Delta 8 THC for Pain Management

Medically reviewed by Alexander Tabibi, MD
May 16, 2021
delta 8 thc for pain management
delta 8 thc for pain management

It is understandable that most of us associate delta 8 THC with its psychoactive properties because its mild intoxicating effects are what make it stand out among the other cannabinoids of the hemp plant. As a cannabinoid, delta 8 can offer a lot more than a simple “high”. When taking any type of cannabinoid, we are actually providing our endocannabinoid system with what it needs to fulfill its job of balancing the many bodily processes so that we can reach homeostasis.

All that being said, many cannabinoids have been associated with pain relief due to some ability to regulate pain levels through anti-inflammatory or analgesic activity. So, what about Delta 8 then?

Does Delta 8 THC Have Pain-Relieving Properties?

Delta 8 THC is a minor cannabinoid in the hemp plant, existing in only about 0.1% of the total composition of chemical compounds, compared with the 15%-20% cannabidiol (CBD) level in the same plant material.  Delta 8 is, in fact, the result of delta 9 degrading and converting into a new compound based on its molecular structure.  Therefore, delta-8 carries about 70% of delta9’s psychoactive activity, in turn causing a milder type of high.

The Delta 8 products that are on the market contain a concentrate of that small amount of the compound that’s found in nature.  This is done through an advanced distillation process that purifies the compound with steam distillation.  This allows us to experience a much more potent form of delta 8 that gives us a stronger sense of its various effects.

Like all cannabinoids, delta 8 THC plays an important role behind the scenes when we consume it.  It again, supports the endocannabinoid system, which is a bodily system that has the purpose of balancing the functions of every other system of the body in a way that creates a sense of equilibrium.  This occurs through a binding process between the cannabinoids (delta 8, in this case) and cannabinoid receptors which are located throughout the body.  Each cannabinoid receptor regulates a specific process, and each cannabinoid has an affinity to specific receptors, thus regulating different aspects of our general functionality.

Within the body, we find two categories of cannabinoid receptors:

  • CB1 receptors mainly correspond with functions of the nervous system, such as mood, cognitive abilities, pain threshold, and neurological processes.
  • CB2 receptors pertain to functions mainly managed by the digestive system and immune system.

What makes delta 8 unique is that unlike CBD, which splits its attention between the two types of cannabinoid receptors, delta 8 seems to focus almost exclusively on CB1 receptors, potentially offering a stronger response in the nervous system.

What Does This Mean for Anyone Seeking out Pain Relief?

As we just mentioned, CB1 receptors have a lot to do with pain tolerance.  Pain receptors are a component of the nervous system, attached to the nerves, which respond to pain stimuli.  But, the sensitivity of these pain receptors is not static.  Theoretically, introducing CB1-focused cannabinoid receptors into the body could lower the sensitivity of pain receptors, thus acting as an analgesic that helps us feel less pain overall.

One thing that’s unfortunate about delta 8 THC is that it’s simply too new for us to have ample studies to reference when trying to determine its effects as we have for cannabidiol.  Without a doubt, in the future, there will be more research on the properties of this cannabinoid, and thus its effects.

What Types of Delta 8 THC Products Can I Try for Pain Relief?

Like the CBD that many of us are already familiar with, delta 8 comes in several product types.  Each product type allows the cannabinoid to absorb into the body through different means.  You can see why it would be important to understand the characteristics of each product type, in order to be able to choose one based on your specific needs.

Let’s take a look at the main delta-8 product types, and how they behave in the body.

  • Delta 8 Vapes: Vaping products like pre-filled cartridges, disposable devices, and bottled e-liquids. Inhaling the cannabinoid offers the most fast-acting and potent response in the body due to the efficiency of this absorption method.  The effects can take place within minutes and last for about an hour or two.
  • Delta 8 Oils/Tinctures: Not as potent and fast-acting, typically taking about 45 minutes to really take effect. Those effects, however, can last for up to 6 hours, which may be what you want if looking for longer-term relief.
  • Delta 8 Edibles: Quite a popular option, providing up to 9 hours of effects that could be felt more strongly in the body, as edible products (gummies, hard candies, baked goods, etc.) are associated with a “body high” that’s said to be relaxing. Effects can take 2 hours to kick in, so keep this in mind if you’re looking for fast relief.
  • Delta 8 Capsules: Act similarly to edibles because they are also processed by the body’s digestive system. The major difference is that caps absorb a bit quicker into the body because of their uncomplicated formulas that do not require as much effort to be processed during digestion.
  • Delta 8 Flower: Basically, it’s a CBD hemp flower that has been infused with Delta-8. When it comes to pain, it can help tremendously thanks to its strain profile, terpenes, and of course, the cannabinoids it’s infused with.  Can work fast when either smoked or vaped.  Not to mention, the options for loose buds or pre-rolls to experience this flower product.

Things to Keep in Mind When Addressing Pain with Delta 8 THC

Although you might be excited to now try Delta 8, you need to make sure of some key things before selecting and then using that said delta-8 product.

Your Doctor Knows Best

Whenever we want to address pain on our own, it is especially important that we first go over it with our doctor. Our doctors should always know what we’re taking for pain relief, as they can give approval based on their expertise and their understanding of our specific medical circumstances.  In fact, some medications may potentially interact with delta 8, as cannabinoids may suppress the CYP3A4 enzyme that is responsible for breaking down certain drugs such as opioids and steroids.

Delta 8 and Terpenes Work Very Well Together

We recommend choosing a Delta 8 product that contains terpenes, which can be found in many vaping products and oils/tinctures.  Terpenes are secondary compounds in hemp that may also have some pain-relieving capabilities.  So, taking them alongside delta 8 could maximize those effects that you are looking for.

Consistency Equals a Better Experience

Best to take delta 8 on a daily basis, because cannabinoids can become more effective when taken consistently.  This gives the endocannabinoid system the go-ahead to utilize each dose of cannabinoids as thoroughly as possible for maximum effectiveness.

Strength is Everything

Remember, the milligram strength of a delta 8 product matters, as it determines how potent each dose will be.  Naturally, higher potency levels could offer more potent pain-relieving properties.  But, at the same time, those who are new to delta-8 tend to have a low tolerance to its intoxicating effects.  It is best then to start slow and build up your milligram strength as tolerated.

A New Holistic Approach to Potentially Dealing with Pain Has Arrived!

Delta 8 THC is a cannabinoid unlike any other in the body, and we are still learning about its various properties that could be useful for issues like pain.  What we can say is that many people have already found success taking delta 8 specifically for pain-related issues, so we believe that it’s certainly worth trying.  Make sure that you choose your delta 8 from a trusted company and consider taking it daily to maximize its potential for pain relief.