In the cannabis industry, isomers of THC are making waves. First, there are issues of legality between Delta 8, Delta 9, Delta 10 (and others) that can be confusing. People also want to be assured that what they take is both safe and effective.
So, what type of THC should you look for in a CBD product? Let’s take a look at Delta 8, Delta 9, Delta 10, the differences, and what you need to know to make an informed decision about which CBD products you choose to use.
- Why are there different names for THC?
- What about THC makes it Delta 8, Delta 9, and Delta 10?
- What is Delta-8 THC and why are there legal questions surrounding it?
- What are Delta 9 and Delta 10 and how do they work?
First, What Are Delta 8, Delta 9, and Delta 10?
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the component in Cannabis sativa plants to which the “high” feeling can be attributed, whether eaten or inhaled via smoking or using THC vape cartridges. When THC is present in CBD products, however, the amount of THC is federally regulated. In order for a CBD product containing THC to be legal, the THC levels must be below 0.3 percent of any given product, from CBD tinctures to CBD gummies. This means that the THC levels in any legal CBD product is not enough THC to produce the high feeling.
Even so, the different types of THC can make a difference. Some are more potent or have benefits that slightly differ. And since research into all of these cannabinoids and how they affect the human body is still in its infancy, there’s a lot we still have to learn about how these components work together and what we can expect when we take them.
Here’s what we do know:
- When a CBD product contains THC, there’s a more calming effect, which is especially helpful for sleep.
- Some propose the entourage effect comes into play – this is where cannabinoids work synergistically to deliver greater benefits. It is thought that cannabinoids work in tandem and that some actually temper the unwanted psychogenic effects of THC.
- All cannabinoids, including THC and different versions of it, work with your body’s endocannabinoid system, via channels called CB1 and CB2 receptors to enter your system and work to manage homeostasis of various bodily systems, though to what extent, however, varies from person to person.
Creating Different Versions of THC
With so many different phytocannabinoid compounds available in the Cannabis sativa plant, and with how they are extracted, there are a variety of ways to alter the cannabinoids or force them to “morph” into other cannabinoids. For example, heating up inactive THCa molecules is what forms Delta 9 THC.
These different compounds all have similar-yet-different biochemical structures. Hemp-derived tetrahydrocannabinol compounds differ in where the carbon-carbon double bond is located on the molecular structure and can be formed in the extraction process by various methods of handling the THCa and other compounds from hemp. This creates different “isomers” of THC. One, in particular, Delta 8, is rather controversial as it takes advantage of a legal loophole.
To be clear, CBD is also a component derived from Cannabis sativa and is wildly popular because it offers health and wellness benefits, but without the psychoactive properties of THC. Because CBD and other cannabis derivatives like CBG and CBN work differently (and are thought to work better) when in partnership with THC, many people want to use products that contain both CBD and THC.
Using Delta 8, Delta 9, or Delta 10
Delta 8, Delta 9, and Delta 10 THC can be added to CBD products for use. If you’re looking to see whether or not your full spectrum CBD products contain Delta 8 THC, for example, you likely won’t see that on the product labeling. You’ll see THC, generally, or simply that it is called “full spectrum” but not which THC versions are included (and there may be several different ones).
You’ll need to do one of two things to figure this out:
- Contact the CBD product company and ask.
- Find the Certificate of Analysis for your batch/product and look for: Delta 8, Delta-8, Delta-8 THC, Δ8-tetrahydrocannabinol (which are all names for the same compound).
Each form of THC has the same side effect profile: mild nausea, diarrhea, drowsiness, and dry mouth. Each form of THC has slightly different “leans”:
Delta 9 – May boost appetite and be more calming.
Delta 8 – May temper appetite.
Delta 10 – May be more energizing and nootropic, which means that based on the current (and admittedly limited) research, this one may have more cognitive enhancing effects.
No matter which form of THC you use, drug tests can pick up on that THC. If your employer or organization drug tests, be sure that THC or other cannabis derivatives are ok for you to use. And if THC is ok for you to use, which type is better?
Let’s take a look at each Delta 8, Delta 9, and Delta 10, individually.
Delta 8 THC
THC refers to a group of compounds called isomers, which share similar chemical structure. These compounds have the same atoms making up the structure but differ slightly in the arrangement of atoms. In the case of Delta 8, the carbon-carbon double bond is located at the eighth chain. Like these small structural differences, various phytocannabinoids, Delta 8 included, have different “behaviors” within the body.
Imagine that in your body the ECS system has a series of “parking spaces” labeled CB1 and CB2. Each type of cannabinoid prefers to “park” in a particular type of receptor, and the more of these receptors that are utilized, the greater benefit to your body and mind. This helps us to understand how the theory of the entourage effect works. It’s also why we create CBD products with a variety of CBD and other minor cannabinoids like CBG and CBN, and also THC (and perhaps more than one type of THC).
But Delta 8, though we know it can be helpful, is not without its controversy. As it turns out, some legal issues arise because of how Delta 8 is made.
Legal Issues of Delta 8
Cannabis products, generally, are regulated because THC is considered a Schedule I drug in the US due to its psychoactive effects, which are extremely limited or nil in the low amounts allowed in CBD products. Though any THC under the 0.3 percent federally regulated amount is legal, some states take different stances on Delta 8.
Delta 8 is controversial because it is formed by chemical conversion. By creating Delta 8 THC, essentially CBD producers have found a way to make more THC from hemp yet still stay within the legal limits provided by the 2018 Farm Bill. High levels of THC can be made by converting CBD or Delta 9 THC into the less potent Delta 8 THC, and then it’s a matter of making sure the amount included in the CBD product falls within the legal limit. Delta 8 has a stronger interaction with the CB1 receptors than the CB2 receptors, like Delta 9 THC does, and this differs from how CBD works with your mind and body.
Delta 9 THC
Delta 9 is a little more well-known and is generally preferred for its higher potency. As discussed earlier, it is formed by heating molecules of THCa during the extraction process. Delta 9 isomer is characterized by the double carbon bond location at the ninth chain. Because Delta 9 is considered the “natural form” of THC and is more abundantly used, it is often simply called THC.
Many people gravitate toward Delta 9 because it is believed to be more calming than Delta 8, is cheaper to produce, and doesn’t have the same level of legal issues with state laws.
Here’s a great article going into more depth on Delta 9 and its uses and how Delta 9 compares to the more well-known health and wellness phytocompound: CBD.
Delta 10 THC
A relative newcomer to the conversation is a form of THC called Delta 10 THC. Δ10-tetrahydrocannabinol is thought to be more energizing and nootropic than other versions of THC. Nootropic basically means that a substance, often a plant-based or botanical substance, has effects on how our minds work, clarity of thinking, and cognition in general. Remember, research is limited on these claims and all we can really say is that anecdotal evidence currently leans in that direction. It's also thought that Delta 10 is about half as potent as Delta 9.
Delta 10 THC is so new that you likely won’t find many sources for using it at this time – but keep your eye on this phytocannabinoid. If it’s anything like all the others, it may play a role in the CBD industry’s goals (at least, we can speak for cbdMD) to provide you with usable, safe endocannabinoid support options that improve your overall health, mood, function, sleep quality, and – most importantly – your quality of life.
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