June 14, 2022 6 min read

THC-O, a hemp-derived THC analogue, is known for its potent cerebral effects that are roughly three times more potent than Delta-9-THC. Although this heavy hitter brings many benefits to the table, some consumers are (understandably) worried about the possibility of THC-O side effects.

No worries necessary–we'll outline everything you need to know about the possible risks and side effects linked to THC-O. (HINT: The most serious reactions are caused by low-quality formulations, so be sure to shop for a high-quality, clean THC-O product.)

Table of Contents
What is THC-O?
What are the Side Effects of THC-O?
How to Avoid THC-O Side Effects?
What to Do if You Experience THC-O Side Effects?
Tips for Reducing THC-O Risks

Key Takeaways

  • THC-O is similar to traditional Delta-9-THC and carries a similar risk profile.
  • Because THC-O is much more potent, taking the correct dosage is one of the best ways to avoid possible side effects.
  • It’s also important to use a high-quality product in order to avoid side effects caused by contaminants or spoiled formulations.
  • The most common side effects include dry eyes and mouth, increased thirst and appetite, and tiredness.
  • Starting with a low dosage or a product that combines THC-O with Delta-8 are both great ways to ensure a positive THC-O experience.

a small bottle of THC-O extract, used to make safe and effective THC-O products

What is THC-O?

Before we can really discuss the possible side effects of THC-O, let's quickly dive into the basics to ensure a firm understanding of what THC-O really is.

THC-O acetate (called THC-O for short) is an analog to Delta-9-THC, meaning that its molecular structure is almost identical to traditional THC products. It has psychoactive effects that are similar (but nearly three times more potent) than traditional THC products. Some reports claim that the effects are also a bit different–more uplifting, energizing, and "sativa-leaning" in nature. Because THC-O is derived from legal hemp material, it’s legal to buy and sell in many U.S. states, so it's also much more accessible than Delta-9-THC products.

THC-O can interact with the endocannabinoid system similarly to other cannabinoids, which is how it induces such a strong psychoactive effect. This is also why it may provide many of the same health benefits as traditional THC when used in mild to moderate doses.

Of course, the endocannabinoid system is delicately balanced, which is why some people do experience mild adverse reactions to THC, and even other non-psychoactive cannabinoids, like CBD or CBG. All in all, THC-O, as well as other hemp-derived cannabinoids, are usually considered to be safe when sourced responsibly and used at the correct dosages.

Is THC-O Synthetic?

Some reports claim that THC-O is a synthetic cannabinoid, suggesting that it carries more risk because it isn't naturally derived. This isn't exactly the case, although the process used to make THC-O is a bit complicated, and it's important that you choose a high-quality, trustworthy manufacturer to avoid unnecessary risk caused by poor manufacturing practices.

THC-O is made from Delta-8-THC, which is made from hemp-derived CBD through a process called "isomerization." In this process, CBD is exposed to an acid that rearranges the molecule into Delta-8. Then, Delta-8 is exposed to acetic anhydride, which rearranges the molecule into THC-O.

After production, the final product is carefully refined to remove any unwanted chemicals left over from the extraction and isomerization processes. When the final product is carefully refined and tested, All that remains is pure THC-O and possibly trace amounts of Delta-8. Then, the manufacturer may add terpenes, other cannabinoids, flavorings, or other ingredients to create a custom formulation that's ready for sale.

This doesn’t match the definition for or process used to make synthetic cannabinoids, most of which contain no natural plant material at all. Many synthetic cannabinoids come with a high risk of adverse effects and some have even been found to be lethal in the case of a possible overdose.

Alternatively, let’s take a look at the potential side effects of THC-O:

What are the Side Effects of THC-O?

Currently, THC-O research is limited, so we must rely mostly on what we know about Delta-9-THC (and anecdotal reports) to understand the possible risks and side effects. Many experts assume that the risk profile is incredibly similar to traditional THC, though there may be a greater risk when used in large doses due to the increased potency. Generally, the side effects associated with THC-O are rare and mild.

Below, we'll discuss some of the most common side effects associated with THC-O, as well as some less common (but more serious) side effects to know about.

Most Common THC-O Side Effects

In general, the side effects of THC-O products are thought to be rare and mild when THC-O is used in mild to moderate doses. Some of the the side effects most commonly associated with THC-O may include:

  • Dry, red eyes
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased hunger
  • Increased heart rate
  • Dehydration
  • Tiredness
  • Trouble focusing

Less Common THC-O Side Effects

Because THC-O has more potent effects than other THC products, the risk of some side effects may be more significant when using larger doses. Particularly, the risk of developing sudden anxiety or paranoia is higher with large doses. That's because the side effects are generally linked to over-consumption of THC.

Some of the less common, but more serious side effects linked to THC-O may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Rapid heart rate

As we noted, the risk of side effects may not have everything to do with THC-O itself, rather the particular formulation and the strength of the dose you take. Luckily, that means that there are some steps you can take to possibly lower the risk of experiencing THC-O side effects.

THC-O Oil, a dosing method that makes it easy to measure dosage incrementally to avoid THC-O side effects caused by incorrect dosage.

How to Avoid THC-O Side Effects

As we mentioned, the risk of THC-O side effects increases when using large quantities or incorrect dosages. For that reason, we always recommend that new THC users dose slowly and carefully while they feel out their dosing threshold.

You may want to read “THC-O Dosage” to learn more about how to experiment with your own dosage threshold.

Another idea is to try a product that combines THC-O with it’s milder counterpart, Delta-8-THC. Our THC-O + Delta-8 Vape Pens are expertly formulated to provide balanced effects that are both potent and manageable. Because you can stack small doses and immediately feel the effects of every puff, you can gently ease your way into the THC-O experience without overdoing it.

The risk is also increased by using low-quality formulas from inexperienced manufacturers. In fact, we believe that the most significant risks come from the possibility of getting low-quality, contaminated products. The process for making THC-O is dangerous, and if all of the residual chemicals are not carefully removed, the final product could be unsafe. Many manufacturers are not proficient at making these hemp-derived THC products, so it's important that you buy your THC-O from a trustworthy source.

What to Do if You Experience THC-O Side Effects?

If you do happen to experience adverse reactions after taking THC-O, don't panic. Take a look at hope you feel and decide how to proceed. If you're experiencing a headache or general tiredness, you may just decide to nap it off.

Some people report that a cool shower can help calm them down when they take too much THC. Staying hydrated and nourished with small healthy snacks can also help reduce the chance of any negative experience.

If you experience more severe side effects, like extreme nausea and vomiting, you may be experiencing a condition called “cannabis hyperemesis syndrome.” This condition is extremely rare and generally only shows up in people who consume cannabis chronically or those who have taken a dose that is way too large. In the case that you are vomiting continuously, you may be at risk for dehydration and should seek medical assistance.

If you experience severe side effects other than the effects listed here, you may be reacting to a poor-quality formulation, and you should seek medical assistance immediately.

In most cases, any side effects you experience from THC-O will be mild and short lived, so just try to relax and let it wear off.

Final Tips for Reducing THC-O Risks

Vida Optima Elev8 THC-O Cart

Many people are able to enjoy THC-O without experiencing adverse effects at all, and you can significantly reduce your chance of experiencing side effects by taking a couple of precautions:

  • Make sure that the THC-O products you buy are well made and lab tested.
  • Look for products that use third party testing process to ensure label accuracy.
  • Pay attention to additional ingredients used in the formula to ensure that there are no allergens or ingredients you may be sensitive to.
  • Check the product's expiration to make sure that it's fresh, and take time to read other people's reviews of the products if you're feeling uncertain.
  • Finally, make sure that you understand how to dose your THC-O products, and start with small doses until you are comfortable with the way that THC-O affects you.

If you’re looking for a safe, milder THC-O formulation to dip your toes in THC-O effects, check out our THC-O + Delta-8-THC Vape Pens.

At Vida Optima, our THC products are made from US grown, pesticide-free hemp material and are third-party tested by batch before sale. All of our products are fully Farm Bill compliant and made according to the industry's highest standards.


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