Why Do Edibles Get Me Higher? Learn About 11-Hydroxy-THC

Why Do Edibles Get Me Higher? Learn About 11-Hydroxy-THC

Published on 10/27/21

Many cannabis users of all ages have a story about edibles. Perhaps they did not know the brownies were made with marijuana, maybe they ate a gummy and nothing happened so they ate another, or perhaps the edible was so delicious and well-made that before they knew it they had consumed several. Regardless of the situation, the moral of the story is usually that edibles high can provide a very different experience (potentially unpleasant if overdone) than an inhalation high. 

Edible High vs. Smoking High


Eating cannabis is different from smoking because when eaten, our bodies convert Delta-9 -tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the strong psychoactive chemical in marijuana into a compound that is more powerful than what is delivered when cannabis is inhaled. How do edibles work? When cannabis is consumed, the Delta-9-THC it contains enters the digestive tract. Once it reaches the small intestine, it is absorbed by the liver. The liver detoxifies potentially harmful chemicals and breaks down and secretes compounds (like THC) that can be toxic to the body so they can more easily exit the system. This can happen by transforming compounds into what are known as metabolites, hence our use of the term "metabolism." When the Delta-9-THC makes its way to the liver, it is metabolized into its metabolite which is known as 11-Hydroxy-THC. 

When cannabis is inhaled, very little metabolism takes place because it is absorbed directly by the lungs. The Delta-9-THC in the smoke then leaves the lungs and moves rapidly to other body tissues. Any Delta-9-THC in the blood will eventually make it to the liver and be converted to 11-Hydroxy-THC, but it a very small amount compared with what is made when cannabis is eaten. 

What Exactly is 11-Hydroxy-THC?

Quite simply, it is a very unique cannabinoid because it is not found in cannabis or any cannabis products. It is a powerful and potent chemical known to have medicinal properties that is created by the body by breaking down Delta-9-THC. It is especially popular in the medical marijuana community because it is created when cannabis is consumed - not smoked - and its therapeutic effects are more intense and last longer, which is critical for long-term pain relief and anti-inflammatory support. The effects of edibles can also obviously be powerfully psychoactive due to the strength of 11-Hydroxy-THC. When it comes to edibles vs. smoking, edibles with the same amount of Delta-9-THC as flower will provide a much more powerful cerebral and physical experience. The fascinating compound was discovered around 1970 as cannabis research began to take off and more information about Delta-9-THC and how it interacts with the human body became available.

Benefits of Edibles


We have already touched on a few of the benefits of edibles, but it is worth digging a bit deeper. A prime benefit of edibles is the lack of combustion. There is no inhalation, there is no smoke in the lungs, and there is no coughing. For medical marijuana patients, in particular, this is a huge advantage that edibles have over flower. There is also an incredible variety of edible options. Sure, the classic gummies and chocolates are easy enough to find, but edibles can also contain other beneficial ingredients that might spur appetite or relieve symptoms that cannabis does not address. Some might be calorie-free or vegan to fit a certain diet. Edibles also have precisely measured THC amounts that make homing in on a proper dosage relatively easy. 

Other than the possibility of overconsumption and an unpleasant experience, are there any downsides to edibles? Do edibles mess up your liver? At the moment, there is little evidence from the scientific community that edibles can be physically dangerous. There simply have not been enough studies done regarding Delta-9-THC, 11-Hydroxy-THC and the liver. As with any substance, moderation is most likely the key. Heavy edible consumption will lead to the development of a tolerance that will likely not be healthy. Always check the packaging to understand what might be in the edible other than cannabis. Remember: you are what you eat. For more information on how to safely consume edibles, click here.

Are you a cannabis edible lover? Why do you prefer them over other types of weed? Do you have a favorite type or brand? Let us know in the comments section!

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