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You Know Delta-9 THC, But What is Delta-8 THC?

November 17, 2017 @ 1:41PM

While we’re all still learning about terpenes and the ways different combinations of terpenes modify a strain’s effect and flavor, nearly all of our customers at this point are well-versed in the differences between THC and CBD: the former is the main psychoactive component of marijuana, and the latter is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid sought after for its therapeutic (as opposed to recreational) benefits. But, as always with cannabis, there’s more to the story than simply, “THC gets you high and CBD doesn’t.” No, I’m not winding up for another long rant about terpenoids; today I wanna talk about delta-8 THC.

Before we get into delta-8 THC (or “d8,” as we call it around the shop), we ought to do a quick review of delta-9 THC so we can better appreciate the differences. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol— or “THC,” as it’s more commonly known— was discovered in 1964 when Israeli chemist Raphael Mechoulam isolated the chemical from Lebanese hashish. Delta-9 THC is primarily responsible for the common effects of elation, sedation, relaxation, laughter, memory impairment, hunger, etc that are associated with cannabis use.

When scientists were trying to pin down how delta-9 THC works, they ultimately discovered the endocannabinoid system. To put it simply— as I’m no doctor or chemist myself and won’t pretend to be—the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a biological system in the human body (as well as in many animals) in which certain types of chemicals (cannabinoids and endocannabinoids) bind to cell receptors throughout the body and instruct cells to behave a certain way. On a high level, the encocannabinoid system is believed to be responsible for maintaining homeostasis in all functions of the body.

As it turns out, delta-9 THC isn't the only psychoactive component of cannabis: its analog (delta-8 THC) also has a consciousness-altering quality, albeit less so than delta-9. Physically speaking, the chemical structure of delta-8 THC is very similar to that of delta-9 THC, but with a couple of extra electrons in different places, so delta-8 interacts with receptors in a different way than delta-9 does. The effect is actually slightly less psychoactive than delta-9, leaving the user with a more “gradual” high as opposed to an instantaneous one.

No doubt that some of our recreational customers reading this might not see the point in using a slightly less psychoactive form of THC, but our therapeutic users will appreciate the fact that delta-8 is better at curbing paranoia or anxiety than delta-9. Though there isn’t currently much [readily accessible] research about delta-8 THC alleviating anxiety, my firsthand experience has been that delta-8 by itself actually feels very similar to a 1:1 strain or concentrate; it instills a sensation of clear-headedness and balance while still being moderately intoxicating. Without making any unsubstantiated medical claims, I can say from my personal experience that delta-8 dabs are extremely useful for stress management.

Studies have shown that delta-8 expresses an antiemetic effect, meaning that it curbs nausea and vomiting. In a 1995 study, Dr. Mechoulam and his colleagues administered delta-8 to children with cancer, and they were able to completely prevent a total of 480 patients from vomiting after their chemotherapy treatments. The delta-8 was administrered in the form of an edible oil (18 mg/m2) every 6 hours, and side effects were negligible.

One drawback for recreational users (but potential benefit for patients) is that delta-8 THC is a more potent appetite stimulant than delta-9 THC; Munchies are not negotiable when it comes to d8, so we advise our users to prepare by stocking up on healthy munchies.

Now this is about the point in the article where the author typically drops the bomb about how delta-8 THC is kinda rare, then they cite the 1975 study about nutrient-rich soil increasing the amount of d8 in cannabis, then you’re basically left feeling like you wasted your time reading about something you can’t even obtain. But Herbn Elements wouldn’t do you like that. If you're interested in experimenting with delta-8 THC, we do currently carry 1-gram tankers of Oleum d8 distillate that can be eaten, smoked, or dabbed. Give it a try and let us know what you think!

Article by Ramsey Doudar; an in-house marketing and social media strategist at Herbn Elements. Ramsey's perspective is influenced by 1.5 years of budtending, 5 years as a cannabis industry marketing professional, and 10+ years of being a super picky medical patient.