What is THC Delta 8? – THC Delta 8 Benefits & Therapeutic Uses

What is Delta 8 THC (also known as THC delta 8, D-8-THC, or Δ8-THC)? Most people are aware that THC Delta 9 (Tetrahydrocannabinol) is the most psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis.

However, what you might not know, is that hemp and cannabis also contain a milder psychoactive cannabinoid, THC Delta 8. While Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the most common compound known among the cannabinoids, it is not the only psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant.

One of the other psychoactive compounds is delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ8-THC), or simply ‘delta 8 THC.’

Having a lower psychotropic potency than regular THC makes Δ8-THC more suitable than the latter for use in tetrahydrocannabinol therapeutics. Let’s take a look at what THC Delta 8 is, as well as its potential therapeutic applications.

How is Delta 8 THC Different from THC Delta 9?

THC was first discovered in 1969 at Weizmann Institute of Science Israel by Raphael Mechoulam and Yechiel Gaoni. Also very vaguely referenced, there were multiple forms of THC discovered at that time. Delta 8 THC and Delta 9 THC were the two prominent discoveries, though.

Delta 9 THC is formed in cannabis when Delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (also known as THCA, C22H30O4) is exposed to heat, in a process known as decarboxylation. However, THC Delta 8 forms slightly differently.

Unlike other cannabinoids, THC Delta 8 isn’t produced through decarboxylation. Neither is it created in cannabis plants by cannabinoid-synthesizing enzymes. Instead, it is formed as THC Delta 9 degrades over time.

The compound delta 8 THC exists as an analog of delta-9-THC, since they have a similar structure with only subtle noticeable differences. While these two compounds might have many similar possible therapeutic properties, like easing pain and nausea, or appetite stimulation (the munchies), Δ8-THC has a lower psychoactive effect when compared to that of delta-9-THC. 

  • Δ8-THC forms when THC Delta 9 in cannabis is stored for long periods.
  • As an analogue of tetrahydrocannabinol, Δ8-THC THC has an almost identical chemical make up to that of Delta 9 THC, minus a few atomic bonds.
  • Because THC Δ8-THC only forms as regular THC degrades, only tiny amounts of the cannabinoid occur naturally in cannabis.
  • In 2003, THC was transferred to Schedule IV by the World Health Organization whereby the medical uses, abuse, and addiction potential were stated.

Δ8-THC Potential Benefits

As an analogue of THC Delta 9, THC Delta 8 promotes near-identical potential health benefits to those of regular THC.

  • Like THC Delta 9, THC Delta 8 can help provide relief from nausea, sleep apnea, and stimulate the appetite.
  • Research shows that THC Delta 8 may be able to reduce intraocular inflammation and associated pain in glaucoma and eye injury patients.

However, by not being as potent as a psychotropic as regular THC, using THC Delta 8 rarely results in cannabis high-related anxiety or paranoia. Research even suggests that THC Delta 8 may be able to help treat anxiety by promoting calmer mental states.

As a therapeutic cannabinoid, THC Delta 8 is also more chemically stable than THC Delta 9. This is thanks to the fact that unlike the latter, THC Delta 8 does not degrade over time to become cannabinol (CBN).

What Does a THC Delta 8 High Feel Like?

Many argue that by rarely inducing side-effects like anxiety or paranoia, THC Delta 8 is more suitable for therapeutic use than regular THC. However, it is important to note that THC Delta 8 is still a psychoactive cannabinoid, however mild it may be.

Most people report that the THC Delta 8, when smoked as a concentrate, is quite harsh on their lungs. It begins to work almost immediately, and the feeling of being ‘high’ is no where strong as when smoking Delta 8 THC.

People have reported that they experience a much less intense ‘high’ and the high doesn’t last as long. Anecdotal evidence reported from individuals seems to conclude that one smoking session will only leave the user high for about 10-20 minutes at most.

When using THC Delta 8, people often report feeling high sensations that are 50% less intense than when using regular THC. However, users still report feeling classic stoned sensations synonymous with marijuana. As a result, THC Delta 8 is not suitable for use when working, driving, or when engaging in activities that require a high degree of concentration.

Potential D8 THC Side Effects

Thanks to having near-identical therapeutic properties to THC without inducing anxiety or paranoia, THC Delta 8 is sometimes promoted as the superior therapeutic cannabinoid. However, users should beware of some potential side effects.

As a rule, D-8-THC highs can still feel uncomfortable to some people. Evidence also suggests that D-8-THC may increase the heart rate. Naturally, this may be of concern to users with pre-existing cardiovascular problems.   

References

Science Direct: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/002432059500194B?via%3Dihub

National Library of Medicine: https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/delta8-THC, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29450258/, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29385080/

Mersiades, A. J., Tognela, A., Haber, P. S., Stockler, M., Lintzeris, N., et al. (2018). Oral cannabinoid-rich THC/CBD cannabis extract for secondary prevention of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting: a study protocol for a pilot and definitive randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial (Cannabis CINV). BMJ Open 8(9). DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-020745.

Goncalves, J., Rosado, T., Soares, S., Simao, A. Y., Caramelo, D., Luis, A., et al. (2019). Cannabis and Its Secondary Metabolites: Their Use as Therapeutic Drugs, Toxicological Aspects, and Analytical Determination. Medicines 6(1); 31. DOI: 10.3390/medicines6010031.

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