Understanding How Delta 8 Interacts With The Endocannabinoid System

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is one of the most critical systems in the human body, and yet few people have even heard of it! However, the ECS actually has an effect on many bodily functions.

Cannabinoids found in cannabis plants interact with the ECS system, which is why medical cannabis impacts so many different health conditions. In fact, cannabis works so well because components of the ECS are present in the brain and throughout the body.

In this post, you will discover how the ECS works, why it’s so important for your well-being, and how Delta 8 THC can help improve your health.

A Brief Overview of the Endocannabinoid System and THC

For hundreds of millions of years, in humans and animals alike, the ECS has been balancing health and disease by maintaining homeostasis among the body’s physiological and biochemical systems.

Despite always being present, scientists only realized in the late 1990s that the discoveries they had been making about cannabis since the 1960s were connected to a biological system we now know as the endocannabinoid system. It’s understood that ECS is found in both vertebrates (living beings with a spine) and invertebrates (those without spines), and has a significant role in their health.

In 1998, Vincenzo Di Marzo – one of the leading cannabinoid scientists in the world – found that our mood, memory, sleep, appetite, and pain sensation are part of a biological regulatory system that is hardwired to keep the body in balance. He stated that the ECS is perhaps the most crucial physiologic system involved in forming and maintaining human health.

You may be surprised to know that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) was discovered decades before anyone knew about the ECS. In 1964, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, known as the “Father of Cannabis Research”, was the first person to identify THC in cannabis plants (marijuana and hemp plants). He was also able to successfully isolate cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychotropic compound that has neuroprotectant and antioxidant properties.

How Does the Endocannabinoid System Work?

The endocannabinoid system in your body has three components: endocannabinoids (also called endogenous cannabinoids), enzymes, and receptors. These parts function regardless of whether you use cannabis or not. Cannabinoids are similar to endocannabinoids, but are not produced by the body; they are found in the cannabis plant.

Endocannabinoids support the body by keeping internal functions running smoothly. Enzymes appear in many forms, but only two types are responsible for breaking down endocannabinoids and cannabinoids: monoacylglycerol acid lipase and fatty acid amide hydrolase. Receptors are located throughout the body and are a substance to which endocannabinoids bind.

Understanding the effects of THC involves examining the relationship between the cannabinoids and receptors.

There are two types of cannabinoid receptors – CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are mostly found in the central nervous system and are responsible for regulating mood, memory, appetite, pain, movement, coordination, and other functions. CB2 receptors are located in the peripheral nervous system and influence pain and inflammation.

Once enzymes break down natural endocannabinoids, they start to bind with the receptors. On the other hand, researchers believe that broken-down CBD and THC (the two major cannabinoids) don’t directly attach to the receptors, but affect them in a similar way. Activating the body’s cannabinoid receptors is what is responsible for several of the health benefits that people associate with ingesting or smoking cannabis. 

The ECS does an impressive job helping maintain homeostasis by utilizing a negative feedback loop that activates neurons and the release of endocannabinoids, regardless of a poor diet, exposure to chemicals, or genetic mutations. A negative feedback loop means a reaction that reduces the output of a system so the feedback can stabilize the system. Overall, the goal of the ECS is to protect against disease and maintain optimum health. 

Studies show that poor activity of endocannabinoids may be associated with conditions such as painful/irregular menstruation, PTSD, bipolar disorder, cystic fibrosis, multiple sclerosis, migraines, IBS, and fibromyalgia.

What Is Delta 8 THC?

Delta 9 THC (or D9) is a well-known compound that gets a lot of attention these days. It’s the main psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis plants and can be extracted from the resinous flowers of a female plant. THC binds to CB1 receptors throughout the body and central nervous system, engaging the ECS. This lowers the ability of endocannabinoids to fine-tune communication between brain cells.

Eventually, THC’s interaction with these receptors creates physical and psychoactive effects, such as a “high” feeling, euphoria, slower reaction time, and muscle relaxation.

Delta 8 THC (or D8) is an isomer of THC and is present in trace amounts in cannabis. These chemical compounds have the same molecular structure as Delta 9 THC, but the atoms are arranged in a slightly different way. D8 is considered to have similar therapeutic properties to D9 THC, but is not as psychoactive or potent.

One of the most common reasons people use Delta 8 THC is for pain relief. THC plays a major role in the pain-reducing power of cannabis plants. While many minor cannabinoids offer some degree of pain relief, studies show that THC provides the highest level of support compared to CBD and other alternatives.

Many others love THC for its mood-boosting ability. Studies show that THC can act as an antidepressant that soothes anxiety and uplifts a low mood. D8 THC has also been shown to help with things like sleep disorders, nausea, and muscle spasms.

How Does Delta 8 THC Interact with the Endocannabinoid System?

The interaction happens in a number of ways with distinct benefits as follows:

Pain Relief

Delta 8 THC is an analgesic (pain reliever) for many different types of pain, but it doesn’t work like commonly prescribed opioid drugs. Opioids bind to brain receptors and then send signals to block pain, improve mood, slow breathing, and have a general calming effect.

Delta 8, on the other hand, doesn’t block pain. It actually minimizes the perception of pain by modulating pain pathways in the brain. One of the ways that THC relieves pain is by inhibiting glutamate. This inhibition of glutamate receptors in the spinal cord leads to a reduction in chronic and acute pain that comes with conditions like fibromyalgia, neuropathy, and migraines.

THC cannabinoids interact with other neurotransmitters (dopamine and serotonin) that contribute to their analgesic benefits. Its activity is further supported by other cannabinoid molecules found in cannabis such as cannabidiol (CBD).

Research suggests that the presence of naturally-occurring terpenes and phytocannabinoids in cannabis is critical to the pain-reducing effects of THC. Interestingly, THC is considered to enhance the pain-alleviating effects of opioids, leading to the conclusion that it may be able to combine with opioids to reduce their dosage.

Relief from Nausea in Cancer Patients

Patients undergoing cancer treatments, specifically chemotherapy, often experience severe bouts of nausea and vomiting. Cannabis and THC are being studied as effective options to relieve these side effects.

Cannabinoid receptors are located in areas of the brain that are associated with controlling nausea and vomiting, and THC can help reduce these two effects by activating CB1 receptors in the central nervous system. Researchers have found that even though Delta 8 THC only moderately decreases these symptoms, many patients prefer using it over synthetic drugs.

The National Cancer Institute has been studying the benefits of THC for cancer patients for several years now and their findings have been promising.

Relief from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is a mental health condition that is triggered by experiencing or witnessing an emotionally painful, horrifying event. It essentially impairs one’s ability to get on with life and adapt to the changing environment. People with PTSD often experience nightmares, uncontrollable thoughts, severe anxiety, depression, and disturbed sleep.

New evidence shows that the endocannabinoid system plays an integral role in PTSD.  It affects brain structures involved in cognitive processing, memory, learning, and fear. The ECS facilitates your inner coping mechanisms during and after exposure to stress which allows your brain to feel a less fearful response.

Lower levels of endocannabinoids and impaired CB1 receptor function reduce your natural coping abilities, allowing anxiety, stress, and fear to make a home in your mind.

The good news is, researchers have found that consumption of THC in people with chronic PTSD may result in improved sleep quality, reduced anxiety, and lower frequency of nightmares.

Increased Appetite

It may not seem like it, but your appetite is a complicated interaction between your brain, gut, and various neurotransmitters, peptides, and hormones. Circuits in the brainstem and hypothalamus identify changes in your body’s energy source and trigger metabolic responses to maintain energy balance.

The ability of D8 THC to stimulate appetite is well known. The ECS helps regulate appetite and energy metabolism and may help people suffering from anorexia or other eating disorders. A study on animals found that consuming cannabis led to an increase in the hunger hormone ghrelin.   

Improved Sleep

Sleep is extremely important for your physical, emotional, and mental health. And yet, uninterrupted, restful sleep tends to elude millions of people. We don’t need to tell you that people who don’t get enough sleep can be irritable, moody, impatient, and lack concentration. Lack of sleep can also alter hormones associated with appetite and metabolism, leading to weight gain. 

Poor sleep even wreaks havoc on the immune system, making you more prone to illness. It is estimated that nearly 3 in 10 adults in America suffer from insomnia.

This is, again, where cannabis can help. A large percentage of people consuming CBD and Delta 8 THC report improved sleep. It’s believed that THC reduces the time it takes to fall asleep. This makes sense since THC has sedative properties.

Another way in which THC helps sleep is that it reduces REM sleep time. Reduced REM sleep time means you dream less, which could mean reduced nightmares in individuals who suffer from night terrors or have PTSD.

While we have described the biggest benefits of Delta 8 THC above, this is not a complete list of its therapeutic goodness. We truly believe that D8 very likely has many other benefits that are waiting to be discovered. And although Delta 8 THC products have medicinal value, moderation is key.

Important: Keep in mind that endocannabinoids and cannabinoids discussed in this article are all-natural; synthetic cannabinoids are not only toxic, but illegal in some states. A synthetic cannabinoid is a man-made designer drug concocted in a lab as an alternative to marijuana. If you want to try Delta 8 THC, make sure the product you’re buying is extracted from a hemp plant and has a Certificate of Analysis (COA) from the provider, proving that it has been third-party lab tested.

Buy Lab-Tested Delta 8 Products Online from Laughing Buddha

At Laughing Buddha, we create premium hemp-derived Delta 8 THC products in an ISO/GMP-certified facility so you can have peace of mind. All of our products undergo rigorous testing in a third-party laboratory as well to ensure their safety and potency.

Whether you are a Delta 8 first-timer looking to sample the goods or a pro-user who knows what they want – we’ve got you covered. Check out our wide selection of disposable vapes, edibles, tinctures, and smokeables on our website. For any questions, call us at 877-420-8420 or send us a message here.

Please Note: If you’re pregnant, nursing, taking prescription medications, or have a medical condition (physical, emotional, or mental), consult your doctor before using Delta 8 THC in any form. Do NOT drive or operate heavy machinery when using D8 THC due to impaired alertness and physical coordination. Do NOT use if you are subjected to regular, random drug tests at work as D8 will produce a positive result.

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