Study Says Chocolate Edibles Hinder Signaling of THC 

Philip Ghezelbash September 19, 2019 0 comments

Blame may lie with certain ingredient in chocolate – as it competes for the same receptors that THC does.

Cannabis and chocolate seem like a delicious combination, but could chocolate edibles actually change the effects of THC in cannabis?

New research from Dr. David Douglas Dawson suggests that chocolate may be slightly altering your high. Dr. Dawson is a researcher at CW Analytical Laboratories and recently presented the research at the American Chemical Society.

Research into Relationship Between Chocolate and THC

Dr. Dawson’s research looked into how cannabinoids act when added to a chocolate recipe and whether the potency of the cannabis and the testing methods remain the same. The experiments suggest that the cannabinoid THC may undergo some signaling depression when added to a chocolate matrix. While there’s no reviews of this unpublished study, it does offer some interesting insight. Like, how non-cannabis ingredients in cannabis-based products could manipulate the potency of edibles.

THC is the Main Intoxicating Ingredient in Cannabis

THC — or tetrahydrocannabinol — is one of the main active cannabinoids found in cannabis. This celebrity-status cannabinoid is intoxicating and is responsible for the characteristic high associated with cannabis. But intoxication is not the only possible effect of THC. Research tells us THC may also be a pain reliever, anti-emetic, anti-depressant, and anti-inflammatory. It has even demonstrated anti-tumor properties.

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So how does THC do all of this?

THC induces the majority of its effects through CB receptors. THC binds to, and activates, cannabinoid receptors, such as the G-protein coupled cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2. The activation of these receptors can then initiate a variety of signaling pathways. These pathways induce a range of effects on the body, including the classic cannabis high.

THC Edibles 

With exciting possible health benefits from cannabis and THC, it may come as no surprise that cannabis edibles are fast becoming one of the more popular ways to consume cannabis and THC. Arcview Market Research estimated that the edible cannabis market in the U.S. and Canada will be worth $4 billion dollars by 2022.

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Consumers are flocking to THC edible products thanks to their potential health benefits, as well for the high that THC induces. Consuming cannabis in an edible form, such as chocolate, also allows consumers to enjoy all the benefits of THC without the potential negative aspects of smoking, which can put some consumers off.

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How Chocolate in Edibles Might Block THC 

So how might chocolate hinder the signaling ability of THC?

The research did not investigate which component of chocolate might be manipulating the effects of THC. However, researchers do believe that the ‘responsible ingredient’ is suppressing THC’s signaling. This in turn is resulting in weaker THC potency in bigger volumes of cannabis-infused chocolate mixes.

Signal Disruption From Fat Content

THC is a fat-soluble molecule and as such the digestion of the fats present in chocolate may possibly play a role in interrupting and disrupting of THC signaling.

A similar reaction can be see with St John’s wort. Patients who are taking certain medications cannot consume St John’s wort because it modulates Cytochrome P450 (CYP) activity. CYP is an enzyme that plays a key role in human drug interactions.

Studies suggest that St John’s wort modulates this interaction, leading to an increase in metabolism. This rise in metabolism, therefore, means that other medications leave the body faster and so are unable to exert their full effects. A fatty component in chocolate could be acting in a similar way.

Anandamide in Chocolate May Compete Against THC For Receptors

Anandamide is another molecule that could possibly play a role in chocolate’s THC suppression. Also known as “the bliss molecule,” anandamide is an endogenous cannabinoid, similar to THC in its ability to bind to cannabinoid receptors. Anandamide is also found in chocolate, which is one of the theories supporting chocolate as a psychologically soothing treat.

This molecule can also be rapidly metabolized by fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) and it is this factors that could possibly lead to its disruption of THC signalling.

Anandamide is present in chocolate, as well as naturally occurring in the brain. By binding to the same receptors as THC, and by metabolizing at a high speed, anandamide could possibly be dominating THC receptors and hindering the ability for THC to bind.

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Is This Bad News for the Chocolate Edibles Market? 

Luckily for chocolate lovers, this research doesn’t mean you’ll have to stop enjoying chocolate cannabis products. The effect seems to be minimal and patients with low tolerance for the intoxicating effects of THC may benefit from having that dampened by chocolate.

CBD, or cannabidiol, is another major cannabinoid and it is not impacted by the presence of chocolate. This is because its pharmacology is not through the same receptor types. Therefore, one may assume, at this point, that CBD chocolate edibles are not impacted.

CBD may have a range of therapeutic benefits, including acting as an anti-depressant and possible help for sleep and pain disorders.

So, in the end, CBD edibles made from chocolate are not expected to have any hinderance regarding signalling, but THC may. That simply means that the potency rating on chocolate edibles might not be as accurate as expected. And there are already many, many factors that effect that rating already. These include metabolism, BMI, full or empty belly, genetics, shelf life, and more. Further studies will give us more information on dosing and ingredient interactions.


Author avatar

Philip Ghezelbash
Philip Ghezelbash is an ex-personal trainer with a science background who currently operates New Zealand's only health specialized writing studio. He is passionate about presenting complex science in an easy to digest manner and is a firm believer that cannabis has substantial potential to be used as a medicine for degenerative disease.