Exploring the Impact of THC-O on Mental Health and Cognitive Function
THC-O is a novel cannabinoid that has garnered attention recently for its potent psychoactive properties. Much is still unknown about THC-O’s therapeutic effects, but early research and anecdotal reports suggest that it may support mental health and cognitive function in some instances. This blog will delve into the current evidence to provide insights into THCO’s potential benefits, risks, and limitations for neurological health and well-being.
What Is THC-O?
Short for tetrahydrocannabinol acetate, THC-O (THCOa, THC O, or THCO) is a synthetic cannabinoid with a molecular structure similar to regular THC. THCO is a psychoactive compound synthesized from hemp-derived extracts. It is available in various products, from vape cartridges to gummies and candies. Check THC-O here.
Unlike THC, THCO acetate does not occur naturally in cannabis and hemp plants. Manufacturers produce the compound using a multistep synthetic extraction technique that combines hemp-derived Delta-8 THC with acetic anhydride in a process called “acetylation.”
Acetylation is common in the pharmaceutical industry to increase drugs’ bioavailability. By adding acetate groups to molecules, scientists create compounds that more easily cross blood-brain barriers and circulate abundantly throughout the body. This increased bioavailability leads to two main differences between THCO vs. THC:
Slower onset, longer duration: THC-O is a “pro-drug,” meaning the body must metabolize it and remove the acetate group before it becomes active. Users report it takes 20-60 minutes to feel THC-O’s psychoactive effects, often lasting longer than typical THC experiences.
Higher potency: THCO’s improved bioavailability may result in much higher blood levels of THC than non-acetylated THC when taken in the same amount, potentially contributing to its increased potency.
THCO Effects and Benefits
Little scientific research exists on THC O’s effects on cognitive and physiological functions.
However, the THC O molecule exerts its effects on receptors throughout the body, similar to THC.
Like regular THC, THC-O interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system, a vast, complex network of chemical signals and receptors that regulates essential functions such as sleep, mood, appetite, and more. THC-O interacts mainly with CB1 receptors in the brain and central nervous system to unleash its powerful effects.
Depending on the dose, THCO delivers a psychoactive high that can be energetic or intensely relaxing. Many THC-O users report feeling:
A body high
Increased focus and clarity
THCO “The Spiritual Cannabinoid”
A notable difference between THCO and THC is its potential to unleash a “spiritual high.” Some reviewers claim that even a moderate dose of THC-O can produce psychedelic effects, such as intense imagery and altered mental states.
Higher doses of THC-O can create a body high that feels like “floating.”
Many people find that THC-O’s effects help to unlock creative thought.
Some people use THC-O to enhance meditation practices.
However, it’s important to note that there is no scientific research to substantiate any of these claims.
THCO Mental Health Impacts
Marijuana is not FDA-approved to treat mental health conditions. However, medical marijuana patients commonly utilize THC to treat the following issues:
PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)
Social anxiety disorder
THCO clinical research does not exist. Still, evidence suggests it interacts with receptors similarly to THC, displaying similar mental health benefits, including:
Boosting mood and happiness
Reducing anxiety and stress
Supporting deeper sleep
THCO fans say the compound is primarily euphoric and has many positive attributes that could help with stress and depression. It displays intense calming and relaxing effects, yet can also be more stimulating and induce a higher self-awareness. THCO’s broad spectrum of reported benefits could make it an effective treatment at the proper dosages for specific individuals.
THCO Effects on Cognitive Function
THCO won’t make people hallucinate the way psychedelics like psilocybin mushrooms or LSD do. However, many users describe an intense high that feels uplifting, energizing, and ethereal. Some say the experience provides heightened sensitivity to color and brightness, creating a vivid visual adventure.
Such surreal experiences can temporarily disrupt normal cognitive processes, such as perception, attention, and memory, as the brain processes and integrates the altered sensory input. Mild psychedelic experiences like this can also affect mood, self-awareness, and emotional regulation by inducing moments of self-reflection and feelings of interconnectedness.
Cannabis scientists must investigate THCO’s pharmacology further to determine if these psychedelic claims are valid.
THCO Risks and Safety
THC-O acetate is a potent cannabinoid, and some users might experience some of the following side effects if they take too much:
Inability to focus
These effects are often short-term and can be relieved by lowering the dose.
Recent research also indicates users should avoid smoking or vaping THC-O because it could form ketene, a substance toxic to the lungs. It’s uncertain if a vape cart could produce enough ketene to create an immediate danger, but users should be cautious.
Edibles such as gummies and tinctures don’t pose the same lung risks. They also taste great, last longer, and make dosing much simpler.
The Bottom Line
THC-O is a potent cannabinoid. It potentially offers three times the potency of regular Delta-9 THC, with intense euphoria and viscerally relaxing effects that could positively impact stress and depression symptoms. Many users report increased creativity, self-reflection, and gaining more profound understanding and insight, making THCO a popular choice to supplement standard therapies. Reports of trippy, LSD-like effects that could severely impede cognitive function appear rare. In truth, THCO is more akin to a high dose of THC that might heighten colors and senses.