Delta-8 THC vs Delta-9 THC: What’s the Difference?
Cannabis remains a popular natural alternative to traditional medication due to its well-tolerated nature and wide-ranging therapeutic benefits.
Certain compounds found in cannabis, called cannabinoids, can be responsible for many of these effects. Two of these compounds are delta-8 and delta-9 THC.
What Is THC?
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is a cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. It is the primary psychoactive compound that provides a “high” feeling to the user. Alongside the euphoria it can give, THC also offers various benefits, including sedative effects, and relief from various symptoms including pain, anxiety, and nausea (1).
Cannabinoids like THC can cause various therapeutic effects because of their interaction with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS consists of endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors (2). THC can bind to cannabinoid receptors in the brain and nervous system to produce subsequent benefits.
Due to this interaction, cannabinoids like THC and CBD remain popular alternatives to help treat and assist symptoms of various health conditions.
What Are Delta-8 THC and Delta-9 THC?
THC exists in two forms. The THC we commonly associate with cannabis is delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9) and will be referred to throughout this article as THC. On the other hand, delta-8 is short for delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol, a compound that causes similar effects to THC, except to a less potent degree (3).
While delta-8 and delta-9 sound reasonably similar from a name perspective, they have subtle differences in their chemical structures. The presence of a double bond in both of these compounds is thought to be why they provide psychoactive effects (4). However, delta-8 has a double bond on the eighth carbon instead of the ninth. Due to this, delta-8 binds to the ECS slightly differently — thought to be the reason why delta-8 is less potent than delta-9 THC (5).
Will Both Forms of THC Get You High?
As mentioned earlier, both delta-8 and THC will provide the “high” feelings commonly associated with cannabis use. This is different from other cannabinoids found in cannabis, like CBD, which provide therapeutic effects without being psychoactive.
Because delta-8 is less potent, the high experience may be milder and less intense than the high after taking THC. This may be desirable for many cannabis users, as the typical psychoactive high associated with use can sometimes increase feelings of anxiety or paranoia in individuals due to the strength of the compound (6).
The psychoactive effects of both delta-8 and THC mean these compounds should not be taken while driving, with children, at work or school, or during times where you need to concentrate fully.
Therapeutic Effects of THC
Both delta-8 and THC provide a range of effects that users can feel throughout the body. The ECS is a cell-signaling biological system that controls numerous bodily processes, from mood to metabolism (7). Thus, cannabinoids like THC can effectively ease symptoms of many health conditions, including insomnia, anxiety, chronic pain, and nausea.
THC shares many health benefits of other cannabinoids, like CBD, such as lowering inflammation and pain, improving mood and appetite, and decreasing anxiety and depression. In particular, THC is shown to have relaxing properties that may help individuals with sleep disorders like insomnia (8). However, it is essential to note that research with cannabinoids is still in its infancy, so more studies are needed to determine the effects of THC on the mind and body.
The side effects of both forms of THC will vary depending on the individual. Generally speaking, if the dosage is regulated, side effects will be minimal (9). These include:
- Red eyes
- Changes in appetite
- Dry mouth
- Coordination problems
- Increased heart rate
- Memory loss
If you’re worried about any side effects, or if side effects develop and persist, talk to your doctor. THC can also interact with other medications you may be on, so definitely check in with a health professional if you are unsure about taking cannabinoids for the first time.
Delta-8 isn’t as researched as THC; however, many researchers believe delta-8 is less than half as potent as THC (10). Therefore, for experienced cannabis users, a higher concentration of delta-8 may be needed than their usual dose of cannabinoids.
Users can take cannabinoids like CBD and THC in different ways. Common methods include tinctures and edibles. Another typical method of taking it is by vaping since individuals can feel the effects almost immediately. Edibles, including capsules and gummies, will result in slower effects felt since the THC has to make its way through the digestive system and be processed first.
The THC taken in an oil or tincture form is often combined with other cannabinoids like CBD to produce the “entourage effect,” meaning taking these two cannabinoids together will be more effective than taking them alone (11). Oils and tinctures can be taken sublingually (under the tongue), which increases the absorption rate.
When first taking any THC form, it is vital to start slow and then incorporate more over time. This gives your body a chance to get used to the compound, decreasing the risk of developing any adverse side effects. Depending on your individual health goals and preferences, the dosage can then be increased if needed.
The Bottom Line
Delta-8 THC and delta-9 THC are compounds that differ slightly in chemical structure but produce similar therapeutic benefits and side effects within the body.
These cannabinoids are psychoactive and associated with various side effects, so talking to a doctor and proper dosage is highly recommended.
**Standard Disclaimer: CBD is not FDA-approved. We make no such claims that using our products will guarantee relief. Moreover, research regarding CBD is still ongoing and in the early stages.**
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