Delta 8 THC: What Research Tells Us So Far
Delta 8 THC has gained a significant amount of attention in a short amount of time. Some may even say it’s begun to take over the spotlight. But is all the attention warranted? At Laughing Buddha D8 we think so, but you don’t have to take our word for it. Let’s look at what the preliminary research tells us so far about Delta 8 and its potential benefits.
What is Delta 8?
Delta 8 is one of the hundreds of cannabinoids present in cannabis plants. It’s similar to Delta 9 THC we have come to associate with cannabis, but it provides its own unique experience.
While Delta 8 THC does provide the user with a psychoactive experience it’s less intense and people report feeling more clear-headed and focused which has led to some calling it ‘THC Lite’. This experience is often described as a middle point between CBD and Delta 9 THC. Researchers believe this occurs as a result of the fact that Delta 8 binds to both CB1 and CB2 receptors.
What’s the Difference Between Delta 8 and Delta 9 THC?
Structurally Delta 8 and Delta 9 THC are similar, with the only difference being the location of the double bond (on the 8th or 9th carbon chain). That being said, this structural difference impacts how it bonds to the cannabinoid receptors in our endocannabinoid system.
Delta 8 has a stronger affinity to CB2 receptors which are located throughout the body, particularly in the digestive and immune systems. Binding less strongly to the CB1 receptors, which are primarily located in the brain, is hypothesized to be the reason for its less intense psychoactive effects.
Why research Delta 8 in the first place?
While Delta 8 is naturally occurring in both cannabis and hemp plants it exists in such small quantities little attention was paid to it until recently. The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill legalized all cannabinoids cultivated from hemp plants that contained less than 0.3% Delta 9 THC. Theoretically speaking, this made Delta 8 federally legal in the United States. Of course, it’s not quite that simple, learn more about the legality of Delta 8 here. That being said, the legal issue is important because Delta 8 provided a potentially legal alternative to Delta 9 THC, which made it worth investment for researchers and cultivators.
Since Delta 8 only exists naturally in small quantities it’s a difficult and expensive process to attempt to extract it. As a result, companies typically synthesize it from CBD through a process called isomerization.
The Benefits of Delta 8
Not only does Delta 8 provide a potential legal alternative for cannabis use but it has numerous other benefits. The less intense psychoactive effects make it ideal for new users as well as those looking for stronger benefits than CBD alone. It can also improve mood without the risk of increased anxiety or paranoia.
Since Delta 8 binds to the CB2 receptors like other cannabinoids, such as CBD, it has the potential to provide all the same benefits, though the research on Delta 8 specifically is still in the beginning stages. Researchers in this MedGen report note that Delta 8 also binds to the CB1 receptor and “CB1 receptor activation inhibits adenylyl cyclase, increases mitogen-activated protein kinase activities, modulates several potassium channel conductances and inhibits N- and P/Q-type Ca2+ channels.” Which means Delta 8 provides anti-anxiety, anti-nausea, and pain-relieving benefits.
Much of the research on Delta 8 has focused on nausea and appetite stimulation. A study on youth undergoing chemotherapy treatment found that pre-treatment with Delta 8 prevented vomiting with little to no side effects. In this study, researchers described Delta 8 as “an efficient new cannabinoid” with “lower psychotropic potency than the main cannabis constituent, delta-9-THC.” Another study on mice found that Delta 8 increased food consumption and had a tendency to improve cognitive function, without any of the negative side effects typically seen with THC.
A 2018 study on mice found that Delta 8 helped to manage symptoms related to pain and inflammation, even when used topically. An older 1977 study, found similar results in rats.
Safety of Delta 8
A 2018 review analyzed more than a dozen research studies to examine the safety of Delta 8. Although they did find that Delta 8 increased heart rate and blood pressure in some animal models no increase in blood pressure was seen in humans. Current research suggests that Delta 8 is similarly as safe as Delta 9 THC, though more research is necessary, particularly human trials.
One significant impact on safety related to Delta 8 is its potential therapeutic window. The goal in the development of any drug is to pinpoint the therapeutic window – this is the dosage range where a person experiences positive benefits without unwanted side effects (i.e. high enough of a dose to notice impact but low enough that most side effects are not experienced). One problem with Delta 9 THC is that its therapeutic window is relatively narrow. Delta 8 has the potential to have a wider therapeutic window as a result of it binding less strongly to the CB1 receptors and therefore having a less intense psychoactive experience.
In the last year, there has been an increase in investment into research on Delta 8 and we will continue to learn more about its therapeutic benefits and the mechanisms involved in its effects. Even with the little research we have on Delta 8, many believe it has the potential to completely replace medical cannabis as it provides many of the same benefits without as many side effects. This is particularly beneficial for new users or those looking for therapeutic benefits without the intense psychoactive experience.
Ready to try Delta 8? Check out Laughing Buddha’s line of D8 products. Not sure if Delta 8 is right for you? Learn more about this incredible cannabinoid on our website.
 These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Laughing Buddha products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.