The 2018 Farm Bill impacted the hemp industry in a number of ways, but perhaps one of the most interesting results to come from it is delta-8 THC.
Often dubbed “the little sister” of Delta 8 Products, delta-8 is a form of THC that specialists can source from hemp, making it a hemp product according to the Farm Bill. And through this legal gray area, delta-8 has become a legal way for users to get high, albeit at a milder rate compared to marijuana.
On top of its recreational uses, delta-8 is growing increasingly sought after for therapeutic purposes, whether it’s stress relief or pain management.
However, many users are concerned with the potential side effects that delta-8 may cause. And today, we’re here to help clear them up for our readers. Here’s what you need to know about delta-8 and its potential side effects.
So what exactly is delta-8?
Essentially, delta-8 is an isomer of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, aka, the notorious compound we get from cannabis. Perhaps best known for its psychoactive properties, THC can trigger in users a rush of euphoria and sense of intoxication known as a high.
When we talk about THC, we’re usually referring to delta-9 THC, which is the most common isomer to be found in marijuana, and has been for decades. And while it wasn’t always as well known, THC can actually come in a number of different chemical structures, hence the different isomers like delta-8, delta-9 and even delta-10.
That being said, delta-8 and delta-9 have two key differences-the first one being that delta-8 is not as potent as delta-9. In fact, it’s widely estimated that delta-8 is in fact only about half as potent as delta-9, which is why you’ll typically experience a more mild high from delta-8 in comparison.
The second major difference between delta-8 and delta-9 is that while delta-9 is primarily sourced from marijuana, which is still illegal in most states, delta-8 is actually made from hemp, which is a federally legal substance. And this is a big deal, because under the 2018 Federal Farm Bill, hemp-derived products are legal as long as they come from industrial hemp and contain less than 0.3% delta-9 THC.
The way in which THC Topicals is converted is nothing new. In order to create delta-8, CBD undergoes a patented process known as isomerization, which has been practiced for decades since its development by G. R. Webster, Leonard Sarna, and Raphael Mechoulam. Through the isomerization process, both THC and CBD can be converted into delta-8 THC, although CBD tends to require fewer steps and less cleanup.
Typically, the isomerization process starts with dissolving CBD in a nonpolar solvent. Then, an acid is incorporated into the solution, and it’s continually stirred for 18 hours at a consistent temperature of 212 degrees fahrenheit.
From here, the CBD can convert through dozens of different cannabinoids, and any of them can convert the CBD into delta-8, with varying results depending on the formula.
Once the conversion is finished, the solution is washed and neutralized, typically with a sodium bicarbonate solution.
Then, the most critical phase is conducted: testing. With high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), the solution is separated so that the delta-8 is extracted from the matter, before it undergoes testing to confirm its purity.
It’s worth noting here, though, that conversion is never 100 percent, and there is always going to be some varying level of byproducts, but at JustCBD, we have some of the purest batches of delta-8 on the market, and offer our lab reports for ready viewing online.
Some consumers are still confused about the effects that delta-8 can create, the main one being: can delta-8 get you high?
Delta-8 can in fact get users high. However, consumers can generally expect a high that’s mild, mellow, and a bit cerebral. And while there can be some variation in each batch, this type of high is generally accurate across the market.
With that in mind, it’s also worth noting that a highly concentrated delta-8 product will be more psychoactive than, say, oils, but in the case of products with a mild or moderate level of delta-8, most users report an exceptionally relaxed body high, while still functioning with a clear head.
Additionally, there’s been discussion in the industry about whether CBD and delta-8 can interact with each other to create a more heightened experience. However, there are currently no clear studies on the subject, so while we may have the theory of the entourage effect, there is currently no solid evidence of this function.
That’s all to say that when consuming a delta-8 product, there’s a chance that taking a CBD product in tandem could offer some benefits, although there is no evidence proving that these two cannabinoids work better together than individually.
The link between cannabis and psychosis is still something we don’t fully understand, but there’s been considerable research exploring it.
In one systematic review, researchers reviewed literature based on population and longitude, along with nested case-control studies that analyzed the long-term impacts of cannabis on psychosis. Based on the results from seven cohort studies, it was shown that cannabis users experienced a 40% increase in risk of psychosis compared to nonusers.
And while scientists continue to examine the relationship between delta-8 and psychosis, it’s important that users are aware of the potential risks associated with cannabis.
For many users, delta-8 products have become a relaxing way to unwind at the end of a day, especially for those who might work physically demanding jobs. And since delta-8 has only about half the strength as delta-9, you might not notice an impairment in your motor skills or coordination.
And while some individuals may be concerned about delta 8’s impact on motor skills during exercise or physical activity, it may actually be helpful. Aside from the mellow, mild body high that delta-8 creates, it may also aid in easing the inflammation associated with muscle fatigue and delayed muscle soreness.
That being said, it’s never recommended to use delta-8 while performing high-risk activities, and individuals should never drive or operate heavy machinery after taking it.
As with similar THC products, delta-8 is often sought out by those who wish to alleviate their anxiety and paranoia. And while it’s widely believed that delta 8 can help put one’s nerves at ease, taking too much can actually make anxiety worse. And because everyone has different needs and different body chemistry, the meaning of “too much” will vary each individual.
Like other compounds derived from cannabis, Delta 8 can also be addictive. Though the effects are considered somewhat moderate than other cannabinoids like Delta 9, it still holds potential for abuse and can have serious side effects if not taken responsibly. That is why it is important to use this product with caution and likely under the guidance of a professional medical practitioner. Alternatively, learning about the addictive properties of delta-8 THC in detail may also be helpful.
While experts are still researching the therapeutic benefits of delta-8 THC, there are many individuals who’ve reported anecdotal success, especially when it comes to pain relief–and this includes headaches.
With its structural similarities to CBD Sweets, it interacts with the body similarly, as well. And in one 2018 animal study, it was found that delta-8 interacts with CB1 receptors in the body, enabling them to manage pain and inflammation. Further, it was noted by the researchers that delta-8 was particularly effective in the case of injuries to the eye’s cornea. That being said, the authors also noted that it’s uncertain whether the results on animal subjects would translate to human subjects, so further human trials will be needed.
Meanwhile, it’s also worth noting that the National Cancer Institute recognizes delta-8 as “antiemetic, anxiolytic, appetite-stimulating, analgesic, and neuroprotective properties,” nodding to its pain-relieving effects.
But can delta-8 actually cause headaches?
With the lack of research on the subject, we still haven’t identified every single side effect that can be caused by delta-8 THC, or what might trigger them further. But based on anecdotal evidence, it is possible that some users might experience headaches as a side effect.
As is the case with most options in the wellness world, some users may experience some side effects with delta-8 THC.
And while we don’t consider it productive to touch on the more rare, less-researched side effects, we did want to touch upon some of the more common side effects, so that you’re aware of the risks before purchasing and using any products.
Ultimately, though, the chance of experiencing side effects will vary person to person, and factors such as the type of product consumed will play a major role, as well.
But when it comes to delta-8 edibles, such as delta-8 gummies, some of the most commonly-reported side effects included elevated heart rate, headaches, anxiety, and jitters.
And while these side effects might sound like downsides to taking Delta 8, it’s also worth noting that most users report side effects being mild and manageable.
Most importantly, though, users are advised to start low and go slow when trying a new delta-8 product.