Cannabis needs no introduction. It is the source of one of the most common drugs in the world. However, it is also much more than that. The benefits that this plant offers go much beyond the realm of adult recreational use.
The cannabis plant has several groups of chemical substances known as “Cannabinoids.” There are over a hundred cannabinoids that have been isolated from the Cannabis plant, the most common being Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol or Delta 9 THC.
Delta 9 is the primary psychoactive compound that causes the typical euphoria associated with cannabis. However, another cannabinoid, known as Delta 8 THC, is becoming increasingly popular.
There isn’t a very significant difference between Delta 8 THC and Delta 9 THC from a molecular perspective. However, when it comes to psychoactivity, Delta 8 is considerably less potent than Delta 9.
Delta 8 THC is a minor cannabinoid, occurring in the plant in a very small amount as compared to Delta 9 THC, which is present in the cannabis plant in high quantities.
The most significant difference between Delta 8 THC and Delta 9 THC is the location of a critical carbon chain as far as the chemical structure is concerned. Both the isomers contain double bonds in their molecular structure. However, in the case of Delta 8 THC, the bond is on the eight carbon chain, whereas Delta 9 THC contains the bond on the ninth carbon chain.
While this may seem like a very minute difference in structure, it significantly impacts how the body’s endocannabinoid receptors respond to each of these molecules.
Due to its structure, Delta 9 THC is less stable than Delta 8 THC. Delta 9 THC is easily oxidized to Cannabinol or Delta 8 THC. On the other hand, Delta is far more shelf-stable, making it suitable for medicinal uses. It also does not oxidize to Cannabinol.
Mode of Action
The Endocannabinoid system is a network of receptors throughout our body. These CB1 and CB2 receptors form bonds with cannabinoids that produce specific reactions and influence various experiences such as mood, pain, and stress.
Delta 9 THC binds with CB1 receptors present across the body and brain. On the other hand, Delta 8 THC tends to bind primarily with CB2 receptors. These receptors are found mostly in our organs and the extremities, such as the digestive tract and immune system.
Both isomers are associated with a host of benefits as long as they are used in a safe and controlled manner. Here’s a list of benefits from the consumption of each of these cannabinoids.
Delta 9 THC is considered effective for treating chronic pain in adults, particularly the pain resulting from tissue damage or inflammation. Delta 9 THC binds with CB1 receptors in the brain. These receptors control pain in the human body. As a result, consumption of Delta 9 THC relieves the pain experienced.
Clinical studies have also found Delta 8 THC to be useful for reducing pain and inflammation. It suggests that Delta 8 THC, when applied topically, helps reduce pain and inflammation due to its interaction with CB1 receptors. However, the research also indicates that it is easier and quicker to develop tolerance to Delta 8 THC.
Delta 9 THC is known to be an appetite stimulant. This information has come out of studies documenting the use of cannabis as part of the medical treatment of cancer and AIDS-related weight loss. There is a general belief that Delta 9 THC can interact with digestive hormones such as Ghrelin and Leptin to increase food intake.
A study conducted on mice found that low doses of Delta 8 THC were very effective in increasing food intake. The study found Delta 8 THC to be much more potent as an appetite stimulant than Delta 9 THC.
Both isomers potentially have an anti-nausea effect. Two separate studies documented Delta 9 THC and Delta 8 THC’s effects on reducing nausea and vomiting in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and found them to be very effective.
Delta 8 THC and Delta 9 THC are both considered to have a relaxing and calming effect on the brain, thereby reducing stress and anxiety. However, it is believed that Delta 8 THC provides a smoother, calmer high as compared to Delta 9 THC, which can sometimes bring about panic and paranoia.
Delta 8 THC and Delta 9 THC are potent cannabinoids and, therefore, can produce side effects. However, it is essential to keep in mind that each person’s reaction to cannabinoids is unique based on their endocannabinoid system, so different people may experience different side effects. Here is what is known about each of two cannabinoids when it comes to side effects:
- Intoxication: While this may be the primary reason people consume Delta 9 THC, consuming large quantities can cause temporary mental or physical impairment. This impairment may make it unsafe for people to carry out certain tasks such as driving safely.
- Increased Heart Rate & Blood Pressure: Consumption of cannabinoids is generally accompanied by an increased heart rate and blood pressure. It may come as a surprise to new or infrequent users. It can also be unsafe for people who are taking any medication to control their blood pressure or heart rate.
- Paranoia: Since Delta 9 THC results in an increase in heart rate, it can often trigger a feeling of paranoia. Paranoia may potentially decrease over time as people develop a tolerance to these effects of Delta 9 THC.
- Red Eyes and Increased Appetite: These two are harmless side effects of Delta 9 THC and don’t need much attention. Red eyes only last a few hours, and increased appetite is actually a side effect that is sought after by patients battling diseases that reduce their food intake.
Being a minor cannabinoid found in very small amounts, there are many unknowns associated with Delta 8 THC. It is, therefore, necessary to be cautious while using it. A lot of the information available on the benefits of Delta 8 THC is also from studies carried out in animals.
While the initial response to this cannabinoid seems promising and there is huge excitement about its potential, more human studies are required to understand its side effects better.
Delta 8 THC was legalized with the passage of the Farm Bill in 2018. However, it is critical that this cannabinoid is derived from hemp and should not contain more than 0.3% Delta 9 THC.
The status of Delta 9 THC remains the same. Only Delta 8 products with less than 0.3% Delta 9 THC are allowed federally.
Delta 8 THC and Delta 9 THC each come with their benefits and drawbacks. Learning more about each of them is vital to ensure you choose the one that is best suited to your needs. It will also help you derive the maximum benefit from these cannabinoids while ensuring your safety and health are not compromised.