Eating THC vs. Inhaling THC
When it comes to consuming THC, there are two main methods: Eating it or inhaling it. But how does your body metabolize this compound differently? And what effects does each approach have on the user? Let's take a closer look.
The first thing we must consider when consuming THC is if it's active or not. THC from most cannabis comes in its inactive or acid state, THCa. The process of converting it to its psychoactive form is known as decarboxylation. This process converts the THCa into THC with heat. While CBDa and THCa have medicinal properties on their own, they are considerably different than their psychoactive counterparts. THCa shares the anti-inflammatory properties of THC but is not psychoactive, for example.
For this reason, many users make sure to add an "activation" step when making edibles. The process is known as "decarbing" or "activating" THC. When smoking THC, this process happens naturally.
When you consume THC, the cannabinoid and terpenes travel to different parts of your body depending on how you take it in. If smoked, cannabinoids and terpenes travel quickly from the lungs to the blood and brain. However, if you ingest THC, the path to your blood and brain becomes more difficult. Cannabis must first be absorbed by the stomach, carried through the liver, absorbed from the intestines, and delivered to the liver. Any cannabinoids transferred to your liver cells will be metabolized - this process is known as first-pass metabolism.
So when you eat THC, it takes longer to reach the brain than when you smoke it. The metabolites created by first-pass metabolism can also have different effects than the original cannabinoids. For example, the THC metabolites produced by first-pass metabolism are more psychoactive than THC. It is a big reason why eating cannabis can be a more intense experience than smoking it.
In contrast, smoking THC takes effect almost immediately - usually within a few minutes. However, smoking THC also tends to wear off much faster - often in as little as 2-4 hours. So if you're looking for a longer-lasting high, smoking is not the best method.
THC is rapidly absorbed via the lungs when inhaled, with peak levels are reached within 6 to 10 minutes and distributed throughout the brain and other organs. The bioavailability of inhaled THC is 10% to 35%. The majority of THC is eliminated or metabolized by the liver after absorption. The remaining THC and its metabolites circulate in the bloodstream.
Is There A Preferred Method Of Consuming THC?
So which is better, eating or inhaling THC? Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. Some people prefer the long-lasting effects of eating THC, while others prefer the quick onset of smoking it. There are also other methods of consuming THC, such as vaporizing or using a tincture, that offer different advantages. It's up to you to try different products and determine what works best for you.