THC is the psychoactive compound in Marijuana know for producing the “high”. It is just one of many cannabinoids known today. When marijuana or a product containing THC is consumed in any way. THC is absorbed into the body and makes its way through the bloodstream, becomes metabolized and is eventually expelled from the body through fluids.
Of course that is just a very simple outline to what really happens in your body after smoking weed or consuming an edible. One of the most important details is how it is stored, how long it is stored and how to speed up the detox process. This information is especially important if your trying to naturally cleanse your system or make THC undetectable when tested.
3 Stages of THC
There are 3 stages of THC that you should understand. We will get into why these stages are important as we go. So keep reading!
Stage 1 : THC
- May be detectable in blood
THC its self is not active. In normal amounts THC may not get you high, its also not as bio available in this raw form. Of course, if Marijuana is eaten raw, your body will still try and metabolize it.
Stage 2 : THCa
- Detectable in blood
Decarboxylation is what happens when THC is heated and made active. At that point, it is THCa a psychoactive compound. This can be done by smoking or heating it to make edibles.
Stage 3 : THC-COOH
- Detectable in blood, urine, hair, saliva other fluids
Once THCa has entered your system, it is quickly metabolized by the liver. The metabolite is THC-COOH, the main compound used in drug testing. You can only have this compound if you have used Marijuana.
What Happens Once THC is in your Bloodstream
Once you have used medical marijuana in any way, it will eventually enter your bloodstream. The blood stream is how THC travels through your body. From here is travels through out the body and binds to receptors in the brain and organs. When THC joins receptors, it produces the High effect.
As its coursing through your body, your liver is actively trying to bring your system back to normal by metabolizing THC into THC-COOH. The liver works very quickly, metabolizing THC in less than 2 hours after smoked. Besides being the best marker to determine use.
The average half life for THC-COOH is about 3 weeks to one month in an infrequent user
The body handles different metabolites in different ways. Some are quickly expelled out the body, others are absorbed for some time. THC-COOH happens to be a metabolite that takes a very long time to get out your system. The main reason is that it is a “Fat Soluble” compound. So, what does that mean?
THC is Stored in the bodies fat cells
Or, more accurately, THC-COOH is stored in fat cells. After it is metabolized, it re-enters the blood stream and is absorbed into lipids, a.k.a, fat. The body loves to store fat and keep it as an emergency energy source.
This is also why a Ketosis Diet may speed up detox by burning fat cells and reducing insulin uptake.
Three Phases of THC in the Body
Yep another “three” thing, I guess it just makes it simple to remember. Once you smoke weed, it goes through a few phases until it finally leaves your body. Because naturally detoxing THC can take some time. It’s a good idea to understand the concept and how you may even be able to speed it up.
Phase 1: Consumption and metalization
This is the entry point. It doesn’t matter if you smoked a joint of ate a pot brownie. Active THC, THCa has now entered your body and is quickly spreading out and taking effect. Your liver kicks in and starts to metabolize THC into THC-COOH. Once it has been metabolized, it re-enters the bloodstream.
Phase 2: Storage
Since THC-COOH is fat soluble, as it flows through out your system, a percentage of it will be taken in and trapped in fat cells. After a couple of hours, you will have stored most of it and excreted the rest through bodily fluids.
Phase 3: Release
Your body burns calories for energy. The metabolic system prefers the use of Glycogen as a source of energy. But periodically through out the day, it taps into the fat supply. When a fat cell carrying THC-COOH is burned, this THC metabolite is once again released into the bloodstream. At that point it is once again detectable in urine, blood and other fluids.
So how is THC Stored?
Let’s some this up.
Burning fat can take a long time. Fat cells are storing THC can remain in your body for a very long time. Repetitive marijuana use will also stack these cells up making harder to detox. Thats why a regular smoker, with a high body fat percentage will take longer to detox. The cells are stacked against them!
Think of it this way. If you smoke every day for a year, than decide to quite. The last THC containing fat cell you burn was the first one you stored. That was a year ago. Lets get into some bullet points
- Its stored in fat as THC-COOH
- It remains there until the fat cell is burned for energy
- After the fat cell is burned, THC is once again in the system
- THC is finally on the way out through bodily fluids
You can speed this whole thing up by quiting weed, for some time. Exercising daily, eating less calories, avoiding carbs and dropping body fat. Of course you will need to drink more water to flush out the newly released THC.
- Cannabis metalization https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3570572/