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How does THC get to your brain?

Discussion in 'Apprentice Marijuana Consumption' started by Tiny Mids Blunt, Dec 2, 2011.

  1. **Before I get any "hurr durr, it goes in your lungs, into your blood, and then to your head," no shit. That's not what I'm here to uncover. Also, this may be a TL;DR thread. You can probably skip the upcoming anecdote, but like I said, I formulated this question with the intention of having serious thought on the subject, and the extra information may be critical to understanding the question.**

    Anyway, a few weeks ago, I was sitting in my Chemistry lecture bored as hell, as always. We were at least a week into our in-depth discussion of transition metals, and how they bond and all that jazz. Like anyone who isn't a Chemistry major, I couldn't wait to get out of class and smoke a bowl, so I was scrolling through Grasscity's forums on my phone.

    However, I was listening through one ear (and I'm so lucky I did). My professor was describing how most transition metals are important to the human body, such as how cobalt (vitamin B-12) helps your immune system, for example. Honestly, I couldn't give a rat's ass about any of this, but then he hit on something interesting. Iron.

    More importantly, he described how iron is an important nutrient to the body. For those who don't know, your blood is able to transport oxygen to your brain because of a certain metalloprotein in your red blood cells, called hemoglobin.


    And at the center of a hemoglobin molecule, is an iron ion, which allows the oxygen to bind to these cells. Not only that, but the bonding strength is just strong enough to keep the oxygen bound until it reaches the brain, at which point the bond is weak enough to be broken. What was really important from this lesson, was that the iron is necessary to basic respiratory function because oxygen is NOT WATER SOLUBLE.

    Suddenly, my ears perked up, and I was now extremely attentive. I had been researching edibles long enough around this time to know that one of my favorite molecules in the world, THC, is also not water soluble. And this fact got me thinking. Blood, being a high percent water, uses the iron in our red blood cells to carry oxygen to our brains. But how does THC, another non-soluble molecule, make its way from our lungs to our head?

    I rushed back home, jumped onto Google, and tried to find the answer to my question. Now, I may just be piss-poor with search engines, but after an hour of searching, I wasn't able to find the answer. And maybe that's because THC, being an illegal substance in many parts of the world, isn't well documented enough to have that information readily available to the public. But I decided I'd bring the question to you all instead.

    Now, why the fuck should anyone care what molecule/atom/ion THC is bonding to in order to transport itself to our brain? Good question. And the answer is the same reason to why knowing iron is important to healthy bodily functioning. Possible deficiencies.

    Without enough iron in one's blood, a person can develop hypoferremia, which can lead to death, since the brain lacks enough iron to properly transport oxygen to the brain. Now, I'm not worried anyone is going to die because of a lack of a THC transportation system, but what if we weren't getting as high as we possibly could because we lack enough of the chemical compound that THC bonds to?

    Similar to how Omega-3 has been documented to help restore cannabinoid receptors, what if we were able to take compound x (or its components) as a supplement to our diets/vitamin intake, and therefore "get higher"? I think it would be worth a shot. However, in order to test this theory, we would need to know what this compound is.

    If the answer to my question ends up being common knowledge, I'll take this thread down immediately. However, after enough searching, I'm curious as to whether anyone has ever asked this question. But fellow Blades, if this is the case, I leave this charge up to all of us, to go a step further into our understanding of the human body, in hopes that I can get couchlocked even more hardcore than before!
  2. I actually read the whole post and thought it had potential. Ask some scientist I guess?
  3. #6 Vaper12, Dec 2, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 2, 2011
    I love your thinking by the way, it's the smart stoners that develop new ways to get ourselves the most couchlocked :D. But here is where my limited biochem knowledge comes in, there are many other components to the blood other than hemoglobin, and white blood cells. There is also plasma, the fluid that replenishes chemicals and carries chemicals throughout the body. It is my understanding that plasma is the carrier of the THC molecule, because THC is easily diffused into the plasma and shuttled around the body. (please someone, if I'm off track correct me.) THC then travels around the body, to the receptors in the brain, I don't believe THC is dissolved, converted, or carried by any other substance, other than free floating in the plasma, and plasma doesnt release THC like hemoglobin does o2, because there are only so many THC receptors throughout the body, and THC is picked up only by those receptors, as it washes past. This is my limited understanding of plasma, your omega theory sounds really good, I'll have to study it tomorrow, when I'm not so couchlocked myself ;) but as I said, if I'm completely wrong, I hope someone corrects me, and doesn't leave any false info up. Thanks man, get higher :D
    I understand that plasma is actually mostly water, and that THC is not water soluble, but could be carried simply by this mix of water and essential chemicals.
    EDIT: please refer to my second post for more researched info, below!
  4. what the fuck man, do you think a normal person could figure this out? not likely
    so the odds of someone high is slim to none lol

    most people didn't read it because it was too long too

    (sounded mean but wasnt meant 2 be, really really high man)
  5. I think it has to do with how the receptors and thc bind like a lock an key? Maybe I'm just high and I read it wrong
  6. Ok, so I've done a little bit of research, even though im in the state I'm in ;) and as it turns out, THC binds to proteins. What are proteins carried in? PLASMA! yay I was right! Haha THC has something like a 90%+ protein binding rate. And is carried throughout the blood via the proteins in the plasma! So the best way, besides your omega theory, would be to look up blood specific proteins, and ingest more of them! Almost clear as mud, right?! Lol :)
  7. what the fuck? This gave me a headache.
  8. P.S. I love this thread. Lol
  9. I think I read something in High Times about how smoking cannabis is not the direct ingestion of THC.

    Idk man but I bet Storm Crow would know.
  10. #14 Vaper12, Dec 2, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 2, 2011
    [quote name='"camram"']

    Idk man but I bet Storm Crow would know.[/quote]

    You're right, I bet granny knows more than most of us put together! Granny we need you! Haha
  11. I love shit like this. I love chemistry and science, this thread makes me feel smarter just from reading it.
  12. Im really curious if vaper is right.

    To me it makes sense that it is transported in plasma.

    Only thing is, there may be a saturation point where all of your receptors have a thc bonded and the remaining thc in your plasma is basically waiting to bond.

    So really, if you think about, you can smoke 4 grams or 6 grams but your gonna feel almost just as high.

    Hmmm. If only we could find something that speeds the interaction between receptors and thc so that thc affects us at a greater rate.
  13. Man I'm not even gonna attempt that shit.
  14. Excellent question, and excellent answer. Thank you both for expanding my knowledge a bit :)
  15. Bump for my sanity!
  16. Alright, so I've spent hours pouring over numerous texts to see what I could find out. Vaper12 was dead-on with his assessment that THC travels through the blood by binding to specific proteins in the plasma of a person's blood. Salle also had an interesting comment about the possibility of a saturation point. There may be a condition in which, after smoking so much, there's simply no more bonding sites for the THC to bond to, and therefore the extra THC is effectively useless. The trick is to now uncover which proteins THC binds to, to see whether the quantity effects one's high, and to see if there's any way that we could increase the quantity of those proteins.

    After reading many medical texts, I've uncovered that THC, once it enters the blood plasma, bonds to either lipoproteins or to blood albumin, and not to erythrocytes (red blood cells) like oxygen does (; Distribution). To be honest, the fact that THC bonds to lipoproteins should have been pretty obvious, considering that it's common knowledge to us Blades that THC is extremely lipophilic. Especially when cooking, we know THC needs some sort of fat or oil in order to bake it properly.

    Albumin, on the other hand, I had never heard of prior to doing this research. It's the most abundant protein found in blood plasma, and it's made in our livers. Apparently, this is what doctors substitute with saline when people experience blood loss, or are dehydrated. It's extremely important as a protein to the body, as most substances that enter the body bond with it in order to travel throughout the body. I've done enough reading into it to know that there's little to no possible way to change our albumin levels, unless you know for a fact that you suffer from hypoalbuminemia. If that's the case, you should probably see a doctor for it, as that's a deadly disorder.

    However, back to the lipoproteins. There are apparently five major groups of lipoproteins, but if you were "lucky" enough to learn about them in a high school health course, you probably know about the two most common ones: high-density lipoproteins (HDL) and low-density lipoproteins (LDL). If you did end up learning about these two, you probably remember that one of them (LDL) is the "bad" lipoprotein, and that the other (HDL) is the "good" protein. Going just off of Wikipedia's page on HDLs, there are various ways to increase your HDL, and most of them come from just being healthy.

    Options include aerobic exercise, weight loss (so probably exercise in general too), removal of trans-fatty acids from the diet (healthy eating), and a mild to moderate intake of alcohol. An addition of fiber, Omega-3, fish oils, flax oils, unsaturated fats, and some cholesterol, has all been linked to a healthy increase of HDLs, too. This may be the reason why people who live healthy seem to report better highs along with a healthier sober lifestyle. If you're looking for a drug-type of supplement, fibrates and niacin are also documented to help increase HDLs, and so does magnesium supplements. "Pharmacologic (1- to 3-gram/day) niacin doses increase HDL levels by 10–30%, making it the most powerful agent to increase HDL-cholesterol."

    So, there we go. For the TL;DR portion: of the two proteins that THC bonds to, the one with the higher percent of bonding (lipoproteins) also seems the be the one with the quantity that we have the most control over. Not only that, but by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, by eating right and exercising regularly, you can potentially increase the effect of your high (and if you look at what some Blades report, this may be the scientific reason as to why they report that healthy living also benefits their highs). There's also the possibility of supplementing one's diet with niacin, fiber, or magnesium (all natural human nutrients), will also positively effect one's high.

    Once I get off my tolerance break, I can try the niacin/fiber/magnesium supplements to see if that benefits me any further, as I already exercise 3 times a week by rock climbing, eat healthily, etc. If anyone else wants to try it, I'd love to have you report back and see what you find. Just remember that it may be like Omega-3 supplementation; you may not see effects for a while after you begin taking it.

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