Food Influences Effects of THC, Says Study

Consuming food prior to the administration of oral THC influences its duration and effect, according to a study published in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. The study, titled Human pharmacokinetic parameters of orally administered delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol capsules are altered by fed versus fasted conditions and sex differences, was first reported on by NORML.

For the study researchers examined the absorption patterns and effects of oral THC capsules in 28 subjects under either a fasted condition or after a high-fat meal. They reported that consuming a high-fat meal prior to oral THC dosing resulting in delayed drug onset, but enhanced overall drug effects.

“Altogether, these findings suggest that the presence of a high-fat meal before administrating an oral dose of THC increases the levels of both THC and 11-OH-THC, but the rate at which this occurs is slower,” authors wrote. Overall, they acknowledged that oral doses of THC were “well-tolerated” by subjects in either fed or fasted states.

The study also found that higher THC plasma levels in female subjects than in male subjects. However, they theorized that these differences may be attributable to “weight differences between [the] male and female participants and not solely the result of sex difference.”

The study’s full abstract:

Background: There is variability in the reported Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and 11-hydroxy-tetrahydrocannabinol (11-OH-THC) pharmacokinetic (PK) and pharmacodynamic (PD) parameters between studies and there is limited investigation into how the presence of food or sex affect these parameters. In this study, we examined the PK and PD parameters of an encapsulated THC extract and its major active metabolite, 11-OH-THC, under different fed states. Methods: The study was a single-dose, randomized, double-blinded, four-way crossover investigation. THC capsules (1 or 2×5 mg) were administered to 28 healthy adults (13 females: 15 males) under a fasted condition or after a high-fat meal. Blood samples were collected and PK parameters were determined through noncompartmental analysis. Adverse events (AEs), cognitive function (through completion of digit symbol substitution tests), blood pressure, and heart rate were also recorded. Results: The presence of high-fat food significantly enhanced time to peak plasma concentration (T max) and area under the curve (AUC0-24) for both THC and 11-OH-THC and reduced THC’s apparent volume of distribution (V z/F) and apparent clearance (Cl/F). Females had a significantly greater peak plasma concentration (C max) compared with males after 5 mg THC in a fasted state. No cardiovascular or cognitive effects and only mild AEs (somnolence, fatigue, and euphoric mood) were reported. Conclusion: These findings may help to inform the guidelines provided by governing health bodies on the effects of cannabis, such as time to onset and duration of action, and aid health care practitioners in their prescribing practices. Furthermore, the doses used in this study are safe to consider for future interventional studies in disease conditions where THC has been shown to have therapeutic efficacy.

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