You’ve heard of THC, also known as Delta 9 THC, and you’ve heard of CBD, but there is a new cannabinoid gaining popularity throughout the U.S. Directly derived by scientists and researchers from THC or CBD flower in a lab, Delta 8 THC has all the healing properties of cannabis without the intense high.
What is Delta 8 THC?
Delta 8 THC is the latest cannabis compound sweeping through the nation. It is one of over 100 cannabinoids produced naturally by the cannabis plant (1) but is not found in significant amounts in the cannabis plant. As a result, concentrated amounts of it are typically manufactured from hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD). Far less psychoactive than its infamous cousin Delta 9 THC but more mentally stimulating than CBD, Delta 8 is rapidly gaining popularity. With its mellow high, users feel relaxed and are less likely to feel the paranoia that comes with delta 9, making it the perfect marijuana alternative.
Is It Legal?
In 2018 congress passed the Farm Bill allowing the cultivation and sale of hemp products with less than 0.3% Delta 9 THC. Since no laws have been passed explicitly for Delta 8 THC, it is considered legal at the federal level because it is derived from the hemp plant, instead of marijuana.
Currently, though it is legal in many, but not all, states. There are some states that have legalized it for medical use only, but there are still quite a few that restrict its usage to a certain extent or ban it completely. There are even some states that criminalize the possession of Delta 8. If you live in one of these states, then you should avoid possession of Delta 8 THC. Check to see the status in your state (2).
How is Delta 8 THC Consumed?
Like CBD and THC, there are numerous ways to consume Delta 8 (3). From edibles, to oils, vapes, and flowers, the possibilities are endless. In addition, since Delta 8 is so closely related to Delta 9, you can purchase less potent forms of your favorite cannabis strains.
Top Benefits of Delta 8 THC
Like Delta 9 THC and CBD, Delta 8 THC has numerous health benefits (4), from aiding nausea and chronic pain.
One of the most significant benefits Delta 8 offers is its ability to reduce anxiety drastically. Clinging to the B1 cannabinoid receptors in our brain Delta 8 reduces stress (5) and stabilizes brain function. Those with anxiety may find that a small amount of delta-9 THC can alleviate their anxiety,” says Lewis Jassey, DO, medical director at Leafwell. “Take a little too much, however, and delta-9 THC can induce anxiety (6).”
With potent forms of Delta 9 THC, users are more likely to become overwhelmed with paranoia and anxiety than they would with Delta 8. Instead, Delta 8 floods the brain with a calming sense of focus and euphoria.
Research has shown that Delta 8 has many analgesic properties, meaning it has a solid ability to ease pain (7) and inflammation. Without the intense high that Delta 9 THC offers, users of Delta 8 can ease their pain and move throughout the day without feeling stoned or foggy.
Because delta 8 binds to CB1 receptors in the nervous system, it has the potential to offer uniquely potent effects on pain. The nervous system consists of a series of pain receptors that are attached to the body’s nerve endings, which register pain and send signals to the brain to let it know that it has been injured. Cannabinoid receptors in the nervous system are largely responsible for regulating the sensitivity of these pain receptors, so that we can feel pain in a less acute way.
Delta 8 has been proven to help people suffering from eating disorders as it stimulates the appetite. Yes, Delta 8 can make you feel hungry. Why? Delta 8 is an appetite-stimulating analogue of tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC). (8)
Of course this depends on the amount you smoke (vapes) or consume (edibles), but Delta 8 has been reported to stimulate your appetite, in some cases, even more than Delta 9 (marijuana). But unlike marijuana you do not seem to get the munchies.
Effects on Mood
Beyond its psychoactive effects, delta 8 seems to offer potentially significant effects on general mood. Research has shown the cannabinoid to possess anxiolytic properties, meaning that it may offer a feeling of inner bliss to those who are anxious or stressed. This largely comes from the cannabinoid’s influence on cortisol, the neurotransmitter responsible for our stress response which is a key function of our survival. By balancing cortisol release, our nervous system may become less reactive to stressful stimuli.
Delta 8 THC not only increases your appetite but improves the digestive system offering quick relief from severe nausea and vomiting.
The immediate effects of delta-8 on sleep have yet to be investigated. Only animal research has looked into the effects on sleep and brain function.
The effects of delta 8 on sleep in cats provided promising results. According to the study, intravenous delta 8 caused drowsiness in cats, resulting in fewer but also longer paradoxical sleep or REM episodes. This suggests that delta 8 made REM (rapid eye movement) episodes last longer, which are critical in the sleep cycle since they stimulate areas of the brain that are vital for memory and learning. It may offer clinically relevant sedative-hypnotic effects, according to the researchers.
Improves Brain Function
While more studies have to be done, recent research has shown that Delta 8 helps produce the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the brain, which is responsible for overall brain function, including cognition, memory, and neuroplasticity.
Would delta-8 THC cause a positive on a marijuana screen?
Delta-8 is very structurally similar to delta-9 THC resulting in cross-reactivity on some assays. Therefore, even if a laboratory assay is not capable of determining between delta-8 and delta-9 THC, it will still likely produce a positive marijuana screen result. A urine test detects THC’s byproducts for a longer period of time, typically from a few days to a few weeks.
Despite its rapidly increasing availability, there is still a lot to learn about delta-8 properties and effects. Please note that this article was for informational purposes only and not intended as legal advice.