At first, it may look like a typo when you see edibles, such as gummies, labelled as containing delta-8-THC, but this form of THC is very real. While it does have many similarities with the more widely-known delta-9-THC, there are some differences that could help you enjoy the benefits of THC with less chance of experiencing a bad trip.
How Delta-8-THC Is Different
In chemistry terms, there is a subtle difference between delta-8-THC and its more well-known cousin. Delta-8 has a double bond connecting the eighth carbon on its molecular chain to the next one, while delta-9-THC has its double bond starting at the ninth carbon. How this smaller-than-microscopic change shifts its properties can mean a world of difference. The delta-8 form is only half as potent as delta-9, and so many recreational users report a “smoother” high. Paranoia, anxiety, dizziness and headaches aren’t as likely with a higher proportion of delta-8-THC. Some people report greater therapeutic benefits such as better pain relief too, but clinical trials need to be conducted to see if it has better medicinal properties. These reported therapeutic differences could be down to users being more likely to take the recommended dose, as they aren’t expecting a bad trip as a side effect. Distress from anxiety or dizziness may also make you less aware of the beneficial effects too.
Why It Matters
A growing number of people worldwide use THC to relieve issues such as debilitating nausea and loss of appetite; left untreated, these could lead to malnutrition or electrolyte imbalances. While THC and synthetic versions of it have been found to be more effective than pharmaceutical drugs, the “high” means patients using them are more likely to report adverse effects. However, a survey of patients using medical cannabis found that most preferred the natural plant to cannabinoid-based pharmaceutical drugs. They were not only more cost-effective, but had fewer side effects.
This is despite research comparing recreational and medicinal strains of cannabis finding that both categories actually had very high levels of THC, at around 19% for medicinal strains and 21.5% for recreational ones. The authors described these levels as unsuitable, particularly in situations such as chronic neuropathic pain where regular doses are needed. Excessive delta-9-THC intake can cause severe vomiting; cardiovascular emergencies; psychiatric symptoms, including psychotic episodes; and memory impairment. These effects may further harm mental health by appearing to be treatment failure, with patients often previously failing risky pharmaceutical drugs.
Although it has a better safety profile, clinical studies on delta-8-THC have been sparse. A trial from the 1990s found that it could completely prevent vomiting from chemotherapy among cancer patients. Only very mild irritability and euphoria were reported as adverse effects, but it was uncertain if this was significant. On the other hand, five of eight participants vomited even after a safe dose of an antiemetic pharmaceutical. Higher doses of this drug can cause neurological effects.
To wrap up, delta-8-THC may be a far safer cannabinoid than the more common delta-9 version. It seems as though its lower potency reduces negative side effects, which can be dangerous or cause people to stop treatment, without compromising benefits such as the prevention of vomiting. Also, delta-8-THC comes in the form of delta-8-THC gummies!