What exactly is Delta-8-THC?
These days we can ask almost anybody “What is the chemical or ingredient in cannabis that ‘gets you high’?”, and most all of them will answer simply “THC!”. While their answer is partially correct – THC is short for tetrahydrocannabinol, it is incomplete information from a chemical perspective; the full name of the compound they are referencing is Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol. While I will spare you the chemistry jargon and in-depth explanation of the significance of the “delta-9”, it is significant to us as cannabis patients. Basically, “delta” indicates that there is a double bond somewhere in the chemical compound, and the “9” indicates that that double bond is specifically located on the 9th carbon atom in the molecule. The exact location of the double bond is important to us because it is one of the major deciding factors in the chemical/medicinal properties that will ultimately be expressed.
With this knowledge, we can infer that Delta-8–THC differs in the location of its double bond, placing it on the 8th carbon atom rather than the ninth, but how does that effect the medicinal benefits for us and other medical cannabis patients? Why should we care about this particular cannabinoid when there are over 400 naturally-occurring chemicals and close to 100 different cannabinoids found in marijuana?
The relevance of Delta-8-THC to cannabis patients
We’ve heard a lot of focus on the medicinal benefits of the more commonly known Delta-9-THC, and particularly in the last decade, another cannabinoid – cannabidiol (CBD). As more states begin to legalize cannabis for both medicinal and recreational purposes, the doors have opened for more studies on many different cannabinoids. We are just now beginning to fully understand why each cannabinoid is so unique and important; the recent focus on the medicinal properties of Delta-8-THC are a prime example of what’s possible as cannabis is normalized (as it should be).
It turns out that Delta-8-THC produces quite similar effects to its cousin Delta-9-THC, though notably less potent psychotropic effects. This is another way of saying “it doesn’t get you quite as high”, but this is an oversimplification of Delta-8.
Researchers suggest that Delta-8-THC is more effective for treating anxiety, nausea and stimulating appetite than Delta-9, and also suppresses minor pain and inflammation; Delta-8 also has been shown to be neuroprotective, meaning that it may have benefits in fighting age-related mental illnesses such as dementia.
Regarding potency, various sources claim Delta-8-THC to have anywhere from three to ten times less potent psychoactive effects than Delta-9. This seems to make Delta-8 a good choice for patients who enjoy the medicinal benefits, but may experience uncomfortable anxiety from use of “traditional” THC.
To summarize some of the medicinal benefits of Delta-8 THC:
- More effective at alleviating nausea and stimulating appetite than Delta-9-THC.
- Still psychoactive, but notably less than Delta-9-THC. Seems to be somewhat of a middle ground between CBD and Delta-9-THC in regards to psychoactive potency.
- Like other cannabinoids, Delta-8 is neuroprotective, which means it has potential use in preventing and/or treating age related mental degradation.
- Some accounts claim that the “high” from Delta-8-THC is more upbeat and productive than the high from Delta-9.
Should I try a Delta-8-THC product?
Research on Delta-8 is currently limited as it has only recently started to get attention from researchers – largely due to the fact that it is becoming increasingly easier to research cannabis as our cannabis industry expands. However, based on everything we’ve read about Delta-8, we can generally infer the following:
- Delta-8-THC may be a good option for patients who find that “regular” THC doesn’t treat their nausea, lack of appetite, or anxiety as well as they’d like it to.
- Delta-8-THC may be a good middle ground for patients who benefit from the psychoactive qualities of THC (often patients looking to treat depression, ADD, etc.), but find that Delta-9 THC produces mental effects that are too intense or otherwise unenjoyable, or find that CBD is not enough to treat their mental ailments.
- Delta-8 THC in combination with Delta-9 THC may work better than either cannabinoid alone, similar to accounts of THC and CBD working better together than alone.
We feel that any cannabis patient should consider trying Delta-8-THC as they find which cannabinoid or combination of cannabinoids works best with their individual chemistry to treat their unique ailments. As the cannabis industry in the United States continues to expand and more research is done, we will better understand how Delta-8-THC and other cannabinoids work with the human body; it is my opinion that cannabis has far more benefits than what we known even now in 2018. It truly is an exciting time for medical research in this field.
Florida Delta-8-THC Products
At the time of writing this article (12.19.2018), Trulieve is currently the only dispensary in Florida to offer Delta-8 products. I expect that will change this year as the Florida medical cannabis program expands and dispensaries have more products available. For the convenience of the reader, here the two Delta-8-THC products currently available in Florida:
Delta-8 1:1:1 Ratio TruPod (Vape cartridge) – This product contains 375 mg of concentrate that is a 1:1:1 ratio of Delta-8-THC, Delta-9-THC, and CBD. Patients have reported it has mild but nice effects.
Delta-8 1:1 TruClear Concentrate Syringe – This product is actually rolling out tomorrow (December 20). This concentrate features a 1:1 ratio of Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC, which sound like it could be a good option for patients who need a middle ground between CBD and pure Delta-9-THC.
As we continue to discover how truly unique and medicinally valuable each cannabinoid is, we will better understand exactly what cannabinoids and ratios need to be used to treat various ailments. Delta-8-THC is the next example of that expansion, and seems promising particularly in treating nausea and lack of appetite; perhaps this particular cannabinoid holds value for cancer patients looking to treat the negative side effects of chemotherapy. I look forward to trying out a Delta-8 product for myself to see how it works in treating my own ailments – when that time comes, you can bet I’ll have a review of it on this blog. In the mean time, I recommend that everyone try it out; it could very well be the “magic bullet” you’ve been looking for, particularly if CBD and THC have been “almost” working for you. Feel free to comment your own experiences with Delta-8-THC if you’ve already tried it; I would appreciate it! As always, I appreciate your time, and hope this has been helpful to at least one patient.
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