Properties and effects of Delta-8-THC
List of contents
What is Delta-8-THC?
- Name: Delta 8 Tetrahydrocannabinol, Δ8-THC
- Formula: C21H30O2
- IUPAC name: (6aR, 10aR) -6,6,9-trimethyl-3-pentyl-6a, 7,10,10a-tetrahydrobenzo [c]chromen-1-ol
- Molecular mass: 314.5 g/mol
- Boiling point: 383.5 ± 42.0 ° C
Delta-8-THC is a minor cannabinoid secreted by cannabis plants within their glandular trichomes, commonly known as resin. Partial synthesis of this compound was achieved for the first time in 1941 by Roger Adams (University of Illinois), which led to a series of studies into this molecule that was of particular interest due to its great similarity to another one, much better known, Delta- 9-THC (hereinafter referred to as THC).
Not surprisingly, their formulas are practically identical, as we will see below, although Delta-8-THC is starting to gain importance due to its particular properties and side effects, which are significantly different from THC and, on many occasions, more convenient for users of both medicinal and recreational cannabis.
Are Delta-8-THC and Delta-9-THC the same?
Without a doubt, if we asked cannabis users around the world which is the best-known compound among the more than 480 that have been identified in the plant, most would give the same answer: THC or tetrahydrocannabinol. But what do we mean when we talk about THC? Well, in 99.9% of cases, we are referring to Delta-9-THC, the main psychoactive substance produced by cannabis. So, what exactly is the difference between Delta-8-THC and Delta-9-THC?
These two compounds have a practically identical formula, with molecules made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms, although the position of a double bond (which is what gives them the name "delta") is different; while in THC this double bond is located in the ninth carbon chain, in the case of Delta-8-THC it is located in the eighth chain; that's the only difference they present at the molecular level.
However, this small change in the structure of the molecule means that the effects of both compounds on our body's endocannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) are quite different, as we will see in the next section. Of course, if you want to find out more about Delta-9-THC we recommend the following article:
THC or tetrahydrocannabinol is the main constituent of cannabis, responsible for its psychoactive effects. In this post we tell you more about one of the best known cannabinoids, exclusive from the cannabis plant and useful for many patients who benefit from the socalled entourage effect, that is to say, the synergy created by different compounds like THC and CBD acting together.
Furthermore, it appears that Delta-8-THC is much more stable than THC, which tends to quickly degrade into CBN (and also Delta-8-THC in small amounts). On the contrary, the studies carried out have observed how Delta-8-THC can last for months without degrading at all (over time, it will also eventually convert to CBN), keeping its properties intact, which represents a big advantage at a medicinal level. However, it has also been shown that the potency of Delta-8-THC is much lower than that of THC, barely half at most, and the plant also produces it in much lower amounts than THC.
Properties and effects of Delta-8-THC
As we have just mentioned, despite having an almost identical formula and structure, the effects of Delta-8-THC are not the same as those of THC. One of the most important aspects is psychoactivity, similar in both cases although, as we have mentioned, it is estimated that the potency of Delta-8-THC would be half that of THC. However, Delta-8-THC presents a characteristic that can be decisive for many users; it does not cause the anxiety commonly associated with THC, which is a very positive point for all types of use.
In addition, we already know that the "shelf life" of Delta-8-THC is much higher than that of THC, allowing for much longer storage with its properties intact and without the patient or consumer having to worry about not getting the desired effect due to degradation of the compound.
Another characteristic of this cannabinoid worth highlighting is its effectiveness in increasing the appetite of the user, a very important factor at a medicinal level in cases where appetite must be stimulated externally.
One final aspect to highlight is the tolerance to the effects of these substances that the body develops. When administering either of the two types of THC we're talking about, the activity of certain cannabinoid receptors (CB1) is altered so that our own body prepares itself for the next dose by reducing the impact of this substance. In this way, the more quantity and more often THC is taken, the faster this tolerance develops, so increasing the dose will be necessary to achieve the same effects as before.
Studies show us that tolerance to Delta-8-THC develops more quickly than with THC, so if Delta-8-THC is used, the amount or frequency of the administered dose must be modified first. On the contrary, this fact also implies that when you stop consuming it, the tolerance acquired during Delta-8-THC use is lost more quickly than in the case of THC, something that must also be taken into account.
On a medicinal level, Delta-8-THC has certain advantages over Delta-9-THC that are worth studying in depth
How is Delta-8-THC produced?
Unfortunately, the amount of Delta-8-THC that the cannabis plant produces naturally is almost negligible and a by-product of THC production. Especially if we compare it with that of other cannabinoids such as THC or CBD, the difference can be as high as 30 to 1. But if this is the case, how do companies manage to produce Delta-8-THC?
Cannabis buds that have been cured (stored for a long time in minimal contact with the air) are known to have higher levels of Delta-8-THC than when freshly harvested, although again the total amount found is minimal. However, some companies use curing together with UV light to achieve a significantly higher amount of this cannabinoid.
Another way to get it is from THC, in this case using a spinning band distillation system. Delta-9-THC molecules are first isolated before being converted to Delta-8-THC by adding an alumina silicate acid and heat. Of course, these are complicated processes that require both training and professional laboratory equipment.
Is Delta-8-THC legal?
The legal situation for Delta-8-THC is complicated; Although it could be considered illegal since it is still a product of the cannabis plant (illegal in many countries due to its high THC content), it is also true that many laws only refer to Delta-9-THC as a "prohibited substance".
This places Delta-8-THC in a kind of gray area where its legality or illegality depends on the interpretation made by jurists of the laws. For example, in the US some states have specific laws to prohibit it, but in many other states this law does not exist and, as we mentioned, everything is subject to the interpretation of judges and prosecutors.
The future of Delta-8-THC
On a therapeutic level, Delta-8-THC offers an excellent alternative to THC, especially in those places where the former can be used without having any legal problems. The number of reports by patients using this substance is increasing, as is the number of studies carried out on it.
However, These are just the first steps in terms of research into applications of this interesting cannabinoid, so we can expect to hear about it again in the next few years. At the moment, there are promising studies that speak of Delta-8-THC as an effective weapon to fight against anxiety, nausea, pain and inflammation, or to improve appetite.
Without a doubt, the research on this compound will continue and in the near future, we will be able to know much more about its properties and effects. We'll be on the look out!
- Cannabis and Cannabinoids: Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Therapeutic Potential, E.B. Russo
- Marijuana: a reference handbook, D.E. Newton
- Very low doses of Δ8 THC increase food consumption and alter neurotransmitter levels following weight loss, Avraham, Y., Ben-Shushan, D., Breuer, A., Zolotarev, O., Okon, A., Fink, N., Berry, E. M.
- An efficient new cannabinoid antiemetic in pediatric oncology, Abrahamov, A., Abrahamov, A., & Mechoulam, R.
- Antineoplastic activity of cannabinoids, A.E. Munson, L.S. Harris, M.A. Friedman, W.L. Dewey, and R.A. Carchman