When a drug enters the body, two things happen. One is that the drug has an effect on the body, which is known as pharmacodynamics
. The other thing that happens is that the body acts on the drug, known as pharmacokinetics
. One of the body’s responses to compounds entering the body is to metabolize
them into a form that can be more easily excreted
from the body. Some of the compounds, called metabolites, are also pharmacologically active.
11-OH-THC is a metabolite of THC that is formed in the liver by several enzymes, mainly CYP2C9 and CYP3A4.1, 2
One study showed that 11-OH-THC should be more potent than THC in humans: when THC and 11-OH-THC were given at different times, the subjects rated the feeling ‘high’ measure from 11-OH-THC as more intense.3
One theory is that 11-OH-THC crosses the blood-brain barrier more easily than THC, allowing it to exert a stronger psychoactive effect.4
: THC and 11-OH-THC molecules.
Learn more about THC on the Introduction to THC page
- Dinis-Oliveira, Ricardo Jorge (2016). Metabolomics of Δ 9 -tetrahydrocannabinol: implications in toxicity. Drug Metabolism Reviews, 48(1), 80--87.
- Watanabe, Kazuhito; Yamaori, Satoshi; Funahashi, Tatsuya; Kimura, Toshiyuki; Yamamoto, Ikuo (2007). Cytochrome P450 enzymes involved in the metabolism of tetrahydrocannabinols and cannabinol by human hepatic microsomes. Life Sciences
- Lemberger, Louis; Martz, Robert; Rodda, Bruce; Forney, Robert; Rowe, Howard (1973). Comparative pharmacology of Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol and its metabolite, 11-OH-Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol. The Journal of clinical investigation (2411--7).
- Schou, J.; Prockop, L. D.; Dahlstrom, G.; Rohde, C. (1977). Penetration of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and 11-OH-delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol through the blood-brain barrier. Acta pharmacologica et toxicologica, 41(1), 33--38.