Interest in plant-based and natural healing has been booming over the past few decades, and cannabis products are no exception. As researchers continue to study cannabis-derived products, we continue to learn more about the many psychological and physiological benefits they produce.
Depending on where you live, THC products may be illegal, or only legal with a medical marijuana card. Many consumers have discovered the benefits of CBD, which is more widely legalized and not psychoactive. But there is another option that brings together the benefits of both THC and CBD but is far less widely recognized, known as Delta 8.
You might consider Delta 8 to be the crossover between CBD and THC. It produces the desired effects of both products without the negative feelings sometimes experienced when taking THC yet has the federal legalization of CBD.
What is Delta 8?
Delta 8 is short for delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol and is sometimes referred to simply as D8. It is one of the active compounds naturally produced by cannabis plants as the flowers are exposed to oxygen.
While it is naturally produced in cannabis plants, it is not as readily available as some of the more well-known cannabis compounds. Delta 8 accounts for only about 0.01% of the hemp plant. Because it is available in such small amounts, this cannabinoid must be carefully extracted and lab-refined to create D8 products, such as oils, sprays, tinctures, gummies, and other edibles.
Delta 8 vs THC
Delta 9 is short for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, but most people know it as THC.
From a chemical standpoint, the molecular structures of D8 and THC are very similar; they are chemical analogs – meaning they are composed of the same atoms in the same structure, but with a minor difference which makes them react differently in the body.
The only chemical difference between D8 and D9 is the location of the “delta” double bond on the carbon chain. As you might guess, Delta 8 has the double bond on the eighth carbon and THC on the ninth.
While this might seem like a small distinction, this one small difference creates the variations in cognitive and physical effects between the two compounds.
The biggest difference between Delta 8 and Delta 9 is the lower psychoactive potency of D8.
While Delta 8 produces many of the same medicinal benefits of THC, such as relief from pain, anxiety, or gastrointestinal symptoms, it does not produce the same high as THC. With about two thirds less potency than THC, Delta 8 produces just a mild psychoactive ‘high’.
Delta 8 vs CBD
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the most prominent active compound found in cannabis plants.
CBD produces a wide variety of physical benefits and is used in the treatment of many medical conditions, but CBD is not psychoactive and produces no high.
Using CBD gummies or other edibles is more like taking a multivitamin, you might not feel the effects, even if it is working inside the body.
CBD binds to an extra receptor site in the brain, allowing it to produce additional medicinal benefits that THC does not, such as impacting the immune system.
Although it is more similar in structure to THC, Delta 8 is also able to bind to this additional receptor site.
Because of this, products made with D8 produce many of the same health benefits as CBD gummies and edibles, yet they also produce the mild and clear-headed high which is relaxing and desirable to people seeking relief from symptoms of stress and anxiety.
Health Benefits of Delta 8
D8 produces the same powerful effects in the body of other cannabis-derived products. But unlike CBD gummies or other edibles, you can feel the effects and know that it is working by the mild psychoactive effect.
The benefits of Delta 8 include:
How Does Delta 8 Work?
Many consumers consider the effect of Delta 8 to be a cerebral buzz, or “head high” which includes an uplifting effect on the mood as well as the physical benefits. D8 also does not produce the undesirable side effects that consumers sometimes encounter when using THC, including anxiety, paranoia, confusion, and dry eyes and mouth.
Additionally, as the effect of Delta 8 wears off, it does not leave any lasting negative effects, such as energy or emotional depletion, which some consumers experience after using THC.
These negative side effects of THC are typically mild; however, they can be exacerbating for people who already experience stress and anxiety.
Edibles made with Delta 8 are the perfect product for consumers who want something a bit more intense than CBD gummies but not quite as intense as THC products.
Delta 8 for Stress and Anxiety
CBD gummies and other edibles are used by people with anxiety because of their anxiolytic properties and overall calming effects. Many people prefer CBD gummies over traditional prescription treatments, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), because these natural cannabis products do not typically produce adverse reactions.
Cannabis products have been found to bind to many different types of receptors within the body and produce reactions through a multitude of molecular pathways. One of these methods is through binding with serotonin receptors.
Serotonin receptors are found in both the central and peripheral nervous systems. The neurotransmitter serotonin and the corresponding receptor are both related to a range of biological and neurological processes including stress, anxiety, addiction, appetite, sleep, nausea/vomiting, and pain sensations. Delta 8 has been found to activate serotonin receptors which in turn increases the levels of serotonin in the brain.
It is through this pathway that Delta 8 may contribute as a powerful treatment for stress and anxiety.
Are There Any Side Effects?
Most consumers report no side effects and no negative experiences with Delta 8 gummies, edibles, or other products.
When taken in very large doses, some people report red eyes (although not the dry or itchy eyes sometimes caused by THC). One 2018 study found that participants who took an extremely large amount of Delta 8 experienced elevated heart rate. In general, researchers have reported insignificant side effects and D8 is considered to be generally safe for most people. It is not currently contraindicated for any known medical conditions.
THC on the other hand is not recommended for everyone. The side effects vary greatly depending on the consumer and the same person may react differently to varying strains and potencies of THC. The side effects of THC can include dry mouth, dry/red/itchy eyes, lightheadedness, drowsiness, paranoia, and exacerbated symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Is Delta 8 Legal?
Like CBD gummies and edibles, Delta 8 products became federally legal across the United States with the passing of the 2018 Federal Hemp Farm Bill. Despite this, some individual states have not yet legalized it. Individual state laws for cannabis are constantly changing, so it is difficult to outline all the current regulations. As of June 2021, only two states still prohibit the use of CBD gummies and products, however, twelve states have banned the production and use of Delta 8 THC.
This means that D8 is legal to buy and use in many places that THC is not, making it an excellent legal alternative for many people.
Keep an eye on our Delta 8 Tracker as we’ll update this page with any additional States that choose to ban Delta 8 products.
The Bottom Line
Delta 8 is a natural product that is extracted from the cannabis plant. It produces many of the same health benefits of both CBD and THC, as well as a mild psychoactive effect without negative side effects. D8 is a safe and legal alternative for cannabis users.
Because of its powerful anxiolytic properties, Delta 8 can act as a potent treatment for stress and anxiety.
While it acts in the body in multiple ways, D8 is able to reduce the physiological symptoms of anxiety through serotonin receptors and pathways.
Delta 8 CBD gummies can serve as an effective plant-based and effective treatment for people looking to ease their stress and anxiety through natural remedies.