Delta-8-THC is a psychoactive cannabinoid that’s been shown to have some interesting effects on the brain. It's known to produce a "mellow high" and is taking the cannabis world by storm.
It's clear that D8 has an effect on the brain, but what's happening in the brain and why? We explore that here — get ready to wrap your head around some fascinating info that’ll tickle your gray matter til it flushes pink!
Delta-8-THC — you may also hear it called D8, delta-8, or delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol — is one of the naturally-occurring plant compounds in the cannabis plant. It's sometimes called "marijuana-lite" and is used by many looking for something with a little more oomph than CBD.
It's similar to, but not the same thing as, delta-9-THC (what's known as regular ol' THC). Delta-9-THC is known to produce a pretty potent high, while delta-8-THC is noted for its milder experience.
Delta-8 is available in an assortment of product formulations — such as D8 gummies and vape cartridges.
While delta-9-THC can have inconsistent highs that can quickly go from elated to agitated, delta-8-THC is a much more relaxing ride. That's because of the different way delta-8 interacts with the receptors in your brain.
So, before we get into how D8 can affect the brain — let’s quickly cover the endocannabinoid system, or ECS.
Everybody everywhere has an ECS — a network of cell receptors that respond to cannabinoids like delta-8. Using two known receptors called CB1 and CB2, the ECS interacts with all the known cannabinoids to produce a panoply of effects.
In fact, your own body even produces its own (endogenous) cannabinoids called endocannabinoids. These buggers help regulate different systems in your body — like your immune and digestive systems.
Long story short: Your body makes endocannabinoids to regulate itself. And the cannabinoids from the cannabis plant interact with the same system to produce different outcomes that could range from pain relief to euphoria.
CB1 receptors are mainly found in your central nervous system — the brain and spinal cord. Delta-8-THC likes to interact with these CB1 receptors, quite like delta-9-THC.
Because CB1 receptors are located in the brain, experts think the way D8 interacts with CB1 causes the cognitive effects associated with a delta-8 high.
Because delta-8 is psychoactive, it can impact the way you perceive and experience your surroundings. What does that mean?
For instance, after consuming delta-8 gummies, you may feel a sense of relaxation, euphoria, or greater creativity. You may also experience changes in perception. Some people also feel more focused when doing artistic activities.
Sometimes, it's what you don't experience that matters. Delta-8-THC is becoming incredibly popular because it doesn't tend to produce the anxiety or paranoia often associated with THC.
The THC experience can sometimes be hit or miss. Taking just a bit too much THC can lead to increased anxiety and paranoia — a major downside to the delta-9 variety of THC. However, D8 doesn't produce the anxiety-related side effects. Instead, you can expect a consistently relaxing and more clear-headed experience.
That's why lots of people feel more at ease and chill during the delta-8 high. People frequently report a sense of clarity, greater ability to concentrate, and the ability to breeze through their daily tasks when consuming D8.
Like many of the other cannabinoids, delta-8-THC may also be an effective anticonvulsant. One study found that both delta-8 and THC (delta-9) were effective in significantly reducing seizure activity in mice.(1)
Another study found that delta-8-THC may increase acetylcholine production in the brain.(2) Acetylcholine is an important neurotransmitter that's involved in many regulatory processes in the body. It's key to our memory and cognition functions; it's also present in all muscle tissues and stimulates the contraction of muscles.(3)
A little background: Through both CB1 and CB2 receptors, the ECS is known to regulate metabolism and appetite.(4) Researchers think that an overactive ECS can lead to weight problems like obesity, but that cannabinoids — like D8 — may interact with the CB1 receptors to block this overactivity and reduce the risk of obesity.
OK, back to D8 and yer brainz: One animal study found that delta-8 consumption led to improved cognitive function in mice.(5) Interestingly, it also helped increase food consumption while reducing overall weight. This caused the researchers to note delta-8-THC's potential to treat weight disorders. This means that D8 might have the potential to impact both the physiological andcognitive aspects of weight loss.
Because there’s so little existing research on delta-8-THC, we've barely scratched the surface when it comes to its long-term effects on the brain. We simply don't know exactly what sort of long-range and lasting benefits are seen with D8 consumption. It’s likely that more studies will be conducted in the near future — so be on the lookout for new findings!
It’s clear that D8 has many possible benefits. Current research is showing promising results of this cannabinoid both in terms of its psychoactive qualities as well as cognitive and physiological effects on our minds and bodies.
So, D8 could be a helpful tool in your neuro-wellness kit. One day we may see treatments related to reducing seizures or regulating weight.
However, we still don’t know the long-term effects of delta-8 on our brains. More study of how delta-8-THC impacts the brain over time needs to be conducted before any conclusions can be drawn.
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