If you are a cannabis lover or stoner, then you are probably familiar with delta-9-THC even if you weren’t necessarily aware of it. The THC you know, love, and talk about is also known as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9). This is the chemical responsible for producing the psychoactive effect that makes you high. There are actually various cannabinoids native to the cannabis plant and delta-8-THC is one of the four most common cannabinoids found in marijuana.
There is still much more research and work that needs to be done within the cannabis industry. There is so much to explore and apply further research into, but delta-8-THC is starting to catch the eye of businesses and researchers alike for its supposed clearer high and longer shelf life.
Read along to learn more about what delta-8 is, the similarities and differences between it and delta-9, as well as how it interacts with the endocannabinoid system. There are still so many fascinating things to learn about cannabis and all the potential benefits it could share with the rest of the world.
What Do We Know About Delta-8-THC?
First and foremost, there are over 100 cannabinoids present within a marijuana plant. Most people are already familiar with one of those cannabinoids, CBD. It is one of the various cannabinoids in marijuana that does not produce an intoxicating high, but it does assist with pain relief and inflammation.
Delta-8 is just another one of those cannabinoids. It is chemically different from delta-9-THC, but only by a small number of atomic bonds. This cannabinoid can still provide someone with a potent high, unique in its own way. However, delta-8-THC only exists naturally in very small quantities—in fact—fractions of a percent of this cannabinoid are found naturally. Delta-8 is considered to be a degraded form of THC.
Based on the definition from the National Cancer Institute, delta-8-THC is considered “an analog of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) [delta-9] with antiemetic, anxiolytic, appetite-stimulating, analgesic, and neuroprotective properties…This agent exhibits a lower psychotropic potency than [delta-9-THC], the primary form of THC found in cannabis.”
So—in simpler terms—it’s a cannabinoid with some similar properties to that of delta-9-THC; however, it is less potent than the primary form of THC. It is a similar molecule but there are notable differences.
Delta-8-THC is typically distilled into a clear concentrate or wax-like form. The delta-8-THC is distilled from cannabis flower and trim. The process requires the removal of any residual solvents, impurities, and undesirable compounds left over after installation.
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What Are The Similarities And Differences Between Delta-8-THC and Delta-9-THC?
Aside from the name, there are certain things that the two cannabinoids have in common. For example, both reportedly stimulate appetite, reduce nausea, and soothe pain or inflammation. Both of these cannabinoids produce a cerebral high, but the high you receive from delta-9 is much more potent than it is from delta-8.
The differences between the two cannabinoids come down to the chemical bonds. Delta-8 contains a double bond on the 8th carbon chain whereas delta-9 has a double bond on the 9th carbon chain, hence where they derive their names. This actually creates a subtle difference between how the two cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system.
Another notable difference between the two is that delta-9 is much more unstable than delta-8. Due to its instability, delta-9 can be oxidized into cannabinol or delta-8; however, delta-8 cannot be oxidized to make cannabinol.
It should be pointed out that delta-8-THC is reportedly responsible for creating a clearer and more pleasant high, greater ability to focus, and a reduction in anxiety. This can possibly be attributed to the difference in molecular structure between the two chemicals.
How Does Delta-8-THC Interact With The Endocannabinoid System?
Similar to delta-9-THC, delta-8 binds to the CB1 receptor; however, its affinity for the bind is significantly less than that of delta-9. This is believed to be due to the difference in the molecular structure of the two cannabinoids.
For those who do not know, the CB1 receptor is responsible for triggering the psychoactive effects of THC. Once the THC—or agonist—binds with the receptor, the person ingesting the cannabis will begin to feel the intoxicating effects.
Researchers also believe that there is the potential that delta-8 can have a similar entourage/ensemble effect that delta-9 has. This entourage/ensemble effect basically means that THC works better when it is working together with various cannabinoids, terpenes, flavors, and extraneous compounds found in cannabis rather than isolated by itself.
Most cannabis users can probably attest to the benefits of the entourage effect. The same could possibly be said for delta-8 since the two are similar, but there is no definitive proof at this point.
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Are There Medicinal Or Recreational Purposes For Delta-8-THC?
Currently, there are businesses out there trying to create products with delta-8 in order to create a clearer high free from anxiety. So far, there have been numerous studies conducted on the medicinal efficacy of delta-8-THC which have uncovered some legitimate therapeutic potential as well as some unique properties.
Based on the research so far, delta-8-THC can help to diminish pain and inflammation; however, tolerance builds up faster than it does with delta-9-THC. Delta-8 also has similar anti-anxiety effects to delta-9, but the high from delta-8 is supposedly clearer and stress-free.
Delta-8 has also been found to reduce nausea, especially in cancer patients undergoing cancer treatment as well as stimulate appetite more than delta-9.
Considering what is already known about delta-8, it is highly likely that delta-8-THC will become increasingly popular as the years move on and after further research is conducted. It is already clear that there are known benefits associated with delta-8-THC. As research progresses, who knows what potential benefits or unique properties we’ll find.