I get some interesting phone calls. The other day I got a call from one of the top cops in the state of Oklahoma. He was asking me about Delta 8 THC and what my thoughts were on it. The state is considering some legislation that would move Delta 8 into the regulated marijuana markets instead of the wide-open market it enjoys now. Very respectfully, he was asking if I thought this would hurt patients. I told him I thought that was a fantastic idea; it would actually help patients, and here is why:
While Delta 8 THC is a naturally occurring cannabinoid, it generally is found in minimal amounts in marijuana or hemp. Since it is in high demand and would be super-duper expensive to extract, a quicker method is used. Taking a CBD distillate and washing it with a powerful acid will result in Delta 8 and 9 THC. The acid has to be decanted, but the result is about a 60% solution of Delta 8 THC. While this is not a complicated process, it certainly has a high degree of danger involved. It could impact public safety depending on the lab's ability to decant the acid and produce a safe solution.
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What Is Delta 8?
Delta 8 is a psychoactive compound that's similar to Delta 9 — the cannabinoid in the cannabis plant that most people refer to when talking about THC. And although Delta 8 and Delta 9 have similarities, they have slightly different chemical structures.
Delta 8 THC binds to the CB1 and CB2 receptors found throughout the body. Those receptors make up the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is the major regulatory network that keeps us in homeostasis, maintaining a balance throughout our bodies.
This affinity with CB1 and CB2 receptors means that Delta 8 has similar properties and potential benefits as Delta 9 and CBD. However, Delta 8 differs from Delta 9 and CBD in terms of its impact on perception, cognition, appetite stimulation, etc.
Still, you can use Delta 8 or a combination of these cannabinoids and various ratios to achieve specific outcomes and as part of the entourage effect.
Is Delta 8 THC Safe?
The risks associated with Delta 8 aren't one hundred percent clear — there is still much scientific research underway to uncover all of its properties. However, because of the similarities to Delta 9 THC, we can likely make certain assumptions about Delta 8's safety profile.
When used medicinally and responsibly, Delta 8 seems to have fewer risks than Delta 9. The "high" associated with Delta 8 is less potent and has lower incidence rates of paranoia, anxiety, etc.
However, that being said, the most significant thing to keep in mind right now about Delta 8 is that there's no oversight or regulations, meaning that most products are not consistent and may not be safe.
Risks of Delta 8
Although we haven't seen too many studies analyzing the safety of Delta 8, current findings don't seem to show any considerable health risks associated with the cannabinoid. However, we still need to carefully examine its short and long-term effects on the body before drawing any concrete conclusions.
Like any compound, natural or otherwise, there is always some amount of risk, no matter how small, when taking it.
What we do know is that Delta 8 and Delta 9 interact very similarly with the endocannabinoid system. This system helps maintain balance in our bodies and regulates many physiological functions in our organs.
Cannabis is made of cannabinoids, like Delta 8, Delta 9, and CBD, that engage and interact with these receptors. That interaction is what led many medical professionals to consider the therapeutic properties of cannabinoids for various health conditions.
And although Delta 8 and Delta 9 have comparable effects, Delta 8 is thought to be about half as strong as the more famous compound Delta 9. Because it binds to the CB1 receptor with an affinity to the CB2 receptor, Delta 8 typically offers a more calming, less psychoactive effect.
Common cannabis side effects, like anxiety and paranoia, are much less common among Delta 8 users.
Scientific and Medicinal Benefits of Delta 8 THC
The community has long discussed the medical benefits of cannabis, namely Delta 9 and CBD, but what can Delta 8 bring to the table?
One of the primary reasons that scientists and medical professionals have recently started to explore more of the potential benefits of Delta 8 THC is because of how it affects the brain.
So far, many researchers believe that Delta 8 has many remarkable neuroprotective properties. For example, it can regulate calcium and potassium channels in the nervous system and inhibit the release of adenylyl cyclase. Both of these can lead to better brain health.
It can also increase the levels of acetylcholine and choline, which might prove to help treat neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. Delta 8 may also be able to form new neurons, called neurogenesis, resulting in improved cognitive functioning.
Delta 9 THC has been shown to be effective for controlling things like nausea and vomiting, and Delta 8 can be just as effective. Delta 8 may help solve the challenge that has prevented the wide use of cannabis for treating nausea because of its strong psychoactive effects.
Delta 8 has similar antiemetic properties to Delta 9 but with a lower paranoia and anxiety incidence. Some researchers believe that Delta 8 can be an effective treatment for the side effects of many conventional cancer therapies due to its powerful effects and lesser psychoactive properties.
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According to the National Cancer Institute, Delta 8 exerts anxiolytic effects, meaning that it can promote relaxation and help ease stress without exaggerating anxiety, as Delta 9 can.
We discussed that Delta 8 binds to the brain's CB1 receptors, which played a key role in modulating cannabis's psychoactive effects. Because Delta 8 has less affinity with those receptors than Delta 9, it may be more effective at easing stress and anxiety.
Like other cannabinoids, Delta 8 can help people unwind and ease muscle tension. However, it doesn't make most people feel as lethargic as Delta 9 can, meaning it's much easier to continue performing their daily duties.
We've discussed the pain-relieving benefits of cannabinoids for years in the medical community. These days, many people gravitate towards Delta 8 over other cannabinoids to help relieve their pain.
According to some researchers, applying Delta 8 topically can help relieve chronic pain and inflammation from conditions like arthritis, neuropathy, multiple sclerosis, etc.
There's been plenty of research on THC that shows its pain-relieving properties. It regulates the hormones and neurons that get engaged in pain transmission and offers anti-inflammatory benefits. Taking THC changes a person's perception of pain.
And because Delta 8 has similar properties to the Delta 9 cannabinoid that we've studied more extensively, it's well within reason that it can offer the same benefits and make chronic pain more manageable.
Does Delta 8 Have a Place in Medicine? Here's What Needs to Happen
someone gets the above process wrong and gets hurt. Moving Delta 8 sales and processing under a regulated marijuana program would enable oversight, licensing, inspections, etc., of Delta 8 sales.
Related: B-caryophyllene & the ECS
For cannabis to be genuinely considered a medicine, we need to consider things like Delta 8 for their unique medical effects. We must move past the "seat of the pants" operation and more into oversight, procedures, and high quality. Cannabis and other natural products can be potent effectors within our bodies. Still, their quality must be controlled medicinally, or the results will not be consistent and safe.
Learn about our GnuPharma Care Plan and see how we can help you discover a new perspective on life with our one-on-one consultations and deep understanding of the endocannabinoid system. Questions? Ask them here.