What Is The Name Of The By-Product That The Liver Processes Thc Into When Eating Cannabis Edibles


Edibles are a more discreet way of consuming cannabis. Cannabis smoked and consumed through edibles have different effects. When cannabis is inhaled, the smoke passes through the lungs into the bloodstream to kickstart its “high” effect. The bloodstream has quick access to the brain, which is where the activeness of cannabis gets to work. However, these effects do not happen very fast when you eat edibles because they first pass through the whole digestive system before getting into the bloodstream. The “high” effect of inhaling cannabis may kick in faster than in edibles but does not last as long as the edibles do.

Cannabis edibles have become a major choice in the cannabis market, and most people often wonder why the high is different from the inhaled cannabis. The answer to this wondering is simply how the digestive system breaks down the edibles, especially in the primary detox organ, the liver.

Just as when we eat any other food, our bodies break them down into various by-products that work for the purpose we eat them. You eat rice, but your digestive system breaks down the rice into the mode with which it can use it in the forms of nutrients. Just in this way, edibles do not just start working in your body until your digestive system, especially the liver, transforms the Thc into a by-product that can effectively move into your bloodstream to bring its effect.

What Is The Name Of The By-Product That The Liver Processes Thc Into When Eating Cannabis Edibles?

People who consume cannabis and try the traditional method and edibles have seen how both methods vary. Edibles are first broken down or metabolized by the liver before they produce the needed psychoactive effects. The name of the by-product that the liver processes Thc into is 11-hydroxy-THC. The liver processes the THC in cannabis edibles into its full potential as 11-hydroxy-THC, and this makes edibles give a stronger effect of high than smoked cannabis even though it takes a while to kick in.

11-hydroxy-THC is the metabolic by-product created from THC consumption in cannabis edibles, and this occurs when it passes through your liver and GI tract. Metabolic enzymes available in our digestive system helps to break down the compounds in foods we eat. In most cases, the metabolic substances from food are normally not as potent as the original food molecule. That is, however, not the case with 11-hydroxy-THC; it is more active than the main content, which is the THC. The activeness of the 11-hydroxy-THC explains how orally consumed cannabis edibles have longer-lasting effects than inhaled cannabis.

The liver and breaking down a substance

Some exceptions occur in that people do not feel much of any effect when they consume cannabis edibles. After someone eats edibles, the liver can be too good at breaking down the compounds that it breaks down too much to produce any effect. However, the liver does a great job breaking down THC into 11-hydroxy-THC, bringing greater and long-lasting effects.

This less activeness often happens when you consume edibles without eating any kind of food before eating the edibles. When this occurs, your liver may break down the edibles too much because it would not leave an effect called the “first-pass effect.” And this can be resolved when you eat a meal before consuming your edibles, which helps prevent the complete breaking down of the edibles and can also cause the activation time of the edible to slow down.

Can Cannabis Edibles Affect Your Liver?

Most people who consume cannabis edibles worry about it affecting their liver. However, there is no scientific proof about how it affects the liver because different people have diverse consumption patterns and frequencies. There was a journal published through a medical study by Liver International. It says that the regular usage of cannabis was associated with the decrease in the rising stages of alcoholic liver disease. However, this study did not explicitly show how those who participated consumed the cannabis edibles.

It should be noted, and however, that the more often you consume cannabis, the more your body builds tolerance against it. And this results in consuming more of what you would normally eat to feel the same effect; it is recommended to use micro-dosing edibles for more responsible consumption.

The science behind consuming cannabis in the form of edibles:

  • Understanding THC in Edibles: The moment you indulge in your favorite cannabis-infused treat, you embark on a fascinating biological process. Unlike inhaled cannabis, which quickly passes from the lungs to the bloodstream and brain, edibles take a detour through the digestive system. This journey significantly alters the way THC, the primary psychoactive component of cannabis, affects you.
  • The Liver’s Role: Central to this process is your liver, a vital organ known for detoxifying and metabolizing substances. When THC from edibles reaches the liver, it undergoes a transformation into a more potent metabolite called 11-hydroxy-THC. This compound is more effective in crossing the blood-brain barrier, leading to a stronger and longer-lasting “high” compared to smoking.
  • First-Pass Metabolism: This conversion is part of what’s known as the “first-pass metabolism.” The liver is so efficient in this process that it can sometimes overly metabolize THC, dampening its psychoactive effects. This phenomenon is particularly noticeable when edibles are consumed without prior food intake. To mitigate this, it’s recommended to eat a meal before enjoying cannabis edibles, albeit this might delay the onset of effects.
  • Phases of THC Metabolism: The metabolism of THC in the liver occurs in two main phases. The first involves the creation of 11-OH-THC, marked by its sedative and psychoactive properties. In the second phase, the body prepares THC for excretion, transforming it into an inactive metabolite, THC-COOH, which is eventually eliminated through urine and feces.
  • Individual Variability: It’s intriguing to note that THC metabolism can vary significantly among individuals. Genetic factors influence how enzymes in the liver process THC, resulting in differences in the duration and intensity of effects. This variability underscores the importance of mindful consumption and understanding one’s response to cannabis edibles.


All other cannabinoids, including THC, are more bioavailable in inhaled cannabis, unlike in orally consumed edibles. Bioavailability refers to measuring the capacity of the body to put THC and other cannabinoids to use. Bioavailability in inhaling cannabis is 2-56 percent, while 10-20 percent when orally consumed.

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