In recent times, there have been massive awareness campaigns concerning hemp-derived cannabinoids. Most people are now knowledgeable, to some extent, about the various active compounds found in the cannabis plant. Some are even familiar with rare ones such as CBC, THCV, and CBG, and have at least heard of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, the compound responsible for the ‘high’ feeling commonly experienced by marijuana users. However, understanding all the various active components within cannabis can be tricky, and it is common to discover that an average person confuses delta-8 THC with its popular cousin delta-9.
Delta 8 THC
Delta 8 THC, also known as tetrahydrocannabinol, is a naturally occurring and minor cannabinoid found in the cannabis Sativa plant. In terms of chemical structure, Delta-8 THC is similar to the popular Delta-9-THC, except that it is found in trace amounts. Delta 8 THC is not a product of cannabinoid synthesizing enzymes in cannabis, rather, it is a product of the oxidation of Delta 9 THC. When delta-9-THC is stored for a short period, it degrades into delta-8-THC. Extractors and commercial growers utilize selective breeding and molecular isolation processes to access larger quantities of delta-8-THC.
Delta-8 THC extraction process
Delta 8 THC is about 0.1% of the hemp plant by chemical composition. It is a relatively minor cannabinoid compared to the 15 – 25% range in which CBD (cannabidiol) lies. Delta 8 is also present in marijuana, however, extracting it from this plant is illegal according to federal regulations. Of late, cannabis industry experts have been working on methods to breed higher delta-8 strains so that the substance is abundant in the flowering buds used in the production of hemp products. However, this is a complex endeavor as delta-8 is such a rare cannabinoid.
Since delta-8 THC is naturally-found in hemp, it implies that any product manufactured from hemp, whether full or broad spectrum gives you a naturally occurring level of delta-8 that exists in the flowers. However, this quantity is too low to result in any significant benefits, and effects for which the substance is hailed. As a result, several ways can be used to extract the cannabinoid. These are described below.
It is one of the most popular delta-8 extraction methods that are in use today. Via this technique, a CBD isolate is chemically converted to result in an almost pure delta-8 THC distillate. This process produces a substance at around 92-95% purity, resulting in a 5% conversion loss, which is reasonable. This method is ideal for simple conversion needs, and on the other hand, it is very affordable.
Carbon dioxide extraction
When using this method, hemp plant material is subjected to pressurized carbon dioxide, so that the chemical compounds can be lifted. From there, scientists then apply nanotechnological tools to isolate the extremely small amounts of delta 8 to accumulate a highly potent extract that contains just the compound.
The major drawback of this method is that it is extremely complex, tedious, and costly. It is not economically viable in terms of costs to undergo such a process for a small amount of the finished product.
Purification and decarboxylation
After delta 8 extraction, the next critical step would be purification and decarboxylation so that the substance gets ready for formulation. The purification process involves employing different methods to result in a further cleaner product, free from all non-essential compounds. It increases potency.
The decarboxylation process includes applying controlled heat to the compound so that it becomes activated. When delta-8 is raw, it is not bioavailable. It implies that it is not effective and potent. The decarboxylation process makes the cannabinoid easily accessible to the human body, for full effects.
One of the most paramount aspects during the manufacture of delta-8 is laboratory tests. A good manufacturer should ensure that every batch is tested by an independent laboratory, preferably one that satisfies ISO standards. Third-party laboratory tests have become an industry standard of late, as it enables companies and consumers alike to verify the quality of the product. Laboratory tests assess the chemical composition, potency levels, purity levels, microbial activity, and so on.
The laboratory report should be availed to the public through the manufacturer’s website so that people can make informed decisions when they are using that product. A delta 8 THC distillate usually results in a 90-95% purity. Before users make a delta 8 THC purchase they should check the purity levels, as these determine the potency and quality of the product.
Formulation of delta-8 THC products
To produce various mainstream delta 8 THC products involves blending the cannabinoid with other ingredients. The exact formula varies from one product to another as each product has its own set of ingredients. These products include, but are not limited to tinctures, vape cartridges, soft gels, capsules, and gummies. Highlighted below are the methods used to produce various delta-8 THC products.
To produce delta 8 gummies, the cannabinoid extract is blended with candy ingredients to result in a tasty and easily digestible recipe. Sometimes the gummies are manufactured by simply spraying delta 8 THC on the gummy surface.
A delta 8 tincture is manufactured by blending the cannabinoid with a carrier oil and a flavoring.
Delta 8 THC uses a pure distillate of the cannabinoid cut with terpenes. However, it is paramount to ensure that the cartridges are made safely.
Delta-8 THC infused soft gels are manufactured by mixing delta 8 with a carrier oil such as MCT, inside a vegan gel capsule.
Delta-8 vs Delta-9
According to the ensemble or entourage effect, a THC molecule functions better when taken in conjunction with an array of other cannabinoids, terpenoids, flavonoids, and compounds present in cannabis relative to an isolated molecule. This improvement can create favorable therapeutic results in comparison to isolated THC. While the knowledge on the entourage is largely based on the studies involving delta-9-THC, its similarity to delta-8-THC could imply that it produces enhanced effects when ingested as entire plant medicine, as opposed to an isolate. However, research on the ensemble effect is still ongoing.
In terms of chemical structures, delta-8 THC is different from delta-9 THC due to the position of the chemical bond. While both cannabinoids contain a double bond in their molecular chain, delta-8-THC contains that bond on the 8th carbon chain while delta-9 contains the same bond on the 9th carbon chain. It might appear to be an insignificant difference, but it how the body’s endocannabinoid receptors bind and respond to the molecule.
There are also noticeable differences in the stability of the two cannabinoids. Delta-8-THC is more stable than its counterpart. Delta-9-THC can be easily oxidized to become (Delta-8-THC). On the other hand, delta-8-THC has more stability and has a longer shelf life. Such stability is paramount in a medicinal compound.
Mechanism of action
Another difference between delta-8-THC and delta-9-THC lies in their mechanism of action. Delta-8-THC binds to the CB1 receptor like its counterpart, however, its affinity for the receptor is different due to the slightly changed molecular structure. The CB1 receptor is the one that is responsible for the psychotropic effects of THC. This differential binding is the one that causes the clearer high that has decreased anxiety, and greater concentration abilities that are associated with delta-8-THC. It is possible that its unique structure also has an impact on other receptors and neural pathways.
Both beneficial and side effects have been associated with the use of delta 8 THC. However, it is paramount to highlight that these have been mainly a result of animal studies as research on the subject is still at the early stages. The touted beneficial effects of delta-8 THC are described below.
There is a wide spectrum of medical research efforts that have discovered the medicinal and therapeutic properties of delta-8-THC.
Anti-pain and inflammatory properties
According to a medical study conducted in 2018, delta-8-THC significantly reduced pain and inflation in corneal injury in mice. Investigations revealed that when applied topically, the substance resulted in decreased pain and inflammation through its interaction with the CB1 receptors.
According to information from the U.S National Library of Medicine, delta-8-THC features the same anxiety-reducing properties as delta-9-THC. The consumption of delta-8-THC results in a calm and focused high that is free from the anxiety that usually accompanies delta-9-THC.
Medical research also suggests that Delta-8 has appetite stimulation properties. Low doses of the substance have been shown to significantly increase food intake in mice. Delta 8 is a better appetite stimulant than its counterpart delta-9.
Delta-8 THC has also been reported to carry anti-nauseant properties. Medical research suggested no vomiting occurred when patients ingested delta-8 –THC before and for about 24 hours after going through various medical treatment procedures.
Medical research into the side effects of THC is still on-going since interest in the substance has grown fairly recently. However, there are side effects that have already been associated with delta-8 THC. These results have been mainly derived from animal studies as investigations into the substance are still at their early stages. These side effects are described in detail below.
It shows up on a drug test
One of the major demerits of delta-8-THC is the fact that it can cause one to fail a drug test. It is not great news, particularly to athletes who would have loved to benefit from the cannabidiol’s numerous medical benefits. It is because delta-8 activates the same metabolite that breaks down delta-9 THC. Drug tests usually target all THC variants.
Delta 8 has also been associated with a dry mouth. It is usually experienced for as long as the substance is active in the human body. The dry mouth associated with delta-8 may cause them to have a water intake that is more than that they normally would. However, it is critical to note that the dry mouth is not a signal of dehydration, a result of the effect of delta-8 on the salivary glands.
Research also suggests that delta-8 may cause dry eyes. It can result in eyes looking red, and in some instances, causing discomfort due to the lack of moisture. Moisturizing eye drops can be an effective remedy for his predicament. However, it is paramount to note that the dryness of the eyes is only temporary and only lasts as long as the delta-8 is still active in the body.
Issues of legality
The use of delta-8 THC is regulated by the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, which is popularly known as the Farm Bill. According to that legislation, all hemp-derivatives are federally legal, provided that they do not have a delta-9 THC content exceeding 0.3% by dry weight. The bill also specifies that hemp should only be sourced from approved growers. In other words, a delta-8 THC product that satisfies the 0.3% delta-9 THC content by was grown by an unlicensed producer is illegal.
However, despite delta-8 THC being legal at the federal level through strict guidelines, some states that are still aligning their laws to are in step with federal guidelines. Therefore, it is paramount to be familiar with your local state laws on the subject before buying or using the product.
Delta-8 is a relatively recent substance on the market. Therefore, the regulatory environment on the cannabinoid is still evolving. With this in mind, it is paramount that individuals execute due diligence when buying and using the product. Furthermore, there are some bogus delta-8 THC that have flooded the market. These can be a health hazard. To ensure that individuals use safe delta-8 THC products, they should check whether the hemp was grown by a licensed producer, manufacturer reputation, laboratory results, and also, information from authentic online journals and other publications. As a closing remark, whenever you in doubt regarding any aspect concerning the use of delta-8 THC, it is recommended that you consult a certified physician for professional medical advice.