It’s becoming a tradition in the hemp industry: First, a new star cannabinoid ravages the market. Then, we ask questions. Now that Delta 8 THC has made some damages to competing hemp products, let’s ask, what does delta 8 do to the brain?
Research on THC is just catching up in response to the growing number of states that have legalized or decriminalized marijuana. Because of the similarities between Delta 8 THC and delta 9 THC, scientists are able to transfer some theories established by research on d9 with confidence.
Zoom in: the brain
Ok, this is going to be wordy, hang on to your couch.
The theory surrounding the endocannabinoid system
Understanding how Delta 8 affects the brain starts with looking at the endocannabinoid system. This is the likely transmitter of all cannabinoids in our bodies.
Research has theorized that cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system may be responsible for the regulation of physiological and cognitive processes. This includes fertility, pregnancy, pre-and postnatal development, the various activity of the immune system, appetite, pain-sensation, mood, and memory. In a wider sense, it’s the oil that keeps the entire machine working smoothly.
THC and CBD interact with the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors. The CB1 receptors mainly reside in the brain and the CB2 receptors can be found in the digestive and immune systems. Cannabinoids interact with receptors by forming a bond with them. Interactions with receptors send a signal that triggers a certain reaction from a cell or tissue. According to the receptor that cannabinoids interact with a range of effects that can be experienced by the user.
If we stick to the logic that CB1 receptors mostly regulate cognitive and physiological processes, the fact that Delta 9 forms a stronger bond with CB1 receptors than with CB2 receptors makes sense when looking at the effects experienced by users. These effects include the head high, body high, and hunger.
However, Delta-8-THC bonds less successfully with the brain’s many CB1 receptors but form a stronger one with CB2 receptors than Delta-9-THC. This explains that the high experienced is much more subtle and lesser side effects.
If your brain and body were a big electric circuit with different lights, cannabinoids would be the power sources. Depending on what plug is getting power, this or that light would turn on. That is if reading this hasn’t turned off all of them already.
Zoom out: the bigger picture of Delta 8 THC’s effects
As far as scientists know, this is the model in which Delta 8 acts on the body. It binds with receptors that then send messages to cells or tissue. If those cells and tissue have any mission related to the brain, this is when the brain starts being affected by Delta 8.
From the theory established by research about the interaction of cannabinoids on the endocannabinoid system, the effect of Delta 8 on the brain is better understood when looking deeper at the CB1 receptor it binds with. Although delta 8’s bind with CB1 is slightly weaker than delta 9’s, but still not negligible. This creates a middle ground between CBD and delta 9 that some people may appreciate recreationally.
Health and wellness-wise, it is still pretty unclear what the CB1 receptors are all about and exactly what interactions with them can cause on the body. But early findings suggest that they target the appetite, immune cells, motor activity, pain perception, and short-term memory. Once research and medicine have caught up, Delta 8 could be used to help your brain remember to eat, maintain an immune activity, manage pain and even help some neurological pathologies.
It’s cool, but not a miracle
Pretty cool stuff, right? It does sound all very promising. But of course, as with any new finding, we have to remember that no substance is ever a miracle (OK, OK, except coffee between 5 and 8 a.m.). We only understand a portion of the entire mechanism involved in Delta 8 consumption. However, anything that can impact mood, mental health, and overall physical health should be a priority in the science community.
We all want Delta 8 to be Spiderman, not Venom. So, always be honest and open with your doctor and make sure Delta 8 consumption isn’t counterindicated for you.