Taking the Edge Off: Delta-8 THC & Anxiety

People have been using cannabis products for both recreational and medicinal purposes for thousands of years, with many advocating its ability to help with anything from chronic pain to PTSD. One of the benefits that many swear by is cannabis and its ability to treat anxiety. Cannabis has long had a reputation as a “relaxing” drug after all. Yet more recently discovered cannabinoids like Delta-8 THC might even be a better anxiety treatment option than more well-known compounds like Delta-9 THC and CBD.

What is Delta-8 THC?

Delta-8 THC is one of the 100+ different cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. It is considered to be the “sister compound” of Delta-9 THC (the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana), but it produces far milder effects by comparison. So while it will get someone high, it will be a less intense high than they would likely experience with most strains of marijuana. Also, since Delta-8 is almost exclusively extracted from the legal hemp plant rather than marijuana, it is legal at the federal level in the United States.

How Do Cannabinoids Help With Anxiety?

The endocannabinoid system is a complex biological system in the human body. It is designed to transport molecules made by your body called endocannabinoids. However, the cannabinoids found in cannabis and hemp are genetically similar enough that they can interact with the endocannabinoid system, which is the chief reason for the drug’s various effects. Over the years, clinical studies have found that the endocannabinoid system is strongly associated with anxiety and depression, as it helps to link the perception of internal and external stimuli into distinct neurophysiological and behavioral outcomes, including reactions to fear, anxiety, and stress.

This means that among the various other effects that cannabinoids have, they also affect the endocannabinoid system in such a way that relieves anxious states, or anxiety and panic attacks, depending on subjects and on the emotional state prior to use. This should be of little surprise since cannabis in general has a reputation for promoting a relaxing and euphoric effect. Yet this is true not only of Delta-8 THC but also Delta-9 THC and CBD. What makes Delta-8 unique?

Why Is Delta-8 THC the Best Option?

As is often the case, Delta-8 as a treatment for anxiety serves as something of a middle ground between Delta-9 THC and CBD. On the one hand, some prefer CBD if they want an anti-anxiety supplement, as it does not have the intoxicating and psychoactive effects of THC-rich cannabis products. However, some argue that THC-rich marijuana is better for those looking to take the edge off, both because of the intoxicating effects and because CBD is noted to work better when paired with other cannabinoids. Delta-8 THC exists at the center of these two extremes: it does get people high and offers many of the calming effects that are unique to marijuana, but it is far less intense, packing roughly one-third of the strength you’d find in standard Delta-9 THC. 

Is There Any Reason Not to Go With Delta-8 THC?

Though Delta-8 THC is milder than its sister compound, the fact is that everyone responds to drugs differently. Delta-8 is less likely to induce the kind of negative side effects that you sometimes get after smoking marijuana, but they still can happen, so if you’re a first-time user, it is important to figure out your tolerance level before you start using Delta-8 for medicinal or therapeutic purposes. Also, Delta-8 THC can show up on drug tests, and while it is legal in many states, most tests can’t tell the difference between Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC. So if you live in a state where marijuana is illegal, you could still get dinged for it.

The Bottom Line

Delta-8 THC might not be for everyone, but it can be hugely beneficial for treating anxiety and depression. While you should always use your best judgment based on your local laws, Delta-8 is a great option if you’re looking for a potent cannabinoid to help manage anxiety.

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