Delta 8 Topicals- apply and enjoy!

Medically reviewed by Alexander Tabibi, MD
November 30, 2020
Pain Solution Delta 8 Weed
Pain Solution Delta 8 Weed

Just How Effective are Delta 8 Topicals?

 It’s not surprising to anyone who has been following the hemp industry that delta 8 topicals are beginning to emerge on the market.  Delta 8 THC has proven to be a gamechanger in the hemp universe, being a unique type of cannabinoid mostly known for its psychoactive properties.  But, as a cannabinoid, it’s processed by the body via the endocannabinoid system for the purpose of regulating bodily systems and functions, just like CBD.


Delta 8 topicals aim to serve the same function as those made with cannabidiol, which is pain relief.  But, just how effective are they, really?

Delta 8 vs. CBD

First, let’s quickly break down the key differences between delta 8 THC and CBD (cannabidiol) as most people are familiar with CBD-infused topicals.


Both of these cannabinoids can be found in the hemp plant’s flowering buds, where over one hundred cannabinoids can naturally occur.

  • CBD is the dominant compound in hemp, making up 15 to 25% of the chemical composition.
  • Delta 8 exists only in about 0.1%, making it far more challenging to isolate and extract.


Both of these cannabinoids are utilized by the body by the endocannabinoid system, which distributes cannabinoids to different cannabinoid receptors throughout the body to maintain homeostasis.  In terms of pain, cannabinoids can bind with cannabinoid receptors that determine pain sensitivity and inflammation to regulate how these functions behave.  Cannabinoid receptors are found in the skin, joints, muscles, and nerves, and may each regulate pain in a unique way.

Delta 8 Topicals: How Do They Work?

First, let’s get one commonly asked question out of the way.


A delta 8 topical is very unlikely to get you high, and this has to do with the nature of the endocannabinoid system.  When we consume a cannabinoid through oral means, its effects are dispersed throughout the body.  Delta-8 is a known psychoactive compound, so vaping it, eating it, or taking another kind of internal method will give you these effects.


But, applying cannabinoids topically to the body, they pretty much stay put, so to speak.  Cannabinoid receptors in the skin, muscles, and joints grab hold of the cannabinoids that are applied to the affected area and keep them localized for targeted relief, rather than allowing them to cross the blood brain barrier.


We know from studies that transdermal cannabinoid absorption can be highly effective for pain, specifically.  Many people use CBD topicals daily for relief from various forms of pain.


So, what makes delta 8 topicals different?


Well, one thing that delta 8 has over CBD is the way in which it binds to cannabinoid receptors.  Delta 8, like its big sister delta 9 THC, double binds with these receptors, which means that its regulatory effects may be more potent, and thus more effective.  This is one main reason why people feel like delta 8 topicals have a lot of promise.

Are Delta 8 Topicals Effective at Treating Pain?

Of course, the question is whether or not delta 8 is actually effective at treating pain.


We need to point out that delta 8 is still new to the scene, which means that while researchers have been carefully studying cannabidiol for well over a decade, the research on delta 8 THC is limited.  It’s easy to find loads of studies about using CBD for pain relief, but we’re still in the early stages of studying what happens when you use delta 8.


However, the little bit of research that we have access to does seem very promising.  One study in particular found that delta8 does have analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, much like cannabidiol has been found to possess.

  • Analgesic properties help desensitize pain through regulation of the nervous system, and more specifically, pain receptors in the brain.
  • Anti-inflammatories, of course, lower inflammation that causes pain.

Factors That Determine the Effectiveness of a Delta 8 Topical

Like CBD topicals, delta 8 topicals can vary in terms of effectiveness based on some specific factors.

Factor #1: Milligram Strength

The milligram strength of a particular delta 8 topical formula refers to the number of milligrams of delta 8 extract found in the formula.  The higher the milligram strength of the formula, the higher the potency of each application.

Factor #2: Quality

High-quality delta 8 is extracted using advanced methods and is as pure as possible.  In short, the higher the quality, the more likely it is to work, which is why you should only buy your delta8 topicals from a hemp brand with a good reputation.

Factor #3: Absorbency of the Formula

Some types of topical formulas are better at absorbing through the skin than others.  For instance, petroleum jelly is an ingredient that never really absorbs into the skin, but rather sits on it before evaporating.  Meanwhile, plant-based oils are great for carrying delta 8 through the skin’s layers so that it may reach the muscles and joints quickly and competently.

Factor #4: Your Routine

How much you apply to the affected area, and how often you apply it make a difference, as consistency plays a major role in the effectiveness of cannabinoids, as does dosage.

Combining Hemp Compounds for More Relief

We know that hemp’s compounds work together synergistically, which means that combining different hemp compounds together can enhance their effectiveness.  This is why we are seeing a lot of delta 8 topicals that also contain CBD, CBN, CBG, or terpenes.  It’s possible that combining cannabidiol for instance with delta 8 offers a more effective experience, as awesome findings have shown that THC and cannabidiol have a particularly strong synergistic relationship.

Combining Delta 8 with Natural Pain Relievers

Also, many delta 8 topicals are formulated with additional active ingredients that come from nature and are known to fight pain.  An example is menthol, which derives from the mint family, and provides a cooling effect while having the potential to numb pain.

Delta 8 Topicals Could Very Well Be the “Next Big Thing” in Our Industry

Now you can see that this cannabinoid may offer something unique to the market. Although, studies on delta 8’s properties and effectiveness are limited, we have seen that researchers believe it could be uniquely helpful thanks to its anti-inflammatory and analgesic activity. Those early findings look promising indeed.


So, if you want to incorporate more cannabinoids into your daily routine for addressing pain, delta 8 might just be a good choice after all.