Regular marijuana-derived THC has been around for centuries. However, several hemp-derived THC variations have entered the mainstream market recently. One of these compounds is THC-O acetate, a synthetic cannabinoid made from hemp-derived Delta-8 THC. THC O gets people high, just like regular THC. But fans report that THC O is significantly more powerful than the original.
THC and THC O’s psychoactive properties exhibit benefits like improved mood, sleep, and appetite. But what about heart health? This article explores THC O’s potential cardiovascular effects so consumers can make the best decision.
What Is THC-O?
Short for tetrahydrocannabinol acetate, THC-O (THCOa, THC O, or THCO) is a synthetic cannabinoid typically made from hemp-derived Delta-8 THC. Its molecular structure is almost identical to naturally occurring THC, except THCOa also contains acetic anhydride to increase bioavailability. Acetic anhydride is a liquid organic compound commonly used to synthesize organic compounds, like cellulose acetate, aspirin, and even heroin.
Consumers can find THCO in many legal products, from edibles like gummies and syrups to vape cartridges and THC-O disposables by Qwin.
THC-O vs. Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC
THCOa’s acetate group makes it a highly effective variation of regular THC that can more easily cross the blood-brain barrier, THCO displays a couple of notable differences in how it works in the body:
Slower effects: Researchers believe THC-O qualifies as a “prodrug,” meaning it isn’t pre-activated by heat, and the body must digest it before it takes effect. Consensus says it takes 20 to 60 minutes to feel THC-O’s effects, even when smoking or vaping.
Stronger effects: THC-O acetate can feel much stronger than other THC forms, with some online sources reporting it is 2-3 times more powerful than regular Delta-9 THC.
THC-O Experience and Effects
Like THC, THCO interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system, a network of receptors that affects various body functions, including appetite, mood, and pain. In particular, both THC compounds bind primarily to CB1 receptors in the brain, central nervous system, and immune tissues to unleash their effects.
Cannabis scientists haven’t explicitly studied THC-O yet, so most information is anecdotal. Here is what users have to say about the THCOa experience:
In moderate doses:
- THCO is mostly euphoric and uplifting, with many positive attributes that could help relieve stress and depression.
- THCO also displays intense calming and relaxing effects, similar to indica strains that treat pain, insomnia, and bodily discomforts.
In higher doses:
- Some users report psychedelic experiences, mild hallucinations, and visuals, giving THCO acetate the nickname “the psychedelic cannabinoid.”
- THCO can produce more profound introspection and self-awareness than standard THC, evoking spiritual sensations.
Many THC-O users experience some or all of the following effects:
- Intense euphoria and happiness
- Mental and physical relaxation
- Enhanced creativity
- Increased energy and focus
- Consciousness expansion
- A body high that can feel like floating
- Higher sensitivity to color and brightness
THC-O and Heart Health
THC-O is relatively unstudied and unregulated compared to standard THC. However, all THC forms interact with the body similarly by binding to specific receptors. Most receptors appear in the brain and nervous system but also in heart cells, fat cells, and platelets, the cells in the blood involved in clot formation.
Research shows THC and potentially other cannabinoids like THCO could affect heart health by acting on cardiovascular cells. The potential outcomes include:
- Raising the resting heart rate
- Dilating blood vessels
- Making the heart pump harder
According to reports by Harvard and in JACC: Journal of the American College of Cardiology, THC stimulates the heart, promoting vascular inflammation. If THC concentrations are too high or taken quickly, it could cause adverse reactions in people with pre-existing conditions.
- Users with established cardiovascular disease can develop chest pain more quickly, potentially leading to elevated blood pressure and a higher risk of a heart attack.
- Some studies link marijuana use to abnormal heart rhythms and atrial fibrillation, the most common heart rhythm disorder.
- Users who take THC doses that are too high might experience a vasovagal syncope, a sudden drop in heart rate and blood pressure that leads to fainting.
While generally safe, all THC forms, including Delta-8, Delta-9, and THC-O, might cause side effects, especially in high doses. THC-O’s increased potency might heighten adverse heart effects in some users.
Minimizing THC-O Heart Risk
Here are some guidelines to maximize heart safety when using THC-O.
According to the Harvard report, most evidence linking marijuana to heart attacks and strokes occurs in the hour after smoking. Because of this, researchers can’t determine a direct correlation between cannabinoids and heart attacks. Instead, carcinogens produced by the smoke itself could be blamed rather than THC. Still, avoiding smoking THC-O flower could be one effective risk mitigation strategy for people with heart conditions.
THC-O edibles and tinctures
THC-O is available in several product types that don’t involve harsh smoke. Tinctures, vapes, gummies, candies, and syrups may be ideal for those with heart issues., especially at low doses.
Consumers should always start low with THCO dosing to avoid adverse effects from taking too much. For instance, people who regularly consume regular THC should consider taking a third of their average amount. 1-2 mg of THCO would be the equivalent of 5 mg of standard THC. Consumers should also be patient as THCO effects generally take about 20-60 minutes. To be safe, individuals should wait 24 hours before increasing the dose.
The Bottom Line
THC-O is growing in popularity, with more users interested in its psychoactive effects. It is THCO’s synthetic nature, and increased bioavailability appears to make it more potent than other THC forms. Considering THC can stimulate the heart, especially in high doses, THCOa might pose a higher risk for those with cardiovascular disease or heart conditions. Users should proceed cautiously when consuming THC-O, start with low doses and stay current on laws and research regarding this cannabinoid.