What is Delta 8 THC?
The Relationship Between Cannabis and Cannabinoids
Cannabis contains cannabinoids that react to our endocannabinoid system (our body’s system made up of cannabinoid receptors and neurotransmitters). This system responds to chemical chains found in cannabis sativa.
But there’s more to it. There are a few different terms to familiarize yourself with. You might have heard of cannabinoids like cannabidiol (“CBD”), cannabigerol (“CBG”) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”). Of course, the most commonly talked about cannabinoid is THC, otherwise known as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. It is commonly found in cannabis plants and is known for the psychotropic effects associated with cannabis.
What isn’t as commonly talked about is, Delta-9 has a cousin compound: Delta-8-THC. Although Delta-8-THC is comparable to Delta-9-THC, there are various differences that separate the two.
How is Delta-8-THC Defined?
The National Cancer Institute notes Delta-8-THC is:
“An analogue of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) with antiemetic, anxiolytic, appetite-stimulating, analgesic, and neuroprotective properties. [Delta-8-THC] binds to the cannabinoid G-protein coupled receptor CB1, located in the central nervous system… This agent exhibits a lower psychotropic potency than [delta-9-THC], the primary form of THC found in cannabis.”
How Does Delta-8-THC Impact the Endocannabinoid System?
A good way to think about this is to say it’s somewhat of a middle-point between Delta-9-THC and CBD. Delta-8-THC contains a lower psychotropic potency than Delta-9-THC. Additionally, Delta-8-THC connects to both CB1 and CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system. Notably, Delta-9-THC only connects to CB1. CBD also binds to both CB1 and CB2 receptors.
What’s the Science Behind Delta-8-THC?
Let’s start by taking a look at Delta-8-THC’s cousin, Delta-9-THC known as the “primary” cannabinoid in cannabis. Delta-8-THC is considered a “secondary” cannabinoid for the trace amounts that are found in dry cannabis flowers. Delta-8-THC does not naturally occur in high amounts and is extracted from the cannabis plant through selective breeding, molecular isolation, and conversion.
Delta-8-THC vs. Delta-9-THC
Delta-8-THC and Delta-9-THC get their name “delta” from the double bonds that both cannabinoids have in their chemical composition. The difference between the two is where the double bonds are located, ultimately determining the reaction with the endocannabinoid system. The numbers in their names — 8 and 9 — refers to where the double bond is positioned. In Delta-8-THC, the double bond is on the eighth carbon in the chain, while in Delta-9-THC, the double bond is on the ninth carbon.
What are the Best Ways of Consuming Delta-8-THC?
Although Delta-8-THC naturally occurs in relatively low concentrations in comparison to Delta-9-THC, it can be artificially extracted and concentrated into tinctures, edibles, vapes, and water-soluble solutions. Overall, it’s versatile and can be taken in many ways.