In previous articles, we have reviewed the benefits, risks and main uses of CBD-based products, as well as products that contain substances such as THC. It is important to remember the main difference between these two molecules, namely the psychoactive effects caused by THC, which are the basis of a new substance called delta-8.
What is Delta-8 THC
Delta-8 THC is one of several cannabinoids found within cannabis sativa plants, although it is not present at significant levels. It is a substance that has given rise to several discussions within the scientific community, as it is referred to as a potentially dangerous substance – see the attention given to it in the US – and experts discourage its use. Its psychoactive effects are similar to delta-9 THC, although they occur to a lesser extent. Like other cannabinoids (including CBD), delta-8 interacts with the human body’s cannabinoid system. This system helps regulate some important areas and body functions, such as inflammation.
The full name of this new molecule is delta-8-THC, indicating precisely, among its components, the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol, a psychoactive ingredient found in the maijuana plant. Just like the latter, it can be eaten or vaped – only rarely smoked.
What differentiates CBD from THC?
The main differences between THC and CBD, previously mentioned, include:
- Chemical structure. Chemically, both molecules are isomers, which means they share the same chemical formula, but different structures. In addition, CBD and THC bind differently with receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system.
- Psychoactive properties. Although it is common to consider THC the only one of the two molecules to have psychoactive properties, CBD also has the same effect, but does not alter mental functions.
- Possible undesirable effects. THC tends to give effects such as disorientation or paranoia, while CBD – even when used in larger quantities – generally results in drowsiness.
Benefits and risks of using Delta-8 THC
There is currently a lack of literature that comprehensively answers all questions about the effects and potential benefits of delta-8 THC, and its potential benefits are mainly linked to marketing reasons. Although there is a need for more scientific investigation into the molecule’s functionality, the lack of regulation is holding this process back.
Based on a recent study, among the most common effects noted from the use of delta-8 are
- a state of euphoria
- pain relief
- the ability to curb nausea and vomiting
- stimulating the appetite
- anxiety and paranoia
- provide analgesic and neuroprotective properties
With regard to the alteration of mood as an effect of using delta-8 THC, this is due to the bond formed between delta-8 and the CB1 receptors of the endocannabinoid system (present in the central nervous system), the alteration of which causes an alteration of mood. Comparing the previously mentioned substance delta-9 THC with delta-8 THC, it can be said that the use of the latter has fewer side effects and less impact than delta-9, due to its lower psychotropic potency.
Possible side effects include, for example
- concentration difficulties
- problems with short-term memory
- altered sense of time, although not to the same extent as when using marijuana
In addition to the effects listed above, a further risk from the intake of delta-8 THC stems from the production process of the substance, which must first be extracted from large quantities of plants, transformed into another cannabinoid such as CBD, or synthesised through the use of chemicals and organic solvents that may be harmful to health. Moreover, these products are not regulated, and the long-term effects of using the molecule are currently unknown.
Further studies on delta-8 THC
One of the most frequently asked questions when discussing this type of substance is whether or not it is safe. Compared to the previous paragraphs, it is not possible to give a definite answer to this question, mainly due to the lack of dedicated scientific research. Experts recommend in any case to consult one’s doctor and find out whether taking the substance is right for one’s needs.
A new product in the hemp market
Products based on delta-8 THC have become one of the fastest growing sectors in the hemp market, particularly popular in areas where THC-containing products are legal or their use for medical reasons is often hindered.
What are the main reasons for using delta-8 THC? Although by different methods (e.g. vaping, candy) several individuals who participated in an online survey confirmed that they use it for medical purposes, to treat a certain health condition, thus not just for pure pleasure. These conditions included anxiety disorders, panic attacks, chronic pain, depression or bipolar disorder, and stress. Participants in this research also stated that they reduced their use of pharmaceutical drugs in favour of delta-8 THC-based products. is therefore considered a better substance in terms of side effects, but also in terms of addiction, efficacy and cost.
Finally, it should be emphasised that targeted research, accompanied by increased knowledge and education on the correct use of these substances, makes it possible to provide safe guidance to consumers and protect them from potential risks. In this sense, the creation of a regulation giving guidance on the use of substances such as delta-8 THC could prove to be an indispensable tool, as more and more consumers have access to these products, both for recreational and pharmaceutical purposes. Looking at the Italian case, Delta-8 THC is mentioned in Presidential Decree No. 309 of 1990 and is included among narcotic and psychotropic substances. In the case of the United States, on the other hand, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), the body that regulates food and pharmaceutical products, has created a consumer health guideline pending further scientific studies.
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