC is a metabolite of the other tetrahydrocannabinols and is regarded as being much more potent than its precursors.
An early study compared the effects of THC and 11-hydroxy-THC. Researchers discovered that when volunteers were given equivalent one milligram doses intravenously of either compound, 11-hydroxy-THC resulted in a faster onset and a more intense psychoactive experience than delta-9 THC.
The liver is responsible for this transformation, and specifically, the drug-metabolizing enzyme known as cytochrome P2C9 or CYP2C9. Even when you smoke, your liver still sees some delta-9 and turns it into 11-hydroxy-THC, but you get way more 11-hydroxy-THC when you eat cannabis.
As with other cannabinoids, 11-hydroxy-THC binds to the CB1 receptor; but in this case, it mimics all the known effects of delta-9 THC, but tenfold. The peak concentration of 11-hydroxy-THC is about 1.5 hours after consumption. Effects can last anywhere from one hour to six (and some have reported more) depending on the dose and individual’s tolerance level. It’s critical that users have access to this potency information so that they can dose with confidence.