Anxiety affects around 40 million adults in the United States. Many turn to cannabis to treat the associated symptoms.
Studies show that cannabinoids, primarily Delta-9 THC have strong anti-anxiety and mood-elevating properties. But ironically, Delta-9 THC can also have the opposite effect of increasing anxiety due to its intensity.
But what if there was another cannabinoid almost identical to Delta-9 THC that offered a more predictably pleasant high and could be a more effective anxiety-buster? Delta-8 exhibits many of the same psychoactive effects but tends to be milder and more easily accessible.
Here we review five reasons Delta-8 could be better for treating anxiety than traditional Delta-9 THC.
Table of Contents
Delta-8 vs. Delta-9
When people say “THC,” they usually refer to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta-9 or D9), the plant’s most abundant psychoactive cannabinoid that makes users feel happy and relaxed. Delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta-8 or D8) is also a naturally occurring THC compound. But in trace amounts with distinct qualities.
When comparing delta 8 vs. delta 9, the key distinction lies in their molecular structure. Chemically, both cannabinoids contain a double-carbon bond but on different atom chains. In Delta-8, the double carbon bond falls on the 8th atom chain, while Delta-9’s falls on the 9th, which explains their names. This slight variation results in Delta-8 having unique effects and potency compared to Delta-9.
Also, while Delta-9 is abundant in marijuana plants, Delta-8 exists in much smaller quantities that would be time-consuming and expensive to extract. As a result, most manufacturers produce Delta-8 by extracting CBD from hemp plants and converting it into Delta-8 via a chemical process called isomerization.
Top 5 Reasons Delta-8 Could Treat Anxiety Better Than Delta-9
1. Milder psychoactive experience
Delta-8 and Delta-9 work by interacting with our endocannabinoid system (ECS), which plays a significant role in the body’s response to fear and anxiety. Delta-9 THC mainly binds with cannabinoid receptors in the brain and central nervous system called CB1 receptors, which can strongly affect mood and perception. While most users feel happy and chilled out, some report intense sedation or confusion.
Delta-8 binds to cannabinoid receptors similarly to Delta-9. However, Delta-8 appears to have a lower affinity for the CB1 receptors in the brain. As a result, Delta-8 is about half as potent as Delta-9. Its lower potency gives Delta-8 the nickname “weed light,” and users say its milder experience can lower anxiety levels without the risk of being too intense.
2. More predictable with fewer side effects
In general, marijuana is a mild drug with few side effects, especially compared to many prescription drugs used to treat anxiety disorders. However, much of the cannabis sold in the U.S. contain a high THC concentration, which can have negative side effects in some users, such as:
- Rapid heartbeat
On the other hand, Delta-8 hasn’t demonstrated these adverse, possibly anxiety-inducing effects. According to a large research study on Delta-8, consumers described it as Delta-9’s “nicer, younger sibling,” saying it made them euphoric and relaxed without causing any of these side effects.
While the Delta-9 THC experience can have an element of chance for some users, Delta-8’s milder psychoactive effects make it more predictable and less likely to induce a “bad” high. Delta-8 can provide additional peace of mind for those looking to reduce anxiety.
3. More relaxing
Relaxation is essential for treating anxiety. The most common anxiety symptoms include:
- Feelings of worry
- A sense of being “on edge”
Most consumers say Delta-8 has an “indica-like” high due to its soothing properties, and they love the feeling of serenity and well-being that washes over them. They also say the experience is more consistently relaxing than the ups and downs of a Delta-9 THC high. In one study, 71% of Delta-8 users reported relaxation as the main effect.
The “feel-good, chill high” from Delta-8 can be especially appropriate for those wanting to relieve anxiety and take the edge off.
4. Helps you stay focused and motivated
Anxiety can cause low energy levels and lethargy. Many anxious people report episodes of feeling seemingly exhausted, rundown and having no ambition to do anything. While Delta-9 can counteract these effects by increasing dopamine production, the body’s “feel-good” chemical, mental fogginess, can sometimes follow this benefit.
However, this hazy effect doesn’t appear to happen with Delta-8, thanks to its milder effects. On top of a smoother, less anxious psychoactive experience than with traditional Delta-9, people report Delta-8 keeps them more clear-headed. When taking Delta-8, users can maintain greater concentration, stay “in the zone,” and feel motivated throughout the day.
5. More accessible
Delta-9 THC remains a Schedule I controlled substance, meaning traditional marijuana-based THC products are banned at the federal level and in many states.
However, Delta-8 lives in a current legal gray area because it’s manufactured from hemp-derived CBD, which is federally legal under the Farm Bill. As a result, Delta-8 became one of the fastest-growing compounds on the hemp market because it doesn’t require medical marijuana cards or doctor approvals.
Some states have introduced bans on Delta-8 and other cannabinoids synthesized from hemp, However, Delta-8 is currently available in a wide range of products that are easy to access online and in stores, including:
- Vape cartridges
- Gummies and edibles
- Flower (Delta-8 distillate is sprayed on)
Consumers new to trying Delta-8 products for anxiety should take it slow and see how the body reacts. A low dose for Delta 9 THC edibles is 2-5 mg. However, since Delta 8 is about half the strength of Delta 9, most users can start with dosages two to three times higher. For instance, edible gummies with 5 mg of Delta 9 THC will have an equivalent dose of 10-15 mg for Delta 8.
The Bottom Line
Many people prefer delta-8 to delta-9 THC for addressing anxiety. Delta-8’s milder experience provides all the benefits of regular THC without the potential for increased paranoia or anxiousness associated with potent THC levels.
Delta-8 will likely leave users more chilled out while keeping them level-headed and focused on daily activities. For people who are particularly sensitive to delta-9 THC but still want its mood-elevating and relaxing effects to combat anxiety, delta-8 THC can be beneficial.