When we talk about cannabis or marijuana, chances are that the first thing which comes to mind is THC or the psychoactive compound in the plant. THC has helped cannabis gain immense popularity over the years and has turned it into one of the most consumed substance despite its legal controversies. Although cannabis has been used for centuries for a number of purposes, including recreational and medical, it has been only recently that the complete ban on the plant has started lifting.
The main reason behind forbidding the plant is hidden in its consistency of THC. The compound is a naturally occurring cannabinoid in cannabis but is also a substance which triggers mind-altering effects and is therefore seen as dangerous, especially for children and elderly. However, it is interesting to uncover that THC is not all the same. Let’s look at Delta-8-THC and Delta-9-THC and see what the main differences between the two are.
What is Delta-8-THC?
To be able to make a distinction between the two terminologies, it is essential to gain a solid understanding of them separately. Delta-8-THC has the ability to communicate with the body’s receptors in its own unique ways thanks to its chemical makeup. The “delta” part of its name represents its organic chemistry and demonstrates its double bond in the structure. In other words, Delta-8-THC contains a double bond on the number eight carbon atom, while Delta-9-THC contains a double bond on the number nine carbon atom. To simplify this explanation let’s say that there are additional electrons positioned differently.
The National Cancer Institute offers a definition of Delta-8-THC stating that it is “An analog 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.”
Delta-8-THC and Delta-9-THC similarities
Delta-8-THC and Delta-9-THC may have a number of differences but they are also very similar. Both are psychoactive, although Delta-9-THC dominates in terms of mind-altering effects. In addition, both types of THC communicate with the body via the endocannabinoid system’s CB1 receptors, which are mainly located in the brain. The two cannabinoids can be seen as competitors, fighting to attach to the same receptors. However, despite their proximity in structure, the small differentiating details mentioned above play an important role in creating a separation between Delta-8-THC and Delta-9-THC.
Both cannabinoids have been associated with a range of medical uses and health values for the human body. Although THC, in general, remains an illegal substance in the majority of the world due to its psychoactive effects, research has demonstrated its positive effects. In countries where cannabis has been legalized for medical purposes, the consumption of THC is carefully regulated. For instance, in the USA, products containing CBD (another major cannabinoid found in cannabis) can contain no more than 0.3% THC.
How are they different?
While both cannabinoids provide the “high” effect once consumed. Delta-9-THC takes the leading position in terms of psychoactive influence and can certainly stimulate a stronger effect on the body. However, Delta-8-THC is believed to be of value due to its range of health benefits, originating from its shift in electrons when compared to Delta-9-THC. Thanks to its structure, the compound has been described as having antiemetic traits, anxiolytic characteristics which can be of use to patients suffering from anxiety, as well as analgesic properties. The anxiety-relieving effects of Delta-8-THC are especially interesting as they act as a counterpart to Delta-9-THC’s effects of sometimes triggering anxiety. In addition, the compound can boost appetite and protect neurons in the brain.
One of the main differences between the two compounds is their concentration in cannabis. Delta—9-THC is the most abundant cannabinoid found in the plant, while Delta-8-THC is found in lower quantities. The second major difference between the two compounds are the chemical structures of both, which we touched upon earlier. The compounds have been compared to Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids – they both share similarities but are in fact quite different when consumed.
To conclude, it may be fair to say that those fond of the psychoactive effects of THC and in search of a strong, high effect will be more pleased with Delta-9-THC, while those looking for a blended effect of psychoactive and medical value might want to choose Delta-8-THC.
Before consuming THC check the legal regulations in your area and ensure that the product is legal and of high quality. The compound can provide a range of benefits but can also be dangerous if attempted without caution.