A minor cannabinoid called delta-8 THC is found in extremely trace amounts in cannabis. A degraded version of delta-9 THC is delta-8 THC. Long-term storage of THC causes it to break down into delta-8 THC.
About Delta-8 THC
The cannabis plant contains more than 100 cannabinoids. While cannabinoids like delta-9 THC (also known as THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are essential cannabinoids, we know less about secondary or minor cannabinoids like delta-8 THC.
THC, the most prevalent and psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis, is different from delta-8 THC. A THC analog with some observable differences in its chemical structure is delta-8 THC. While the two substances have a lot in common, including the ability to supposedly increase hunger, lessen nausea, and relieve pain, delta-8 THC has a lower psychoactive potency than THC when breathed. However, delta-8 THC has the same intoxicating properties as THC when consumed. So exercise the same caution you would with THC edibles when attempting delta-8 THC edibles for the first time.
Delta-9 THC and Delta-8 THC: Same or Different?
Different comparisons can be made between these two substances.
The position of a crucial chemical bond distinguishes delta-8 THC from delta-9 THC from a chemical or structural standpoint. Double binds can be seen in the molecular chains of both types of THC. While the bond in delta-9 THC is located on the ninth carbon chain, it is present in delta-8 THC on the eighth carbon chain. Although it might seem like a minor distinction, it significantly affects how these molecules are shaped. The ability of the molecules to bind to the body's endocannabinoid receptors is directly influenced by their shape.
Delta-8 THC is more stable than delta-9 THC. Cannabinol (CBN) or delta-8 THC can be produced readily by oxidizing delta-9 THC. Delta-8 THC has a long shelf life, is stable, and won't oxidize into CBN. It is desired for a pharmaceutical substance to have such stability.
Cannabinoid receptor affinity
When inhaled, delta-8 THC binds to the CB1 receptor similarly to delta-9 THC. Due to its slightly different chemical structure and associated shape, it has a distinct affinity for the receptor. The majority of THC's psychoactive effects are mediated through the CB1 receptor. The fact that delta-8 THC apparently produces a more transparent high with less anxiety than delta-9 THC may be due to this differential binding. It's also conceivable that the chemical makeup of delta-8 THC influences how it communicates with other receptors and brain pathways.
Consequences of consumption
A ton of clinical and anecdotal evidence suggests inhaling or ingesting delta-9 THC can make one feel high. About the effects of delta-8 THC, we know substantially less. Even at higher doses, some claim delta-8 THC creates a gentler, more manageable high than delta-9 THC. However, pharmacologically, edibles containing delta-8 THC and delta-9 THC behave very similar since both molecules undergo the exact liver conversion to form 11-hydroxy THC. It is advisable to take these items with the same caution you would treat THC products because there is still so much that we don't know about delta-8 THC and because the effects vary greatly depending on whether it is consumed or breathed.
Potential Medicinal Uses for Delta-8 THC
Numerous preclinical and clinical research is revealing some of delta-8 THC's unique qualities and therapeutic potential.
Pain and discomfort
Delta-8 THC may aid in reducing pain and inflammation after ocular injury in mice, according to a preclinical study published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research in 2018. According to the study, topical application of delta-8 THC helped to lessen inflammation and pain by acting on CB1 receptors. Delta-8 THC is effective at reducing pain, according to another preclinical study on rats; however, resistance to the cannabinoid quickly set in.
The US National Library of Medicine claims that delta-8 THC exhibits similar anxiety-relieving properties to delta-9 THC. Anecdotal evidence suggests that delta-8 THC ingestion produces a focused, tranquil high. Still, before making any generalizations about its capacity to reduce anxiety, we need further clinical studies.
In a 1995 study published in the journal Life Sciences, delta-8 THC was shown to have anti-nausea properties. When patients consumed delta-8 THC before and for 24 hours after cancer treatment, no vomiting happened, according to research that tracked eight pediatric cancer patients over two years. Very few adverse effects were noted in the trial.
Decrease in appetite
The appetite may also be stimulated by delta-8 THC. A modest dose of delta-8 THC was given to mice over 50 days, and the results of this study, which was conducted on mice and reported in 2004 in Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior, showed that this led to a 22% increase in food intake when compared to controls. The study also found that the well-known appetite stimulant delta-9 THC did not significantly boost food intake compared to delta-8 THC.
Side Effects and Warnings
Since delta-8 THC is a relatively new cannabinoid, we still have a lot to learn about it; therefore, use of it should be done with caution. Because cannabis flower typically contains less than 1% delta-8 THC, the cannabinoid is currently most commonly seen in concentrated forms.
It takes a tremendous amount of extraction and refinement to obtain a significant amount of this cannabinoid. Other products may blend delta-8 THC with CBD and/or delta-9 THC for a more full-spectrum effect; however, some delta-8 THC concentrates are isolates.
It's crucial to be aware that a lot of the current knowledge regarding the cannabinoid is based on animal research if you're considering ingesting delta-8 THC. According to studies on animals, delta-8 THC and delta-9 THC raised blood pressure by momentarily restricting the blood arteries. Then the blood pressure dropped, and the heart rate slowed after the initial spike.
A study that was published in Pharmaceuticals in 2018 showed that the effects seen in animals and humans could differ significantly. For instance, delta-8 THC considerably decreased the heart rate in animals but increased it in people. The review's authors came to the conclusion that more research in human populations is necessary to fully understand how delta-8 THC affects blood flow because there is a dearth of information about its effects.
Ingesting vs. Inhaling in Delta-8 THC
In addition, you should be aware that, like delta-9 THC, liver conversion of consumed delta-8 THC to 11-hydroxy THC occurs. Due to this, a lot of people unknowingly consume too many edibles. This implies that treats containing delta-8 THC made from hemp may be just as strong as those made from marijuana. Delta-8 THC edibles can nevertheless cause an extremely unsettling psychological shift in the unprepared, despite the fact that they are occasionally uncontrolled.
The cannabis won't reach your liver by inhalation; therefore, it won't have the same potential intoxication effects.
The Bottom Line
Use caution while experimenting with delta-8 THC edibles.
How does the endocannabinoid system interact with delta-8 THC?
The central nervous system's CB1 receptors are where delta-8 THC binds. A further affinity of delta-8 THC is for CB2 receptors, albeit less is known about this binding mode.
How does the entourage effect differ when delta-8 THC is present?
The entourage effect, also known as the "ensemble effect," states that the THC molecule functions more effectively when combined with a variety of other cannabinoids, terpenoids, flavonoids, and other chemicals present in cannabis than when it is separated. In comparison to isolated THC, this augmentation may produce more favorable medicinal results. Although our understanding of the entourage effect is based on delta-9 THC, the chemical similarities of delta-8 THC suggest that when consumed as whole-plant medicine rather than an isolate, it may have more potent effects.
To fully understand delta-8 THC's ensemble effects and whether its presence serves to modulate the effects of other cannabinoids, more research is required.
How is delta-8 THC in cannabis products identified?
Despite being a minor cannabinoid in most cannabis cultivars, some concentrates have higher delta-8 THC concentrations. Read the certificate of analysis associated with the product to determine the ratio of delta-8 THC to delta-9 THC.