April 05, 2021 5 min read

Experts estimate that nearly 20% of Americans suffer from chronic pain, and nearly everyone will suffer from pain on one or more occasions throughout their life. A new solution is making headlines—Delta-8-THC for pain—but how does it stack up to the over-the-counter pain relievers and prescription medications commonly used to combat pain?

This mildly psychoactive cannabinoid may function as an alternative to Delta-9-THC, and could be a more natural option for regular pain relief. Plus, it’s federally legal and way more accessible than traditional THC products.

Research regarding Delta-8-THC’s potential for pain relief is still limited, but here’s what we know for now:

Table of Contents
What is Delta-8?
Research About Delta-8-THC for Pain
How to Use Delta-8-THC for Pain
Is Using Delta-8-THC for Pain Safe?
Where to Buy Delta-8-THC for Pain
Resources

Key Takeaways

  • Delta-8-THC is a natural endocannabinoid, meaning it can impact the body’s Endocannabinoid System, which regulates pain, inflammation, and other functions.
  • Delta-8 stimulates the CB1 receptor in the brain, a neuroreceptor commonly associated with pain relief.
  • The effects from Delta-8 are euphoric, relaxing, and mildly psychoactive, but they’re often described as “mild” in comparison to traditional THC products.
  • Delta-8-THC is legal and accessible online from most U.S. states.

What is Delta-8-THC?

Delta-8-THC is a hemp derived cannabinoid that interacts with the body’s Endocannabinoid System, a system of neurotransmitters and neuroreceptors that plays a role in almost all of the body's regulatory functions, like maintaining homeostasis.

Within its regulatory roles, the Endocannabinoid System is partially responsible for pain signaling and inflammation responses within the central nervous system and the immune system. That’s the reason that cannabinoids like CBD and THC are commonly pinpointed as anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving substances.

But what about Delta-8, a minor cannabinoid that interacts with both the nervous system and immune system portions of the Endocannabinoid System? Here’s what we know:

Research About Delta-8-THC for Pain

Research regarding Delta-8-THC for pain is limited, but it’s significant to note here that Delta-8-THC is very similar in structure to Delta-9-THC, and experts believe it may have many of the same therapeutic benefits. Delta-9-THC has been researched as an analgesic compound for decades. Pain, especially chronic pain, is considered a qualifying condition in states where medical cannabis is legal.

 

A model showing the molecular formula for Delta-8-THC near a leaf from the hemp plant Delta-8 is made from.
One study shows that mild to moderate doses of Delta-9-THC may be effective at treating neuropathic pain, a type of pain that is often debilitating and difficult to manage. The same study revealed that nearly a quarter of patients were unable to reap the benefits of Delta-9 due to various side effects from the psychoactivity, like paranoia and anxiety.

That’s where Delta-8-THC comes in.

If Delta-8 can provide similar analgesic effects, it may do so with far less psychoactive impact and fewer side effects. In fact, one study regarding Delta-8’s anti-nausea effects found that it may be more effective than Delta-9 for pediatric use because it was far less likely to incite negative side effects, even at higher doses.

What does research say about Delta-8-THC for pain? We don’t know much yet, but there are a few studies to help us understand Delta-8’s potential.

One 2018 study showed Delta-8-THC’s interaction with the CB1 receptor (the central nervous system portion of the Endocannabinoid System) enabled it to mediate pain and inflammation.

In fact, Delta-8 was overwhelmingly effective in managing pain and inflammation in mice due to corneal injuries. The authors concluded that Delta-8 has promising pain-relieving effects that may translate to human studies, but more research is needed.

The National Cancer Institute also recognizes the potential of Delta-8-THC for pain management, describing it as an “analogue of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) with antiemetic, anxiolytic, appetite-stimulating, analgesic, and neuroprotective properties.”

More research is needed to understand Delta-8-THC’s complete interaction with pain signaling in the body, but anecdotal reports seem to suggest that Delta-8 is effective for pain management, and many people are pleased with it’s milder psychoactive effects compared to Delta-9.

How to Use Delta-8 THC for Pain

In order to effectively use Delta-8-THC for pain, you'll need to carefully choose a Delta-8 product and gently adjust your dosing routine to meet your needs. There are a variety of formulas and dosing methods available, as well as other cannabinoid products that may compliment your Delta-8 routine and help you target pain, inflammation, or other discomforts.

A woman using a tincture form of Delta-8-THC for pain.

Here are some things to consider when choosing the best Delta-8-THC products for pain:

Choosing Between Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid

Some Delta-8 products may include added terpenes from cannabis strains with unique targeted properties. In general, indicas are relaxing and calming, while sativas are uplifting and energizing. Hybrids usually offer balanced effects. Generally speaking, no one strain is better or worse for pain, rather you may prefer different strains at different times of the day.

Choosing a Dosing Method: Vaping vs Edibles

Vapes and edibles are the two most common types of Delta-8 products available, but they are significantly different. To put it briefly, vaporizers take effect quickly and make it easy to stack microdoses until you feel at ease. Edibles take effect slowly, but they often last much longer and are pre-measured, which is good for users who need consistency.

Ease into a Dosing Routine

Every person's dosing routine will vary, so it's always best to start low and slow. In some cases, microdoses may be just what you need to help manage discomforts. Others find that a 5-10 mg dose is most effective. Just work your way up slowly, allowing adequate time to evaluate the effects in between each dose.

Consider Adding Other Cannabinoid Therapeutics

Many people find success when using a tailored combination of cannabinoid products. For instance, some prefer to take their Delta-8-THC alongside a regular CBD dose, which may have it's own benefits for regulating the Endocannabinoid System and managing pain.

Is Using Delta-8-THC for Pain Safe?

As we mentioned before, research regarding Delta-8’s benefits and drawbacks is still limited, but Delta-8 is thought to have a similar safety profile to Delta-9, but with even fewer drawbacks.

Many people suggest that although they are sensitive to THC, they don’t experience the same anxiety or paranoia when using Delta-8-THC.

Generally speaking, the safety of a Delta-8-THC product may have more to do with the brand and manufacturing process. Delta-8-THC is a hemp-derived, natural cannabinoid, but the manufacturing process is pretty involved. To play it safe, look for a brand that offers third-party test results and is transparent about their manufacturing process. You can also talk to your doctor about the benefits of Delta-8-THC for sleep and how it may affect you.

Where to Buy Delta-8-THC for Pain

Luckily, Delta-8-THC is a hemp product that can be made from CBD, a readily available cannabinoid that's legal in the U.S.

That means that Delta-8-THC is legal in most states and is far more accessible than Delta-9-THC products in many areas.

Looking for Delta-8-THC for pain?

Check out "Where is Delta-8-THC Legal?" to learn more about your local laws, and then shop our full collection of Delta-8-THC edibles and vaporizers.

All of our Delta-8-THC products are 100% Farm Bill compliant and third-party tested, with results you can view on page before you buy.

Resources

  1. “Prevalence of Chronic Pain and High-Impact Chronic Pain Among Adults — United States, 2016” https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/wr/mm6736a2.htm
  2. “Cannabinoid Receptors and the Endocannabinoid System: Signaling and Function in the Central Nervous System” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5877694/
  3. “Tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta 9-THC) Treatment in Chronic Central Neuropathic Pain and Fibromyalgia Patients: Results of a Multicenter Survey” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2925209/
  4. “An efficient new cannabinoid antiemetic in pediatric oncology” https://druglibrary.net/olsen/HEMP/IHA/iha02210.html
  5. “The Cannabinoids Δ8THC, CBD, and HU-308 Act via Distinct Receptors to Reduce Corneal Pain and Inflammation” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5812319/
  6. “Delta-8-Tetrahydrocannabinol” https://ncit.nci.nih.gov/ncitbrowser/ConceptReport.jsp?dictionary=NCI_Thesaurus&ns=NCI_Thesaurus&code=C61312

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