April 29, 2021 6 min read

Delta-8-THC is a hemp isomer that's made from CBD. It's just as popular as you'd expect a legal psychoactive cannabinoid to be, but it's also pretty misunderstood. Many people are quick to compare Delta-8-THC risks to that of the various synthetic cannabinoids that have hit the black market over the years, but that's not really the case.

Actually, Delta-8-THC isn't a "synthetic" cannabinoid at all, and any potential Delta-8-THC side effects may be milder than you'd think.

Here's what you need to know about Delta-8 risks before you try it for yourself:

Table of Contents
Delta-8-THC Risks and Misconceptions
Conclusion: Is Delta-8-THC Safe?
How to Reduce Risks with Delta-8-THC
Delta-8-THC Benefits Likely Outweigh the Risks
Resources

Key Takeaways

  • Delta-8-THC is thought to have a similar safety profile to Delta-9-THC, meaning the risks are often dose and quality-dependent. 
  • Delta-8 has various benefits that may outweigh the risks, and limited trials suggests it may even be a safe therapeutic option for pediatric patients. 
  • There are always risks associated with adding new supplements to your wellness routine, but there are steps you can take to reduce the risks.

Delta-8-THC Risks and Misconceptions

Most people associate any potential risks from Delta-8 with its similarity to other “synthetic cannabinoids” like K2 or spice, which are known for having serious adverse effects. But it’s not really a fair comparison.

An image showing natural cannabis material and a variety of synthetic substances.

In fact, Delta-8-THC isn’t really a “synthetic” cannabinoid at all. It’s actually naturally occurring in cannabis plants, usually in concentrations of less than 1%.

We’ve known about Delta-8 for decades, and researchers spent quite some time researching it’s benefits and potential drawbacks before cannabis was made illegal with the passage of the Controlled Substances Act in 1970.

Thankfully, Delta-8-THC can be derived from hemp through a process called “isomerization.” An “isomer” is a compound that contains all of the same components as another compound, just in a different order.

Delta-8-THC is naturally an isomer of CBD. So, technically Delta-8-THC is “made in a lab” from CBD, but it’s merely a matter of shifting the existing components around. There’s no creation process where Delta-8 is totally synthesized from non-plant materials, and the resulting Delta-8-THC molecule is exactly the same as the one you can naturally find in hemp material.

The serious adverse effects of K2 and spice, which could include suicidal thoughts, tremors, psychosis, and various other serious side effects, don’t apply to Delta-8.

The True Risks of THC

Although Delta-8-THC doesn’t necessarily carry the same risks as some synthetic cannabinoids, there are still potential drawbacks and side effects you should be aware of before you give it a shot. This is especially true for users who haven’t used high-THC cannabis products before and may not know what to expect.

Unfortunately, we don’t know enough about Delta-8 risks to give a complete list of side effects, but many people relate it to Delta-9-THC because it has similar psychoactive effects. In general, the side effects associated with THC are:

  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Increased heart rate
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased appetite
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion

In some cases, products that contain large doses of Delta-9-THC have been linked to a condition called “cannabis hyperemesis syndrome,” which involved uncontrollable bouts of nausea and vomiting.

Still, these side effects are usually related to high doses of Delta-9-THC, which means they may not exactly translate to Delta-8 products.

Delta-8-THC is Milder than Delta-9

That’s right, Delta-8-THC is actually much milder than Delta-9. In fact, one study found that Delta-8-THC is potentially more effective as a nausea treatment for pediatric cancer patients than traditional THC products. According to the research, Delta-8 is only about half as potent as Delta-9 and could therefore be given in larger, more effective doses without the same side effects, like paranoia and anxiety.

A dropper filled with a mild dose of Delta-8-THC oil.

In other words, this study concluded that Delta-8’s side effect profile was mild enough for it to be effectively used to manage symptoms in children, even at larger doses than would traditionally be taken.

In general, Delta-8 is thought to be less likely to lead to the side effects associated with Delta-8 simply because it isn’t as potent. Of course, different dosing thresholds may produce different results, but Delta-8-THC is generally considered to be safer than Delta-9 when used responsibly.

Delta-8 Risks are Formula Dependent

Delta-8 itself is only a mild version of Delta-9, which has a solid safety profile when used in mild to moderate doses. However, Delta-8-THC is generally manufactured and sold as a product of the hemp market, which is still poorly regulated across the nation.

Some states do a better job of regulating hemp products than others, but it’s essentially up to the consumer to thoroughly vet manufacturers and products before they buy in order to reduce risks.

An example of a high-quality Delta-8-THC vaporizer made from safe materials and ingredients.

The most significant Delta-8-THC risk is the risk of buying cheap, low-quality formulas.Since there is very little regulation in the form of testing products for label accuracy, it’s not unheard of for shady manufacturers to use risky ingredients or even synthetic cannabinoids to cut costs. These products are risky for consumers which is why it’s so important to only buy Delta-8 from trustworthy companies.

Luckily, there are ways to reduce Delta-8-THC risks (we’ll cover more on that below) to ensure a positive and safe therapeutic experience from your D8 products.

Conclusion: Is Delta-8-THC Safe?

Delta-8-THC safety is relative to the person, dosing routine, and type of product used. In general, Delta-8-THC has effects that are similar to (though much milder than) Delta-9-THC products. That means that high-quality, well-made Delta-8-THC products may be safe to try, but you may want to start with low doses if you’ve never used THC products before.

Delta-8-THC’s safety profile and lengthy shelf life has garnished the interests of cannabinoid researchers who see it as a potentially suitable option for various medical applications.

Delta-8 research is expected to continue to expand and hemp-industry regulations will eventually be ironed out by the FDA. Until then, any Delta-8-THC risks can be significantly lowered by shopping and dosing responsibly.

How to Reduce Risks with Delta-8-THC

If you’re worried about Delta-8 risks but still want to give the legal psychoactive cannabinoid a shot, know that you can reduce the risk level in a few simple steps:

Shop Consciously

Before you buy Delta-8 from just any company, take a deeper look at the company’s manufacturing process and core values. In most cases, it should be pretty easy to tell if the brand is just looking to pull profit or if they are genuinely concerned with product quality.

To keep it simple, look for things like:

  • U.S. grown, organic, USDA certified hemp
  • Solventless extraction (or other high-quality extraction methods)
  • GMP certification
  • Full ingredients lists for every product
  • Third-party lab tests (more on this below)

To save you some time, Vida Optima products all meet these rigorous standards, and all of our products are 100% Farm Bill compliant, meaning they are legal by federal law. You can read more about us to learn about our manufacturing standards and check out our Delta-8 Collection to view third-party lab tests for every product.

Look for Lab Tests

Lab tests are easily the most important factor in determining the quality of a Delta-8 product before you buy. Checking the third party lab test is the best way to determine that the product is actuallymade with potent Delta-8-THC material and not some synthetic knock off or a blend of other non-psychoactive cannabinoids.

The lab tests should be available to view before you buy and the information given should match the product label.

Start with Small Doses

After you choose a product, you can still significantly reduce any Delta-8-THC risks by dosing slowly and steadily. In general, most of the risks associated with THC come from taking too much.

For many people, doses around 5-10 milligrams are a fair starting dose, but you could start even lower if it feels more comfortable for you.

Different types of products are absorbed by the body in different ways, so keep that in mind while feeling out the effects of your D8 dose.

For instance, vaporizers should fully kick in after only 15 minutes, but edibles could take an hour or two to take full effect. Don’t increase your dose until you’ve given adequate time to feel the full effects

Don’t Combine Products

If you’re not sure what to expect from Delta-8, don’t take it with other products. Most importantly, don’t take Delta-8 alongside or as a substitute for any regular medication (without first checking with your doctor).

Taking Delta-8 alongside any other substance, like Delta-9, alcohol, or even CBD can alter the effects and make it difficult to gauge how delta-8 affects you. In some cases, certain substances (like alcohol) could significantly increase the risks of adverse effects.

A small portion of hemp flower, the original source of Delta-8-THC.

Delta-8 Benefits Likely Outweigh the Risks

It’s important to note that while Delta-8-THC products do carry some level of risk, especially for those who don’t know what to expect from THC, it also carries great therapeutic potential In fact, many people choose Delta-8 as an alternative to Delta-9’s medicinal benefits simply because the risks are fewer but the benefits are nearly the same

Delta-8-THC’s benefits are still being reviewed, but many people report feeling relaxed and balanced after using mild to moderate doses of D8. Others report using Delta-8 to help manage pain and discomfort or to fall asleep faster at night.

To learn more, you may want to read “Delta-8-THC Health Benefits” and “11 Delta-8-THC Facts You Need to Know.”

Resources

  1. “Spice Overdose and Side Effects” https://americanaddictioncenters.org/synthetic-cannabinoids/overdose
  2. “An efficient new cannabinoid antiemetic in pediatric oncology” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7776837/

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