Meet the delta-8-THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is very similar to the delta-9-THC cannabinoid. You may already be familiar with THC, the legendary cannabinoid that is responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis. Both are very similar, and the only thing that differentiates them is the presence of a few electrons.
Delta-8-THC is one of the four common cannabinoids present in dried flower, but it still only makes up less than 1%. The others include CBD, CBN, and THC. Just like its close cousin THC, the delta-8 also has psychoactive effects although it’s less potent.
Scientific research has been focused primarily on the therapeutic effects of THC and CBD, while there’s a sprinkling of studies on the other cannabinoids. But one of the first major studies on delta-8-THC dates back to 1974 when government researchers carried out an animal study to analyze if delta-8 had any harmful effects on the immune system. They discovered that delta-8 actually had cancer-killing properties. But for decades following this breakthrough, the findings were abandoned.
It wasn’t until 1995 when an Israeli study conducted by Shaare Zedek Hospital, Bikur Holim Hospital, and the Hebrew University administered delta-8 THC to children with cancer. The study’s lead author was no other than Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, who is also known as the father of THC. The study’s authors wrote that by the time the research was published, there were already 480 cases of successful treatments using delta-8 to treat cancer. Aside from helping the children, delta-8 also helped treat the vomiting.
Today, we know that delta-8 activates the same receptors as the main THC cannabinoid, which is the CB1 receptor. It is also beneficial in helping regulate many body functions including sleep, mood, pain, memory, and more. Studies show that delta-8 also acts on the CB2 receptor, which is critical in helping keep the immune system healthy. We also now know that traditional THC is no longer the only compound that gets you high; while delta-8 can do that, its effects are considered more gradual compared to the instant high of THC, which is better for users who tend to get paranoid or anxious.
While recreational cannabis users may not yet understand the benefits of delta-8, these effects are incredibly important to patients suffering from a wide range of ailments, especially those who worry about getting too high.
There are only a few studies looking at the therapeutic effects of the delta-8, but what we have so far is promising. Here’s what we know so far:
A 2004 animal study revealed that when rodents were administered with low doses of delta-8, their appetites improved significantly. In fact, delta-8 administration resulted in even better outcomes than the rodents that were administered with delta-9 THC.
The same 1995 study conducted by Israeli scientists found that children were less likely to suffer anxiety when given delta-8 compared to traditional THC. The study’s participants, whose ages ranged from 3 to 13, showed no signs of psychoactive effects after being administered with delta-8.
According to the National Cancer Institute, delta-8 THC is defined as: “An analogue of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) with antiemetic, anxiolytic, appetite-stimulating, analgesic, and neuroprotective properties.”
Given these health benefits of the delta-8 THC, it seems that it may be promising for the treatment of chemotherapy side effects in children and adults alike.
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