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What is 11-Hydroxy-THC?

Published December 05, 2022
What is 11-Hydroxy-THC? - Secret Nature

The more THC forms emerge, the more effort it takes to keep all of them all straight. That’s why we’ll endeavor to explain what makes 11-hydroxy-THC unique in this guide.

This alternative type of THC is interesting enough to be worthy of further study, and it’s also easy enough to mix up with similar cannabinoids that it’s imperative to carefully explain exactly what 11-hydroxy-THC is — and isn’t. Read on to learn more.

What is the cannabinoid 11-hydroxy-THC?

The cannabinoid known as 11-hydroxy-THC (also written 11-OH-THC) is a natural metabolite of THC that is produced in the body during digestion. It’s also possible to expose THC to synthetic human digestive enzymes to prematurely convert it into 11-hydroxy-THC, potentially providing a faster onset of effects and a more powerful high.

11-hydroxy-THC is not to be confused with delta-11 tetrahydrocannabinol (delta 11 or d11), an isomer of delta 9 THC featuring a double carbon bond in a different position on its body. Delta 11 has its own form of 11-hydroxy-THC that appears when it is digested by your body. Unlike 11-hydroxy-THC, delta 11 is not a metabolite of conventional THC — it’s an entirely separate cannabinoid.

How is 11-hydroxy-THC made?

In the human body, 11-hydroxy-THC naturally occurs as delta 9 THC breaks down. In a laboratory setting, delta 9 THC molecules must be exposed to synthetic human digestive enzymes to transform into 11-hydroxy-THC.

Generally speaking, this process does not involve any steps that do not already occur when your body processes THC naturally. In the process of 11-hydroxy-THC production, however, it’s possible to introduce contaminants that cannot be present in all-natural cannabinoid products.

When was 11-hydroxy-THC discovered?

The first official mention of 11-hydroxy-THC we could find was in a report prepared for the Life Sciences Division of the United States Army in 1970. In this report, the fact that 11-hydroxy-THC is a metabolite of THC is treated with such familiarity that it’s assumed cannabis researchers were aware of its existence before this point.

From here on out, 11-hydroxy-THC continues to feature relatively prominently in research conducted into the pharmacology of THC in human and animal subjects. As the primary metabolite of THC in the human body, 11-hydroxy-THC has drawn nearly the same degree of research attention as THC itself, but it’s only recently that online brands have started formulating 11-hydroxy-THC into products.

What does 11-hydroxy-THC do?

According to a mix of anecdotal testimony and scientific research, 11-hydroxy-THC appears to kick in faster and more potently than normal THC. This only makes sense — compared to conventional THC, 11-hydroxy-THC is exactly the same except it has been “pre-digested” into the form that is most bioavailable in the human body.

A more recent animal study conducted to determine the effects of 11-hydroxy-THC determined that 11-hydroxy-THC may be up to seven times more potent than conventional THC within certain contexts. This position lines up with testimony collected from individuals who have used 11-hydroxy-THC, who report that this cannabinoid behaved far more potently than they expected.

How is 11-hydroxy-THC different from THC?

11-hydroxy-THC is more intimately related to conventional THC than perhaps any other alternative form of THC currently available on the internet. Alternative natural forms of THC like delta 8 are unique cannabinoids with their own multitude of forms, and the various synthesized forms of THC that are also now available online usually consist of THC mixed with another substance.

In the case of 11-hydroxy-THC, on the other hand, you have a substance THC naturally turns into based on environmental conditions. The only close comparison would be cannabinol (CBN), the form THC takes when exposed to UV rays or oxidative stress.

While CBN is less potent than THC, however, all appearances indicate that 11-hydroxy-THC is significantly superior to THC in terms of raw strength. Even THCA, the form THC takes before decarboxylation, is inactive until converted, so 11-hydroxy-THC seems to reign alone as the sole natural form of delta 9 THC that offers increased potency over the original.

Is 11-hydroxy-THC better than THC?

We wouldn’t say 11-hydroxy-THC is objectively better than THC in every category. There’s the annoying fact to contend with, after all, that any form of 11-hydroxy-THC has been synthetically converted using approximations of human digestive enzymes.

Even though 11-hydroxy-THC is inherently a natural metabolite of THC, you can’t make this cannabinoid outside the human body using natural means. For this reason alone, conventional THC may continue to be the preferable option for individuals who want their cannabis as natural as possible and aren’t interested in chasing the greatest-possible potency.

Is 11-hydroxy-THC synthetic?

When it is produced in the human body in the natural course of digestion, 11-hydroxy-THC is 100% natural. To make 11-hydroxy-THC outside a human (or animal) body, however, synthetic digestive enzymes must be applied to THC. This type of transformation meets the definition of “synthesis,” making 11-hydroxy-THC products bought online technically synthetic even if the danger of converting cannabinoids using digestive enzymes is generally considered to be low.

Is 11-hydroxy-THC safe?

To our knowledge, the safety of 11-hydroxy-THC has not been researched. Until recently, THC was simply not offered in this half-digested form, so all relevant research into 11-hydroxy-THC regards this cannabinoid as a metabolite of THC, not as its own substance.

Since all THC eventually becomes 11-hydroxy-THC in your system, this cannabinoid should generally be considered as safe as THC. Synthesizing 11-hydroxy-THC in a lab, however, opens up a whole host of new factors that might leave opportunities for contamination or other safety concerns.

Is 11-hydroxy-THC legal?

Though it treats natural and synthetic cannabinoids differently, the United States federal government has signaled that it intends to focus the brunt of regulatory and enforcement efforts on delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, leaving other cannabinoids alone — at least for the time being.

The FDA and DEA have repeatedly clarified that the amended Controlled Substances Act (1970) definition of “marijuana” under the Agriculture Improvement Act (2018) now refers exclusively to delta 9 THC, not the whole host of THC alternatives that have recently appeared online.

This position does not mean that the feds will never regulate THC metabolites and isomers. For the moment, though, the letter of the law appears to omit 11-hydroxy-THC from federal cannabis prohibition.

Can you buy 11-hydroxy-THC online?

Yes, 11-hydroxy-THC products are now becoming available online for the first time. So far, consumer-grade 11-hydroxy-THC is only available from a few manufacturers, and it’s hard to judge their safety or authenticity. Until more established producers start making this cannabinoid, it might be best to hold off on 11-hydroxy-THC.

What types of 11-hydroxy-THC products are there?

To our knowledge, the only types of 11-hydroxy-THC currently available are vape cartridges and dabs. This is the case with most of the metabolites and isomers of THC that have recently appeared online.

The bottom line: Should I try 11-hydroxy-THC?

In the future, 11-hydroxy-THC may be viewed as the more-effective, more-bioavailable form of THC just as many over-the-counter medications have been altered in some way to become more potent. Right now, though, 11-hydroxy-THC is still very new, and industry standards have not yet been set for its manufacture. Stay tuned for more news on 11-hydroxy-THC as this cannabinoid’s exciting story continues to ramp up.

11-hydroxy-THC FAQ

Learn more about 11-hydroxy-THC below:

1. How potent is 11-hydroxy-THC?

The limited amount of scientific research that has been conducted into 11-hydroxy-THC so far seems to indicate that this cannabinoid is at least twice as potent as THC and may offer up to seven times conventional THC’s strength. Regardless of exactly how potent 11-hydroxy-THC is, expect a wild ride when you use this cannabinoid for the first time.

2. How do you get 11-hydroxy-THC from cannabis?

You can’t derive 11-hydroxy-THC directly from cannabis. It’s a metabolite of THC that only occurs as it's being digested, so to make this cannabinoid outside of the body, you have to use synthetic digestive enzymes. Unless you happen to have some of those lying around, don’t try to make 11-hydroxy-THC at home.

3. Is 11-hydroxy-THC active?

Yes, 11-hydroxy-THC is considered to be the most active form of THC and the form that is most readily absorbed in your body. There is no need to activate 11-hydroxy-THC before using it — simply ingest, and enjoy.

5. What are some common 11-hydroxy-THC side effects?

11-hydroxy-THC isn’t known to have any side effects that THC doesn’t also cause, but the potential to experience negative effects is higher with 11-hydroxy-THC. Since 11-hydroxy-THC absorbs so much faster and more potently than normal THC, you’ll need to be cautious when dosing this cannabinoid to make sure you don’t experience any side effects.

6. Is there 11-hydroxy-CBD?

While CBD certainly has a wide host of metabolites, “11-hydroxy-CBD” is not one of them. There simply is no such cannabinoid, so there’s no point in trying to find 11-hydroxy-CBD on the internet.

7. Is 11-hydroxy-THC the same as delta 11 THC?

No, 11-hydroxy-CBD is certainly not the same thing as delta 11 THC. While 11-hydroxy-CBD is a metabolite of THC, delta 11 THC is a unique cannabinoid that has an array of its own metabolites. The two cannabinoids are also believed to have quite different effects.

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