Years after the legalization of cannabis, most people know THC is the main compound that gets you stoned. Yet, the cannabis plant is much more complex than just CBD and THC. It contains an estimated 500 chemical entities, at least 113 of which are cannabinoids.
Amongst them, we find Delta-9’s little brother: Delta-8 THC. If you haven’t already, Delta-8 is something that you’ll hear about in the coming months if you are part of the cannabis culture. Hell, it’s something you’ll read about right now!
In this article, we’ll explore what delta-8 THC is, how it differs from Delta-9, what its benefits are, and if it’s the right product for you.
What Is Delta-8?
To understand that, you must first grasp the concept of cannabinoids. A cannabinoid is a chemical compound that is found in cannabis plants. There are two main cannabinoids. Phytocannabinoids, which come from the plant, and endocannabinoid, naturally occurring compounds in mammals.
Delta-eight THC (sometimes shortened to D-8) falls into the latter camp. This means our bodies naturally produce Delta-eight THC. Within the cannabis plant, Delta-8 is considered a minor cannabinoid, meaning they are much rarer than THC and CBD on a bud of cannabis.
Delta-eight plays an important role in regulating moods, appetite, and pain sensation. It can bring more benefits when consumed in larger doses, which we’ll explore later on.
Apart from its effects on medical patients, Delta-eight also affects growers and their plants. It is thought to speed up the growth cycle and increase the production of other cannabinoids during the curing stage.
Like CBD, Delta-eight is most commonly extracted from hemp due to its legality, but growers can also extract it from cannabis plants.
What Is the Difference Between Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC?
These are two very similar compounds. Structurally, they are the same, with a double bond on their eighth carbon. The only difference is in where this double bond exists. Delta-nine THC has the double bond on its ninth carbon, while Delta-eight THC is found with this double bond on its eighth.
Delta-9 THC binds to endocannabinoid receptors more than Delta-8 and has stronger psychotropic effects. This is usually the compound people are referring to when they simply say “THC.”
Delta-8 understandably feels “weaker,” and so it has less of a tendency to cause adverse effects, such as paranoia and anxiety. It is often used by patients who want to avoid these side effects.
Additionally, Delta-8 can be administered in bigger doses than its counterpart because it does not have as strong an effect on the brain. Doctors may prescribe it for more severe conditions or those undergoing chemotherapy treatment where nausea symptoms are prevalent, and the patient needs bigger doses of the drug.
The two compounds share many similarities, making them both desirable for medicinal purposes (such as pain relief). For this reason, some countries will allow medical marijuana use only if it contains both delta-9 THC and delta-8 THCA molecules. Others do not regulate either compound separately from one another. More on this later.
What Are the Benefits of Delta-8 THC?
So will it still get me high?
A valid question.
Yes, delta-eight can produce intoxication. The difference is that it takes a lot more to get you high because delta-8 binds less to our cannabinoid receptors. Delta-8 is similar to THC in some respects, producing mild euphoria, happiness, uplifting effects, and relief from pain.
Compared to Delta-9 THC, delta-8 is also a better help for insomnia. Side effects such as dry mouth, red eyes, getting the munchies, short-term memory loss, or paranoia/ anxiety are possible if you take a big enough dose.
Delta-8 has not yet been studied extensively, and more research is needed on its psychoactive properties. The next step is finding out what it does for mental health disorders like PTSD compared to traditional cannabis treatments.
These are often prescribed by doctors today because they work well with them these conditions.
Other benefits of Delta-8 Include:
- Relieve pain: In 2018, a preclinical study published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research found that delta-8-THC may help relieve pain, inflammation in corneal injury and reduce swelling by influencing the CB1 receptors. Rats were also studied, and it was reported that delta-8-THC helps relieve pain, but the smaller users rapidly developed a tolerance.
- Anxiety. It’s said that delta-8-THC can help reduce anxiety to a degree similar to delta-9-THC, according to the US National Library of Medicine.
- Nausea. Delta-8-THC displays the potential to reduce nausea in patients undergoing intense cancer treatment, according to a 1995 study published in Life Sciences.
- Loss of appetite: Delta-8-THC may also help stimulate appetite. Research conducted on mice and reported in 2004 found a 22% increase in food intake from delta-8-THC administered to mice for 50 days. Remembering that delta-9 THC is supposed to be more potent, this is significant.
So, Is It Like CBD?
Not quite. Delta-8 bind rather easily to the body’s endocannabinoid system, which is responsible for mood and memory. The result is more intense mental health effects.
CBD doesn’t act on the same receptors as THC, so it’s not intoxicating at all (and often has medicinal benefits). It also can help people avoid some of the psychoactive properties of marijuana because CBD blocks some other chemical reactions in our brain that make us high. If you’re looking for a treatment that won’t get you high, CBD is the clear-cut answer.
If you want relief from specific symptoms without getting too intoxicated by THC, delta-8 might work out better for you in comparison to traditional cannabis treatments.
Delta-eight is not entirely unlike CBD as it seems at first glance. Both substances interact with receptors in our brain called cannabinoid receptors which play an essential part in mood regulation and memory formation. This interaction produces different results depending on the receptivity of these receptors.
For a better understanding of the similarities and differences between CBD and Delta-8 THC, feel free to visit 3Chi.
How Is It Extracted?
Delta-8 is found in trace amounts in cannabis and hemp plants. But since hemp is legal to grow anywhere in the US and more readily available, delta-Eight is often sourced from that.
The hemp derivative requires more processing than CBD isolates or full-spectrum extractions. It must be synthesized at a lab with high standards for purity. The result is a viscous oil called distillate, one very similar to THC or CBD distillate, which are popular marijuana products.
This increased production cost balances out the high demand for it because of its legality compared to THC. Much like how there’s a demand for CBD isolate, there is increasing demand for Delta-8, which could lead to lower prices.
How to Consume Delta-8 THC?
There are now many ways to consume Delta-8 THC. After extraction, it usually comes in the form of distillate, a viscous liquid that can then be added to any recipe.
The result is as an edible with the same properties and limitations that THC edibles have. You can’t take it in any other form but oral or sublingual (underneath your tongue). It’s eaten instead of inhaled, and there are no instant effects. Its impact will be felt after 40 minutes, and you must wait at least four hours for its full effect to be done before undertaking potentially strenuous tasks.
In dispensaries, you’ll find Delta-eight gummies and other edibles which come in a variety of potencies. Delta-8 tinctures are also available and are consumed sublingually.
Tinctures are interesting because they hit faster than edibles. Once absorbed by the web behind your tongue, it will be directly absorbed in the bloodstream rather than go to the stomach.
With technological advancements, we now have Delta-8 vapes so that you can get a strong, direct hit of medicine without the wait. Though it is more expensive, many users find this option preferable to edibles.
These vapes come with a distillate inside, like CBD or THC vapes.
Again, it’s important to note that very little research has been done on delta-eight. We don’t know much about how strong its effects are and how it affects the body.
The takeaway: As always, proceed with caution—especially when consuming any new form or substance!
Is Delta-8 THC Right for Me?
The best way to know if Delta-8 is right for you is by trying it!
It’s great for sampling other cannabinoids without diving into full cannabis use. It’s also good for lowering your tolerance levels or providing a boost when needed.
If there’s one negative thing, it might be the higher production costs because it requires a lot more work and purity standards to synthesize. So while it isn’t as processable, this doesn’t necessitate these prices (much like CBD isolate).
For those who experience anxiety and paranoia with cannabis, this might be a great way to experiment without the high, for those who don’t want or need THC but still want that boost of cannabinoid.
With Delta-8 vapes on the rise, they will be a good alternative for people who like to smoke cannabis all day, every day. Due to its lower potency, you can smoke much more of it without negative side effects.
The Entourage Effect and Delta-8
The entourage effect is a principle that supports the idea of one cannabinoid interacting with other cannabinoids, terpenoids, flavonoids, and other compounds in cannabis to create therapeutic outcomes better than if it were isolated.
For example, anecdotal reports claim CBD works better in conjunction with THC than when used on its own(as an isolate) for treating pain or depression.
The entourage effect is most commonly researched for delta-9. While we know a lot about it, there are still unanswered questions that need to be explored some more – such as how much of the therapeutic effects come from specific compounds within cannabis versus the interaction between them.
In the case of Delta-8, the molecular similarity to delta-9 could mean that it would produce enhanced effects when ingested as a whole plant medicine.
More research is needed, though, to know for sure what effect the entourage effect has on Delta-8 and how much power this phenomenon might have over the therapeutic outcomes.
Is It Legal?
We noted that Delta-8 THC is not illegal. Let’s get into some of the nuanced legal considerations that surround this substance.
While specific federal laws and state laws specifically ban delta 9tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta9THC) as an illicit drug on par with heroin or cocaine, they never mention anything about 8th hydrogen tetrahydrocannabinol (delta 8THC).
So even living in a place where THC is illegal, it’s probably delta-9 the lawmakers were talking about. You should be able to smoke as much delta-8 as you want!
Thankfully, many states are following in Colorado’s footsteps and legalizing everything!
The Delta Force to the Rescue
Delta-8, Delta-9 THC, CBD, are all promising therapeutic cannabinoids, and we hope to see more research on the subject!
In fact, High Times recently dubbed Delta-8 THC as “the hemp industry’s latest hype.” In April 2020, Delta-8 THC became the star of its own subreddit, r/Delta8, which now has more than 45,000 members!
In the past few years, there has been a resurgence of cannabis products that are processed to be pure CBD or THC.
One such product is Delta-8, a high-potency cannabinoid with minor psychoactive effects (meaning it doesn’t get you as ‘high’). It’s often used by patients who want to use cannabinoids for their therapeutic benefits but don’t need the extra kick from THC.
Many newbies and experienced users alike experience anxiety and paranoia with cannabis. Delta-8 might be a great way to experiment without the overwhelming high and for those who don’t want or need THC but still want that boost of cannabinoid.
This is all very recent and very fresh! One thing’s for sure, though: When the cannabis community gets this excited about something, it’s usually good!
If you want to learn more about marijuana and general health, check out the rest of our website! You’re sure to learn something new.