Delta-8 THC: Benefits and Side Effects

You’ve probably heard of regular THC or delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol. But are you aware of the latest hype around Delta-8 THC?

Don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t. It is a much lighter or milder version of Delta-9 THC.

While it’s quite an obscure compound, it would probably surprise you to know that it’s been on the list of most-researched cannabinoids among scientists the world over for many years now.

When it comes to how these two compounds differ, there’s very little to talk about in their chemical structures, but quite a bit when it comes to their effects.

The placement of the carbon-carbon double bond (8th instead of the 9th) is what makes all the difference in their effects. While delta-9 is an intensely psychotropic compound, with longer-lasting hallucinatory properties, the D-8’s a lot less intense in its psychotropic effects, which, too, doesn’t last as long as delta-9.

Delta-8’s prevalence in live cannabis is minimal. It is usually created when delta-9 THC breaks down through a process known as oxidization or isomerization. In fact, delta-8 THC is a much more stable compound, unlike delta-9 THC that easily gets oxidized to form cannabinol (CBN) or delta-8-THC.

You can call delta-8 delta-9 THC’s younger brother. As for its effects, it is way more favorable for the human body.

Let’s break this down a little further.

What Are The Benefits Of Delta-8 THC?

As a cannabinoid, delta-8 finds its way to the human body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) that regulates the body’s functions and processes to establish and maintain homeostasis.

Homeostasis is a state of being healthy that is achieved by maintaining a stable and balanced internal environment suitable for our body’s normal functioning.

Delta-8 THC is found in very low concentrations in the CBD hemp flower. But it can be extracted or converted from other cannabinoids for a variety of effects, including getting a safe high.

In its interaction with the human body, delta-8 binds directly with the CB1 receptors of the ECS. This is why you would experience a high when you vape or consume delta-8 in any way, although the effects will be way milder than that of delta-9 THC.

Since it’s a relatively new compound in the industry and is still quite under-researched, its therapeutic value isn’t known with absolute certainty. Most of what we will be telling you here is based on anecdotal evidence.

No matter what, the immediate effects, i.e., the buzz you’d feel doesn’t last quite as long as delta-9 and it is way more subtle and less overbearing than the latter.

According to some experts, it even has a few therapeutic effects, with mildly psychoactive effects, when taken in small doses. Users have also provided anecdotal evidence accrediting delta-8 for certain health benefits similar to delta-9 THC.

Isn’t that something?

The National Cancer Institute has listed delta-8 as an analog of THC, having antiemetic (nausea-curbing), appetite-stimulating, anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), and neuroprotective (provides support for nerve cells) properties.

Even though research into the compound’s actual effects is still ongoing, it won’t be wrong to talk about what we’ve learned thus far.


A 2018 study, published in the Cannabinoid and Cannabis Research journal, has established delta-8 THC’s potential in treating corneal pain and inflammation in cauterized eyes with the topical use of delta-8 THC. The experiment also established the involvement of the non-cannabinoid 5-HT1A receptor in the process.


According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, delta-8-THC exhibits anti-anxiety properties, quite similar to that of delta-9-THC.

While there is currently little clinical literature investigating its anti-anxiety potential, anecdotal reports claim that the consumption of delta-8-THC results in a very calm, focused high, without the anxiety that can sometimes accompany delta-9-THC.

Appetite Improvement

This is one of the most well-known effects of THC, in general. It interacts with some receptors to induce the release of the ghrelin hormone. Ghrelin, which is secreted from the stomach, is responsible for stimulating hunger, by causing the section of bile.

A 2004 study, published in the journal Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior, found small doses of delta-8-THC to induce appetite. The study investigated its effects on lab mice for 50 days and found their food intake to rise by 22% compared to normal conditions. The researchers also discerned that this increase was even higher than delta-9-THC, a known appetite stimulant.


A 2013 study by the National Cancer Institute has found evidence of this compound’s anti-tumor properties. Apparently, it has the same abilities to hinder the growth and spread of tumor cells as delta-9 THC does.


Like most cannabinoids, small doses of delta-8 can have neuroprotective properties. Researchers of a 1987 study found that a small dosage of delta-8 THC was enough to cause a significant effect on mice. To monitor the compound’s neuroprotective effects in these mice, the scientists kept tabs on their brain activity.

Relief from cancer-related symptoms

Cancer treatments have been delivering positive outcomes for the past several years. But these treatments produce certain undesirable side effects that can make life awful for cancer patients. Delta-8 THC can provide relief to some such life-changing symptoms to help such patients live life a little better.

According to a 1995 study, published in the journal Life Sciences, delta-8 THC can reduce nausea with minimal side effects. The study was also published in the Journal of the International Hemp Association by the same researchers, Aya Abrahamov, MD (Department of Pediatrics), Avraham Abrahamov, MD (Department of Pediatrics, and Raphael Mechoulam (a biochemist, known as the father of cannabis science). The scientists placed eight pediatric cancer patients, aged 3 – 13 years, on delta-8 THC therapy for over two years.

The researchers gave each patient a small dose of delta-8 THC two hours before each cancer treatment and every 6 hours each day. The patients did not display the usual signs of nausea or vomiting before or after the cancer treatments. There were also no significant side effects due to this therapy.

According to a 2014 study, published in the journal Oncotarget, Δ8 THC has a similar influence over the CB1 and CB2 receptors as Δ9 THC does. So, ideally, it also possesses cancer-killing abilities.

Now, that seems like an impressive list of medicinal benefits for a relatively new compound. However, more research needs to be done to verify these findings. Still, the prospects look bright.

Delta-8 THC: Side Effects and Legal Considerations

Why does a different version of THC matter? Well, almost all cannabinoids have some apparent health benefits. But it was CBD that was first accepted and appreciated, mostly owing to its non-psychoactive properties.

But that is clearly not the case with D-8!

Then, what’s so special about this compound of THC?

Delta-8 is almost as potent a psychoactive compound as delta-9 – at least for most consumers – just a lighter version.

But that’s not all.

The best part is that it imparts a less racy and a more relaxed and focused feeling. Many users are reported to have experienced a higher energy level than when they vape on the usual THC products. Delta-8 THC makes a person more aware of himself and improves his sense of perception.

But, bear in mind that every person experiences cannabinoids somewhat differently.

And delta-8 is still THC.

An animal study, published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, indicates that delta-8 (along with delta-9) can suddenly increase your blood pressure by temporarily obstructing your blood vessels! This rise in blood pressure is soon followed by a sudden drop in blood pressure and heart rate. This could cause some serious health hazards if it happens the same way in humans.

However, evidence found in a 2018 systematic review seemed to defy the idea that humans react in the same way to compounds as animals. This study, published in the journal Pharmaceuticals, established that delta-8 THC slows down animals’ heart rate, while D-8 increases it among humans.

As for D-8’s legality, any isolated isomer of THC is still a grey area when it comes to government regulations.

A Legal Grey Area

While Delta-9 is considered illicit, delta-8 produced from other cannabinoids is also considered illicit. Only extracting naturally found delta-8 THC is considered legal. But that is quite difficult as it is found in minimal amounts in live cannabis.

So, you’re in a grey area when it comes to using D-8.

Again, there are certain states where you simply can’t lawfully obtain delta-8 in a legal manner. These states include Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, Rhode Island, Utah.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How to use Delta-8 THC?

A: You can consume delta-8 in many ways, depending on your personal preference. You can choose edibles like gummies, tinctures, or use vape carts (with your vape devices), or simply use a vape pen containing delta-8.

Yes, they are all available in the market.

Q: What is the difference between Delta-8 THC and Delta-9 THC? 

A: Delta-8 THC contains a double bond at the 8th position of the carbon chain, while the double bond in Delta-9 THC is present at the 9th position. It’s a subtle difference, but one that is crucial in its ability to bind with our body’s endocannabinoid system. That is why its effects are slightly different.

In addition, D-8 is a more stable compound than delta-9 THC, even though it is an isomer and a derivative of the latter.

Q: Is Delta-8 THC legal?

A: Delta-8 THC is generally extracted from hemp that contains below 0.3% of delta-9 THC. This makes it federally legal in most US states, thanks to the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 also known as the 2018 farm bill. However, it’s illegal if it is derived from any other cannabinoid or produced synthetically.

It is difficult to determine the exact source and method of production of products manufactured by companies these days. In other words, D-8 falls under a legal grey area.

Q: Will Delta-8 make you fail a drug test?

A: Yes. Since the metabolites of delta-8 are similar to those of delta-9 THC, you’ll most likely test positive on a drug test after consuming it. Besides, delta-8 stays in your system for a long time (although shorter duration than delta-9).

Q: Will THC delta-8 get me high or stoned?

A: Although the effects of this compound are comparatively milder than that of delta-9 THC, you will get high. You may get stoned, but the high is enough to impair your judgment while driving a motor vehicle or operating heavy machinery.

Q: Is there such a thing as full-spectrum delta-8 THC?

A: No. Delta-8 is a single compound found among hundreds of cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. Full-spectrum products are concentrations of the entire hemp plant’s nutrients, including cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, fatty acids, proteins, minerals, and vitamins.

Our Takeaway: Does Delta-8 Help Us In Any Way?

Experts suggest that delta-8 THC has numerous therapeutic properties that can help with nausea, pain, inflammation, and anxiety. However, research is still in the early stages, and no finite conclusion on its safety and efficacy can be drawn – at least not at the moment.

Here is what we DO know:

  • Delta-8 is a psychotropic cannabinoid, but only a minor cannabinoid in cannabis plants.
  • Delta-8 is milder in its psychotropic effects than Delta-9 THC and stays on for a shorter duration, as well.
  • Delta-8 will show up on a drug test.
  • It DOES NOT get you stoned. Instead, it could help you improve some specific health issues. But we would recommend you used it under a doctor’s supervision if your health issues are what you are trying to address.

The psychoactive effects of THC may not be for everyone. When used in the right dosage and with the right intention, it could be safe.

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