Delta 8 THC is an extremely important cannabinoid specifically due to its ability to serve as a more functional substitute for Delta 9 THC.
Delta 9 THC can have a fair amount of negative side effects: addiction, sleep issues, paranoia, anxiety, laziness, etc. However, many users report Delta 8 THC as having either none or reduced side effects in comparison. This is an enormous benefit for the many individuals who are helped medicinally by Delta 9 THC but do not enjoy the side effects.
And while it is still early to say anything definitively, from a medicinal standpoint, Delta 8 THC seems to show a lot of promise in a number of areas.
According to the National Cancer Institute, delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol is “an analogue of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), with potential antiemetic, anxiolytic, appetite-stimulating, analgesic, and neuroprotective activities. Delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-8-THC) binds to the cannabinoid G-protein coupled receptor CB1, located in the central nervous system; CB1 receptor activation may inhibit adenyl cyclase, increase mitogen-activated protein kinase activities, modulate several potassium channel conductances and inhibit N- and P/Q-type Ca2+ channels. This agent exhibits a lower psychotropic potency than delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9-THC), the primary form of THC found in cannabis.” It exists naturally and can also be produced by converting CBD or Delta 9 THC via a chemical reaction typically using heat, catalysts, altered pH environments, and/or solvents.
Antiemetic properties (prevents vomiting)
Anecdotal evidence has long led cannabis users to believe in the antiemetic properties of the plant, but it was backed up by scientific research that occurred in Israel in 1995.
As part of a research project into the antiemetic properties of cannabis, Israeli researchers administered delta-8 to pediatric cancer patients who were suffering from nausea associated with chemotherapy. What they found was that it dramatically cured the nausea of the patients, with a 100% success rate over 480 treatments — and with negligible side-effects (including psychoactive effects).
The U.S. government also has a patent on the antiemetic uses of delta-8, furthering the idea that delta-8 can help alleviate nausea and vomiting in cancer patients. As part of the research for one of the patents of the cannabinoid, delta-8 THC was shown to be 200 percent more effective as an antiemetic when compared to Delta-9.
Anxiolytic properties (reduces anxiety)
Clinical studies conducted over the years concluded that erratic behavior of the Endocannabinoid system (a complex biological system in the mammalian body) is associated with anxiety and depression.
Further investigations also suggest that plant-derived cannabinoids like THC and CBD manipulate the Endocannabinoid system by binding to the endocannabinoid receptors and can reduce anxiety.
An NIH-published article in 2015. “found that existing preclinical evidence strongly supports CBD as a treatment for generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder when administered acutely.”
Like CBD, Delta-8 may also have a role to play as an anti-anxiety medication. Medications that inhibit anxiety are referred to as anxiolytics, and delta-8 THC is categorized as an “analogue of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) with antiemetic, anxiolytic, appetite-stimulating, analgesic, and neuroprotective properties” — meaning that the NIH considers this cannabinoid to have anti-anxiety properties (among others).
Delta-8 is also much less likely to induce anxiety in high doses than its more widely known counterpart, delta-9 THC. Research has shown that delta-8 has less psychoactive potency than its analogue delta-9, and it appears to offer a more clear-minded experience with less anxiety, too.
Delta-8 has also been shown to have appetite-stimulating properties (which likely won’t surprise anyone who’s used cannabis in the past, recreationally or medically). Researchers found during a 2004 study by Avraham et al. that rodents treated with low doses of delta-8 THC had appetites that were stimulated more than those treated with delta-9 THC, which is the cannabinoid cannabis is most known for.
Analgesic properties (relieves pain)
Unsurprisingly, delta-8 may also be a potential treatment for pain and inflammation. A 2018 study by Thapa et al. found that topical delta-8 THC decreased corneal pain and inflammation in an experimental mouse model.
This cannabinoid could prove to be especially helpful for patients with GI issues, given that a 2004 review in the BJP (Hornby and Prouty), concluded that “the beneficial effects of CB1R activation in animal models include reduction of transient lower esophageal sphincter relaxations, increased compliance of the proximal stomach, reduced acid secretion, reduction of GI transit, reduced intestinal fluid secretion in response to secretagogues and reduced large intestinal propulsive activity are all aspects that could be beneficial in functional bowel disorders such as IBS. However, administration of CB1R agonists to patients would be associated with CBS adverse effects due to the psychotropic actions.”
Lesser psychotropic effects
As mentioned above, research has shown that delta-8 has less psychoactive potency than its analog delta-9. Researchers have estimated the potency to be about two-thirds of the potency of delta-9-THC.
The “high” from delta-8 has been described as more clear-headed when compared to delta-9-THC, and people who have used it often note less of an impact on concentration and anxiety, though it still retains its medicinal properties. The effects of Delta 8 THC vary per person, but the average experience could best be explained by imagining combining the best parts of CBD and Delta 9 THC.
It is often reported as relaxing, mood-boosting, pleasantly euphoric yet clearheaded, and not overwhelmingly intoxicating. It’s motivating/energizing to some, especially at lower doses, and sleep-inducing to others, especially at higher doses.
With appropriate dosing, users report feeling far more functional and active on Delta 8 THC versus Delta 9 THC. D8 THC also appears to be more medicinal than both CBD and Delta 9 THC.
If vaporized and inhaled the effects of Delta 8 THC appear within 20 minutes and can last as long as 5 hours with peak effects typically starting to decrease after 30 minutes to 2.5 hours depending on the individual. The higher the purity of D8 THC and the fewer cannabinoids like CBD and CBG, the quicker the onset and higher the intensity of effects.
If consumed orally, Delta 8 THC can take anywhere between 45 minutes and 4 hours to peak, with effects lasting as long as 12 hours. This is much longer than typically observed with Delta 9 THC and has the potential to be exceptional and convenient as a cannabis treatment with the possibility of as little as 2 doses being necessary for a full 24-hour treatment.
The lack or reduction of “mental fogginess” and paranoia is also a unique and beneficial trait of D8 THC as it allows many users the ability to take it while still accomplishing daily tasks.
Negative effects can include drowsiness, upset stomach, dry mouth, red eyes, and headache.